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Windows 7: Hard drive decisions

10 Oct 2015   #1
mercurius

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 
Hard drive decisions

I currently have two internal hard drives in my desktop: the C drive (1Tb) that contains all my main data and a D drive 500gb) that I keep all my photographs on.

The C drive is fine and is backed up to an external 1Tb drive

The problem with the D drive is that is is nearly full and it is not backed up, so at risk.

My thinking is to replace the 500gb D drive with a 2Tb drive (or may be even bigger as my pic sizes are huge now that I have a more sophisticated SLR which creates larger files for my pics ) and have a 2Tb (or bigger) external hard drive for back up.

So my questions are:
  • Is this the best replacement and back up strategy?
  • Is there a limitation imposed by the motherboard on the maximum size of internal hard drive I can install?
  • How easy is it to transfer the data from the existing D drive to a new, larger hard drive? (the thought of opening up my computer fills me with dread as I am not technical in any way!)

Many thanks for any thoughts and advice on this.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
10 Oct 2015   #2
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

"Is this the best replacement and back up strategy?". It's a good start. You should have two backup drives, one onsite and one offsite, for each drive in your computer but, if you are strapped for cash (been there, done that), one backup per drive is way the heck better than none.

"Is there a limitation imposed by the motherboard on the maximum size of internal hard drive I can install?". For up to 2TB, you will not run into any limtations. Bigger drives will require formatting in GPT but that also shouldn't be a problem.

"How easy is it to transfer the data from the existing D drive to a new, larger hard drive? (the thought of opening up my computer fills me with dread as I am not technical in any way!)". It's easier than you may think. I (and qquite a few other people here) use Macrium Reflect Free to clone (not image) data from one drive to another.

Opening up a computer is daunting the first time but changing out HDDs is failrly simple. Mostly, you just pull out the two cables going into the drive, remove the old drive and put in the new one, then reconnect the cables. I suggest you backup the old drive to the new backup drive before doing anything else just in case (one can't be too cautious). It may also be easier for you to clone the data to the new internal drive before swapping them out.

If you run into any problems, just let us know and one of us will help you out.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Oct 2015   #3
mercurius

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Hi Lady Fitzgerald,
Thank you for your helpful response. Would you mind answering some supplementary questions?
  1. Can you explain what GPT is and how you format in it? I've never heard of it before.
  2. Is there a risk in using s/w like Macrium that once the s/w manufacturer disappears the drive might be come unreadable or impossible to transfer to another future operating system type or upgrade? Also what's the benefit of cloning the data using s/w rather than just copying it across in Explorer?
  3. Would it be sensible to have the backup driver bigger (say 3TB) than than the internal HDD (say 2TB)?
  4. Do you have any recommendations for makes / type of internal and external hard drives, eg ones that are more reliable?

Many thanks for your advice.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

10 Oct 2015   #4
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

I'd probably do it this way, using nothing more than drag and drop with the mouse:

1: copy everything on the nearly full 500 GB internal to the external 2 TB.

2: open the case and disconnect the nearly fully 500 GB. Remove it from the case.

3: install the new 2 TB or larger internal into the very same location from which you removed the 500 GB. Reconnect the same cables to the new drive.

4: Format the new 2 TB or larger internal as GPT, probably just with a single partition. Confirm that it is seen in Windows Disk Management and that it appears to be operating properly. Check the SMART data for the new drive to confirm there are no bad sectors. Check temperatures for the new drive.

5: If the new drive appears to be operating OK, re-copy data back from the external to the new internal using mouse or keyboard.

6: After that is all done and things are going well, set up some sort of automated backup process that will back up your data at will with a mouse click or two.

