It's not that hard to install a new Hard Drive....Right?

Ok, I’m helping a friend who is coming over tomorrow morning. We are going to install a new hard drive on his Dell. Long story short, he had Windows ME and now wants XP… He tried the instal and half way through his machine decided to die. He spend 2 hours on the phone with microsoft and Dell and they figured out he needed a new hard drive. So it’s coming tomorrow.
After we take out the old one and insert the new one, do we just put XP in and let it do it’s thing? Or do we need a system disk? If so, how do we make one of those ? Thanks SDMB guru’s You all Rock!

Well, you simply open the case and remove the old hard drive. Drives are mounted in any of 1000 different ways, so I can’t tell you exactly how to remove thr drive. Rememeber how you did it though as you’ll need to do it all in reverse when you put the new drive in.

Secondly, make sure the drive is jumped correctly. IDE devices (hard drives, CD\DVD drives) can be on the primary or secondary channel, and can be a master or slave on either. Typically, drives with the OS on them go as primary masters. Since you’ll be using the same cable as the first drive, the “primary\secondary” issue is convered, so just make sure that the drive is jumped as master. There should be a sticker on the drive or an insert in the box to show you how.

All retail and OEM compies of Windows XP are bootable. After physically installing the new drive, power on the system and go into the BIOS (usually by pressing F2 at the main “Dell” screen) and make sure that your new drive is seen by the BIOS. While there, check to make sure that the boot order is set to ATAPI or CD-ROM before any hard drives. This way your CD will boot.

When you boot up the system off the CD, XP setup will allow you to create partitions. If you want to use the whole drive as a single partition. have setup do that. If you want a small (say 20GB) system partition, tell setup to only partition 20GB and set up any other partitions using Disk Management once XP is installed.

You will probably want a working computer handy so that you can download the drivers for the network card and\or modem. You might find that XP didn’t detect all the hardware and will need a video driver, modem driver, sound card driver, etc. You won’t be able to download those without the NIC or modem drivers, so it’s best to have those going in. He might have a drivers CD. If not, you can download them from Dell’s site using his Service Tag.

a) I’m real skeptical that his old hard drive failed just as he was doing an install. Sounds like a cop out from technical support.

b) In theory, you should be able to install both hard drives in the machine, one as master and one as slave. (Yeah, yeah, politically incorrect terminology.) This is the best way to install a new hard drive because you don’t have to worry about transferring programs to a new drive – something non-trivial in Windows.

c) You may have to format the new drive before installing Windows. I suspect, though, that the install does this automatically.
Aside from that, if you have the CDs for the install, it should all happen pretty much automatically.

Also, you might wanna keep that case open while you’re doing the rebuild. Chances are that the old drive is OK - at least OK enough to get all the data off the drive. Once XP is up and running, install the old drive and see what you can pul off of it. And don’t forget to format the new drive using NTFS.

That is all.

So I should not use FAT32 to format the drive? I know very little about installing new hard drives. But from a past install I know I was asked if it was NTFS or FAT 32. Does this make sense?
What about partitions…I do not understand fully what those are. Should I just leave the default partition when that screen comes up or should I format a new one. The computer is a general use computer…word processing some web surfing etc…etc… Thanks again folks.

My buddy said he could barely understand the Dell tech support person as he was of Indian decent, with a very thick accent. On the second call the gentleman was of Indian decent as well. When asked where he (the tech guy) was from he said he was in New Dehli…Not that any of that would mean he was being lazy…but It certainly means Dell outsources some tech support to India.

Definatly format the drive with NTFS - it handles large disks a lot better. I reccomend partioning the drive into 2 sections - one for Windows and your programs, the other to place data(pictures, documents, mp3’s ect) into. That way, if you need to reinstall Windows, you won’t overwrite your personal stuff.

All new hard drives are “absolutely blank” in the sense that they are not formatted in any way. Aside from costing hard drive manufacturers money to format and test the drives, they are shipped blank because people that use Linux, Mac, BSD or any other non-Windows OS won’t have to “undo” the formatting.

A “partition” is a section of the drive that is dedicated to storage of some sorts and is usually given a drive letter. You can have multiple partitions on a disk, so for example you cold have a 10GB partition for Windows and programs and the rest of the disk could be another partition for storing pictures, mp3s, etc. So in this case, you’d have a c: and a d: drive, even though the partitions (logical drives) are on the same physical drive. For another exmaple, you could take a 20GB drive and create a partition for Windows and additional partitions for Linux (I believe that Linux requires 3 partitions, but don’t quote me). In this case, since WIndows cannot read the Linux partitions, you’d only have a c: drive, but XP’s Disk Management applet would indeed recognize the Linux partitions as an “unknonwn type”.

