Upgrade Guide: Install a Bigger, Faster Hard Drive
Installing a new hard drive remains one of the most popular upgrade projects for PC users. And it's easy to see why. Today's drives are bigger than ever and bargain priced, and they offer a performance boost, as well. You'll need that extra space for the increasingly roomy OS installs and gigabyte-eating applications that are the norm these days. And don't forget graphics, audio, and video files.
If your budget is limited, you can upgrade to a 20GB drive for as little as $120; a medium-size 40GB drive will set you back $150 or thereabouts. For maximum storage space, you can invest in a 60GB or 80GB behemoth, although prices for these larger drives are in the $200-to-$300 range. If you're comfortable making the upgrade without installation software, you can save a few bucks ($10 to $30) by purchasing a bare drive.
Manufacturers offer most drives in both 5400-rpm and 7200-rpm versions. While the 5400-rpm drives are slightly less expensive than the 7200-rpm models, the latter deliver a genuine performance boost in the form of quicker access times and improved data transfers.
The newest IDE hard drives are backward-compatible with the Ultra DMA/66 interface found on most PCs made in the last few years. But most of today's drives support the Ultra DMA/100 interface (alternatively called ATA/100), which offers burst transfer speeds of up to 100MB per second. In some operations, the new interface can speed up data transfers, but the overall performance difference is not that dramatic because the bursts involve only tiny amounts of data.
Still, if you want the best performance out of your new drive, your PC
must have on-board Ultra DMA/100 support. For about $40, you can buy a card
that adds Ultra DMA/100 to your PC from a company like
Because your new hard disk will be bigger and faster than the one your PC currently uses, plan on making the new drive your primary drive--the new home for your operating system and applications. You can attach the old drive as a secondary hard disk and use it for archives and less frequently accessed data.
All major drive makers pack software with their upgrade kits that prepares the drive for data (partitioning and formatting) and can also copy exactly what's on your current drive to the new one, helping to make the upgrade a snap.
To prevent future
problems, make sure the current drive in your PC is trouble-free. Run ScanDisk
Next, make a full backup of your hard drive if you're able to, or at least back up your vital data and configuration files from your favorite programs. Don't forget files like normal.dot from Microsoft Word and Bookmarks or Favorites from your Web browser.
Almost all hard drives ship with installation software that takes care of formatting and partitioning. Some even help you transfer data from your old disk to the new one. You must run most installation software before you physically install the new drive, but check the drive's manual or installation poster. You'll either install and run the software from within Windows, or boot from a floppy disk. Program details vary by drive manufacturer, so read the directions carefully.
Turn off your PC and unplug it before you remove the cover. And before you begin working under your PC's hood, put on an antistatic wrist strap (available from local electronics supply stores) and clip it to a grounded metal object.
Usually, you'll install your new drive as the second drive on the primary IDE channel (the same channel where the current drive is connected). When two IDE drives are connected to a single cable, one must be designated 'Master', and the other 'Slave'.
The jumper settings are printed on the drives. If you'll be using the
new disk as your PC's boot drive, set its jumper to
Install the new drive. Attach the two connectors on the new ribbon cable to the old and new hard disks. (It doesn't matter which of the connectors goes where.) Make sure the red wire on the cables goes to Pin 1. Also make sure the other end of the cable is securely connected to the primary IDE connector on the motherboard, and that it's correctly connected so that the red wire on the cable goes to Pin 1 on the motherboard connector. (A secondary IDE connector is used for things like your CD-ROM and CD-RW drives.)
Plug in the power connectors to both drives. Double-check all your connections; don't put the cover back on until you're sure that everything's working correctly.
the hard drive installation utility disk is in the floppy drive; then turn your
PC on. Enter your PC's setup utility (usually by pressing
Save the setup settings, and reboot from the installation utility floppy disk. Follow the directions to set up your new drive and copy the data from the old drive to the new.
Finally, remove the floppy and reboot your PC. It should start Windows normally. When you're sure everything's working, reformat your old drive to wipe out its superfluous data and to prepare it for new files.