Is there an easier way of upgrading a laptop Hard disk?

8 Jul 2004
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United Kingdom
I just finished a swapping the HD on my laptop. I didn't fancy the idea of loading the OS, drivers and applications from scratch and even then risk loosing some overlooked piece of work. So I figured the simplest method of achieving this would be with Norton Ghost.

The trouble is, I can't just dump the ghost image onto the HD itself as that is the drive I'm trying to make an image of. Since I can't write to the CD on the laptop, I reasoned that the only way to back up an image of the partition (which is 100% of a 4gig disk) was to get access to a network drive on the desktop.

First issue is to get a bootable floppy. Since I have windows 2000 installed this is not as simple as I would have hoped. Luckily I found an old hard disk that when put into my desktop machine booted up on windows 95. Pressing F8 I was releived to find I had left the option of booting up on the original DOS V 6.22, and was therefore able to make a bootable DOS floppy. (much less bloated than the V7 job that comes with 95)

Next I wanted a copy of the DOS Lanman client. Since I seem to have lost my old NT4 server disk in my recent move, I went through hours of searching the internet for a downloadable copy from Microsoft. Then having to get a copy of EXPAND.EXE from that trusty old Win95 HD. To extract all the required LanMan files.

Next I wanted the DOS drivers for the onboard network card in the laptop. These are not bundled with the drivers for the laptop, so more scouring the net.

Finally I put the whole lot together and with a bit of editing of the INI files I have finally got a floppy that I can boot up on, that gives me access to the network, from DOS.

Mapping a drive to a shared directory on my desktop, then allowed me to run GHOST.EXE to save an image of the partition on my laptop, as a file on my desktop machine.

Installing the new hard disk into my laptop, I then booted up on the same floppy, connected to the same shared drive, formatted the hard disk and loaded the image back on.

It worked but surely there must be an easier way?
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If you have a spare desktop system to hand (or you don't mind dis-assembling your home machine), you can connect the laptop drive to the ide interface using an adaptor and then either ghost the image to a desktop drive, or use two adaptors and ghost direct.
You can also get a cradle that you can plug a laptop HDD into, this then connects to the original laptop via a USB cable, you can then use Ghost or DriveImage to clone the HDD. I'll see if I can find a link to one of these devices, trouble is I don't know exactly what they are called. :oops:
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If you've got, or can get Ghost 2003 it has a handy make me a floppy with DVD-writers/USB/Network/firewire drivers etc option, a bit hit and miss, however it's saved me many hours of pain. I backed up my otherhalf's laptop last week via the network boot disk dropped onto my network without any problems.

When I'm not networked I've converted one of my old drives to a USB device via a external box. Downloaded USB2 drivers from
which will let you use a USB HDD. Take care though, they are seriously picky about which devices they can pick up. Oddly enough the cheaper the device the more chance it seems to have of working. Go figure.

Hope it helps,