View Full Version : Do you have a moment to answer a few basic hard drive and partition questions?
01-02-2009, 01:27 AM
I have a few questions about the hard drive on my laptop computer. I suspect my questions aren't difficult, but I'm not sure where to find the answers. Please accept my thanks for taking a moment to answer them.
I have a Dell Inspiron E1505 running Vista Home Premium. It has 2GB of memory (the max supported). I've been concerned about crowding the hard drive.
When I go to "Computer", it shows two hard drive. The C: drive is called "OS" and has 29.87GB free of 99.74 total. The other drive D: is called "RECOVERY" and has 4.43GB free of 9.99GB total. I have not changed the configuration since its original boot up. What is the "recovery" drive for? Do I need it? How do I use it?
I want to increase drive capacity. The largest drive this computer supports is 120GB. By my count, I have 110GB. Is the other 10GB worth the $100 a new drive costs?
If I were to replace the drive, I would need to reload the OS. I know how to reformat and restore the computer. How would it even boot if I put in a new hard drive? Will the OEM DVD recognize the new hard drive and allow me to install the OS?
Why is 120GB the largest drive I can put in? What about the computer limits the capacity of the drive in this way?
01-02-2009, 01:41 AM
1) That's typically where a copy of the OS is kept in case the laptop needs to be reimaged. I'm surprised you have an OS DVD; most PCs nowadays don't come with one. When your laptop is starting up, there's probably an option to use this to reinstall Vista.
2) 120G is the "size" of the drive the same way that 21" was the "size" of your old monitor. Formatting introduces some overhead to a disk, and manufacturers idea of a MB is 1000 kB, whereas for everyone else it's 1024. You already have a 120 GB drive.
3) It's quite easy to adjust the boot ordering in the BIOS to your DVD drive, a memory stick, etc.
4) I've no idea. At a guess, it's the biggest drive Dell sells, and you're asking Dell? Why do you think it's the biggest? According to online specs, the existing HD is SATA, meaning any of these (http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/category/category_slc.asp?CatId=2676) should work.
01-02-2009, 02:16 AM
I think you're probably just misunderstanding the specifications: 120GB is the size of the hard drive your computer came with, not the maximum size it will support. As Nanoda pointed out, hard drive manufacturers reckon "megabytes" and "gigabytes" a little differently than the terms are usually used in software: to them, a gigabyte is exactly 1 billion bytes, while for most other uses, 1 gigabyte is equal to 1,073,741,824 bytes (1024^3 bytes). The end result is that your "120 gigabyte" drive comes out closer to 111 "real" gigabytes. A little is lost in formatting, bringing it down to about 110GB.
Since your computer is a relatively new machine with a modern operating system, there's no reason you couldn't slap a much larger drive in there if you wanted to. Of course, since it's a laptop, you're pretty much limited to having only one hard drive, so you'll have to get a substantially larger disk to make it worthwhile. Laptop hard drives are a bit more expensive per GB than their desktop counterparts as well, but you should be able to get 500 gigabytes for around $100. Something like this (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136314), maybe, though you'd want to double check to make sure it will be compatible with your Dell.
01-02-2009, 04:47 AM
Depending on how mobile you need the data to be, you might also consider getting an external hard drive that plugs into your USB port. This would give you the extra space you need, without having to reinstall Windows or lose the use of your current HD. When plugged in, it would simply show in Windows under your next free drive letter (probably E: or F).
The only issue is it's something else to carry about if you need the data on the move. If you just need somewhere to store media files or things you only need at home though, it's perfect. You wouldn't install applications to this drive, just use it to store data files.
As the others have said, the recovery D: drive was just put there by Dell to store the files you'd need to reset the machine to factory defaults. Best to leave it there unless you desperately need the space and have other means to re-install Windows and the programs that came pre-installed.
The 2gig RAM limit is there because it is the max the motherboard will support. Like the others, I have not heard of similar limits to hard drive size if you get the same type and the OS can support it (which Vista can).
01-02-2009, 07:10 AM
Dell support for Inspiron 6400/E1505 (http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/product_support/product_support_central?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&SystemID=INSPIRONI6400/E1505)
You should try this to see what the maximum replacement drive size is for your computer and if you need to put in a support request for that information. I didn't find that information in the manuals. You certainly don't want to remove that second partition which is for recovery.
Using an external USB drive is a good way to store bulky data you won't normally use. and be cheaper than a hard drive that fits in your laptop. You won't have to futz with the original drive either.
There are some hardware, bios, and OS limits on drive sizes that were reached when drive capacities kept getting larger. I post this as an example of how sizes can be limited, and not as the best article to explain it. (http://www.dewassoc.com/kbase/hard_drives/hard_drive_size_barriers.htm) Remember that the capacities can be figured a couple ways. You may think your drive is 10G short of the max size but may not be. There is a limit that is reached for drives at slightly more than the common 120G size they were mass produced at.
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