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  1. #1
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    I had grown weary of making space for voracious digital photo collections on my 100GB hard drive, but the prospect of setting up (and paying for) a new laptop was not very appealing either. So I decided to get a larger hard drive with the same speed (7200rpm).

    I was a little surprised when I opened my package from Amazon to find a two-piece foam cradle and a "bare" 320GB drive in an antistatic bag. No user guide, no nothing.Hmmm... I found a useful article online (How To Upgrade Your Laptop Hard Drive - How To by ExtremeTech), and gathered what I needed to do my upgrade:

    1. External USB-to-SATA enclosure (seemed more handy than just a cable)
    2. Cloning software
    3. Partitioning software
    4. Philips screwdriver

    As recommended, I used the trial version of Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0 and the free program EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition. (The latter was used to move Dell's special partitions to the far end of the device so I could add space to the C drive.)

    The Western Digital Scorpio Black 320 GB SATA Hard Drive makes a kind of white noise reminiscent of the whoosh of cars on a freeway. It seems louder than the Hitachi Travelstar drive it replaced, but I'm pretty sure I can get used to it. The only strange noises occurred when I first started up with the new drive. Windows plug'n'play reported from the system tray that it recognized the new hardware, and there were some disconcerting "seeking" noises for a minute or two before Windows informed me that I had to restart again.

    It's difficult to declare victory only 30 minutes after completing the process, but I haven't found anything wrong yet. Just in case, I'm not repartitioning or formatting the old drive any time soon.

  2. #2
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    I did something very similar last year. Bought an external enclosure for the old hard drive, installed the new one, installed all my software, and migrated all my data across. Then I kept the old hard drive for six months and every now and then I discovered something important I had forgotten to copy across.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StuartR View Post
    ... installed all my software, and migrated all my data across.
    Oh no, you worked much harder than I did. I just cloned the hard drive. My IT guy says I would be better off starting from a fresh install, but he's not the one who would have to apply 3 years of Windows updates and reinstall a dozen programs (assuming I can find all the installers).

  4. #4
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    Okay, I'll read everything linked, and thanks for leading to an example that worked at least once. BUT, the example is a SATA drive in a modern system, so it's not much help with older systems, especially where a BIOS constraint may preclude native access to a large drive. How to upgrade THAT?

    CAN'T GET A 320GB INSTALLED IN AN OLD LAPTOP: I'm havin' one heck of a time trying to do this on an old Dell Latitude C600 (750MHz!) with a 10GB drive (yes, a tiny drive on a slow system, but with Opera, it's surprisingly responsive as as web browser). The CMOS rejected the 320GB replacement EIDE/PATA drive, first limiting it to 137GB, then to 64GB, and now 32GB, drat. What's happening to the poor drive? I've tried WD and Ontrack and SDisk and DriveCopy and even Windows ME enhanced FDisk that previously had setup a 500GB drive as FAT32x on another system. No luck (it has the newest BIOS from Dell and MrBIOS.com says they have nothing newer). I'm giving up and repurposing an old 20GB instead, as I suppose that I just need a little more breathing space, and MS Office 2003 is already installed, and I have no reinstall capability, so cloning the entire drive is the only way to keep MSO2003 operating. Funny, but on an even older Dell Inspiron 4000 (700MHz!) I've got a 120GB installed no problem, and on an even older Dell Latitude CPi (300MHz!) I've got a 40GB drive, so where's the sudden 32GB barrier come from? Argh!

    A DRIVE SHOULD BE A DRIVE - ACCESSIBLE ANYWHERE: My perennial goal is to have a drive work anywhere in an emergency so I can get to my data, either directly connected internally or removed and put in an external USB box. Ontrack's BIOS overlay seems a misfit since it must be present at boot, so, with the drive removed and put into an add-on USB drive that only appears post boot, the computer never gets a chance to load the Ontrack driver, and it never reveals all 320GB, just showing up as "raw", not even 32GB, asks to format, and can't even format with Ontrack in the way on the drive. Heck, Ontrack never let me boot into the copy of Windows XP on the 320GB drive even with the Ontrack boot overlay. First, using the on-track Windows client, I copied the entire contents from the internal 10GB boot drive to the external USB 320GB that Ontrack setup, then I removed the 10GB drive and swaped the USB drive to internal, and then Windows XP just recycles the "loading" boot screen over and over and over, even in safe mode or recovery console ... Ontrack is pretty much useless. Argh and drat again. Money back? :-(

    I'll let everyone know if I ever get success one way or another.

