Hard Drive Replacement

I’m currently dealing with a dying hard drive on my desktop PC (HP Pavilion Elite HPE, less than four years old). I’ve ruled out viruses or malware; all other hardware components appear to be fine according to the built-in diagnostics. I’ve tried to run Seagate’s diagnostic software too; the drive fails at the short generic test, and the program is telling me to download SeaTools for DOS. I figure it’s best to just replace the drive rather than waste any more time with it.

I have complete file backups, so I’m not worried about that…however, I’ve never had to replace a hard drive on my own. (Past failures occurred while the computers in question were still under warranty; the manufacturer just replaced it with a drive that had the OS pre-installed.) I’m not quite sure how to proceed with this; I have the factory recovery discs I made using the HP, but I’m concerned that they might somehow be corrupted too, since they were made after I became aware of the hard drive problem (stupid, I know). Am I better off to just install Windows 8 on the new drive, or should I try using the recovery discs?

Why not just try to use the recovery discs? I think if they are corrupt, you’ll know soon enough and then you can do a bare installation of Windows 8.

try the recovery disks.

Try the recovery disks first, yes. What have you got to lose ?

Beyond that, swapping a hard drive is pretty easy. It’s basically LEGO : remove up to 4 screws, unplug two cords, slide the old one out ; slide the new one in, plug the cords in, put the screws back. There, done. As long as you don’t lose the screws, you’re good :).

Installing Windows on a blank disk is also no trouble, the install itself is pretty idiot-proof and if your PC is 4+ years old Windows 8 should have no driver issues. You still might want to update those to their latest version anyway by checking the manufacturer’s page, but it depends on what you do with your computer. If it’s just a word processing/internet/powerpoint/youtube machine, generic drivers are good 'nuff.

Before re-installing you might have to first go into the BIOS to tell your PC to try to boot from the CD-drive before it tries to boot from hard drive, but AFAIK that’s the default these days anyway.

The only “trick” to be aware of is that you probably want to partition the disk before you install Windows (within the installer, it’ll ask you), making a ~40 gb partition just for Windows ; another one to move MyDocuments to after you’re done installing so you don’t lose anything should you have to reinstall everything again in the future ; and a third and/or fourth for programs, games, videos, what have you - those will be pure storage.

Be aware that ‘factory recovery discs’ will essentially setup a new hard drive like when your PC was new. IOW you will lose all your data and any & all programs you installed after you got it (as well as any Windows Updates since then too).

I would recommend you use a product key finder like the Belarc Advisor to locate and copy all the software licenses on your computer. When you reinstall your OS - just use the license keys - sometimes the program may not accept the license key, then just call the licensor and tell them what you are doing and they will happily solve it for you. I had a compaq and a dell in another life where i changed their hard drives.

Also wanted to add that you can download office and windows and almost all products from the internet from the licensor website. You dont really need CDs/DVDs

Thanks for all the replies!

I’m really surprised the drive is still working at this point…I don’t think it has much longer. I don’t think restoring this drive will do any good; after all the repairs logged by the software, new bad sectors keep appearing. I’ll give the restore discs a try with a new drive.

Thanks for the heads up about the software licenses too!

Bad sectors don’t necessarily mean there’s a hardware problem - it could simply be that your file system got majorly borked for some reason (back in FAT16/32 days, Windows 95/98 itself was very fond of doing so on its own) ; and if the repair stops midway through then it might leave some “half-finished” areas in its wake, which are then reported as more bad sectors. If that’s the case, then a comprehensive format clears all that.

Is the drive making odd noises ? Grinding, snaps, cracks, looping search patterns or stuttering, that sort of thing ? Those tend to be more symptomatic of hardware failure IME. Least I can’t remember ever having a disk die on me without it starting to make some kind of weird noise.

Agree. Once you get your new drive installed, everything transferred, and your computer working again, then co a complete format on the old drive, and run some tests on it. It may turnout to be good, possibly with some bad sectors marked – then you have an extra drive for backups, etc.

No strange noises out of the drive, other than the constant spinning (like it’s reading or writing a lot of information).

I’m definitely going to dig into this…the rest of the computer is too good to give up on.

Why not first formatting the old drive and then reinstalling from the recovery discs and testing after that? So Jeep’s Phoenix probably can avoid getting a new drive. If that fails they can still buy a new one.

This is the basic case, although if you have something proprietary (e.g. Dell), there may be some plastic clips or something holding it in place; no screws needed. In a regular case, you will have to take off the left side and maybe the right side (if ATX). 2 screws per side on the back. If you have one of the Dell “let’s make maintenance harder for the user by making it easier for the tech and also pretty” then it may be different.

It’s pretty hard to screw this up. Just read up on static, although that’s usually a minor issue. Next stop, CPU replacement!

If you lose the screws, I can mail some, having dozens from various builds. Thankfully they haven’t opted to change that over the decades.

A parition is a good idea. At minimum, 1 for the OS and several GB of “flex,” the other for documents and data. If something happens not relating to hardware failure, you can just delete the former and reinstall without lots of backing up.

Up to the OP if a second failure wants to be risked. Drives are rather cheap now, and you could just

A big advantage of just getting a new drive is that the new one will probably be larger and faster than the current one.

I’m definitely going to try to salvage this drive…but I wouldn’t mind a new drive either! One friend has suggested a solid state drive. Other than the cost and the smaller size, are there any other negatives when dealing with these?

And thanks again for all the advice…this thread has actually been a confidence booster!