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Using Laptop as a external HD

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I recently purchased a new computer with Windows 7. I have an old laptop with Windows XP Home. I would like to connect my old laptop to my new computer and use it as a external HD (for backup). I would like to wipe or at least install a clean version of Windows to remove all my old stuff. Is there a way to do this? Is this even possible?
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Welcome To Geeks To Go!

Remove the drive from the laptop and fit it into a 2.5-inch external drive enclosure like one of these:
They are not expensive by anyone's reckoning.

The enclosure plugs into the mains supply, and a usb cable connects the enclosure to your new PC. You can now use the drive as a backup for all your documents, pictures etc. (something which I wish more people would do instead of waiting till it's too late). I have two external drives rigged up for this purpose (I'm a "belt-and braces" guy).

You can't install Windows on an external drive (well not without a lot of technical jiggery-pokery) but you can put a 'disk image' of your new PC's system drive on it for easy recovery should you need it. There's free software to do that called Backup & Recovery Free Edition:

The big advantage with creating your own backup disk-image is that you can create it when you've got Windows set up just the way you want it, and that's exactly what you will get back when you recover Windows from that image. Compare that with a factory-made recovery image or DVD, you'll have to go through all the procedure of setting up Windows to your liking and removing all the unwanted software again that PC makers seem so fond of filling our hard drives up with!

Before you buy an enclosure you need to check if the laptop drive has a modern SATA interface or the old IDE-PATA interface, then make sure the enclosure has that same type of internal interface. Some enclosures can accept both types of interface which makes them more flexible and therefore better value for money.

Edited by phillipcorcoran, 22 February 2010 - 11:24 AM.

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