  5. #5
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    Have you tried the laptop manufacturer for an updated BIOS?

    cheers, Paul

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    Hi PT,

    Oh, I wish! As mentioned, "... it has the newest BIOS from Dell and MrBIOS.com says they have nothing newer ..." Perhaps it's a limit of the chipset, so they don't waste time updating the BIOS if the chipset is going to be a limiter.

    BIOS Type: Phoenix ROM BIOS PLUS Version 1.10 A23 licensed to Dell
    BIOS Date: 20030708
    BIOS Vendor: Dell Computer Corporation
    BIOS Version: A23
    BIOS Size: 524288
    Chipset: Intel 440BX/ZX rev 3
    SuperIO: C&T 82C735 or SMC 661/663/664 rev 0 at port 03F0
    Motherboard Name: Dell Computer Corporation
    Motherboard Model: Latitude C600
    System Name: Dell Computer Corporation
    Base Manufacturer: Dell Computer Corporation
    Base Product: Latitude C600

    To which they responded:

    Flash BIOS Upgrade
    Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12:00 PM
    From: "flashupgrades@esupport.com" <flashupgrades@esupport.com>
    To: "peterblaise" <peterblaise@yahoo.com>
    Peter Blaise Monahon,
    Thank you for using BIOSAgent Plus. Your scan results have indicated that your BIOS is current and the most up to date BIOS available for your system.
    Although the BIOSAgent Plus scan indicates that there is a BIOS update available for your system, the data that BIOSAgent Plus has collected, points to several different BIOS in our database. After careful review of each these BIOS, our technicians have determined that your current BIOS is the latest BIOS that will work properly with your system.
    Please feel free to scan a different system or check back at a later time to see if an update has become available. In the meantime, please enjoy updating all of your outdated drivers with BIOSAgent Plus.


    Perhaps if I remove BOTH drives, new and old, and put them in another computer together on the IDE bus, and run disk copying software from floppy ... ? Trying to use a Windows-based copy just returned "Cannot find NTLoader". How impossible must Microsoft make this? DOS and Windows 98 and earlier operating systems copied fine, and we had a "Format /s" commend to insure it booted DOS system files. Heck, even Windows ME worked with a simple XCopy of the contents to a replacement drive, even a USB-connected drive.

    One note of criticism -- Western Digital no longer ships drives with software, and they decline to offer Ontrack's BIOS overlay for older systems. In other words, if you want to take advantage of the entire value of what you bought, pay someone else to add the needed supplements, that is, if they are available at all. But anyway, Western Digital made the sale even if you cannot use it -- the packaging does not say "modern systems only -- no support for legacy systems". Hmm ....

    I'll keep at it and report back whatever works.

  7. #7
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    Welcome to one of the joys of modern technological change, old stuff doesn't support new stuff.
    The limitation is in the Dell BIOS and there is nothing you can do to be able to "see" all 320 GB.

    I suggest you install the new disk and set it up as the largest drive you can given the BIOS in the machine. You will waste some space but it's better than nothing.

    WD provide a copy of Acronis for drive duplication.

    cheers, Paul

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    Funny, though, I once (twice, actually) had it working as a boot drive in the old Dell Latitude C600 with all 320GB available in Windows XP Pro SP2. It even rebooted once and worked, but then nada at the next reboot. The fact that the original internal 10GB WinXPProSP2 drive saw the external raw 320GB drive as USB1 (yep, s-l-o-w USB, even!), formatted it as a full 320GB NTFS, transferred all data, and then when the 320GB was swapped to internal, it actually booted from a full 320GB NTFS partition, well, that gave me hope ... but it only lasted 2 reboots.

    Because I have larger than 32GB drives in even older Dells made me hopeful that I'd find somethings that would also be able to install this larger drive once again, and reliably so -- the BIOS or chipset limitations of both older Dell's are working just fine with drives that are larger than the 32GB limit suddenly manifesting itself in this setup, so I'm thinking that I haven't found the real source of the frustration yet.