Anyway, I digress. When you run XP setup, it’s going to search your drive(s). Since there’s nothing whatsoever on the drive, you will get a message saying that there’s no partitions on the drive. It will ask if you want to create one. You must say yes, as you cannot install XP into nothing. It will then ask how large you want the partition to be. I don’t know how big the replacement drive is, but you should enter something inbetween 10240MB and 20480MB (10GB and 20GB). Remember that Windws works on a base 2 system, so if you want the drive size to be xGB, you have to enter it as 1,024,000,000 bytes * xGB - otherwise the drive wil lappear in WIndows to be smaller than you had intended.

After the partition is created, it will appear in setup as drive c: but it will be formatted. You will then be asked to format the drive using NTFS or FAT32. Choose NTFS. After the formatting is done, setup will copy the XP basefiles to the hard drive then reboot the PC to complete the installation in “GUI mode”.

Let us know if you have any more questions!

Just a few things off the top of my head:

You might want to try running FDISK on your old drive. If FDISK will recognize the disk, try to repartition it, even if all you do is remove the main partition and put in a new one. If that works, try formatting the drive. If the drive formats with no or at least very few bad sectors, then it’s not likely that it’s broke. I’ve only ever had one drive successfully format that ended up being goofy. It’s much more common for them to fail completely or at least fail so badly that you end up with a bazillion bad sectors when you try and format.

One thing that I ran into on this computer was that XP simply refused to install on it. The install would just lock up the machine. I ended up copying the CD to the hard drive, then installing it from there, and all went well.

You also never mentioned what software is running on the machine. If all you do is internet type stuff, you should be rather happy. XP is much better than ME for typical internet use. If you play a lot of older games, or have some less common software, be aware that some of your software may not work properly under XP. Microsoft used to have two product lines, the windows line (95, 98, and ME, ignoring all the earlier stuff) and the NT line (NT 4.0, 2000, and XP). You end up with the most incompatibilities (for both hardware and software) when you cross from the windows line to the NT line or vice-versa. Some of your hardware may not be supported under XP as well. I’m not saying don’t upgrade, just warning you what may happen. If you require something that runs under ME, one solution is to dual boot the machine, meaning that you have both ME and XP on it. Install ME first, then install XP, and don’t upgrade. This will put a seperate version of XP on the disk and will give you a choice of which one you want to run when you start up the machine. If you dual boot, you will want to use FAT32 partitions instead of NTFS partitions, otherwise ME won’t be able to read the NTFS portions of the disk.

Hopefully all of the software you need will run under XP and you won’t need to mess with dual booting and such.

[QUOTE=Rex Fenestrarum]
I believe that Linux requires 3 partitions[\QUOTE]

Linux requires 2 partitions. You must have at least one linux partition and at least one linux swap partition.

I’m with you there.

If you read this article* about tech support, you’ll see that sending out free stuff is often a tactic used by the Tech Support subcontractor (who gets paid by the number of phone calls) to get the caller off the phone quickly.
*reading the whole article requires a subscription to Salon, or getting a free day pass by agreeing to view a commercial. I won’t normally do it, but this article was well worth the time and effort.

Couple of quick things regarding Dell computers which might apply to this situation:

First, IDE devices on Dell computers are usually jumpered to use “cable select” rather than “master” or “slave”. Jumper the drive accordingly and be sure to use the correct IDE cable connector to hook it up.

Second, Dell will want the defective drive sent back to them. They’ll give you instructions for to have it picked up by Airborne Express. If you’re able to transfer the files off of the old drive, take the extra step of reformatting the old drive or running FDISK on it when you’re done. I’m sure that a lot of people send in “defective” drives which contain information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and bank account numbers. Better safe than sorry.

I ask this question out of ignorance, because I’ve been out of this game for quite awhile, but why allocate as many as 20GB for an operating system on a multi-partition drive?

I understand that HD’s are much cheaper per GB now and larger, but is XP ever going to really need that much room? Is loading programs on other partitions that much of a hassle/infeasible on XP?

Inquiring minds want to know.

I split my 40 gig drive with the intention of triple-booting it into roughly one 20 gig and 2 10 gig partitions. I use a seperate 120 gig drive for everything but OSes. The triple-booting hasn’t happened yet (Me does not want to play nicely with XP, and I’ve yet to get a Linux distro), but I’ve been using it for the last 7 months with lots of installs (and a fair number of restore points) and it’s not even at 6 gigs yet. My guess would be that you could probably get away with 10 gigs or less but if you’ve got the space you might as well give it.

Why not? As long as you use FAT32 partitions XP and ME should get along fine. Install ME first, XP second, and Linux (when you get it) last and all should be well.

