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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. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  2. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  3. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  4. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  5. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

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