How to install old OS on a new laptop hard drive
December 27, 2005 4:28 PM   Subscribe

My laptop's hard drive is reaching capacity. How can I install a larger hard drive without having to buy a new version of Win XP Pro (which was pre-installed on the laptop when I bought it, and IBM will no longer send me a CD-ROM version of the OS at a reasonable price, since the machine is long out of warranty). If buying a new version of XP is the only option, how do I install it on the new hard drive (or will the laptop just boot to the installation CD-ROM if there's no OS installed when the power is turned on?)
posted by twsf to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
Have you cleaned out your existing hard drive of all the stuff on it that you don't need?

What about a small external hard drive?
posted by k8t at 4:32 PM on December 27, 2005

Several options, all depending on how technically adept you are and if you want to spend money.

The easiest method (but costs money)? Buy the larger Hard Drive and take it to your local computer store and have them copy the old drive to the new one. (This can also be done, I imagine, by the Geek Squad at BestBuy)

The Technical Method? Clone the hard drive yourself using a tool such as Norton Ghost. This would require adapters to move the hard drives to your desktop computer and you would have to purchase the software to make this happen.
posted by stew560 at 4:32 PM on December 27, 2005

I would second k8t's call for a second, external, hard drive.

Failing all else, an XP install CD will boot and install the OS on an empty hard drive. You may need to alter your bios, but I think that failing to find an OS on the hard drive will cause the bios to boot from the CD.
posted by jcruden at 4:36 PM on December 27, 2005

i know it's not a direct answer, but what k8t said. try running windirstat and see what's taling up the space. of course, this won't help if it's all music or similar, but if it a lot is installed software it's surprising how much space you can save.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:43 PM on December 27, 2005

Try Drive Solutions and EZ Gig
posted by A189Nut at 5:13 PM on December 27, 2005

Hmm. Link didn't work.
posted by A189Nut at 5:14 PM on December 27, 2005

Most hard drives (all I have purchased) come with cloning software which takes care of everything. I have done this many times buying new hard drives without a hitch, and I hope all goes well tomorrow, or the next few days, when I do it again.
posted by caddis at 5:23 PM on December 27, 2005

What caddis says, with some qualifications.

This being a laptop, there is the complication with hooking up two drives at once. I'd suggest picking up an external USB/Firewire drive enclosure. Put the new drive it it. Clone the old one onto it, then swap them and use the old drive as an external backup drive or something.

The only issue I can imagine is that the drive cloning software might not support cloning to a USB drive.

That and that most of the laptop hard drives I've bought have come bare, without any sort of cloning software.

BTW, I think IBMs refusal to make you whole on media is complete lame. I'd press them on the issue. You should also see if there is some sort of sofware already installed that will reconstitute install media from a hidden partition on your HDD.
posted by Good Brain at 5:39 PM on December 27, 2005

Buy new hard drive. Buy external enclosure for drive. Connect new drive to laptop with current drive still installed. Use drive cloning software to copy the disk. Swap drives, make the smaller one the external and boot from the new larger internal one.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:24 PM on December 27, 2005

I second (third?) the external hard drive suggestion. I bought an 80GB one from Best Buy that's powered by the USB cable, and its small and light enough to pack easily with the laptop. I moved my less frequently used programs and my archived emails onto that drive, and I am living happily. As a bonus, the multimedia stuff I put on that drive is a breeze to share with other computers when I so choose.
posted by forforf at 7:30 PM on December 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks to all - I wasn't confident a drive cloning program would allow a new HD to boot properly, with a fully functioning copy of the OS, but y'all have convinced me otherwise. Thanks again...
posted by twsf at 8:03 PM on December 27, 2005

You don't have to buy an external hard disk. You just need to buy a USB 2.5" hard drive enclosure (you can get one for 10-15$), and then use your existing laptop hard drive with it.
posted by Sharcho at 3:01 AM on December 28, 2005

what's up with people never re-installing windows? it must be hell on earth ..
posted by suni at 4:42 AM on December 28, 2005

I suggest one of two things. First is that you, like others said, buy an external USB 2.5" enclosure, put the old drive in it and put the new drive in the machine. The key is though to ghost an image of the old drive to the new drive. For that, get Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost.

Second option is to get a Win XP Pro disc from a friend or work or somewhere else, and use your Product Key that's on the sticker on your laptop (assuming this because most computers have their Windows Product Key sticker on the unit itself).

The best option would be a combination of both. Install fresh Windows XP on the new drive, get your settings just the way you like them and all your programs installed, and then make a ghost image and put it onto your old hard drive via the external enclosure. Now, whenever anything happens you can just re-ghost the image back!
posted by Ekim Neems at 6:22 AM on December 28, 2005

what's up with people never re-installing windows? it must be hell on earth ..

Some people know how to avoid spyware? I've had the same win2k install since... 2000 and it works fine. I don't understand why people feel the need to keep reinstalling.

And yes, if you copy the data files and boot sector of the drive properly it should 'just work'.
posted by delmoi at 8:31 AM on December 28, 2005

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