Breathe New Life into Your Laptop
Giving new life to your laptop isn’t as straightforward as it might be with a desktop PC – but it’s certainly possible!
Whether you’re looking at upgrading your internal hard drive (HDD) or adding a USB hard drive for external storage, the benefits of a new HDD device are considerable.
This article looks at the steps required to switch the HDD on your laptop as well as offering some suggestions on what to do beforehand, such as backing up your vital data (or making an image of the current HDD), making sure you have your operating system installer disc or manufacturer restore disc to hand, and also notes on how to handle a new HDD.
Preparing Your Data for Transfer
Once you have identified that you want to replace your HDD, you need to begin organizing your vital data.
There are different ways in which you can do this – for instance you can transfer your files stored in My Documents and export your emails to a network drive, or you might save the same data to a series of writable DVDs or CDs. Alternatively you could use disk imaging software to make a copy of your entire HDD and save this on an external device (again a network drive or perhaps an external HDD). Read our guide on making an image of your operating system for restoring later on.
Once you have made copies of all vital files, folders, images, documents, music and even save games and Microsoft Office template files, it’s time to begin the task of swapping your HDD.
Getting Ready to Remove the Hard Disk Drive
With all vital data backed up, switch off your laptop, and unplug from the power supply unit.
Then remove the battery - this is important as removal avoids damaging either your old or your new HDD.
Before engaging in handling any internal computer hardware, you should remove all jewelry, woolly jumpers and ideally work in a static free environment such as a room with tiled flooring.
Get your tools – a suitable screwdriver, an old credit card or similar plastic item for leverage – and your new hard disk drive to hand, and flip your laptop over so the base is facing up.
(NOTE – commonly laptop HDDs are accessible from underneath, however you should check your manufacturer’s documentation to confirm the location of the drive. Note also that opening your laptop should only be done when your warranty is expired as this act invalidates it immediately.)
Unscrew the panel covering the HDD and remove, keeping the screw safe. You should see your HDD sat in a chassis – this keeps the disk drive safe from shocks and impacts.
Securing Your New Hard Disk
Your new HDD should remain in its anti-static packaging until the moment it needs to be transferred into the chassis. Take care to have it placed close to hand on a solid surface to avoid knocks.
The old HDD can be removed by grabbing or levering the chassis – it isn’t uncommon to find a small loop of plastic to grab hold off and gently pull the chassis out of the laptop housing – however take care as the disk drive first of all needs to be pulled away from the connector pins before being lifted out.
Next, identify how the HDD is affixed (usually 6-12 screws) to the chassis and remove it, taking care to keep the screws safe – you’ll need these to secure the new HDD which should be housed in the chassis as soon as possible. Replacing the HDD chassis in the laptop housing in case of reversing the procedure you used to remove it – slot it into place and push it against the connector pins so that they slide home.
Once your new HDD is in place, replace and secure the cover panel – job complete!
Restoring Your Saved Data
Your laptop has a new hard disk drive – but there is more yet to do.
Replace your laptop battery (and if necessary plug your computer back into the mains electricity) and switch on the device. Open the CD or DVD drive and insert either your operating system disk or the manufacturer supplied “quick restore” disk – the latter will quickly copy its contents to your new HDD and your laptop will soon be ready to use. If you’re using a standard installer disk to install a new copy of WIndows or your operating system of choice, this will take a little longer.
Once your laptop has booted, it is time to start copying back your vital documents and settings. If you opted to make an image of the hard disk, you can restore this and get all of your personal data back on to your computer.
It may take a bit longer if you saved everything manually, but with a greatly improved new laptop, what’s the rush?