Don't agonize over which new drives to buy. I'd probably avoid Seagate, but other than that, shop by price and capacity. Don't get yourself in a position where it's a big deal if a drive fails. That's where you are now since you have no backup for the 500 GB drive. Get out of that situation immediately.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Oct 2015   #5
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mercurius View Post
Hi Lady Fitzgerald,
Thank you for your helpful response. Would you mind answering some supplementary questions?
  1. Can you explain what GPT is and how you format in it? I've never heard of it before.
  2. Is there a risk in using s/w like Macrium that once the s/w manufacturer disappears the drive might be come unreadable or impossible to transfer to another future operating system type or upgrade? Also what's the benefit of cloning the data using s/w rather than just copying it across in Explorer?
  3. Would it be sensible to have the backup driver bigger (say 3TB) than than the internal HDD (say 2TB)?
  4. Do you have any recommendations for makes / type of internal and external hard drives, eg ones that are more reliable?

Many thanks for your advice.
GPT is a type of initialization and is an alternative to MBR, which you may have heard of. When you go to format a drive, you should be asked if you want to use GPT or MBR. The limitation of MBR is that MBR drives will NOT let you use more than about 2.2 TB of a drive, regardless of it's so-called "size" and regardless of the number of partitions. GPT has no such limitation.


As regards sizing, you are the only one who knows how quickly you chew up space. No reason not to go to 3 TB or 4 TB if you anticipate needing that much space. That applies to drives containing "original" data as well as "backups".

Some motherboards may have hard drive size limitations unrelated to the MBR/GPT issues, but that's uncommon, particularly if your motherboard is of fairly recent vintage.

Macrium is a great tool and is particularly useful for operating system partition backup. You COULD also use it for your stated purpose of data backup, but I wouldn't bother with that for a one time job of copying data. If you intend to use Macrium for whatever purpose, you will have to ascend it's learning curve. It's fairly easy to learn as those things go, but it's more complex than simply copying with a mouse or keyboard.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Oct 2015   #6
strollin

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

1. GPT is the latest partitioning style, the older partitioning style, MBR, was first introduced with DOS 2.0. MBR has a limitation of 2TB for disk size which GPT overcomes. In order to use a GPT disk for a boot drive, your computer must be running UEFI.

2. A backup created using software like Macrium Reflect will be able to be restored by the version of Macrium Reflect that created it, regardless of whether or not the company disappears. If you get a new OS, you would not want to restore a system image (which would overwrite the new OS). Data files can be transferred to a new OS but programs need to be reinstalled. Cloning copies a disk to another disk as an exact copy, sector by sector. If the original drive is bootable, the clone will be bootable as well. Copying via Explorer copies on a file by file basis and copying a disk that way cannot create a bootable drive.

3. It makes lots of sense to have a larger backup drive since you can use it to store multiple backups.

4. There are lots of good drives out there. I personally like Western Digital Caviar Black for boot purposes, WD Caviar Blue are another good choice.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Oct 2015   #7
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Not all cloning is done sector by sector. Macrium Reflect defaults to Intelligent Sector cloning, which means it clones only the sectors that actually have data in them. For sector by sector cloning, you have to choose Forensic cloning.

Even if Macrium Reflect should go belly up (highly unlikely), say, tomorrow, you can still use the existing software to make and restore images. I'm still using the previous version (5.x) without any problems and, if I upgrade (more like when I upgrade), I can still restore from the earlier images.

I prefer SSDs for my OS and programs, WD Blacks for my onboard data drives, and WD Greens for my external backup drives (a dock or hot swap bay is required to use a Green externally). WD is supposedly going to be replacing the Greens with a new line of Blues that will be 5400rpm drives.

Using Copy and Paste in Windows Explorer may seem like the easy way to transfer data from one drive to another but, in actuality, it takes much longer than cloning when transferring a large amount of data and is subject to copy errors which you would have no way of determining short of examining each file after the transfer. Cloning with Macrium Reflect is faster, more accurate, and, overall, easier, despite the slight learning curve.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Oct 2015   #8
mercurius

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Thanks to all for your helpful replies. Hopefully you can clarify a few points.

My computer is 2 years old. Is there any way of telling whether it can handle GPT / UEFI?

