Here's How: Install a new hard drive

Just when you thought your PC's hard drive was big enough for any data you could throw at it, along come huge new applications that create ever larger data files. Throw in those not-so-economy-sized operating systems like Windows 2000 Professional, and suddenly--if you work with byte-hungry graphics, sound, or video files--you need all the storage space you can get.

As the size of hard drives continues to increase, prices stay surprisingly low. Today's standard drive is in the 13GB-to-20GB range. Also available are fast yet comparatively inexpensive drives with capacities of 30GB to 40GB. And soon you should find 60GB and 75GB drives available--data capacities that seemed like science fiction only a year or so ago.

If your PC was manufactured in the past three to four years, you should have no problem upgrading to a super-capacity drive. Older systems may not be able to recognize the full capacity of your new drive, but you can usually overcome this limitation by updating the system BIOS. Recent PCs usually have a flash BIOS that you can upgrade by downloading a file from your PC maker's Web site. Otherwise, you'll need to buy a BIOS upgrade chip (about $40 to $60).

Most new drives support the Ultra DMA/66 interface (also known as Ultra ATA/66), which can transfer data at up to 66 megabytes per second. Unfortunately, only PCs made in the past six months or so can take advantage of the full speed. PCs made within the past three to four years but not within the past half-year use the UltraDMA/33 interface, and systems older than that have an even slower version. All UltraDMA/66 drives will work with the older interfaces, but they won't work at full speed.

Your new drive will be faster than your current drive, so plan on using the new drive as your C: drive, and the old one as your D: drive. Copying the data from your old hard disk to the new one is a breeze if you use the utilities shipped with virtually all new drive kits. Alternatively, you can buy a separate drive-copy utility, such as PowerQuest Corp.'s DriveCopy. Note that trying to copy files using DOS commands such as DISKCOPY and XCOPY won't work because they will not copy the essential hidden and system files.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stan Miastkowski

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?