View Full Version : Upgrade your hard drive!

2008-Sep-06, 04:57 PM
I searched for a thread along these lines, honest, but only one thread gave anything other than a cursory mention, and it's fairly out of date, these days.

This topic arose because my Dad's hard drive is close to failure.

"Wha...?" you may ask. "How do you know that?"

Simple - he's got an HP, and one of the nice things about HP is that they do plan for failure, rather, ways to avoid it, if possible. Thus, the system records information nearly all hard drives communicate with the operating system, including a running total of bad sectors.

Your hard drive finds these on the fly when the data read doesn't match the accompanying checksum. It then performs more reads and engages in some pretty powerful algorithms to determine everything it can (usually all of the data), relocates the data elsewhere, then marks that sector as bad in a permanent table stored in memory (flash) in your hard drive.

So he gets this error message on boot, continues the boot, then calls me. I have him dowload AIDA32, a system summary tool. He runs it and sends me the results, where I read, about half-way down a couple hundred pages, that his hard drive has not one, but three indicators of imminent doom.

He performs a backup (he usually does so once a month anyway), then calls me again, asking, "So how do I migrate my operating system, including all the drivers, programs, and setup information from my current hard drive to the new one I just bought at the store?"

Well... Humph. There's Norton/Symantec Ghost, which does a pretty fair job, but it'll cost you half the price of your new hard drive. Other free and paid for disk cloning software (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_disk_cloning_software)exists, as well, including Acronis, Clonezilla, Carbon Copy, and Trinity. All have good and bad points (follow link for a comparison).

Unfortunately, all of those are cloning software. Thus, whatever fragmentation or misplaced files you have lying around, the software faithfully duplicates those onto your new system.

What I was looking for was something along the lines of Start--> Control Panel--> System and Maintenance--> Windows Upgrade--> Upgrade Hard Drive.

Naturally, that option doesn't exist. If it did, it would work something like this:

Welcome to Vista's Upgrade Hard Drive service. This service will allow you to upgrade your system's hard drive in three easy steps.

Step 1: Ensure you have enough space on an attached storage system to hold the entire contents of this hard drive. Windows has detected two locations which appear suitable.

Please pick one of the following three locations you would like to upgrade:

C:\Home Plate - my current, but aging and cramped for space hard drive
G:\Thumbuddy - all my data on the go
F:\Ye Old One - my old 300 MB hard drive from four systems ago

Please pick one of the following two locations for Windows to copy itself, and click Next:

D:\My Other Internal SATA 133 Hard Drive (96.4 GB available, 54.7 MB/s sustained throughput, duration is approximately 18 minutes - recommended)
E:\My External Hard Drive via USB (143.8 GB available, 11.2 MB/s sustained throughput, duration is approximately 90 minutes - not recommended)

2. Windows has detected that your motherboard is capable of booting from a DVD or CD. Please insert either a blank DVD-RW or CD-RW disc at this time.

(windows detects CD, copies setup files it'll need after the reboot to find things, it's former self, etc.)

3. Windows has finished preparing your system for upgrade. During the upgrade process, please do not change any portion of your system configuration except for the drive you're replacing. Please ensure you leave the boot DVD in your DVD/CD-RW drive (H:\) as Windows will need that information to complete the process.

After powering down completely, remove the power cord from your computer, and following the manufacturer's instructions, replace your "C:\Home Plate" hard drive with your new hard drive. Warning - your new hard drive must be equal to or greater than 40 GB in size!

Click Next to Continue...

*** (reboot)
Windows is now configuring your new hard drive for use.


Copying your previous operating system...

Updating key system files...

Updating your drivers:
Do you wish to update your device drivers at this time, or would you prefer to use your current device drivers, and update them later, at your leisure?

Yes/No/Not Sure (if you're not sure, that's ok - we'll skip this step for now, but will give you an opportunity to do it later).

Updating your drivers...

Copying your files...

Congratulations! Windows Upgrade has successfully completed your upgrade.


Another Windows Upgrade option might be, "Migrate Windows to New System." It would be a lot more involved.

I suspect MS's lack of the first capability is sheer incompetance/lack of foresight on their part. But I suspect the lack of the latter capability is their fear that it would allow for a proliferation of OSes from one install DVD.

However, in both cases, there are ways of thwarting this, includig mandatory activation/reactivation.

2008-Sep-06, 06:06 PM
The ONLY good way to upgrade a Windows machine:

A) Backup all your data (its easier if you keep all your data on an external USB drive anyway...)

B) Rip out the drive

C) Install new drive

D) Install a fresh clean OS from the original install disks

E) Install all your applications again

F) Put back your data (or plug back in the USB data drive)

Pain? Yes, but it's Microsoft....

2008-Sep-06, 06:09 PM
At some point, of course, you call Microsoft because the OS thinks it's a pirated copy being installed and you need to get the key reactivated....

2008-Sep-07, 01:15 AM
I recently upgraded the hard drive on my computer completely painlessly and I kept all my data. How? Norton Ghost (though Acronis is quite good too). All you do is make an image of your hard drive on an external drive, replace your drive, boot from the CD, and then restore the image onto your new drive. Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate have a built in hard drive imaging utility as well - you don't even need any additional software.