Well, you can get by with 10GB if you like but my average install of XP (which includes Office 2003 with FrontPage, Acrobat (the full thing, not the Reader), Adobe Photoshop, etc) comes out to be around 5.8-6.0GB. And once you start using it, System Restore and general temp file usage kick the used space up to 8-8.5GB or so. I hate when I come anywhere near being out of disk space, and so I found myself doing more disk management than I felt was necessary. With a 20GB partition, I just don’t have to worry about things.

For example, I have a program that I use to download binaries off the newsgroups. It always wants to default to saving the files on the system partition, which can be a pain as I often have 2GB or so queued to download. With 10GB, I run the possibility of queuing up some things when I’m tired and forgetting to switch the download location to a data drive - and having a locked-up system come morning. With a 20Gb partition, I don’t have to worry about it. Of course, I have over 500GB on my main box, so 10 extra GB doesn’t really worry me.

Sigh. Not again. NTFS doesn’t enter into it. If he installs ME on a FAT32 partition, he can later install XP on a separate partition using NTFS. I know - I had my rig set up that way since “Windows NT 5.0 Beta 1”. As long as you set up your 9x OS first and then all of the NT OSs you want - in their order of release - you shouldn’t have any problems with BOOT.INI. Hell, at one point I had 98, NT 4, “Windows NT 5.0 Beta 1”, BeOS 4 and Red Hat 5 all installed on the same PC and they got along just fine. BOOTPART is your friend.

Hey, while you’re in the BIOS mucking around with the boot sequence you may also want to verify that there’s not some sort of boot sector lock going on somewhere. Some BIOS’s have a option to lock the boot sector in which case you’re not going to be able to install any OS’s on a hard drive in that machine.

The boot sector is where the most fundamental OS programs are stored and is what the PC looks at as soon as the thing finishes it’s Power On Self Test (POST). POST is when the thing counts the memory and displays stuff like CPU type and speed and other stuff.

I didn’t notice where you said if your friends PC was a desktop or a laptop. If the thing turns out to be a LAPTOP, ignore all that stuff about there being any cables involved. For a LAPTOP also ignore all that about a primary and secondary IDE channel.

To access BIOS, you’ll have to press Del or F2 or Fn+F1 or F1 or Compaq’s like F10 and Award sometimes uses Ctrl+Alt+Esc. You should try them in that order unless you find something contraindicating.

True, but if you do it that way then ME can’t access the XP data if something in XP gets munged. If you don’t care about accessing the XP partitions from ME then you can use NTFS for XP.

Linux never used to be very happy trying to access NTFS partitions either. I haven’t tried it on a relatively recent version of linux so maybe it’s better now.

At my last job I supported just over 500 XP boxes and the only times XP became that munged as to need that were either fixed via the Recovery Console or were due to hardware failure - usually hard drive failure, which is the mess Phlosphr’s friend is in in the OP :smiley:

I don’t know about Linux. I do know about the 9x kernel OSes inability to read NTFS. The only reason I was even thinking about going to the dual-boot is to get a few games running which I have the right PC emulators and such for (such as Wing Commander: Privateer) that will only work under 98SE or ME. The plan was for those few programs to live happy little lives on the OS partition while the big drive is formatted NTFS. I even did the install ME on it’s own FAT32 partition and got it up and running with drivers and all, then installed XP. ME worked fine the first time I booted it up after installing XP (I hadn’t converted that partition to NTFS yet) but as soon as I converted the XP partition to NTFS ME refused to boot properly and has done so for the last seven months. Frankly, I don’t need to play my old DOS games that badly.

I am going to try getting a copy of 98SE and using that next time I need to do a reformat and reinstall of XP anyway. I think some of the problems might be coming from my using of a fairly early OEM version of ME.

FOLKS! Thank you all for the great advice. We are fortunate to have all of you Guru’s here to aid in our vexing computational problems.

WE ARE HERE NOW! about to start the install. I’m writing this off my lap top. I thought it’d be better to have a machine online when installing.

Before we get going - and we are a ways from that…[sup]still having coffee[/sup] - back to the partitions.

He had millennium on his old hard drive. But he has already erased that drive. How do we check it to see if this new drive is not needed?

If it is needed, I have a few Q’s about formating and partitioning.

When we physically install the HD, and turn the power on for the first time, should we have XP in the CD drive? Or should we press F2

Besides the point I know but…

Dell have a worldwide virtual call centre meaning that the person who answers the phone can be pretty much anywhere in the world. The system seems that you’re calling from an English speaking nation so finds you someone who speaks English.

Pity computers can’t choose people by their accents though :slight_smile: