Replacing the hard drive on my laptop

Imminent hard drive failure

I got a worrying message on my laptop the other day.

It said that there was a fault on my 500GB hard disk, that I should stop using it and get it repaired or replaced.  A quick search on the internet revealed my suspicions, which was that this was a genuine Windows system generated message, that hard drive failure was imminent and that it probably couldn’t be repaired.

That was ok, I’d imaged my computer using Macarium Reflect and I’d also copied all of my files, music, pictures etc.  All of this was stored on my Seagate 1TB external hard drive.  I read that solid state drives have no moving parts so are less prone to failure, and boot up quicker than normal hard drives. So I ordered a new solid state drive (cost me around £50 for 128GB).

Solid state drives were more expensive than moving hard drives at the time of writing this post.  There again since I’d stored most of my stuff on the external drive and backed up some of it to the cloud, I really didn’t need 500GB anyway.  In fact I only needed 70GB, plus some room for Windows system updates.

I even found a helpful video from Microsoft explaining how to restore your PC after a hard drive failure using a Windows rescue disk (which I’d also created earlier) and an image from an external hard drive.  So I was all set.

Installing new solid state drive on my laptop

My new hard drive arrived, and so I:

  1. unplugged my laptop from the mains
  2. removed the battery
  3. removed the back panel covering the hard disk using a precision screwdriver
  4. removed the screws holding the caddy into the laptop
  5. removed the caddy and then used pliers and the precision screwdriver to get the hard drive out of the caddy.  I needed the pliers to turn the screwdriver because the screws in the caddy were stuck initially.
  6. put the solid state drive into the caddy and back into the laptop, then reversed stages 1 to 5 to put it all back together again.
  7. Booted up computer using rescue disk, told it to find the image on the external hard drive.

Problems during installation of new solid state drive

This is where it got hairy:

  • Windows told me that it didn’t see an external hard drive, and needed me to insert a CD for the driver which would enable it to recognise the external hard dive.
  • I insert a CD marked ‘Seagate driver’ which I’d created years ago.  Double clicked on an application icon and was told there was no driver there.
  • Went through steps 1 to 7 again so that I could reinstall my old hard drive.
  • Went to the Seagate website and was informed that there was no driver available on their website and that the device didn’t need one in any case.
  • Realised that I couldn’t copy the 30GB Macarium Reflect image of my computer to a 5GB dvd disc.
  • Discovered also that Windows refused to create its own image or backup due to what it called a ‘Server error’.
  • Went to Macarium website and learned the difference between cloning a disk and imaging one.

Cloning my hard disk

Cloning my hard disk I’d discovered, involved a number of steps:

  1. Got a USB hard disk caddy, unscrewed it and plugged the solid state drive into it.
  2. Connected caddy to computer via USB cable.
  3. Computer installed drivers for what it calls ‘Generic USB device’.
  4. I searched for what to do next as there’s no sign on my new drive in ‘Computer’.
  5. I clicked on Start, right-click on ‘Computer’ and clicked on ‘Manage’.
  6. On the left most pane of the window that pops up I looked under Storage and clicked on Disk management.  I found my ‘Generic USB’ disc and right clicked on the volume beside it, then clicked on ‘New simple volume’.
  7. Following the wizard I managed to rename my solid state drive as Drive F, formatting it in the process but that was ideal because the solid state drive was brand new and had nothing on it anyway.
  8. I used Macarium Reflect to clone Drive C and Hidden FAT 32 to Drive F.

Now all I needed to do once the cloning was complete, was take apart my laptop and swap the hard drives then put it all back together and boot it up again.

So what?

After all that, did it work this time?


The computer took seconds to boot up from full shut-down status to the login screen.  Less than two minutes after booting my desktop was fully loaded and it was installing the device driver for my new hard disk.  After the computer restarted I was back up and running, again, in less than two minutes from boot up to being fully loaded up after logging in.  With the previous hard disk booting up to the login screen took two minutes and then after I logged in it took a further 10 minutes to load everything up and get settled.

Hardware and software involved:

  • Laptop: Asus K53E (Intel Celeron B815 @1.60GHz, 4GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics, 500GB Hitachi Hard Disk swapped for 128GB SanDisk solid state drive)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
  • Macarium Reflect v5.3

About TheImaginator

35 year old sciolist living in Tokyo. I like swing dancing, Twitter word games, writing, using, reading, and watching movies. I write stuff on my blog occasionally.
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