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Windows 7: External hard drive- how to pick one and install it.

24 Apr 2014   #1

External hard drive- how to pick one and install it.

I have a Dell Inspiron 530 which I just upgraded the OS to Windows 7. Seems that the internal hard drive is almost full (I plan on doing some deleting of photos once I have copied them safely elsewhere) and a friend has suggested adding an external HD. I will probably use it primarily for photos...not professional pics.

I'm looking for some guidance as to size and brand of drive and suggestions as to where to buy it. I will order online.

I've been reading some of the posts here and see SATA mentioned. I have Windows 7 for Dummies and don't see info on SATA in the index. Is SATA involved when the drive is attached externally?

I just found this on BizRate:

Thanks for any suggestions.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2014   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

That Imation would be very low on my list.

What is the combined size of the stuff you want to store on the drive, in gigabytes?

You can buy 1 terabyte external drives for under $100. That's 1000 Gigabytes. If your pictures average 1 mb each, 1 terabyte would hold about one million pictures.

I'd stay with a well known brand (Western Digital, Hitachi, or Seagate most likely).

You can find them in smaller sizes than 1 TB, but they wouldn't be a lot cheaper than the 1 TB size.

Here's a bunch of them in various brands and sizes.

External Hard Drives, Portable Hard Drives, Mac Hard Drives -

Good sources: Amazon, Newegg, Tiger Direct; all online.

If you use an external drive, it will probably attach through a USB port; slower than internal SATA by quite a bit.

Any particular reason you need external rather than internal? I'm not highly familiar with the Inspiron 530, but most PCs can accommodate a second internal drive.

I'd be wary and probably not use any software that might be included with it.

I'd also want to have my pictures backed up (have 2 copies of each picture).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2014   #3


The future combined size isn't known to me at this time. My computer has 7000 photos on it now and I would be continuing to add photos over time. (Im guessing well over 64 GB but not quite 128 GB. I backed them up before the upgrade and it took almost two 64 GB memory sticks.)

I thought an external drive would be simpler and it was what was suggested to me by a friend. I'm not knowledgeable about tech computer stuff and neither is my husband, so that's why I'm not looking to open the computer up and add anything. We tried that with our old Gateway and I couldn't get the HD to boot (back in 2007).

Thanks for the suggestions and I will definitely check out the link you've provided.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 Apr 2014   #4
Mellon Head

Win 7 Pro x64/Win 10 Pro x64 dual boot

I've had really good luck with Western Digital drives.

USB connected drives are quite a bit slower than an internal SATA drive is, but if you're just using the external for storage of pictures and files, it really won't make much of a difference how fast it is or isn't. It still won't take long to copy some pictures over to the drive every week, or whenever you do it. I use a program called Supercopier for my USB external. It lets you copy files in the background so you can continue to use the computer while it's copying.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2014   #5


Thank you, Mellon Head! I will follow through with these very helpful suggestions! Freddi
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 May 2014   #6


Follow up to above question: I have received the Seagate Expansion portable drive I ordered. I am using a Dell Inspiron 530. Dell is telling me that I need to purchase drivers (31 out of date). Before I do anything I wanted to run this by the Forum. I was hoping (silly me!) that I'd just have to plug the darn thing in and I'd be able to download my freakin' photos which are the source of all of this aggravation. (Dell isn't helping either.) So, is your advice that I purchase these drivers? Previously, all drivers were upgraded automatically (so I thought!). Any help would be very much appreciated. Freddi
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 May 2014   #7

W7 Pro x64 SP1 | W10 Pro IP x64 | W8.1 Pro x64 VM | Linux Mint VM

You shouldn't need to purchase drivers at all. How did Dell tell you needed to, through a pop up on your PC? Your external drive should literally just plug and play, Windows will search for and install the relevant drivers and you should be good to go.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 May 2014   #8


Thanks! Will I be able to tell the difference as to whether the copies are on the portable or the internal HD? I can't disconnect the internal one. f
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 May 2014   #9

Windows 7 Home Pro SP1 64bit

Plug in the external to power and the USB connection. Wait a few seconds until it loads. Go to "My Computer" (Windows Explorer, NOT Internet Explorer) and you should see the internal HD (probably C:\
and the external HD as whatever letter you assigned or was assigned by the OS.
Double click the external HD and you should see all the files on the drive.
Same with the internal HD.
You should be able to drag & drop files from the internal to the external. Highlight a file from the internal HD photos, right click and hold, drag to the external drive letter, release and choose "Copy".
Check to make sure the file was copied to the drive.
From that point on, you should be able to highlight large batches of photos and perform the same operation to "copy" them to the external drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 May 2014   #10

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Freddid View Post
Will I be able to tell the difference as to whether the copies are on the portable or the internal HD?
Each drive will have a different drive letter.

So they will have different paths, the original perhaps on the C drive and the copy perhaps on D or E.

You have to be careful about which drive you are using at any given moment. You can get confused in Windows Explorer if you aren't paying attention and you might accidentally delete or modify the copy on the external when you thought you were working on the original file on the internal.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 External hard drive- how to pick one and install it.

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