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Hard drive upgrade - Dimension E521 Help

By alfie88 ยท 6 replies
Jul 31, 2010
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  1. Hello all.

    I've been looking to upgrade the hard drive on my E521. I've narrowed my search to a few options that I am able to afford and which I think look like good drives. I plan to do a fresh install of Windows XP Pro. I use my computer for graphic design work using software like Adobe CS5 and such, and also basic video editing, (I also have a new nVidia 9400GT video card that's working like a charm). I also play mid-level games, nothing too hardcore.

    My current hard drive is about 372gb. I'm not sure of the cache size or the rpm.
    I was looking a Western Digital drives, particularly the Caviar Black series. I searched a few and chose a couple Black and a Blue that I'm interested in.

    My question is: Is there a recommended size for a boot/system drive? In other words, is it recommended to have a main drive be 1TB, or is that too 'unstable' as a boot drive? I read somewhere that a 640gb drive is more stable as a system drive, so that sparked my curiosity as to know what I should really get.

    The drives I'm looking at are:

    (please refer to attachment. I could not post links since I don't have enough posts in this forum)

    From these, which one fits best for my system? Also, does it really matter if the main boot drive is as large as 1tb? Should I get a Black instead of the Blue?

    Another thing is since I'm planning on installing WinXP Pro, should I try to install a fresh SP3 version from the start, since the base XP only recognizes about 127gb?

    Thank you in advance for any and all advice on this, since I want to buy the drive that would offer me the most bang for buck and reliability. Your help is greatly appreciated.


    Attached Files:

  2. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,103   +422

    I would recommend using the Caviar Black series over the Blue series. It's not that there is a problem with the blue series but the black series is better, IMO.

    It depends on what your storage needs are as to what size drive you get. With WD I don't know if one size is more stable than another. For what it's worth I happen to use the 640GB Caviar Black hard drive on some of my PCs.

    You can partition your large hard drive into a smaller operating system partition and the rest as storage. Perhaps a 60GB OS partition would be more than enough but others might have other opinions.

    To simplify the installation of the large hard drives, I would recommend installing XP SP2 or SP3 or you could consider Windows 7.
  3. alfie88

    alfie88 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thank you for the reply, mailpup.

    I too was leaning more towards the Caviar Black. Now all I have to decide on is the size.

    My storage needs would be comprised mainly of images: high resolution images for my graphic design work. Video would also be included. And of course, music. And I'd have to run programs like the ones in Adobe CS5 and such.

    Again, thank you for your reply. It is much appreciated. Though I would like a couple more opinions to help base my decisions on.

    Good day.

  4. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,103   +422

    I don't blame you if you want more opinions. Hopefully, you'll get some.

    One thing you should do, if you don't already do it, is backup your data in case of hard drive failure. You never want to have only one copy of irreplaceable data.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,519   +2,312

    OK, if you're really going to welcome this, here goes. Windows 7 is luxurious, and I wouldn't install XP on a new PC. You can have it anyway, and free of charge, if you spring for Win 7 Pro, and install XP Mode.

    As to partition size, I'm actually using 160GBs for the OS partition on my newest PC. (Win 7 Pro 64 bit).

    These installations are large in and of themselves, but what I resent is not being to use the desktop for temp storage, and having to babysit drive space constantly, as one would need to do at 60GB.

    As you do, I have been using to WD Caviar Blacks, in 640 & 750 GB sizes. Save for the resume hiccup on one of the 640s, they've given no trouble. That said, every Seagate I've used has netted the same result. (Yes, even a 640GB Barracuda 11, during Seagate's bad run of those).
  6. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    I'll defer comments on the best hard drive to the hardware mavens :)

    But will add my own opinions on partitioning, data management and OS

    1. Since you use your computer for your business/work I'd suggest you stick to XP for now. You're familiar with its interfaces, its nuances and your current apps and tools. There's much to be said for day-to-day continuity if only for business reasons. At some point, when you start thinking about Win 7, either get a 2nd machine or create a dual boot so you "migrate" at your own pace your tools, data and user experience to using Win 7.

    2. You should run XP SP3. That means
    > Install whatever SP level is on your install disk and then run Windows Updates over and over till it says "no more updates" which include the update to SP3
    > Also, I advise your run Custom updates and install all Hardware Optional updates as well

    3. As to how to partition your HD. On the one hand, i don't think there's any reason you couldn't run with one huge boot partition BUT i think what should drive your decision is: How do you want to manage your data? (This includes mapping a backup strategy as well. Backups being quite important as mailpup also points out)

    As examples, I happen to keep a 50GB partition on my HD for media which i have copies of elsewhere so i know i needn't backup. My backup strategy becomes much easier when i know i can simply omit backing up whatever is on this partition (so i don't have to tell my backup software file or folder exceptions for backup)

    Also, some people like to separate system partition vs. My Documents on XP. (you can easily change My Documetns path by clicking Start, rt click My Documents then Properties. Then change the path). But i found, for me at least, it was more hassle as
    1) I still needed to manage Desktop space and for data backups (when My Docs data were on separate partition)
    2) And as the captain said, you still have the issue of managing Desktop storage as well

    So recommend you also consider a complete data strategy including backup strategies (especially as this is your business computer)
    > (e.g. using disk cloning rather then simple file/folder data backups)
    > Consider HOW LARGE a backup drive is needed (in addition your HD size considerations) based on how large your partition space is
    > Consider Full disk backups vs. just data backups
    > Consider Full backups vs. incremental backups and what backup tool to use

    /* edit */
    Oh btw... You might also see this post for some suggested steps to prepare before doing a full reinstall. And for backing up your current drivers, several people have said Double Driver. I've looked at it quickly, never used it myself yet but it looks pretty good IMHO
  7. alfie88

    alfie88 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Wow. Thank you guys for the info and the insight.

    I appreciate the explanations you guys handed me. I'll take them into consideration.

    I do plan to stick to XP for now, since like you said, I'm VERY accustomed to it. I never got into Vista, especially after the bad reviews, and Windows 7 seems to be a real charmer, but I don't have the means to get it, nor upgrade my memory to run it appropriately.
    That said, I'm waiting to get the cash to go out and buy the new hard drive. I do have all of my information and data backed up on a separate hdd, so a fresh install won't be a hassle.

    Once again, thanks for the replies.


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