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Windows 7: External Hard Drive Question

15 Mar 2015   #1
Sky Ranch

Windows 7 Home 64-bit
 
 
External Hard Drive Question

Hello all!

I apologize in advance if the question doesn't pertain to this particular forum category. I'm new here!

My question is in regards to preparing an old hard disk drive that I replaced with a solid state drive. I would like to use the old HDD as an external backup since it probably still has a few years of life left. It was only a year old when I replaced it with the SSD.

Since the old HDD still has a working OS installed along with the particular partitions set at the factory, do I need to simply do a quick or full format, or would you recommend using DISKPART and initiate a clean (or clean all) command then format it?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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15 Mar 2015   #2
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

A quick format will suffice. And do NOT attempt a Clean All - that can take a looong time because it writes zeros all over the disk. You would only do that if you wanted the data to be completely erased because you give the disk to someone else.
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15 Mar 2015   #3
strollin

W10 Pro desktop, W10 laptop, W10 laptop, W10 Pro tablet (all 64-bit)
 
 

If it has multiple partitions you will need to format each partition. Since you plan on using this for backups, I would delete all of the existing partitions then create a single large one and format it.
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15 Mar 2015   #4
Berton

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, Mac OS X 10.10, Linux Mint 17, Windows 10 Pro TP
 
 

When I resurrect such HDDs I use Disk Management to Delete the partition/s then if going back into service right away I Create one or more partitions on the HDD which is followed by Formatting as NTFS, doesn't take long but depends upon the size and one can still keep working. If the HDD is just going on the shelf I don't partition and format until needed. If installing an OS on a blank drive the partitioning and formatting will be taken care of.
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15 Mar 2015   #5
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by HelloItsMeAgain View Post

I would like to use the old HDD as an external backup since it probably still has a few years of life left.
I can understand using it as an external in some cases--if you need the portability factor.

Do you intend to put the drive into an enclosure or just use a dock? Docks are pretty handy.

If you install the drive internally, your backups will be a lot quicker and you will avoid any insanity associated with USB ports, cables, or enclosures. And save money.

I backup to an internal several times a day. I also use another internal in an external dock that I backup to every month or so.

External/internal is a tradeoff---each has advantages and disadvantages.
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15 Mar 2015   #6
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by HelloItsMeAgain View Post

I would like to use the old HDD as an external backup since it probably still has a few years of life left.
I can understand using it as an external in some cases--if you need the portability factor.

Do you intend to put the drive into an enclosure or just use a dock? Docks are pretty handy.

If you install the drive internally, your backups will be a lot quicker and you will avoid any insanity associated with USB ports, cables, or enclosures. And save money.

I backup to an internal several times a day. I also use another internal in an external dock that I backup to every month or so.

External/internal is a tradeoff---each has advantages and disadvantages.
And the disadvantage to internally installed backup drives is any malware that gets into the system can also infect the backup drives. Also, if the PSU should short out, either from internal failure or a transient on the mains blowing through, all the drives, including the backups, will be fried. Externally stored backup drives that are connected to the computer only when updating the backup are much safer.

I have a 3.5" hot swap bay installed in my machine so plugging in internal drives for backups is quick and easy. An easy alternative is to set up an external dock alongside or on top of the computer and just leave it connected.

By using a folder/file syncing program (I like FreeFileSync), updating backups can be so fast, doing them daily is easy. Even multiple updates in a day isn't unreasonable although I generally just do them daily. I maintain two backup HDDs for each of the three HDDs I currently have in my computer at home (I also have two more I keep in a safe deposit box at my credit union). I backup my SSD by imaging and saving the image to my main data drive, then backing up that drive to two of my externally stored backup HDDs.
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15 Mar 2015   #7
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Good point LF. I keep my external backup disks switched off when not in use for backup/recovery..
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15 Mar 2015   #8
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
Good point LF. I keep my external backup disks switched off when not in use for backup/recovery..
That works.
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15 Mar 2015   #9
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1
 
 

My backup drives are only hooked up to the computer when in use.
They are external.

One time I had a power supply blow up and it took out every thing in the computer.
When I say blow up that is exactly what I mean. It shot flames out the back of the computer and every capacitor in the power supply had it's top blown off. Yes it was very loud.
Never did figure what cause the power supply to do such a thing. I just don't use that brand any more.
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16 Mar 2015   #10
Sky Ranch

Windows 7 Home 64-bit
 
 

Thanks everyone for the great advice.

I recently purchased a 2.5" HDD/SSD SATA 3.0 portable enclosure that I was going to use to store the old HDD. Basically, my goal was to use it to create and store a system image of a clean install and applications rather than use it for periodic backups of my personal files (Apologies for not being clear on my intentions in my original post).

Since most of my personal data is stored in a cloud service, I needed a solution for a quick and complete restore of my system should my laptop fail to boot while on business or leisure trips. Thought that would be the best way to make use of my old HDD that isn't very large (300 GB).

Again, thanks for all the help. Cheers all around!
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