How do I upgrade my Dell HD from 120G to 320G? (cloning difficulties)

I currently have a 120G Seagate drive in my Dell laptop: an Inspiron E1505 (Windows XP, SP2).  I really need something larger.

I have recently used Seagate's own Acronis cloning utility and - over two very bad days - have converted two new Seagate 250G drives into unbootable 108G pieces of junk.

I am not a master PC guy unfortunately, so shorthand talk about BIOS upgrades and partition tweaking is pretty alien to me.  I've only marginally been able to understand references to the one or two special/invisible Dell partitions that I've read about.  I just know that there's trouble lurking there, thanks to Dell.

I can tell you is this:
* my current and new disk are each SATA and 5400rpm;
* I have a bunch of USB ports on this machine;
* I do not have access to a desktop machine.  Is not having an intermediate host like that a showstopper?

The other interesting/sad thing is that I've tried two different PC Service places in town and collectively they've failed three times to do what I've wanted.  They have each said that they needed more time to figure things out.

So I'll give this one more shot on my own.

Would someone please give me step-by-step instructions on how I should...
* prep my source drive (my current 120G disk) eg: does it need to be put it in an external enclosure or can it stay where it is?
* prep my destination drive (a new, empty 320G Seagate disk) eg: does it need to be installed in the laptop directly or not?
* seek out a solid, reliable cloning utility, and possibly prep a new bootable CD; eg: is Acronis worth sticking with?
* step through the cloning utility interface , and be on guard for key jargon;
* evaluate and appropriately upgrade BIOS stuff to reflect a new, higher disk capacity;

Thanks very much.  I'd really appreciate the assistance.
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Get an usb 2.5 enclosure or just adapter to hook new drive to any available usb port on your laptop. Insert Acronis CD in system, and restart system to boot with Acronis. Run wizard and check see if the usb drive detected correctly.
During setup imaging you should select:
- copy MBR
- Set active
- copy disk to disk
Try and post back.
DellBillAuthor Commented:
Thank you very much.  I'll report back in a few hours.
I do not know how old your laptop is, but if the above does not work, you may need a newer BIOS to resolve any 128 GB barrier issues

Dell should have one you can download

Please backup you data before doing an update ( sufficient to image just the partitions of your drive independently.

I hope this helps !
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DellBillAuthor Commented:
damn - i think my disk or enclosures are poor - the disk is beeping like crazy
(I referred to this...

i will address this issue and proceed with the acronis process
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
First, you don't need an external enclosure (although it will work)  --> I'd simply get one of these very-handy-to-have gadgets (I wouldn't be without one):

As for the basic process ... do NOT "clone" the drive --> ESPECIALLY if your Dell has "Media Direct" capabilities.   This is very likely what you have done (twice) already.   If your Dell has Media Direct, then you have most likely simply changed the size of the Host Protected Area (HPA) from it's nominal size on your 120GB drive to a size 200GB larger than that on your 320GB drive !!
See my comments here for details on the problem and how to resolve it:

As for whether or not your system can "see" a 320GB drive => simple test:  With a new 320GB drive (one you're sure you haven't "messed up" with a HPA), just install it in the laptop and boot to the BIOS.   If it shows the correct size, all is well.

The process I would follow is simple:

(a)  Remove your old drive and connect it to the "gadget" I noted above (or install it in an external enclosure).

(b)  Install you new 320GB drive in the laptop.

(c)  Boot to the imaging utility you plan to use (via a bootable CD).   Now just copy the OS partition from the old drive to the new drive.   You MAY need to set the partition active and/or adjust the BOOT.INI file, depending on the relative partition location on the original drive;  but that should be all.   If you happen to use Boot-It NG (my favoriite imaging utility) there's a built-in editor you can use for this purpose.  But in any event, it's simple -- and it will boot fine.

As long as you don't inadvertently add a HPA area to your disk, you'll have no problem "seeing" the full size of the disk UNLESS the BIOS doesn't have 48-bit LBA support (which you'll easily know if you do as I noted above).

DellBillAuthor Commented:
holy crap - thanks very much - yes MediaDirect is definitely an issue here - thanks very much also for the link to the previous case of yours - excellent info!  i also love that cable idea (with its own AC supply).

I'm going to do the check that you suggest and report back with some data and a couple of questions that you've raised in my mind...

DellBillAuthor Commented:
Hi there - just an update.  I need to head out and buy a new disk, I think.  The disk doesn't even spin up properly when installed directly in the laptop.  The beeping continues there too.  In case you're wondering, the electrical requirements of this 320G HD match those of the 120G.  So, I'll soon be armed with a new disk and will execute your steps.

