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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 www.DriveSolutions.com. 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 (www.Apricorn.com), $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 DriveSolutions.com 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. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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