2008-Sep-08, 06:55 PM
If you're using XP, try this: RyanVM Integrator (http://www.ryanvm.net/msfn/)
I used his "XP Post-SP2 Update Pack" a few months back for a HDD upgrade. What a tremendous time saver!

2008-Sep-08, 08:59 PM
My Seagate disk came with a CD that had a ton of tools on it, one of the tools let me copy partitions.

2008-Sep-08, 09:07 PM
I typically tend to be happy enough to just back up any files I need then install fresh. The drivers are a pain to d/l, but it's not too bad. Then once you're back, you've got your "house cleaning" done and the system is squeaky clean, runs great, and has that new-car smell. Well, maybe not the smell, but you get the idea.

But it can be daunting...expecially when it comes up at a time you when weren't planning on starting anew.

2008-Sep-10, 04:47 AM
The ONLY good way to upgrade a Windows machine:


Take it to an Apple store. Buy a new Mac. Let the employee transfer all your data to the Mac.

2008-Sep-10, 06:38 AM
Not unless you like paying 1.5-2 times as much for the exact same hardware running a less flexible and capable OS.

(Let the employee transfer the data? Are mac users unaware of the art of the flash drive, external hard drive, and local area network?)

Jeff Root
2008-Sep-10, 09:39 AM
Any possibility that youse guys could help me install an old hard
drive in an older computer?

As a temporary stopgap measure, using what I have on hand, I want to
install an 8.44 GB Western Digital AC28400R hard drive made in 1999
into a computer made in 1997. It has a 166 MHz Pentium MMX processor.
The motherboard is Matsonic. The computer had a 2.557 GB Seagate HD
in it when I got it, and it works fine.

When I purchased the 8.44 GB WD hard drive I was told that I would
have to use Western Digital's EZ-BIOS software in order for this old
computer to make full use of the drive. I have EZ-Drive 9.11W,
which installs EZ-BIOS as needed when it formats a drive.

When I set the jumper on the drive to 'Master' and plug it into the
primary controller, the computer's BIOS cannot see the drive at all,
but the Western Digital diagnostic program correctly reads the drive's
info and did a successful read test on the entire drive. It sees
the command.com file that EZ-Drive placed there after formatting.

When I set the jumper to 'Slave' and plug it into the primary
controller, the BIOS detects the drive, and I can set it as the
primary slave, but neither EZ-Drive nor the WD diagnostic program
see it at all!

Any thoughts or suggestions?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

2008-Sep-10, 10:02 AM
Check the Seagate drive for proper jumper settings in combination with the WD's. (It is possible for drives from two manufacturers to be unable to work, but I think that's rare.) BTW why don't you just set it to master and plug it into the secondary IDE?

Jeff Root
2008-Sep-10, 11:01 AM

I was waiting for someone to suggest plugging it into the secondary
controller. Removing the drives, pulling out the ribbon cables, and
putting everything back in place is a lot of work when two cables
have to occupy the same space at the same time. I don't remember
how the Seagate was installed when I got the computer, but I had
to drill additional screw holes in the drive holder thingies in order to
fit more than one drive in. It's like the person who designed the
case never thought about the fact that cables take up space.

I actually don't have the Seagate in now. I accidentally deleted half
the files on it and took it out so that I wouldn't accidentally overwrite
any of those deleted files before I can recover them. Only a few of
the files are worth recovering, but that's enough.

What I have in the computer right now are the 8 GB WD on the
primary controller, which I'm trying to set up; a CD-RW drive as the
master on the secondary (because it is flaky when set up as slave);
and a 1.2 GB WD drive as slave on the secondary. Those last two
have been in there all along, and I've only been messing with the

So, now I'll mess with the secondary, too.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Roving Philosopher
2008-Sep-11, 11:40 AM
When you had the drive set as master, did you try both connectors on the ribbon? I seem to recall that older PCs and older drives can be somewhat picky about which connector is used.

Jeff Root
2008-Sep-12, 11:58 AM
I think I only used the connector *not* at the end for that set of tests.
In the last set of tests, I removed the CD-RW and put the 8 GB drive at
the end of the cable and the 1.2 GB drive on the other connector on the
same cable, which apparently was the primary cable.

After that last set of tests, in which I had some very limited success in
getting both the BIOS to recognize one drive or the other and the WD
diagnostic program to recognize one or the other, sometimes both, I
removed the 8 GB drive.

Just now, to answer your question, and find out which cable I had the
1.2 GB drive plugged into (I'll mark them right now... done. Shoulda did
that six years ago), I turned the machine on and found that the BIOS
would not detect the 1.2 GB drive on the primary cable, either position.
I moved it to the secondary cable, end connector, and the BIOS much
more quickly decided that there was nothing on the primary as either
master or slave, and immediately recognized the drive as the master on
the secondary cable. So it kinda looks like part or maybe most of my
problem is a defect in the primary cable or primary controller.


-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

2008-Sep-12, 08:19 PM
I need some advice. There are a lot of mp3 duplicates in my pc and i'm looking for some app to find duplicate mp3 files and delete them. What wouls you advise for me?
Thanks )