Replacing hdd, no optical drive (or experience)

By Sariah
Apr 8, 2016
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  1. Please bear with me as I am clueless when it comes to hardware.

    I bought a second hand Alienware m17x laptop (probably R1 but not sure as it was customised) off ebay for a really good price about 5 years ago. It has been doing great until recently on boot up it has been showing an error on one of the hard drives (it l says I have two drives in a Raid 0 array which was news to me). Everything appeared fine until a couple of days ago when I shut down the laptop I got a bsod, the laptop restarted and showed a smart event on the hard drive that had the error then nothing but a black screen and the words "missing operating system". I restarted the laptop and this time it showed the error again then a bit more info (sorry can't remember what) with the words "operating system not found". I restarted again and this time it booted up. I haven't turned it off since, just put it in sleep mode.

    I have made a new backup and system image. The thing is, I have no optical drive (it went kaput a while back). I am working on making a bootable usb stick with system repair on it.

    My questions are:

    1. I'm aware this is a death sentence for the hdd. How do I tell which one is affected when I come to replace it?

    2. I'm looking at buying an ssd. The one I'm looking at

    comes with software, will I be able to get away with not using the software since I have no optical drive? I was hoping the system image I have backed up along with system repair on a usb will be enough (I've never used a system image before though, or replaced a hard drive so please tell me if anything sounds dumb).

    3. When I am ready to replace the bad hdd, do I have to format the good one first or do anything else to it? I don't want it in a Raid array with the new ssd because I'm guessing it will fail sooner rather than later too.

    4. Lasty, will the ssd I'm looking at be able to be used in future laptops or a desktop?

    Thanks so much!

    Editing to say sorry, should have said I'm using Windows 7 ultimate.
  2. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus TS Evangelist Posts: 1,533   +288

    Start at beginning and work thru the possible issues.
    Do you have malware prevention and are your recent scans clean?
    When was the last time you cleaned out the inside of this venerable laptop? Dust bunnies?
    Have you run chkdsk /r and with what result?
    Do you have 'errors' in Event Viewer?
    A 'system repair' may be useful, but unsure if long lasting in this case.
    Can you find specifications for your laptop (manual? tech sheets?)?
    Any replacement if you do not have it properly specified could be a bad idea.
    Ebay may have used replacement for optical drive (for cheap).
    Thickness is an important dimension.

    It is likely you will have to initialize new storage (disk management)

    Look for Youtube videos for your machine - may help yu clean and replace components
    Sariah likes this.
  3. Sariah

    Sariah TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks so much for your reply.

    Scans are fine, chkdsk found no problems. I've made a bootable repair usb using the instructions here :

    It didn't even cross my mind to use it now, I'm hoping to just use it with the system image on the new ssd and if it doesn't work I've got my files backed up anyway. I used the system scanner on Crucial's website to make sure the ssd will be compatible. I'm not sure on the exact specifications of everything, only what system information and device manager tells me. I didn't get any manuals with the laptop and I'm not even sure of the model to search for a manual online. Replacing the optical drive would be a bit daunting anyway, I'm not at all confident opening up a computer. Replacing the hdd looks simple enough though - thanks for the tip on the videos. If that goes well I'll look into the optical drive.

    I have tons of errors in the Event Viewer! I have one critical error from when I got the smart event on 4th April, it just says the computer didn't shut down cleanly. I have 58 other errors, did you want a log or something like that? I haven't used Event Viewer so I don't know what to do with all the info.

    Now, cleaning it. Well, I've only ever cleaned under the keys. I've been aware I should probably do it, but again I'm not confident with opening it up and I thought it could only lead to overheating and my temps have been ok. Could that really be the cause of the error on the hdd? I was planning to watch a video on how to do it and clean it before I put the new ssd in.
  4. Sariah

    Sariah TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok, so I've just discovered the existence of external optical drives! I'll just get one of those :)
  5. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus TS Evangelist Posts: 1,533   +288

  6. Sariah

    Sariah TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the link, looks really helpful anf lots of info there so I'll take my time reading it through.

    I use Core Temp and CPUID HWMonitor, my temps are usually 45-50 degrees C when idle, 65-70 under load. Does that sound ok? I'll get HWInfo too, that looks a lot more in-depth.
  7. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus TS Evangelist Posts: 1,533   +288

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