    I have two challenges to resolve next:

    • 1 - try the 320GB PATA drive in a modern computer to see if the drive can actually work with a 320GB boot partition again, if not, then the drive is messed up, probably in it's MBR Master Boot Record or an improperly tenacious Ontrack BIOS overlay (Ontrack also has a feature "report drive size as ..." and that may not have been cleared if it was ever set to 32GB -- I've written zeros to the drive, but the "report size as ..." may be recorded elsewhere, on-drive BIOS?),
    • 2 - take both drives to another more modern computer and clone the 10GB data to the 320GB as full NTFS and see if it the 320GB reboots consistently at ll, then try putting it back in the lowly old Dell and see.


    Sadly, I only have some newer HP towers, and they are as unreliable as all get out, only successfully rebooting themselves 50% of the time anyway ... ahh, such is life in the computer junk yard.

    I'll report any progress.

  9. #9
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    thanks for your assistance. assuming the hard drive can work. were you able to transfer the programs and data successfully with no problems?

    my laptop is a Lenovo T 61 Think pad. not a dell.
    Last edited by StephenwjC; 2011-10-25 at 18:32. Reason: update the reply

  10. #10
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    I loved my old C600--still my favorite case and keyboard of any laptop I've ever owned. But I reluctantly gave it up because of the outdated CPU, USB1, lack of high-resolution screen, and lack of support for large HDDs.

    But back to the root problem of this thread, the HDD problems mentioned here are actually quite common and predictable. As Paul said, it all stems from the bios' lack of support for HDDs larger than 137GB. (I answer this question a lot, so what follows is my boilerplate response.)


    BIOS LIMITATION

    Your computer's bios cannot see beyond 137 GB. This is typical of most Dell laptops that use ATA/EIDE hard disks. Newer models that use SATA disks do not have this limitation.

    The conservative advice is that you should not be using a hard disk the system does not support. You run the risk of data corruption unless you understand the technical compromises that have to be made to get it to work.

    The danger occurs when attempting to access sectors beyond the first 137 GBs of the disk. Your older bios contains a sector counter that is only 28 bits wide, so it maxes out at 137 GB. Access attempts above that limit cause the bios counter to roll over back to zero and start counting up again. Thus, read/write attempts to the 138th GB would actually act on the 1st GB. If it's a read attempt you retrieve the wrong data, and if it's a write attempt you'll corrupt data in the 1st GB.

    In contrast, newer computers use a bios with a 48-bit sector counter, which can hold sector values corresponding to larger than 137 GB.


    BIOS vs WINDOWS

    The bios functions operate in 16-bit Real Mode. In contrast, Windows operates in 32-bit Protected Mode. When any computer boots, by design it must start out in Real Mode and then during the boot process Windows kicks the CPU into the faster, Protected Mode. At that point, it has to replace the 16-bit bios disk driver on the fly with its own 32-bit driver because Real Mode drivers cannot be used in Protected Mode.

    Beginning with XP SP1, Microsoft started including an updated driver that is capable of accessing sectors beyond the 137-GB barrier. But that only works once you're in Windows. Remember, at the very beginning of the boot sequence you start off in Real Mode, so the 137-GB limitation will apply for at least the beginning part of the boot process. If you can get Windows booted past the point where the 16-bit driver drops out of the loop, the system will finish booting and you'll have access to the full content of the disk. The trick, though, is making sure you can get past that Real-Mode/Protected-Mode upshift during the boot process.

    Common sense says one should not use a disk larger than 137 GB if the BIOS does not support it. That is also the official policy from both Dell and Microsoft. The risk is data corruption if write attempts are made beyond 137 GB. The risk doesn't actually come from Windows, but from 16-bit utilities that operate outside Windows, such as some disk or partition management tools. For example, a 16-bit utility like Partition Magic will not work, but a 32-bit utility like Acronis Disk Director can.

    If you use a disk larger than what the bios supports, you need to understand this risk. It should not present a problem if only Windows is allowed to read/write data to the upper part of the disk.


    WORKAROUND

    If you choose to use a large disk, you must make certain all *bootable* partitions exist *COMPLETELY* below the 137-GB boundary. The upper part of the disk may be used if it is used only for data and is accessed only from Windows.