Attached below are the partition details of my old 120G drive, as provided by Acronis.  The "*" in the left column indicates the partition that is selected by default for copying.  

My question to garycase: In your suggested step (c) above, are you advising me to only copy that one partition to my new, larger disk?  

(If that sounds like a dumb question, it's because I don't know what the other two partitions are there for, since the HPA you describe is supposed to be hidden.)

Thank you very much again.

  Partition             Flags     Capacity  UsedSpace  Type
* NTFS (Unlabeled)(C:)  Pri,Act.  105.7 GB  96.98 GB   NTFS
- FAT16 (Unlabeled)     Pri        39.19MB   7.483MB   FS: FAT16 Partition: 0xDE (EISA configuration)
- FAT16 (Unlabeled)     Pri        4.642GB   3.633GB   FS: FAT32 Partition: 0xDB (Concurrent DOS,CTOS)

Open in new window

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Yes, just copy the 105.7GB partition to the new disk => do NOT "clone" the drive.   Since it's the first partition on the disk, you won't have to change anything for it to boot [BOOT.INI, etc.] => you'll just have to be sure it's active (I assume Acronis will automatically make it active).

The other partitions aren't needed anyway -- I assume the 3rd (4.642GB) is the recovery partition; the 2nd is probably diagnostics.   The rest of the drive is hidden by the HPA => and if you "clone" the disk it doesn't matter how big the "rest" is ... it will still be part of the hidden HPA.
DellBillAuthor Commented:
Hi again.  I can at least report success on the hardware front.  I now have a solid 320G Toshiba drive (I went through TWO broken [but new] Seagate drives - the guy at the shop was pretty amazed, but he could not dispute that they were bad).

I'm going to follow your lead and get Boot-It NG. Acronis is not allowing me to be selective about the partitions; I can resize them as I choose, but if I want the MBR, I need to take all source partitions too.

One other note: the partition list that I mentioned earlier does NOT the pysical order on the drive; Acronis simply reported them that way for some reason.  When presented graphically, the order is as follows.

I'm also including a screen grab of the Windows Computer Management view.

I'm bringing this up because it sounds like ther will be some BOOT.INI file editing to be done, and that'll be new to me.

Anyway, I look forward to working with Boot-It NG now; the docs seem extensive, so my BOOT.INI worries may be quickly addressed there.

I'll report back.  Thanks so much.

  Partition             Flags     Capacity  UsedSpace  Type
FAT16 (Unlabeled)     Pri        39.19MB   7.483MB   FS: FAT16 Partition: 0xDE (EISA configuration)
NTFS (Unlabeled)(C:)  Pri,Act.  105.7 GB  96.98 GB   NTFS
FAT16 (Unlabeled)     Pri        4.642GB   3.633GB   FS: FAT32 Partition: 0xDB (Concurrent DOS,CTOS)

Open in new window

DellBillAuthor Commented:
sorry - here's the image

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Yes, you'll need to modify BOOT.INI => you just need to change the partition value from 2 to 1 [In the line that reads something like this:  multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

I believe it will also need changed in the "default= ..." line.

Editing it is very simple in Boot-It.   Just highlight the partition in Partition Work; select Properties; then click on the "Edit File" button.

The basic process in Boot-It is very simple.   Assuming you have the new 320GB drive installed and the old drive attached via USB, you just do this:

(a)  Boot to a Boot-It CD;  select CANCEL at the first prompt; then OK.
(b)  Click on Settings and check the USB 2.0 support box (then OK)
(c)  Click on Partition Work.  Select the old disk (HD-1);  highlight the XP partition;  click on Copy --> you'll now see a "Paste Pending for Copy" note at the bottom of the screen ... then select HD-0 (the new drive);  highlight the unallocated space (it will be the only entry in the center if you haven't done anythign to the drive);  and click on Paste.

.... wait for the Copy/Paste operation to finish ...

(d)  Highlight the newly restored partition on the new drive;  click on Properties; click on Edit File;  select the BOOT.INI file and change the 2's to 1's as I noted above.
(e)  Still in Partition Work (with HD-0) still selected), click on View MBR.   Be sure the newly restored partition is marked as Active.  If not, select it and click on Set Active.

Done :-)    The laptop should now boot.
Note that you can now create any additional partitions you want; or use Boot-It to resize the partition to use the whole drive; etc.

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DellBillAuthor Commented:
Beautiful!  It's at times like these that I don't hate computers as much as usual.

Thank you VERY much!
DellBillAuthor Commented:
Just great.  I *love* step-by-step breakdowns.  And I learned about a few new tools in this process.
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