Introduction: Upgrade Laptop Hard Drive - Tech 101

Alright, you have a laptop that may be a few years old. It still functions great, but you are just running out of hard drive space. This could be from all your pictures, all your music, or even all the games you have on it.

Buying a new laptop means you would have to move all that stuff over. Pictures and music can move fine, but your games and programs would have to be reinstalled. That is even if you have the original install disks.

Why not just upgrade the hard drive to increase the storage space without losing any of your precious info.

This Instructable will demonstrate just how easy and inexpensive it is to upgrade your laptop hard drive yourself.

Step 1: Background Info

Before you determine what you need, you have to know what you have.

There are different types of hard drives: SATA and IDE.

SATA have the flat plastic slot-like connectors, and IDE have lots of pins just pointing straight out. SATA is now the more common, but depending on the age of your laptop, you could actually still have an IDE drive.

You can find out easily by actually removing the drive as demonstrated in Step 5 - Out With The Old, In With The New.

Now that you know what type of drive, you need the rest of your parts.

“But JokerDAS, how big do I need?”

I get this asked quite a bit. I cannot answer that for you. I do have a thought on the matter. The price of drives has dropped significantly, so my suggestion is buy as much as you can afford. You see, even if you upgrade to a new laptop next year, you can convert this new drive to a nice storage drive with the other parts shown in this ‘ible.

Step 2: What Is Needed

So, what do you need?

Well, first you need a laptop.

A larger capacity 2.5 inch laptop hard drive – This can be bought online or from most electronics store.

A 2.5 inch hard drive enclosure. This is an empty shell with a circuit board to plug into your drive and a USB cable to connect it to your laptop. These can easily be purchased online for about $5. **Be sure you get the right connector for the drive.**

A small Phillips screwdriver

Disk clone software. If either your new drive or your old drive is a Western Digital (WD) brand, then Acronis True Image offers a WD Clone program to download for free. Otherwise there are some paid programs that run about $20 out there. For this demonstration, I will use the Acronis WD program. It can be downloaded from here:

Acronis True Image WD Edition

To install, just follow the default prompts.

Step 3: Prep the New Drive

Now you have your gear, time to get started.

  1. Open the 2.5” enclosure.
  2. Attach the new drive to the connectors on the board inside the enclosure.
  3. Close the enclosure backup with the drive securely attached inside.
  4. Plug the included USB cable into the enclosure at the appropriate port.
  5. Plug the other end of the USB cable into your laptop.
  6. Wait for the laptop to recognize the new drive. You may get the popup about a new drive asking what to do with it. This can be cancelled.

Step 4: The Clone

  1. Make sure your laptop is plugged in!!
  2. Launch the Acronis True Image program.
  3. Select Clone Disk. This launches the Clone Disk Wizard.
  4. Select the Clone Mode - Automatic.
  5. Hit Next
  6. Select the old drive (will be the smaller capacity of the two) as the source disk.
  7. Hit Next
  8. Select the new drive as the destination disk.
  9. Hit Next
  10. This will show the summary.
  11. Hit Proceed
  12. The program will calculate how long it will take, then prompt to restart. You must restart.
  13. When the laptop comes back up, it will automatically launch the clone operation.
  14. Now you wait. This could take several hours, depending on the size of the drives.
  15. When it is complete, the laptop will automatically shut down. Unless you selected the Restart option.

Step 5: Out With the Old, in With the New

When the operation is complete and the laptop is powered off, it is time to take out the old hard drive.

  1. Unplug the power from the laptop.
  2. Remove the battery.
  3. Locate the hard drive. ++The location of the hard drive varies from maker to maker. Some are on the bottom, some are accessed from the side and some are actually hidden under the keyboard. Search for your make and model online for the proper location of your own drive!!++
  4. Remove the panel covering the laptop with the screwdriver.
  5. Remove any additional screws holding the drive inside the laptop.
  6. Carefully slide out the hard drive.
  7. Remove any screws holding a thin frame structure to the drive if there is any.
  8. Perform the previous steps in reverse to replace the drive
  9. Replace the thin frame structure (if there was any) on the new drive.
  10. Replace the screws.
  11. Re-insert the new drive into the slot created when the old drive was removed.
  12. Replace the cover.
  13. Replace the battery.
  14. Plug in the power.
  15. Turn on the laptop.

Step 6: You Did It!!

You can verify your hard drive capacity has increased.

Now your laptop has all the same pictures, music, games and programs you had before, exactly where you left them, but now there is more room for more stuff!

Well done! You have just completed the task of upgrading your own laptop's hard drive.

Thanks for checking this out!

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