Question about hard drives

By killingroads
Dec 2, 2010
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  1. Hi all, my son keeps asking me to buy him a new hard drive for Xmas, because his computer is running out of room and he is looking to be buying the new world of warcraft expansion coming out. So I was inside Best buy and I noticed there was both External and Internal Hard drives for sale, So im wondering what is the different? If I could get one of the USB external hard drives I feel it would be a lot easier for me and him to install instead of ripping open the computer case and trying to figure out how to install one. But would a external hard drive work for this? And how would I go about installing it? Any links to items I should check out would really help me out also thanks all for the help.

    PS. His computer currently is running Windows XP home and has a 120gb HDD inside it, I was looking for something with 200-320gb to buy for him, thanks again.
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    You just need to find out whether your son's computer uses SATA or IDE hard disks. Once you know that, ordering a new hard disk is easy.

    In terms of cost, a new internal hard disk is going to be a lot cheaper, and can be used inside a new computer later on as well. If you remove the screws on the case, and remove the side panel, you want to look for the hard disk, which is looks like this:


    Then on that hard disk, it will have two connectors. One is for power, the other data, so you need to establish whether its SATA or IDE:

    IDE is the ribbon cable on the left, and SATA is the flat small cable on the right. :)
  3. killingroads

    killingroads TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok I checked it out, there is one cable which has 4 pins and looks to be the power cable and the other cable is the IDE ribbon cable. But i did notice there is only one slot on the motherboard for the IDE Cable so does that mean I can only have one hard drive on this computer? Or will I be buying a new IDE cable to hook up two hard drives? Also I forgot to add at first when it comes down to formatting a new hard drive will i need the Window xp OS Disc? If so im not even sure if I have the disc anymore seeing i got this computer for my son about 5 years ago. thanks again for the help
  4. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    OK, so its an IDE connector then. :)

    IDE cables can support upto 2 disks per cable. You should have a spare connector on the ribbon cable, nearer the hard disk. They tend to look like this:


    If you don't have a cable with that second connector your going to need to purchase one as well. The cost will be negligible though.

    So something like this would be ideal:

    You won't need your Windows CD. Just make sure the existing hard disk has its jumper set to "Master or Cable select", and your new hard disk set to "slave or cable select" and away you go. The hard disk will need formatting before it can be used, but again that can be done in Windows no problem.

    The added bonus of it being an internal disk is its inside a protective case, and can't be dropped or disconnected in the middle of writing to the disk, which would corrupt it. Games can also be installed to it as well.
  5. killingroads

    killingroads TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok so I did a little resource and this is the hdd my son currently has SAMSUNG SpinPoint P Series SP0802N 80GB 7200 RPM 2MB Cache IDE Ultra ATA133 / ATA-7 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive sorry before i was thinking it was 120gb.

    So will i need to buy another IDE Ultra ATA133 / ATA-7 hard drive then?

    Just make sure the existing hard disk has its jumper set to "Master or Cable select", and your new hard disk set to "slave or cable select" and away you go. How do i check the jumper setting on the current hard drive?
  6. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    You might need to remove it to see the jumpers. The layout and the pin positions are shown on the label face of the hard disk.
  7. killingroads

    killingroads TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oh ok so I take it there is like a switch on the actual harddrive to set it as master and cable?
  8. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    Its set by a jumper across two pins. You move the plastic jumper to the correct place as suggested on the hard disk.

    You'll see exactly what I mean if you look yourself, or view the new one when it arrives. :)

    Here is an example:

    Though note on this hard disk the jumpers are signified on the PCB side of the hard disk. 90% of the time its on the label side.
  9. killingroads

    killingroads TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the picture, I just removed the current hard drive and found it, But unfortunately I justalso found out the computer tower my son has only has room for one hard drive, so either im going to have to order a new computer tower and hard drive and switch everything over to the new case (which I really dont want to go this crazy) lol. Or going back to external hard drives would I belable to purchase a external hard drive and beable to format it so my son would beable to install video games and other apps on it? If not can you think of any other ideas that may help?

