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How to upgrade your IDE Hard Drive without reloading Windows.

So you have an older computer that has a small hard drive and you want to put a bigger hard drive in, but you don't want to reload Windows. No Problem! This article is based on upgrading your hard drive when you have XP (Pro or Home) and assumes that you have your bios set to auto detect your drives. There is of course more than one way to do an upgrade of your systems hard drive, I am just going to show what I have found to be the quickest and most reliable from my experiences.

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A. Choose your Drive transfer software. You can buy good software for this. I use Casper XP and it works well with Windows XP systems. You can normally get free software for installation of a new drive from your Drive manufacturers website. Here are a couple of Free downloads from specific manufacturers.

These links open in new windows so you don't loose this page!!!

Western Digital Lifeguard
Once on this page scroll down the page and download the Data Lifeguard Tools. When your download is complete install the program. The lifeguard program will work on some other manufacturers drives but they don't provide support for doing this. If you use this on a non WD drive the software will warn you about this but will still normally allow you to copy your drive at your own risk.

Seagate now owns Maxtor download the MaxBlast program and install it if you have a Maxtor hard drive.

Seagate Disk Wizard.
For installing Seagate drives (I don't normally use this so I am not familiar with how it is set up)


1. Make sure the system you have will support the drive you want to install.

Some older systems were limited to drives of a certain maximum size. 137 Gigs (roughly) was one of the limitations. An even earlier limitation was 32 gigs but if you have one of these older systems you probably don't have XP on it. Check the specifications of your board by getting the number off of it and going to the manufacturers website. Once you know the drive you want is supported go to step 2

2. Shut down your system.

3. Open the side cover of your case.
Most cases have a side cover that comes off, but some (like some Dell models) open from the back and split apart like a clam shell.

4. Touch a bare metal spot on your case to discharge any static electricity and then Carefully unplug the power connector/s and the cable/s from your CD Rom/s

5. Get your new drive out of the packaging

6. Plug the new hard drive into the cable that your CD rom was plugged into.
Note that the cable should have a red wire on one side of the ribbon. This red wire goes towards the power connector of the hard drive. Most newer computer cables have a tab on them and the drive has a slot that the tab will go into to make sure your lined up and the ribbon is right side up.  

7. Plug in the power supply connector.
Pay attention to the shape of the connector and the shape of the spot it plugs into. Note the red wire on the connector. The red wire should face the red wire on the hard drives cable that goes to the mainboard.

8. Make sure that the hard drive are not going to touch any of your circuit boards and that the board on the drive will not touch anything.

9. Start your computer.

10. When Windows comes up to the desktop, you should see a found new hardware notification by the clock. This should be your new drive.

   Watch the notifications and make sure that Windows sees the new device as a hard drive. At this point if you were to look in the My Computer portion of Windows you will not see the new drive yet because it has not been partitioned.

11. Start your hard drive setup software. I use Casper XP and WD Lifeguard to make most of my copies.

12. Copy your drive using the hard drive setup software of your choice making sure that if the software asks you about the extra space on the drive, that you allocate all additional space to the new partition.
This will give you a new partition with the maximum amount of space that the drive has and not create a second partition. So if you have windows on a 40 gig drive and change to 160 gig drive, Windows will be on a 160 gig partition not another 40 gig leaving 120 gigs of the new drive unused.

13.Once you have copied your original hard drive to the new drive, shut down your computer.

14. Touch a bare spot on the case again to make sure to discharge any static electricity.

15. Unplug your new hard drive.

16. Plug your CD Rom/s back in.

17. Unplug your old hard drive.
You have a decision to make at this point. If your old drive is woring well at this point, you might consider leaving it in the case as an emergency backup in case your system goes down. Although it will not have any new information on it past this date, it may come in handy to have an emergency backup of your system that you could just plug in and go. There are several other things you could do with the old hard drive but to keep this easy I would just leave it as described.

18. Mount your new drive in the case. There are several different ways that you can mount a drive in a case so I wont go any further than to say put it in like the old drive.

19. Put the side cover back on. ( Clam shell case, close the case)

20. Start your computer.
When Windows starts backup you should see the found new hardware message again. This is just Windows seeing the new drive as the Primary hard drive instead of a secondary drive. Although rare, sometimes Windows will make you reactivate. This does not happen very often but it has happned to me in the past.

21. Put your computer back in the spot you normally keep it and enjoy.

Note: I use this method of putting the new drive on the secondary IDE ribbon / Cable because it eliminates any confusion of master and slave jumper settings on the drives. It also transfers quicker on a separate cable than trying to run data both ways through a single cable.



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