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hard drive upgrade


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#1
wsx123

wsx123

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I have a Dell Dimension 2400 and want to either add an additional internal hard drive or an external one that is at least 250GB. How do I determine the maximum size of an internal hard drive I can add?
What are the pros/cons of internal vs external USB Hard drives.
I want to use it for backups.And what drive format would allow me to read and write files between a windows xp and a Linux laptop.
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#2
Samm

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Hi there, sorry for the delay in replying.

Given the approximate age of your system, it's very hard to tell whether it will support 48 bit LBA or not. If it doesn't have 48 bit LBA support, then the largest internal hard drive it will recognise is 137GB. If it does support 48 bit LBA, then there's effectively no limit.

Even if your system doesn't support internal IDE drives above 137GB, you should still be able to use an external 250GB drive or larger.

The advantages of an external drive are:
It's portable
It's easy to swap between different computers for transferring data
You only need to connect it when you actually want to use it

The disadvantages are:
The data transfer speed will be slower than an IDE drive
It's more at risk from damage e.g from being dropped, cat puking on it (especially of you have a cat like mine), etc etc


Re. Linux & Windows, your best bet may be to use the EXT2 Linux file system. You can then download something like this:

http://www.fs-driver.org/

to install in Windows that will allow you to access the drive from there as well as Linux.
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#3
wsx123

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Thanks-sounds like an external is the way to go. How would I check to see if I have that 48 bit LBA support?
Any thing special to look for in an external usb hard drive?
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#4
Samm

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I'm not sure you can tell whether the bios supports 48 bit LBA without actually connecting a drive larger than 137GB and finding out that way! As a rough guide, if the system's bios is newer than 2003, then it should support 48 bit. If it's older than 2003 then it probably won't.

Re. external USB drives:
Firstly, be aware that there is a difference between an external portable USB drive & an external desktop USB drive. Portable drives tend to be based on laptop drives (i.e 2.5in) & don't require a power adapter. They often do require 2 USB ports however. A desktop external drive is normally a 3.5in drive with a seperate power adapter.

Before purchasing, I'd recommend checking for reviews on any of the particular external drives you may be considering.

One other option is to purchase an external USB 3.5in drive caddy and a IDE internal drive seperately. This way you can buy a Seagate IDE drive to go in the caddy, the advantage being that Seagate offer a 5 year warrantly on all of their internal drives. (No manufacturers seem to offer more than a 2 year warrantly on their external drives, including Seagate).
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#5
wsx123

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Thanks for all the help-you talked me into the internal 3.5 with a usb housing. I take it one with a cooling fan would be better a better choice. My Dell has a Western Digital 80 GB in it and I never had any problems except running out of room.
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#6
Samm

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Glad to have been of help. And yes, one with cooling fans is always a good idea :)
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#7
wsx123

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My present internal hard drive is an ultra ATA 100, would my added external have to be the same?
Is there a way to backup your operating system and files to an external hard drive or just files backup?
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#8
Samm

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Hi

No, the external drive does not have to be ATA100.

Re. backup, you can backup whatever you want to the external drive.
The only thing to bear in mind though is this - to backup your documents, music, photos or whatever, is a simple matter of copy & paste using Windows Explorer or My Computer.
To backup the entire OS however (i.e every single file & folder on the C drive), requires 3rd party software which will often create an image of the system partition to another drive, i.e similar to an ISO file. This type of backup is useful mainly if Windows gets corrupted and you can't fix it, so instead you restore it using the image file. (Be aware however, that normally this means overwriting everything on the C drive, including documents etc)

Also, bear in mind that if you wish to restore Windows using the backup because you can no longer boot windows, the image file may need to be on a drive thats accessible in Dos mode - this will vary depending on the backup software you use.

I normally recommend that people perform a complete OS backup, if possible, just after a fresh installation of Windows (and necessary drivers, software etc). Backups of your own data however should be performed regularly and separately from the OS backup.
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#9
wsx123

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Thanks again. I called Dell support and they said I can add another internal drive but I am limited to 160GB total. I might do that for an OS backup and get the external for files backup and portability.
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#10
Samm

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160GB? Do you mean 160GB total across both internal drives (i.e 2 x 80GB) or 160GB max for the second internal drive?
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#11
wsx123

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They said I could not go past the 160GB max all drives included. That must be the 48 bit LBA limitation you mentioned before. What hardware would I have to change to get past the 160GB limit?
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#12
Samm

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The 48 bit LBA limit of 137GB is per drive, not total capacity of all drives, so I see no reason why you couldn't add a 120GB internal drive in addition to your existing 80GB one.
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#13
wsx123

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Thanks. My bios was updated 12/2003.I have no idea where they came up with 160GB max and when I asked them why they did not answer, just asked if there was anything else.
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#14
Samm

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No idea why Dell told you that. I've been looking round the dell community forum and it looks like your 2400 should be 48 bit LBA compatible, but I can't guarantee it however. It will definately be able to support a 120GB drive though. If you do decide to add a second internal hard drive however, the only problem you will have is this:

From what I can tell, the 2400 has 2 x 5.25in bays for optical drives, a 3.5in bay for the floppy & a 3.5in bay (vertical) for the HDD. This means there are no spare 3.5in bays for a second hard drive. However, assuming you only have one optical drive, then you should be able to install a second hard drive in the spare 5.25in bay by using an adapter, such as the one below:

http://www.techstore...ail_105161.html
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#15
wsx123

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I don't have a floppy drive. I have a cd-rom and a second cd-/dvd rw.
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