Sony Vaio PCG-F430 hard drive failure - can I replace?

This Sony Vaio laptio, PCG-F430, gave an error message that the hard drive was failing and/or going to completely fail.  I found an old program that says it will do a low level format and possibly fix disk any problem.  Well, that program ran okay, but promplty told me the disk failed the tests.  

I then decided to just replace the hard drive.   Sony's site says the hard drive is not upgradeable or removable.  They say it needs to be taken in to an authorized Sony repair facility.  Well, I've already found someone who says they can do the job, but they're not "Sony Authorized."  

I tried searching this site, too, but haven't been able to find anything about it.

I figured that if that repair shop knows a way to do it without Sony's help, it must be possible.  Before I spend a lot at this repair shop, or find an authorized Sony shop, could I get some of you guys' thoughts?  

Also, this isn't my laptop.  I was trying to do a friend a favor.  But I'm afraid it's in worse shape now than it was before.  Please offer some encouragement.  This might be an easy question, I'm really not sure.

Thankx
enoriegaAsked:
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ridCommented:
I take it the warranty is out on this machine...

You could carefully open all little doors and see what's behind them (like memory modules or perhaps a hard drive). See if you can find out how to lift the Keyboard. Some machines have the hard drive underneath the KB. One machine I found had the HD piggybacked on the FDD and you just removed 2 screws and it slid out very nicely. Once you find the HD I would think it isn't too hard to figure out how to exchange it for a new one. The HD itself is very probably a standard 2.5" unit.
/RID
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enoriegaAuthor Commented:
Thank you for responding.  Actually, I know where the hard drive is supposed to be.  I even found some pictures online of how to get to it.  

I guess my main concern was the fact that Sony said this unit's hard drive was not upgradeble or able to be exchanged.  Their site said that only a Sony Authorized Service Repair shop could do it.  I figured there were proprietary parts in there that only their service centers could deal with.

I take it, from your answer, that there isn't anything truly "special" about this particular brand of laptop.  It sounds like you've taken apart many laptops before.  

Thanks again,
EN
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ridCommented:
I haven't dealt with that particular model, but I've been poking into a few Macs and PC models. I cannot say for certain that this model uses a standard HD, but anything else seems a bit far out as it would be somewhat expensive in the production stage.

I guess your best approach is to open the unit and look at the HD. There should be some markings or labels that could tell us more details. Probably you'll be able to figure out how to get it out without having to resort to a hammer and chisel. If you find a manufacturer name and model much is gained as we could find out a lot from that. There is lots of info at www.pc-disk.de
/RID
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