Hard Drive Upgradeable?

WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8aDecember 2, 2011

I have an old Dell DXP051 Intel Pentium D running Windows Vista Ultimate Service Pack 2 (build 6002). The computer is fine for me; however, I would like to know if I can upgrade the hard drive. How do I tell if the hard drive is upgradeable?

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What do you mean by upgradeable?

You can wipe the hard drive and re-install everything so the computer is like it was the day you bought it.

If you need a larger hard drive you can do that to replace the existing drive. However it might pay to simply buy another hard drive and install it to hold your data. Or better yet buy an external hard drive you simply plug into a USB port for extra storage.

Do not leave an external drive plugged in and always remember to use the correct procedure before removing the USB connection.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 3:35PM
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It's not quite clear what you are asking, but there is no such thing as a hard drive upgrade for any computer if what you mean is: Can I leave the existing hard drive installed and somehow make it bigger or faster? You can replace it with something better, but, as owbist points out, that means having to reinstall everything, including the operating system. The best solution if you are running out of space is to get an external hard drive that you plug into a USB drive. If your existing hard drive is running pretty full, you could then transfer space hogs -- like big media files or lots of photos -- off the main hard drive to the external one.

Is this what you were driving at?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 8:16PM
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You have several options. One, replace the old drive with a new, larger drive. You'll have to transfer the data from your old drive to the new one. Although if you haven't done so since you bought the computer it might be a good opportunity to start fresh by backing up critical data and reinstalling the operating system and software. Cleaning out the cobwebs generally results it a performance boost. Two, add a second, internal drive (assuming there is physical space). Kind of like having a carpenter put a new closet in your house. Three, add an external drive. They cost more than an internal drive and performance is likely to be slower than an internal drive.

Let us know what you want to do and someone can offer specific recommendations and steps you should take.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 10:19PM
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Another option:

You could install a new, larger hard drive and transfer an image of the old drive to the new one. You'll need software to transfer the image. I have sucessfully used "DriveCopy" to do this. This requires some 'fiddling' around with both drives attached to your computer. If you are uncomfortable with hooking up two drives and setting the master jumper, then pay a technician to do the job for you.

If the new drive is not already formatted to the newer NTFS system, consider doing this. Also, its a good idea to format a new drive because during the formatting process, bad sectors can be found and marked off. Most of the time, a new hard drive that is already formatted is ok, but I had one that contained a few bad sectors and that produced strange failures. However, beware that formatting a huge drive, say a terabyte, can take a very long time when the surface scan option is chosen. (think 24 hours)

After an image of the original system has been copied to the new drive, set the jumper of the new drive to 'master' and swap drives.

You will be left with the old drive unchanged. If this drive is less than 2 yrs old, you could use it as a second hard drive. Before installing it in the computer, set its jumper to 'slave' so that the system will not be confused about which operating system to use. Once both drives are running sucessfully, you could re-format the old drive and set it up anyway you wish. Its an older drive and probably was formated using a FAT32 table. Consider formating it to the newer improved NTFS system. The NTFS format can handle large drives. The FAT32 format has a size limitation. Many disk drives made in the last few years are larger than the size limitation of the FAT32 format. This requires one to divide the disk into two or more logical drives to make full use of it. Some external drives are formatted using FAT32 with a special extended table to increase its size range. Reformatting such a drive destroys the manufacturer's special extended FAT32 table.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 2:37AM
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WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

As usual my questions make sense to me, but not to everyone else - y'all are supposed to be mind readers. LOL

I do have an a 1TB external drive which holds all of my pictures and documents. The current internal hard drive is nearly full of a variety of software programs which I use.

So my question concerned changing out the interal hard drive for a new internal hard drive with a much higher capacity. I have never changed a hard drive, so did not know how to tell if it was doable. From your replies, it does appear that I can upgrade to a hard drive that will better meet my needs.

Jemdandy, thank you for your detailed reply. My current hard drive (the original one that is approximately 7 years old) is FAT32, and I would love to utilize FAT64.

Does the motherboard dictate whether a new drive will work? I ask only because on this computer I cannot use IE9 - evidently the motherboard is too old.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 5:13PM
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I hate to say it, but it may be time to consider a whole new computer if it's 7 years old. It might need more RAM as well as a new hard drive, and it may be facing other limitations, as well, now or in the near future. Before putting much money into this, think about a new one. You can get an adequately powerful computer these days for not that much money. I just took a look, and found decent computers (without monitor) for about $350 from Dell, Costco, Walmart, etc.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 4:57AM
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Walnut wrote:- Does the motherboard dictate whether a new drive will work?

Yes and in your case that might be very important.

Today's hard drive are SATA, you likely need an ATA or also known as IDE drive. You can easily tell by removing the left side panel of the computer and looking at your drive. It likely has a wide (2 inch) ribbon cable attached, if so this is an IDE drive.

Here are the 2 connectors for you to compare, look on your motherboard for the smaller socket connection to see if there are any.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 7:04AM
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