Do It Yourself Holiday Project:
Upgrade the hard drive on your Vista laptop for $75. Or... How I successfully swapped-out the old hard drive on my home Toshiba laptop.
Update on file search: Vista file search now works great!
January 21 2011
Update on mysterious Windows Explorer crashes when attempting to play mp4 files.
Problem: Explorer crashes when I try to play mp4 files. Specifically during these steps...
Open downloads folder / Select and right click an mp4 file / Select player as Quicktime player / Quicktime starts to open / Then error message / "Widows Explorer detected error" / and options to "search for solution online" and "restart Windows Explorer" / if you try either option then / windows explorer closes and Quicktime player freezes. The wording of the error messages may not be exact.
Solution: Open downloads folder, or what ever folder you were using when you encountered the play mp4 file crash problem. Go to "Organize" left click to view the pulldown menu / select "folder and search options" / select the "view" tab / check the box "Always show icons, never thumbnails" / "click apply" to save changes. Then go ahead an select the mp4 file you want to play in this folder. I found that after this change I could play mp4 files using Quicktime Player with no further problems.
This seems to be a known bug or "security feature" in Vista Windows Explorer.
DECEMBER 21, 2010
My experience hour-by-hour including some wrong turns and course corrections.
Be forewarned, formatting and disk clone operations take several hours each. The hardware swap-out itself is very easy, but be careful. Don't lose screws and make sure you can put each piece of mounting hardware back in place securely.
At the end of the process we have a boot-able, bigger, faster new hard drive running Vista on the laptop, and the old drive is available as a portable external USB case drive.
Total project cost ~$75 and a few hours work plus down-time to run format and clone procedures.
I will give a detailed account of this project covering even some obvious stuff. If you are an expert you can just scan this material and get started.
My laptop is about three years old. Vista Home Premium | 2GB | Toshiba | dual core Intel | 150 GB C: drive.
First, here are the symptoms that suggested the laptop hard drive was in trouble.
> Making more noise and failure on boot up.
> Had to use system restore to boot successfully.
> Frequent windows shadow copy activity after boot as detected
by examining windows task manager.
I concluded several weeks ago it was probably time to buy a new computer. But I figured that replacing the hard drive would turn the old computer into a great back up or second computer. So I decided to try to replace the C: drive with an upgrade.
OK....Here we go...
STEP 1 Prepare and update Vista
First, check that the version of Vista is up to date. If not, install the updates at the Windows Update site. Check the windows version using winver. Click the start button and type winver in the search box.
Here's what winver gave on my computer:
Version 6 Build 6002 Service Pack 2
Ok, Vista is up to date.
STEP 2 Buy a new drive, an external drive bay, and connect it via USB to the Laptop.
More Hard Drive Stuff:
When I got back home I unboxed and mounted the new drive in the case. One screw, slide in carefully, mates with connector inside the case, follow the directions provided. After new drive was mounted and case closed up, I connected it to the laptop with the supplied cable. Vista did not recognize the new drive because it comes in an unformatted state.
Checking at CNET download.com I found a software called Drive Image XML from RUNTIME SOFTWARE. They have good reviews and offer a free home use version. So we downloaded Drive Image XML from their site. Here's the link to download directly from Runtime Software: http://www.runtime.org/index.html
Before proceeding with the clone and swap, it's probably a good idea to back up the C: drive to an external backup drive. See appendix below showing how I did this backup using XML and Vista utilities.
XML software has a FAQ page with this stuff in it too.
Right-click on My Computer. Menu pops up and select Manage. Then you get the Computer Management window. In the left menu pane under Storage, click on Disk Management.
Wait a few seconds. The disk management graphic display pane will show up.
Disk Management recognized the new WD SATA drive as Disk 1 with the cryptic information: Unknown at 298.09 GB unallocated. Not Initialized.
The existing internal hard drive C: is recognized in Disk Management as Disk 0.
I first tried to format the disk, Disk 1. Right click on the graphic in the disk management pane. It looks like a white rectangle under a blue line. When you right-click the rectangle, you get a menu including the format option.
I selected format simple and received “Cannot Format. Disk Not Initialized error from VISTA.”
OK, so first “initialize” the disk.
To INITIALIZE: right-click on the white rectangle graphic in the Computer Management window.
Select actions in the popup menu. Select initialize as Master Boot Record (MBR.)
After completing "Initialization" of the new drive, the Computer Management Window display shows Disk 1 as: Online, and the grey cross hatching is gone. If you want to create multiple partitions you can also do that, but I am using a single "primary" partition for the entire new drive.
To format the new drive, right-click on the rectangle graphic for the new disk and select format simple option.
Formatting 298.09 GB.
The Computer Management Disk format display is minimal. Just a number percent of format completed.
So we wait....
6:10pm 5% complete
6:20pm 10% complete
This seems faster than for the other older drive formatted yesterday. That's good!
