Here's How to Upgrade or Replace Your Hard Drive
When your hard disk drive is crammed full of data, or the buzzing of the bearing says it’s nearing the end of its life cycle, then it’s time to consider a new drive. That used to be a simple matter of choosing a bigger drive; maybe one that spun faster; or one with speedier I/O bus. But today, your options are multiplied and decisions are more complicated. Read on...
Hard Drive Options
You have traditional magnetic platters, still the work horses of mass storage. They’re reliable and cheap; a 500 GB HDD that will last five years can be had for about $20, and I've seen 1 terabyte (1000 GB) drives, space unheard of on desktops just a few years ago – online for $40 or less. In fact, most new PCs now come with 2 TB drives as the standard.
The minimum spin speed of a magnetic hard drive is 5400 rpm; 7200 rpm costs very little more; and some HDDs spin at 10,000 or 12,000 rpm. Faster is better, of course.
Then there are Solid State Drives (SSD), essentially enormous flash memory arrays like a USB thumb drive on steroids. With no moving parts they really make data fly; Windows will boot up in under 30 seconds, and video editing proceeds as fast as Word document editing. SSDs are available for less than $30 in capacities up to 240 GB. A one terabyte SSD will run you about $100.
In between are hybrid drives, part SSD and part HDD, integrated to optimize overall read/write speed and access. Essentially, you get a HDD with a very large cache. Frequently used files are kept on the SSD, while less frequently used files go the HDD. Prices are closer to inexpensive HDDs than to pricey SSDs.
Hard drive sizes are not limited to 1 or 2 terabytes. I found a Seagate 14TB Exos Enterprise Hard Drive on Amazon for $360. That works out to about 2.5 cents per gigabyte, which is amazing when you consider that just ten years ago, the price per GB was about 12 cents. Go back 20 years, and you had to pay abut $10 per gigabyte! But while faster is always better, bigger is not. In fact, bigger can be the enemy of faster; excessively large drives tend to come in slower spin speeds. And data can be scattered all over a nearly empty disk, necessitating frequent optimization.
Before you rush out to buy a multi-terabyte drive of any kind, ask yourself how much of that capacity you are really going to use. I have a laptop that came with 500 GB of storage; in five years, I’ve yet to fill half of it.
Clone Your Old Drive
How can you move all of your data from the old drive to the new one? The best method is cloning: making an exact bit-for-bit copy of your existing drive and transferring it to the new one. Cloning gives you a bootable new hard drive, with operating system, applications, and data all exactly as they were on the old drive.
When I bought a my Dell Optiplex computer about three years ago, I ordered a 250GB SSD drive to replace the 500GB hard drive that shipped with it. The Samsung 850 EVO came with software called Samsung Data Migration, which made it super-easy to transfer everything from my existing hard drive, and make the new SSD my primary C: drive. If your new hard drive doesn't come with a migration tool, there are commercial cloning utilities such as Norton Ghost, but many penny-pinching geeks swear by the open-source Clonezilla. Before cloning, you can install the new drive as a second internal drive in your PC, or connect it externally via USB with a $20 kit. The latter option is ideal for laptops, or desktop systems that don't have room for another internal drive.
Finally, what should you do with the old drive? I don't recommend selling or giving away your old hard drive. Even if you delete everything and reformat it, the drive still contains recoverable data that you may not wish anyone else to access. My articles Securely Erasing Your Hard Drive and How to Destroy a Hard Drive will give you some practical options to destroy the data on the drive, or render it useless.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 11 Oct 2019
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Here's How to Upgrade or Replace Your Hard Drive (Posted: 11 Oct 2019)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved