128 gigs just isn't enough anymore
July 9, 2016 6:03 PM   Subscribe

I bought a Dell XPS 13 9343 about a year ago. I've managed to pretty much fill up the 128 GB capacity of the SSD already. I am contemplating upgrading the memory, which leads me to ponder: Am I crazy to attempt this myself? If so, what should I do instead? If not, what type of memory should I install? Also, what do I do with the SSD currently in my computer if I install a new one?

This YouTube video makes the upgrade look pretty straightforward. Are there any hidden pitfalls I should be aware of ? Also, I want to be sure I buy the right part. This article suggests that this SSD would be compatible. Does that sound right?

Finally, is there some kind of box with a port that I could put my old SSD into to use it as a backup? Is that a thing?

Any guidance appreciated!
posted by reren to Technology (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The step you may be neglecting is reinstalling windows and all of your software on the new drive. Depending on your skills and knowledge you may find this harder than the hardware upgrade, so be sure you are comfortable with that before you start.
posted by deadwax at 6:24 PM on July 9, 2016

Best answer: If you don't want to deal with the hassle of reinstalling your OS and all your programs, you're going to want to clone the contents of your current hard drive to the new one before popping it in. This is where having the "box with port" beforehand comes in handy -- get an external enclosure (something like this -- just the first result for google search "m2 sata enclosure", not endorsed by me), pop the new SSD into the enclosure, clone your old SSD using e.g. Clonezilla or similar, and then swap the two drives. I personally had some issues with cloning the drive, but I was doing the opposite of what you're trying to do (moving from a large HDD to a small SSD) and there were additional complications with shrinking down my drive that I don't think you'd have to deal with.

A simpler way to get more storage would be to just pop in a large-capacity SD card that sits permanently in your computer.
posted by btfreek at 6:25 PM on July 9, 2016

You can make your 128g SSD into an external USB drive, yes. You just need an enclosure like this one. Plenty of options, don't spend more than $20.
posted by MillMan at 6:38 PM on July 9, 2016

Best answer: The iFixit teardown looks pretty comprehensive, but just in case you'd like to have them around for reference, Dell does have the spec sheets and service manual for the XPS 13 9343 available. In any case, looking at the specs I'd say your plan checks out; as long as you use an m.2 SSD with a SATA III interface, you should be fine. For best results, look for SSDs with the 2280 number in their spec sheet; that refers to the physical dimensions of the card and will help ensure that whatever you get fits your laptop.

That said, I'd tend to agree that if you're not comfortable with reinstalling the OS or cloning the existing drive, you may find it easier to just spring for a large SD card; you can get them in capacities up to around 256 GB these days.
posted by Aleyn at 6:45 PM on July 9, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for the highly useful replies. I am tending to think, as a couple of you have suggested, I would be better off just popping in a 128 or 256 GB SD card -- an option I hadn't even considered. Maybe this one? Anyway, thanks everyone!
posted by reren at 6:57 PM on July 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

have you considered just adding an external usb drive? last I checked you could get 1.5 terabytes for around $100. It's hard to imagine everything on your hard drive needs to be ssd quick.
posted by juv3nal at 7:15 PM on July 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you go with the SD storage concept, you might also consider one of the really physically small USB drives that just barely stick out from the port. It might be less likely to get caught on things or get accidentally ejected, depending on how the SD card slot is.
posted by Candleman at 7:42 PM on July 9, 2016

a) get the new ssd and an enclosure
b) put the new ssd in the enclosure
c) clone
d) swap ssd's (watch several you tube videos and articles carefully there are often bits of detail that are good to know before starting.)
e) put the old ssd in a safe box and DO NOT touch it until everything works good on the new set up
f) turn on the computer, switching one component should be no problem

There are cloning products that are not expensive and may give a bit of comfort, free products and it's not hard to boot to a linux on a thumb drive and use the dd utility, lots of examples. Basically just be very careful to clone to new drive.

Open the computer in a large pan or on a table with a large towel to catch tiny screws, have a couple small bowls to hold the screws and take your own pictures at each step. Really should not be a problem. Check if you can increase the memory at the same time, boosts performance.
posted by sammyo at 7:43 PM on July 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cloned the SSD in a Windows system in my lab last week using Macrium Reflect Free. Dead easy, zero cost. After swapping the drives, Windows didn't even notice the change had occurred - except for the fact that I went from a 60 GB drive to a 480 GB. (Dual drive system, OS was installed on SSD, purchased back when SSDs were a lot more expensive - the 480 GB drive was ~$120...)
posted by caution live frogs at 5:09 AM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have the same computer you're trying to upgrade. I've been thinking about doing the same thing, but in the meantime I tried the SD solution. As it happens, my experience has been that using an SD card as permanent storage on that machine is unreliable. I could not expect the system to recognize and mount that drive from reboot to reboot. I found that I had to remove the SD card, reboot, then reinsert the SD card. It turned into quite a palaver.
posted by DandyRandy at 11:15 AM on July 11, 2016

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