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Replace Your Hard Drive

Although many PC repair shops would have you think that replacing your own hard drive is a difficult, laborious task, it often is not such a big deal. On more specialized systems, such as those with RAID configurations or multi-drive servers, a definite technical expertise is necessary. These computer systems are generally an expensive enough of an investment that only professionals should be touching them. But, for a basic PC, upgrading or replacing your hard drive is often a very easy exercise, which many PC repair shops will charge up to $100 to do.

When To Replace
There are certainly many reasons why you may want to replace your hard drive. If you have an old hard drive, as an example, there are a lot of reasons why upgrading is a superb concept. First of all, older drives are slower. Often, your system's performance may be slowed by your old hard drive. They simply spin slower, and in many cases, have poor data transfer rates compared to the hard drives of today.

What's more, over the past five years, hard drive technology has advanced markedly, with the average size of a new hard drive being at least 80GB, with some models actually going to a "terabyte" (1024GB) in size. Needless to say, your old 2GB drive simply cannot compare with a new hard disk drive.

Another good reason to replace your hard drive is when you begin to hear noises emanating from the drive itself. This may include buzzing or clicking noises, or simply odd sounds. This is usually a case of the drive's heads failing. This is an internal problem, and certainly cannot be fixed, but in many cases is a prime symptom of a drive that is about to fail.

At Hard Drive Recovery Group, we always recommend that people enable their computer's S.M.A.R.T. system (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology), which will ensure that if a physical hard drive problem is beginning to occur, it can be detected immediately before the need for drive recovery. This can save you money and time and ensure you don't have to recover your data through a professional service. This is usually a system you can activate within your PC's BIOS.

Adding A New Drive To Windows
Adding a new drive to your Windows-based PCs is actually quite easy. Most popular brands of hard drive, including Western Digital, Samsung, Fujitsu and Maxtor brands, have easy to follow instructions on the step by step installation of your new hard drive. When replacing a drive, however, there are files which must be transferred, and then possibly the new drive will need to become the boot drive.

Copying files from your old hard drive to the new one is not as easy as you would think. Windows does, mostly for security purposes, lock up many system files to ensure that they aren't accidentally deleted. This means that while Windows is running, you generally will not be able to copy all files.

The Process
In order to install and replace your hard drive, it's best to take a rather indirect route. Start by installing the new hard drive as a second drive. Use the instructions that came with the drive. In DOS, which you should be able to access using a Windows 98 startup disk, use the xcopy, or even better, the xcopy32 program, in order to transfer the files from your old disk to the new disk. What you must know is that transferring the locked files intact and with the exact same file names is absolutely essential.

Using the Microsoft Backup program, you will definitely want to backup your entire Windows directory, which is likely located at c:\Windows, or whatever directory you installed it to. Also, make sure you backup your registry and personal documents. It is best to save your backup file to the new drive.

If you have copied the files in DOS using the xcopy32 program, you should now be able to boot up your new hard drive (you must, of course, change the jumper or cable location of your new drive if you are using the "cable select" function). Everything should work (as long as xcopy32 copied all of the files over) fine, as your old drive has been effectively mirrored to your new one. But, in cases where you are having difficulties (and with Windows PCs, this happens) you may want to reinstall your operating system from its CD-Rom. Having a fresh operating system install is always a good thing, as it can repair files and remove older files which may be corrupted.

Once you have successfully rebooted, you should restore your "backup" files, including your My Documents folder. In a case where you did not mirror your old drive, and reinstalled Windows, you may have to install new drivers for your hardware. This is usually easy to do, especially if you have an Internet connection.

Replacing a hard drive is a superb thing to do, and can be done by almost anyone with a decent degree of computer installation knowledge. But, certainly if this task is something which you feel might be "above your head", we definitely recommend you have a professional do it. Knowing when you are outgunned will save you lots of time, and a potential need for hard drive recovery.

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