My Stuff Expanded to Fill All My Gigabytes, Ergo Got More Gigs

September 23, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

5 inch floppiesI am old enough to remember floppy disks that deserved the name. They bent. I remember wondering why I might need more than one to back up my files. 360,000 characters was a lot of writing. A full novelette.

When I bought my new desktop computer a couple of years ago, I got what I thought was an adequate hard disk: Equivalent to 417,000 5¼” floppies, or room for about 100,000 five megapixel photos.

But then I started playing with video. A normal digital video at 640 x 480 30 fps eats 100Mb/min. So my once open spaces got filled in. What to do?

I considered adding a second drive. I’d done this on several of my previous computers. It requires remembering what is on which drive for daily use, as well as backing up. And how does one reliably back up such huge amounts? I didn’t want to do this, yet again.

So I decided to replace my main drive. “What?” you may well ask, aghast. This is not the ordeal it once was. I got a bigger drive, cloned the old one onto it, and then swapped it.  Easy, and here’s how (assuming you aren’t stuck with a single-source machine (Apple)):

  • Step one, get a matching type Drive (probably SATA, but this’ll work with the older types, too). Make sure you have a data cable for the new drive.
  • Shut down, unplug, and open up the mystery box o’ delicate electronics. Make sure you are properly grounded. If you don’t know what that means, don’t try this at home.
  • Connect the new drive to power and data. Don’t worry about mounting it; a drive works fine in any orientation. As long as nothing shorts its circuit board.
  • Download disc cloning software. You can buy some, but many perfectly good ones are free. Download.com is my go-to place for reliable, certified, vetted, critiqued free software. I used EaseUS Disk Copy. I had to burn an ISO to a CD to boot from to do it. This was the hassle, because my CD burner software seemed to be hosed.
  • So I also downloaded a free ISO image burner.
  • Burned the CD and then Rebooted to the CD
  • Followed simple steps to copy the old hard disk onto the new. That took about 1½ hours for 160 Gb.
  • Turned it off, unhooked the cables from the old drive, and plugged the new drive in as the primary, and fired it up.
  • It booted, and seemed to run fine. But the new drive was a clone of the old one, so it appeared to be the same size. This is because the partition table was also copied.
  • So I downloaded EaseUS’s Partition Magic (free) and in seconds expanded the active partition to use the whole drive, without even rebooting.
  • Then I powered down, physically removed the old drive, and mounted the new one in its place. The old one goes into a safe deposit box as a backup.

“Ta Da!” Room to grow.

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Category: computers, Education, Whimsy

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (4)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan: How much room on your new drive? And what's the size per dollar sweetest price point for a replacement hard drive these days?

    Also, I was a bit confused by this step: "Burned the CD, rebooted, and copied the disk. That took about 1½ hours." When you say "copied the disk" are you referring to your old hard drive?

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    My "new" drive is actually a salvaged drive from a client's dead computer, at only 240Gb it still gives me about 10,000 minutes of video head room.

    A one Terabyte drive (1,000,000 Mb) goes for about $80, or $0.08/Gb (TigerDirect.com, SATA Hard Drives)

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    I rewrote the confusing line into two more explicit steps.

  4. Dan Klarmann says:

    While I was in the computer, I pulled the fan off the CPU cooler to vacuum up the carpet of dust that was blocking the air flow. I'd wondered why the fan had been working so hard, even when I wasn't playing games or full-screen videos.

    I should vacuum out the system every year or so in this house without a forced air system.

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