Laptop replacement question

So my main laptop (an HP) just died. It was the screen this time – it just went totally blank, after acting weird for a few days. Not a big surprise – I’ve had it since 2009, with a couple of hard drive replacements. I’m a semi-techie – not good/interested enough to build PCs from components (though I suspect I could if I studied a bit and really wanted to), but good enough to replace components like hard drives, video cards, and RAM without too much trouble, and successfully troubleshoot most of the time.

I already ordered the replacement – a brand new Acer laptop with a solid-state hard drive, and an extra 2.5" hard drive slot. I’d like to take the 2.5" hard drive (not solid state) from the old laptop (it’s only a year or two old) and put it in the empty slot of the new laptop, both for easy access to my old files and to expand the storage space. This shouldn’t be a problem from a mechanical perspective, but are there any software problems I might run into? Should I boot up the computer first without the new hard drive, go through all the new user stuff, and then turn it off and install the old hard drive in the empty slot, or should I put it in before booting it up for the first time? Anything else I should worry about?

Definitely put the new laptop thru some shakedown use to make sure it’s working well and you’re not going to return it.

Once you get the old HDD, make sure it’s spinning down as required so that it doesn’t suck too much juice. Get as many files off of as you can so that it is minimally used.

BTW: The symptoms of your old laptop sound a lot like a loose connector for the screen to the motherboard. Something fairly easy to check and fix.

2009? Yeah, I’m a scrounger and my lower bound for an as-is laptop is 2013.

Thanks for the advice! With some googling I don’t think it’s a loose connection, based on my symptoms (the way it was acting funny was consistent with screen death).

Acer’s a solid laptop brand, you should be happy with it. Can’t you just put the old drive in after setting up the new laptop to all your preferences, updates, etc and just let Windows recognize and configure the “new” device after you connect it and reboot? I do agree with offloading much of your files onto a removable drive first as well.

Thanks. I’ll plan to set up the new laptop first, and then install the old hard drive, and then offload as much of the files as I can.

Why is it important to not use the old hard drive very much when it’s in the new laptop? If it’s about heat, I’m not too concerned about that – I have an external fan platform that the laptop will sit on, along with a temperature monitoring program, and it should stay cool enough no matter what I do.

If it’s just the screen on the old computer that’s defective, it should boot when connected to an external monitor. So one option would be to boot the old computer, copy whatever you need to an external drive and then to the new computer, and then when you’re satisfied you’ve gotten everything, wipe the old computer drive prior to disposing of the computer.

Why is it important to wipe the old drive? Wouldn’t it be easier just to transfer the important files directly to the new solid-state hard drive once they’re both connected?

If you’re going to dispose of the old computer, I recommend not leaving personal files on the drive.

And why do I recommend booting the old computer? Because if you have both computers running at the same time, you may identify other files you need from the old computer. And when you’ve got the old computer running, you can see what icons, documents and programs you have on the desktop so you can replicate that on the new computer. You can see what browser settings are on the old computer and try to match those settings on the new computer.

Some users like the new computer to function as much as the old computer as possible.

But the old hard drive is going into the new computer. Then there will be nothing on the old computer. Why would I need to wipe the old hard drive, whether before or after I install it in the new computer?

I don’t see why you can’t do as you’re suggesting but I would still see if you can boot the old computer with an external monitor and either ghost the old drive to an external drive in case it cacks when you install it in the new laptop or back it up to something like Google Drive. It’s more a prudence thing than anything else.

As an aside, when I dispose of old drives I like to physically disassemble then because a)shiny, pretty platters make great coasters, mirrors and frisbees, b)free super magnets. Nothing fun like that in a SSD though.:stuck_out_tongue:

OP don’t you already have a backup of the data on the old laptop? If not this was a major mistake (what would you have done if the hard drive had gone bad instead of the screen?)

Some of it (the most important stuff). But I’d still like access to everything else, and with the empty hard drive slot in the new laptop, it seems like the obvious and easiest solution is to just put the old hard drive in the new one’s empty slot.

You can do what you’re talking about but there may be some issue with putting a boot drive into a machine and expecting it to default automatically to slave status. I’m assuming you can get around this with the drive boot order setup in the notebook BIOS … but on the off chance the old boot drive gives the new notebook controller a bellyache in choosing primary and secondary drives there is a small but non zero chance it will mung up the boot sector of the old drive.

Bottom line is to transfer or back up the old drive info before putting it into the new notebook. An external USB 2.5 drive box enclosure is afew dollars on ebay or amazon.

I agree with the USB enclosure. But I don’t think you have to copy everything off the old drive and then nuke all its partitions. There is an alternative that I would consider good enough.

Nuke the boot partition, and delete the Windows folder off the main partition. That way the drive can’t boot itself, and your new drive won’t accidentally boot the Windows from the old drive (as rare as that is.)

Worst case from there is that your computer won’t boot with the second drive installed. If that happens, remove it, and then copy off all files and wipe all the partitions. Then plug it in, and make a new partition on it that fills the whole drive.

You see, in Windows 7 or higher, Windows uses a separate boot partition that loads the main Windows partition. At least, it does by default. Most computers I’ve seen have three partitions: a boot partition, a recovery partition, and the main Windows partition. The only one of any value as a second drive is the Windows partition. It’s where all your personal files are, unless you’ve added more partitions yourself.

The copying and nuking is the idiot-proof way to do it, though. It just takes longer to copy off what you have, and then copy the stuff back you want to keep on the old drive.

And I’ll recommend what type of files to keep there: videos, audio files, maybe some books or documents. None of those will be slowed down much, since the former are streamed, and the latter are completely loaded into memory. I would not put programs there unless I had to, and then only my least frequently used ones.

If anyone is unaware:

I have a Acer - the hinges broke so I bought new hinges on ebay and took it to a repair shop. From pretty much useless to as good as new.

Literally everything is replaceable, inc. your screen - sometimes you want a new computer, sometimes it’s not worth the hassle.

Thanks for all the input!

How do I “nuke the boot partition”, or change the “drive boot order setup in the notebook BIOS”?

Also, I understand that it may not work (in which case I’d just take it out), but is there any risk to the primary SSD or other parts of the new laptop if I’m lazy and just put in the old hard drive into the new computer (after first booting up and setting up the new computer) without having nuked or changed anything related to the boot/BIOS?

I would suggest as also stated above that you buy a USB hard drive enclosure instead of install it in your new laptop, unless you need the extra storage space.

And if you need the extra storage space NOW you bought the wrong laptop (possible exception yoru new laptop has a small SSD as opposed to a much larger spinning drive, but if you really need all that space of a spinning drive you bought the wrong laptop). You should have plenty of room, and with more stuff uploaded to the web, the need for space is diminishing quickly.

Installing it into your current laptop will have it consume more power, and also be slightly heavier. If your laptop walks so does everything.

Installing it into a USB enclosure will allow a very simple local backup once in awhile, it would allow a pretty full recovery if something happens.

I’ve done that, the computer actually booted the old OS, I was surprised when it came up working. There is some way of switching it, at the very least if it’s two physical hard drives switching their connectors which usually in a laptop would mean switching their physical conditions may work, or it may be BIOS selectable.