I'm thinking of a 3Tb internal HD and a 4Tb external backup drive. Any idea how I find a compatible dock / hot swap bay for the external drive. Is there any alternative that doesn't require a separate dock/bay for the external drive?

Sorry guys, feel as though I am going way beyond my comfort zone with all this technical talk!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Oct 2015   #9
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

No worries. Most of us first came here to learn, too.

Your computer will support GPT for storage, which is all you really need to worry about unless you want a drive bigger than 2.2TB for your boot drive (personally, I prefer using a smaller SSD for just the OS and programs and keep all data on separate HDDs).

I would stay away from 3TB internal drives. For some unfathomable reason, they get poorer customer reviews than other sizes. Just get two 4TB drives.

I've had good luck with this external dock. I would suggest just leaving it set up alongside or on top of the computer (just don't block an air vents) since it has a power switch you can turn on and off.

I have both a 2.5" and a 3.5" hot swap bay built into my computer that I use for backups but no one makes any that I like anymore (I got some spares while I could). Mayhap someone else could suggest an internal hot swap bay that they like (it would require a spare 5.25" bay in your computer).

You can buy self powered external drives (they have a separate power supply that has to be plugged into a wall outlet, same as an external dock) but I personally do not like them since they tend to have lower quality HDDs in them. Also, they take up more room in storage. I have twelve backup drives (What can I say? I'm anally redundant), six of which are stored at home and the other six are kept in my safe deposit box at my credit union. Regular backup drives would have not only taken up much more room, I would wasted money of redundant power supplies. Or, you could get an enclosure to put an internal type drive into, which would give you better quality, but it would also take up more room.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Oct 2015   #10
mercurius

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
No worries. Most of us first came here to learn, too.

Your computer will support GPT for storage, which is all you really need to worry about unless you want a drive bigger than 2.2TB for your boot drive (personally, I prefer using a smaller SSD for just the OS and programs and keep all data on separate HDDs).

I would stay away from 3TB internal drives. For some unfathomable reason, they get poorer customer reviews than other sizes. Just get two 4TB drives.

I've had good luck with this external dock. I would suggest just leaving it set up alongside or on top of the computer (just don't block an air vents) since it has a power switch you can turn on and off.

I have both a 2.5" and a 3.5" hot swap bay built into my computer that I use for backups but no one makes any that I like anymore (I got some spares while I could). Mayhap someone else could suggest an internal hot swap bay that they like (it would require a spare 5.25" bay in your computer).

You can buy self powered external drives (they have a separate power supply that has to be plugged into a wall outlet, same as an external dock) but I personally do not like them since they tend to have lower quality HDDs in them. Also, they take up more room in storage. I have twelve backup drives (What can I say? I'm anally redundant), six of which are stored at home and the other six are kept in my safe deposit box at my credit union. Regular backup drives would have not only taken up much more room, I would wasted money of redundant power supplies. Or, you could get an enclosure to put an internal type drive into, which would give you better quality, but it would also take up more room.
Thank you very much once again for all of this.

So to sum up, I should get 2 x 4TB drives (one internal and one external) and format them for GPT. Can I just ask again some follow ups:
  1. the dock station you provided the link to makes the HDD look a bit exposed. Is it possible to get enclosed units to put the HDD in- and, if so, do you recommend any?
  2. if I format them for GPT will the computer recognise them as 4Tb drives?
  3. do they need USB 3 drives, as most of mine look like USB 2?

I realise now that my back up strategy is also rubbish I am doing a back up using Windows 7 which is taking an image of my C drive, but I haven't created a boot disk to be able to use the image in the event of a crash. Also Windows 7 fills the back up drive for my C drive and doesn't overwrite it when the disk is full, so unless I check now and again (which to be honest I often forget to do) I have a full back up drive that is not backing up my C drive with any incremental additional data created. Any suggestions as to a simple approach to sorting this out?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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