    Here's a sample partition layout:

    OS partition - 50 GB
    Data partition - 200 GB

    Adjust the OS and data partition sizes to suit your preferences, as long as you don't push the far end of the OS partition beyond the 137-GB boundary. (Side note: if you redirect your MyDocs/MyMusic/MyPics folders to the data partition, you're unlikely to ever need more than about 30-40 GB for XP's OS partition, even with all your programs installed.)

    Note that even though XP SP1/SP2/SP3 can support more than 137 GB, the *entire* OS partition must be completely within the first 137 GB. Remember, the first part of the boot process operates in Real Mode, so if any of the files it needs are stuck beyond 137 GB, booting will fail. The problem is that Windows is constantly rewriting and moving files around, so sooner or later something the boot process needs may migrate to the upper part of the OS partition, and when it does booting will fail if that upper part is out of reach of the bios driver. If the boot files stay within the first 137 GB, Windows may boot fine for weeks or even months, but then one day it will suddenly stop booting because one of the Real Mode files migrated out of reach. This confuses users because it worked before, so why did it suddenly stop working?

    The solution is to keep the entire C: partition below 137 GB so nothing can ever migrate out of reach. Use the upper part of the disk only for a data partition.

    In your case, I would pre-partition your new hard disk with one partition of about 50 GB (or anything less than about 130 GB) and another partition occupying the rest of the disk. Clone only the OS partition from the old disk and restore it to the first partition of the new disk. Don't bother cloning the two Dell partitions--the Utility partition is non-essential anyway, and if you have a DellRestore partition it will be useless because of the bios limitation. After booting the newly transferred OS, use Windows Disk Management to NTFS quick-format the data partition, and then you can use Windows to start copying and storing files in that partition.

    Remember, because of the bios limitation you must never use any DOS-based utilities with the combination of that computer and that hard disk. That includes Partition Magic and Ghost 2003. Even though those utilities pretend to have Windows front-ends, they are really DOS programs. Only let Windows (and true Windows programs) read or write to the upper part of the disk.

  11. The Following User Says Thank You to dg1261 For This Useful Post:

    StephenwjC (2011-12-02)

  12. #11
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    Most technicians, working in a properly equipped shop, can exchange HD's in most laptops, (not Netbooks) in less than an hour.
    Having done this job many times myself, I can say it's all in a days work. I do most HD upgrades right here on my Desktop PC.
    I can even connect two drives at a time, external to my tower, for a Cloning operation.

    The best way to handle a laptop drive is to get it OUT of the laptop. With a simple little adapter it can be connected up to a Desktop PC where it can be read under either Windows or DOS. My favorite method is to use my old standby program, Ghost, to make an image of the drive and save it to the HD in the desktop. Then I swap the old drive for a new (blank) one and Restore the backup image to the new drive.
    NOTHING is lost in the process and I still have the old drive, untouched, which I save, in an anti-static bag, for at least a month, just in case the new drive dies of infant mortality.
    Put the new drive in the laptop and it should boot up and run just like the old one.
    Once it's running correctly, then and only then can new partitions be created or re-sized to best take advantage of the new space.

    It's always advantageous to keep the OS drive as small and as clean as possible.

    Total expenditure for tools, for the above process, less than $10 for the laptop to desktop IDE adapter.

    Two things worth mentioning, based on past experiences........
    1. Dell, doesn't seem to care whether you're ever able to upgrade one of their PC's or not.
    They sold it, you bought it and they have your money. So, buyer beware.

    2. Years ago, Western Digital was a great company with a reliable product. But that was then and this is now.
    WD has become almost a dirty word in many repair shops. (right next to the IBM Deskstar drive, commonly referred to as the 'DeathStar')

    Last week, I looked at a Netbook for a friend of mine, that had been a Christmas present for his daughter. It had just stopped booting up, for no apparent reason. After close inspection, with diagnostic software run from a bootable Flash Drive, I determined that the drive was indeed a WD drive and it had UN-Recoverable bad sectors. That should never happen to a little computer of less than three months old.
    I have the same brand of Netbook, now over two years old, with a Toshiba HD in it and I've not had one moment of trouble with it.
    It's quiet, it's quick and with a little tweaking and tuning, it runs like a scalded cat.

    Y'all have a great day now, Y'hear?

    The Doctor

    PS: I'm always glad to hear the success stories. Good going!
    Last edited by DrWho; 2012-02-06 at 07:55.
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

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