How do I replace a HD in a Compaq Presario laptop?

model 1235 if that matters

I need this laptop to last but the HD is getting bad sectors. I want to replace the HD but how do i it get to it? In the past I tryed opening it and thought I found all the screws but it just wouldn’t open. Are there any catches or other tricks to open it. Any pitfalls I should be aware of (like the keyboard falling apart).

Also can I just get a standard laptop size HD or is it priority.

While I’m in there is ther any chance of me upping the cpu from the current 266k6-2

The cpu is probably a no. Laptop mobos aren’t exactly standardized.

The screws to take it apart can be hidden behind labels, under the battery, etc. My Dell laptop has screws in all obvious places except one: under the end of label above the F keys. Take something hard but gently rounded on the end and rub it around likely spots looking for “soft spots” where is sinks in a little. Usually the labels can be peeled back using a razor edge. Note that “obvious places” include under the rubber feet.

Once open, find your HD and identify its make and model. Look it up on the web. Get it’s form factor. Prob. 2.5" but the height varies-you don’t want to get a taller one and find that you can’t close it back up. For your laptop, it is unlikely that 2GB or less HD wouldn’t be auto recognized. For over 2GB, look at the makers web site for their ($) recs. for replacements. (Although some rec. ones too large to be recognized and requires nasty translation software.)

Note that copying files off the old HD to the new might be tricky unless you get a 2.5" to 3.5" converter cable and transfer to a desktop and then to the new drive. But there’s danger in loosing a few long file name associations.

Be sure to carefully note where each screw came from and use cups to hold them.

One thing I like to do when working on something for the first time is to open it up, have a quick look, and then close it back up while it’s fresh in my memory where everything went. Then open it back up again.

Do not work on your laptop with it plugged in or the battery in. A little oops can turn it into useless tech art quickly.

Almost all laptops use 2.5" IDE drives, and you can get those at any computer shop. The only issue to worry about is the thickness of the drive - 9.5mm is most common, but there are some thicker drives out there which may not fit some laptops. And some ultra-thin notebooks computers use 8.45mm or 6.35mm drives. You can just open your laptop, remove the drive and measure the thickness.

My girlfriend had that exact model, and when it died I removed the laptop HD so as to copy its files to CD for her, so she’d have access to them on her new computer.

There were some screws in pretty obvious places on the underside; it’s been awhile but I seem to recall having to loosen some screws that could only be accessed from the hole where the battery would be if you had the battery in on the right hand side, but aside from that there were no badly hidden screws. I’m pretty sure the black plastic surrounding the keyboard lifts off once the screws are removed, and then you can see the drives and other things below. I think there was a bezel on the front (perhaps with the Compaq logo on it) sliding forward and off.

The drive itself, a conventional 9.5mm 2.5" IDE, is to the front left (under your left wrist as you type), in a silvery metal “caddy” with a ribbon cable connecting to the drive pins. Sorry my memory isn’t more specific, but it was pretty easy as long as you’ve got room to lay out your screws so as to know which ones go where when you reassemble.

Thanks for all your help. Yes the HD is under the left wrist position (I can see it throught the batt compartment). Too bad I can’t get a faster cpu a boost to 300 mhz or faster would be a nice bump for little money.

I found the following site which is selling a replacement 20 gb for $140 (and a 30 for $153) whichs seems ok. Will these drives fit? I really don’t need all that space as this laptop came with a 4 gb which I am using 3gb which has held constant over about 4 yrs. I would never fill 20 - I would like to get at least an 8 or higher, want a new drive (not used) but want to do it on the cheap.

I’m aware that I may not be able to use all the space or might have to break up the HD into multiple 4 gb partitions which I’m fine with that.

The bios would have to support a drive that big too… has some too. Be sure to backup your data.

THe data (well all important data) is backed up already as all important data is sync’ed to one of 2 desktops via briefcase. I would have no prob doing a OS reinstall and clean some of this junk out. Also I will most likely backup the partition over the network to one of the desktop’s hd’s just in case.

Thanks for all your help

one more thing - are there any supprizes I should be aware of like springs popping out or finding a diamond ring in there or something. I got the part of marking the screws and reassembling it right after I open it (so I don’t forget how it goes).

As you can tell I am sommewhat nervious opening it - I have no prob w/ a desktop but the notebook seems scarrier.

I really don’t recall any gotchas with the Compaq 1235 other than those two weird screws that you can only get to via the empty battery bay.

For more info you might try the forums at That site is designed for tech type questions. I have used it several times and got just the answers I needed quickly and accurately. Also I replaced the hard drive on my Compaq Armada and it went without a hitch. Just take your time and it is easy.
Good Luck

1: Handy is right check your BIOS before attempting this. If you are limited to 8 gigs (which is quite possible for a 266 class BIOS) you may need to download a BIOS extender (available from the drive manuf website) in order to partition and use the entire drive. IIRC however the Presario should probably see the entire 20 gig volume.

2: If you are doing a new OS install and using the recovery disk make sure you have downloaded the Compaq drivers as some of the Compaq hardware on the Presario will need these files. Sound and modem and Neomagic video esp. Win ME willl have most of these files onboard the OS install CD but 95 and 98 will not. ID these files now via the hardware chain in the system hardware info list in case you have to go hunting on or elsewhere for them. Based on experience I would suggest Win ME as the best OS for this unit.

Here are the ftp locations for the modem drivers.

3: See for drives. Brand new 20 gig IBM Travelstar 9.5 mm notebook drives are $ 87.00

In the past I have installed XP, NT, and linux on this laptop - I find that I will most likely stick with 98 1st ed which is what I have the recovery disk for. Perhaps I will install Linux on here too so I can give it a good shot since I have the room for both - but I need too many windows only apps to make it solely linux. Anyway have not had any driver problem expect for NT.

I’ve ordered the 20gb (for about $90). Wish me luck.

Ok just an update (sorry about the slow boards for a few seconds as I had to so a search for this thread).

I got and installed the 20gb drive. Tryed partition magic 8.0 (the new one) to set up the partitions and it only saw 8gb. Then I tryed an older version of partition commander and it saw the full 20 - go figure.

Installed the backup via ghost onto a 11 gb win 98 partition (actually 2 partitions 3.5 and 7.5). I am sold on ghost - it saved me about 4 hrs restoring everthing.

Also a little bonus. Norton AV was not installed when I made the orignal ghost - so I reinstalled it and I have a full year left instead of the 9 months.

It was a little nerve racking opening it up but it came apart OK. The palm rest lifted out and I had to lift out the keyboard to get at a screw. The HD was held in by some torx screws smaller then size 10 which was the smallest I had. I just happened to have a screwdriver that fit across the torx though. Everything went together great.

Thanks for all your help