If you open windows task manager, and look at processes you can see the formatting write bytes accumulate. The process name is vds.exe.
6:40 pm 19%
7:15 pm 36%
8:05 pm 60%
8:37 pm 74%
9:11 pm 89%
And at 9:20 pm formatting is completed. Time elapsed: 3 hrs.
Computer Management display shows Local Disk E: 298GB NTFS Healthy Primary Partition (in the disk management pane.)
Step 3 complete.
STEP 4 Make a drive-to-drive image copy of the old C: drive on the new drive in the external case using XML.
We have already downloaded and installed Drive Image XML. Click on the XML icon and start XML. In this step we make an image copy of the laptop drive C: to the new formatted external drive E: and prepare for drive switch-out.
We now have a formatted, MBR Initialized, and Primary partitioned the new drive in the external USB case. We need to create a boot-able image of the old C: drive.
Here are the steps I went through using XML.
Open XML and select drive-to-drive image.
XML asks “Select one drive to copy to another drive.” Select C: then click Next
Next is the XML window and some choices.
So I will Pick: Try Volume Locking First. (also it worked the last time I did this.)
Next Select Disk and Partition you want for the copy. This will be your externally mounted new SATA drive.
Your drive letter and name may be different of course.
Click next and XML asks to begin copy operation... click next to do so.
Some where in this procedure XML will warn you that all data will be destroyed on the "Target" drive. Just approve the procedure using the text permission box as instructed by XML and start image copy. Image copy should start.
10:15pm starting 0%
2:10am 57% complete est. remaining time 3hrs.
3:07 am 73% complete est. remaining time 1 hr 47min
4:00am 88% complete est. remaining time 47 min.
4:30 am 97% complete est remaining 12 min.
4:45 am 100% complete.
Close XML and check My Computer.
Here's a screen shot from Drive Image XML
With this process complete, the new hard drive contains bootable image of the old C: drive.
Exiting Drive Image XML.
After boot-up Right-click on My computer and bring up Computer Management. In Computer Management select Disk Management and examine the display for the new hard drive and confirm that the boot sector is the primary sector. Click on the rectangle under the blue bar which will highlight the drive graphic in grey shading. Then, in the right Actions pane, activate the new drive under More Actions All Tasks.
You must "Fix Vista Boot Problem." Don't worry, it's automated in XML.
To fix the Vista Boot Problem do these actions:
Start Drive Image XML and go to Tools and select fix Vista boot problem.
It will give the option to update the BCD store. Do that.
XML will then update several files and show a list of them and indicate update was successful.
XML claims that the disk will now Boot up with Vista. (and they were right.)
Step 4 complete. Now we can install the new hard drive. Yes!
After XML completed making a drive-to-drive image copy of C: to the new hard drive, there is one more step, namely, to remove the old C: drive from the laptop drive bay and install the new one.
Started the system and began booting up. Yes!
However, after a few minutes it started asking for a reboot to fix disk errors with CHKDSK. Concerning but Vista probably know's what it's doing. Microsoft would never do anything bad to your new drive would they? Don't answer, just do as Vista asks.
I approved the reboot and CHKDSK executed a 15 minute process where CHKDSK did its checking and “fixed” several files...didn't get an exact count but it completed and automatically rebooted. This reboot took a long time maybe 10 minutes or more but finally boot up was successful and we got to the desk top, and all the icons I had before. Yea!
All installed all working all checked and now we have a new fast big Vista boot-able drive on the laptop!
Laptop now working, running IBM Lotus Symphony, Chrome, etc. and definitely seems applications open faster, but no objective measure of this. Also rebooting was faster than before and no more CHKDSK operations or Shadow Copy processes on bootup.
Quieter and faster hard drive now. Also more disk space is nice at 300 GB. Also, the old drive can be mounted in the USB case and used as a portable USB drive.
Good work and happy computing...
BACKUP the C drive to my FreeAgent External USB hard drive before setting up the new laptop hard drive.
More useful information: It turns out XML likes to copy to a new partition on the back-up drive.
So we had to create a new partition on the external physical drive that was large enough to accommodate the old C: drive.
This was done by opening Computer Management in Vista and setting up a new partition on the external drive. I named the new partition is F: and I asked for 232GB. Plenty of space to hold all the files on the laptop hard drive.
The steps are given in the helpful article: http://blog.eches.net/tips/how-to-create-partition-or-new-drive-in-windows-vista/
After the partition is created it must be formatted. That is also accomplished in Computer Management. Takes a few hours. Take a break while formatting.
Here are some screen shots of the process. Computer Management and XML displays concerned with a straight file back-up copy of the C: drive on an external Free Agent back-up drive.
Screen shot here:
Notice Disk 0 (internal HDD) and Disk 1 (external physical drive) rectangles.
You can right click on the display rectangles for menu options.
Drive Image XML display during Drive to Drive Copy