> I am considering a new hard drive for my laptop.
> I have added extra hard drives to a desktop, but this is the first
> time I would be replacing the main hard drive. I have heard there is
> software to copy a hard drive, but I assume that you must need
> something to connect them while you do that.
One way that I know works is to mount both hard drives into a desktop
computer in order to make the copy. You'll need two 2.5" to 3.5" EIDE
adapters to make the mechanical connection, but electrically they're
compatible. (This presumes that the desktop to be used as a PATA
connector free, and that the laptop is using PATA as well.) This is
fairly easy as long as you have all of the necessary parts.
Alternately, you might be able to connect both drives to the laptop, but
I'm not as sure about this method. It's entirely possible that your
laptop only has one PATA controller, for a maximum of two devices--your
existing hard drive and optical drive. I imagine that you might be able
to disconnect the optical drive to temporarily accommodate your new hard
drive, but there might some mechanical limit there as well.
It is also possible that you could hook up your new drive in an external
enclosure, and connect it via USB. Whatever software you use would have
to be able to recognize that drive, and I don't have any experience in
that regard. Sorry I can't be more certain here.
However you connect the drives to one PC, you will need some sort of
cloning software. In the past I've seen some freeware recommendations,
but I've only had experience with a couple of commercial packages: Ghost
and TrueImage. Both are adequate to the job. Oh, I guess there are
some drive setup utilities from some drive manufacturers that will do a
clone for you as well--perhaps others can make recommendations on that.
> The other option is to reinstall the software. How easy is it to
> install the operating service? I have an installation CD of windows XP
> that came with my desktop. Would I just put in the new hard drive, put
> the CD in the drive, and then boot the computer? Or is it pretty
Reinstalling Windows XP, or really just installing it as you're going to
a clean drive, is generally not difficult. If everything goes well, and
it usually does, you can have your system up and running in an hour. It
may take a bit longer to make sure you have all the right drivers in
place. That will be greatly facilitated by having a drivers disc from
your laptop's manufacturer. I suspect that you do.
Potential complications can arise from restoring applications. You may
well have an applications cd as well from your laptop manufacturer, but
there will likely be some programs you've installed outside of the
factory set. If you don't have registration keys for those installers
that need them, you may lose some of those programs. Also, if you
install different versions of programs than you were previously using,
that can produce some unexpected changes in your system. That may or
may not be a good thing.
Finally, you have to be very careful to backup your *data*. A lot of it
is probably in various "My Document" folders, but some of it can creep
into other locations. Notoriously people that make a clean install
overlook their email and manage to lose those in the transition.
On balance, I think that a periodic clean installation is a good thing,
but only if you're prepared to do it.
> Also, would it be a lot faster to upload photos from a camera's memory
> card to the internal hard drive as to an external hard drive? And
> would it be a lot fast to burn a CD from files on the internal drive
> as compared to an external drive?
An internal drive will likely be considerably faster than an external,
> I have an older laptop (Pentium 3, 800 GHz, maxed at 1GB ram). I
> cannot afford to get a new laptop. I have been using an external hard
> drive since the laptop is only 30GB. I have found a 160 GB hard drive
> for $65, and I am hoping that this would speed up my computer work. I
> have to upload files from the camera, edit them and save them, then
> burn them to a CD. I usually do about 10GB worth in a weekend. And my
> laptop currently doesn't have that much space to work with.
> Would this improve my work flow, making file transfers a lot faster?
One last thing to consider is that the larger hard drive may well run
hotter than your original one. That could present a problem.
Unfortunately, I can't really quantify the probability or detriment of
such an eventuality.