    Also I just found this website that sells Windows xp home

    So if i was to remove the current 80gb hard drive and buy a new 320gb hard drive to replace it with, and then buy the Full windows xp home program and install it to the new hard drive would that work as well? But this way im guessing my son would have to reinstall all his apps and programs seeing it would be a brand new hard drive and a fresh install of windows xp home, by the way if i was to go this way im guessing i could purchase windows 7 instead of XP home and then he would be upgraded to Win7.
  10. JMMD

    JMMD TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 854

    If you currently have a license for XP home you don't need to buy another copy. You could use a program to copy the old drive partition to the new drive and not have to do anything else. You could also do a fresh install of XP on the new drive using the old license key that is currently being used.
  11. killingroads

    killingroads TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok that would be great, seeing if I was to go that way I would be removing the current 80gb hard drive permanently and replacing it with a new 320gb hard drive and then doing a fresh install of windows on the new hard drive once I hooked it up. so if i downloaded a program to copy the xp software would I be able to burn it to a disc so i could install it on the new drive? also is there any programs you can recommend to copy the xp program?
  12. JMMD

    JMMD TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 854

    You would need the XP Home CD in order to do a fresh install. What I was suggesting is using something like Acronis True Image and copying the existing operating system to the new drive. A fresh install would probably be better if the current OS has been installed for a long time but replicating the old drive isn't a bad option.
  13. killingroads

    killingroads TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok well right now im thinking just going with a whole new hard drive would be the best seeing the one i have at the moment is only 80gigs and it is loaded up with a bunch of stuff over the years that i really dont need any more, also i found windows xp pro oem sp3 for a pretty good deal online and I actually wanna stick with windows xp over upgrading to win7 on this computer. So basically I would just need to Purchase the hard drive I want, and purchase the Windows xp pro program and i would be good to go? then i would just remove/unplug my old hard drive -> plug the new hard drive in -> boot up my computer, then install the new windows xp pro. and then i should be all set? or is there any other formatting or config. i would have to do to set everything up correctly. once again helps everyone for the help.
  14. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    Follow Leeky's advice. installing a hard disk is extremely easy. Set the jumper on the new hard drive to slave or cable select. Plug your ATA/133 cable in and your power (molex). When you boot up, you will need to format your new drive from windows. Presto - you're done.
  15. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    Ok, I think one thing that might have been overlooked is that if you only have one IDE connection on the motherboard then the CD/DVD drive and the HD should already be on the same ribbon. So that means if you wanted a 2nd hard drive, you'd have to unhook the CD/DVD drive, that isn't really a good option.

    If, the CD drive and current HD are on different ribbons then you are set there. Another HD will work like described in earlier posts.

    If the tower has room for another CD drive, you can actually buy an adapter to screw into the 3.5" hard drive to make it fit in the CD drive area.

    If you want to really do this right, with replacing the single hard drive with a newer larger one... Then I'd suggest plugging the new hd into where the CD drive is, temporarily. Booting off a USB stick to run EaseUS disk copier and basically copy your old drive to your new drive. Once that is done, you can physically remove the old drive, and connect the new drive where the old one was (and set the jumpers correctly). Then reconnect the CD drive and reboot, everything will be exactly like it was before, except now you have a larger hard drive. (Although you'll probably want to use something to expand the C partition to use up the rest of the unallocated space you gained from the new drive (or expand the C a bit, and create a new partition in the rest of the unallocated space).
  16. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    This was my first thought, but then again, given the explanation of the cable, and the OP checking the hard disk, I felt certain we'd have been notified if that was the case.

    That said, the fact there is space for one hard disk only is fishy to be me, and you really could be right.

    But by the look of things the original hard disk is going to need to be replaced anyway, so I don't think its going to be an issue.

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