Technology Untangled: Don't be intimidated by hard drive upgrade

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Screwdriver: Check. $47 hard drive cloning device: Check. That's the complete list of tools needed to EASILY upgrade your computer's hard drive.

You might be under the impression that replacing and upgrading a hard drive is well beyond the skill level of the non-computer geek. In truth, it is not much more difficult than changing the batteries in a child's toy. The process is simple, and the performance benefits are substantial. Read on, and you may soon find yourself inspired to pick up a screwdriver and make your own computer better.

Here is the story of how I learned to replace a laptop hard drive. My primary laptop computer was beginning to display odd quirks that I identified as drive-related. The most obvious symptom was that it was automatically running through the diagnostic check disk protocol (Chkdsk) upon every reboot.

At this point in a computer's life people consider simply buying a new one. But that choice comes with its own long list of troubles. One obvious consideration is that you are forced to move to the new Microsoft Windows 7 operating system. Too bad if you liked Windows XP, Windows 7 is your only choice. In addition, it takes a lot of effort to reload software and transfer important files to the new computer.

I thought a hard drive replacement for my laptop would involve similar hassle because new drives arrive in a raw and empty state. But, because I liked this computer and I wanted to keep my current operating system, I thought it would be worth investigating. I thought that an exact replacement drive was required, so I called Sony tech support to order one and was shocked to learn their price was more than $300! It seems pretty clear that Sony would rather steer you toward buying a new computer.

Next, I did some Internet research and learned that this exact drive could be purchased elsewhere for $60. With prices like that, perhaps I could consider installing a larger drive. My research revealed that I did not in fact have to install an exact replacement. Many other larger-capacity, higher-performance drives would work in my laptop.

The Web site that provided this revelation is I simply typed in my exact computer model number and the site provided a list of compatible replacement drives. I chose a 500GB 7200 rpm drive for $150. This quadrupled my capacity and provided a 33 percent improvement in performance. The old 120GB drive ran at a slower and less efficient 5400 rpm speed. My advice: Buy the largest and fastest hard drive on the list. As long as you are going through the effort, you might as well get the most benefit possible.

The next important revelation was that I could simply clone all the information from the old drive directly over to the new one. No laborious reloading of software and settings was required. One tool that DriveSolutions offers for this procedure is the DriveWire USB data transfer kit / universal hard drive adapter by Apricorn (, $47.

Could it really be that simple to swap out the drive? Yes. Here's what's involved. First you load the cloning software onto your computer. Next, you attach the new drive to the connector on the Drivewire device. Connect the AC power cord, then connect the USB cable. Launch the cloning software and follow the instructions. A few mouse clicks later, your computer reboots and the cloning process automatically begins.

The hardest part? Waiting. The cloning process can take several hours. When the process completes, turn off your computer and disconnect the DriveWire device.

The next hardest part? The tiny screws. Unscrew the drive access panel from the bottom of your laptop. Remove the screws securing the hard drive assembly and disconnect it from the computer. Remove the old drive from its mounting bracket. Reverse the procedure to install your new drive.

Power up the computer. Once the cloning is complete, the replacement drive behaves exactly like the old one. You wouldn't know the difference except for the higher capacity and the improved performance. Immediately I noticed a substantial decrease in the time it took my computer to initialize. All my programs were launching and running faster.

One thing you can do with your old hard drive is install it in an external USB drive housing and use it as a portable drive. One of the other available cloning kits includes this housing.

If you have any other concerns or questions, the site offers many answers and provides a comprehensive FAQ section.

Now that I own the cloning device, I have already upgraded two of my computers and plan to upgrade others. I hope you can set aside your apprehensions and upgrade your hard drive. It truly is as simple as I have described.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues