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Thread: Laptop Question

  1. #1
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    Laptop Question

    For a project I've been working on, I recently bought a new laptop. The internal drive has only 250GB of space and it's rapidly vanishing. What are the best options for adding a larger drive? I'd like to keep the existing drive.

    If it matters, here are the laptop's specs:
    • 17.3" Full HD (1920 x 1080 ) WLED IPS display, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q Design 6GB GDDR5 dedicated Graphics
    • 8th Gen Intel Hexa-Core i7-8750H @ 2.20GHz (9 MB SmartCache, Max Turbo Frequency 4.10GHz)
    • 32GB DDR4 SDRAM, 256GB Solid State Drive, No Optical Drive
    • 802.11ac Wi-Fi featuring 2x2 MU-MIMO technology (Dual-Band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), Bluetooth 4.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (up to 5 Gbps): 1 x USB 3.0 (with Power-off Charging): 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack, Virtual Reality Ready, Two Built-in Stereo Speakers, HD Webcam
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  2. #2
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    "Adding" a drive? Almost no chance. Most laptops are designed so tightly that there is no additional space for expansion. You could replace the current SSD drive with a larger one and migrate to it, but that is not for the faint of heart.

    The usual solution is to store as much of your data as you can on a "cloud" service. OneDrive, Dropbox, Amazon, Google, etc. Then the laptop SSD drive will be mostly for the OS and other software required to do the work.
    “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity”

  3. #3
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    I was thinking along the lines of an external drive. The thing I don't like about the cloud is you always have to have access to it and at times that means connecting to an unsecured or security unknown WiFi.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  4. #4
    I bought a 1 TB hard drive for storing files. It plugs in via the USB ports and has its own power supply.
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  5. #5
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    What I did was get a USB3 Startech HDD Dock and a couple of HDD's. 1 TB HDD's are practically party favors now (sometimes < $50).

  6. #6
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    1. You can connect an external HD via USB (not blindingly fast, but acceptable). You can get an external case for an existing drive if you have the HD already - i.e. you could salvage the HD from an old PC(??).

    2. I don't see it in your list of specs, but some laptops have a SATA port. Basically, a dedicated port for external storage. I'm sure it varies from device to device, but I have heard SATA offers nearly the same 'external' access times as you get on the PC's internal comm bus. (Edit: Much like USB storage devices, this is also just a small external 'box' with HD of your choice installed. It just uses SATA cable, not USB.)

    3. You can get an external drive 'box' with Ethernet port, and allows storage access across your home LAN or other network. I installed 2 1TB HDs in a RAID 1 configuration (automatically copies same data to both drives). Other more robust RAID configurations are available, but RAID 1 gave my wife the redundancy she felt necessary. I did this when she was working on her thesis (loss of >2yrs of research data would have been brutal). It's not quite as conveniently portable as IT.1 & 2, but it can be moved. The unit we have is ~4"x5"x8" with it's own power supply, and you'd probably need to transport the Ethernet switch gear if you're mobile.

    Your security requirements may be low, but my favorite comment about 'the cloud': "There is no 'cloud'. It is just someone else's computer."
    Last edited by Malcolm McLeod; 01-02-2019 at 10:09 AM.
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  7. #7
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    External drives are easy and pretty inexpensive these days....I have a bunch of them hanging of my computer for long term storage and backup purposes. You have USB ports, so it's pretty much "plug and play" to add external storage.

    This Macbook Pro originally had a tiny 128GB SSD for internal storage, so I do understand your frustration. I did swap it out for a 480GB SSD a few years ago. (not something that can be done with current models anymore) But even 480GB has to be "maintained" and off-loaded. Hence, the external drives.
    --

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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm McLeod View Post
    Other more robust RAID configurations are available, but RAID 1 gave my wife the redundancy she felt necessary. I did this when she was working on her thesis (loss of >2yrs of research data would have been brutal).
    Malcolm, as far as I can recall, RAIDs are almost on par to single hard drives when it comes to keeping data safe. My wife keeps her research data on multiple hard drives (full copies) in different locations. The Cloud (or someone else's computer ;-) is probably a much safer option for important data backups than RAID or multiple hard drives.

  9. #9
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    USB 3 is quite fast although certainly not like an SSD. I'd get an external HDD dock as has been suggested and a couple of drives. "A couple" because one backup is never enough. In addition to using an external drive for overflow, back up the laptop contents to it. Then copy all of that to the second drive and keep that one somewhere else. 250gb is a lot of data. I'm happily running Linux in a 20gb partition in a multi-terabyte disk although I can't keep a lot of video files in the same space. You might have a lot of stuff that could be moved off your SSD to the external disk.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Moriarty View Post
    I was thinking along the lines of an external drive. The thing I don't like about the cloud is you always have to have access to it and at times that means connecting to an unsecured or security unknown WiFi.
    I often use a VPN service when I am connecting to the Internet from questionable networks, but that's another added cost if you don't always need it. Also, for really important things, I tend to encrypt them whether storing locally on a hard drive or on the cloud -- that is good enough for all except government-backed cracking (and I'm not worried about that as I have nothing to hide from them!). :-)

  11. #11
    Many newer laptops lack any kind of ability to expand the internal storage bulk storage.

    An external USB drive is the simplest and since you have USB 3 ports performance will be pretty good. A solid state drive will give best performance, but rotating still gets you more storage per dollar. I favor the 2 to 4 terabyte western digital models myself, but there are other good ones. If you have multiple computers and would like access from all, then NAS (Network attached storage) would be worth considering. It has become pretty easy to set one up, and storage can be expanded at will. But not as easy to take along if you will want to have access while you travel.

    Most of the concerns about using unsecured wifi can be addressed by using a VPN, so you could go the cloud route and use VPN software when on an unsecured network. But that combo can be pretty slow so if performance is important, local storage is the way to go.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yathin Krishnappa View Post
    Malcolm, as far as I can recall, RAIDs are almost on par to single hard drives when it comes to keeping data safe. My wife keeps her research data on multiple hard drives (full copies) in different locations. The Cloud (or someone else's computer ;-) is probably a much safer option for important data backups than RAID or multiple hard drives.
    I agree the physical security (flood/fire/theft) of RAID is near equal to a single HD. But it does give you protection against any single unrecoverable HD crash. And it was what we could afford in our misspent youth.
    Last edited by Malcolm McLeod; 01-02-2019 at 10:28 AM.
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  13. #13
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    Does it happen to be an Acer? I googled the specs and it seems to match an Acer on amazon.

    There's a how-to online on swapping its internal SSD for a larger unit. I've done this before, and simply cloned the internal drive onto the replacement (there are kits for this that will let you hook the new unit up via USB, software clones the drive), and then open the case and make the swap. A 1TB or 2TB SSD is not expensive. Go for it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Moriarty View Post
    For a project I've been working on, I recently bought a new laptop. The internal drive has only 250GB of space and it's rapidly vanishing. What are the best options for adding a larger drive? I'd like to keep the existing drive. ...
    You don't list internal ports in that list of specs. (Most ads don't, assuming the customer won't care to mess with the computer guts.) One clue would be if you had a choice of options / configurations. E.g. most laptops accept memory modules and will be offered with a range of memory. A few have all (no upgrade) or some (fixed minimum) built-in. The "hard-drive" options are even less obvious, but usually there is a selection and at least one connector internally so components can be swapped or even added. (E.g. my now year-old laptop has a "M2" connector and an internal disk bay. I ordered it with an M2 SSD card and then added a bigger drive-shaped SSD when I caught it on sale later.)

    All previous computers I have pulled the factory HDD and replaced it with a bigger HDD or recently an SSD. In each case I bought an external case so the formerly internal drive could be mounted as an external USB drive. ("Just in case." I don't think I've ever actually gone back once the data was copied. BTW- I, and a former co-worker, have had good luck with the Sabrent line of external cases. There are other brands that are probably using the same electronics, if you find a feature set or price that works better for you.)

    I can't help with the migration steps as I don't (voluntarily) do Windows, but it really is pretty easy these days in Linux and I've got to imagine there are similar data moving utilities for Windows available.

    If you are really OK with an external drive for more than back ups, then you have a whole world of less complicated options. In general USB 3.0 should be compatible with most computers (should you need to share the data), USB-C should be faster, but not compatible with other older computers. So consider your goals and start shopping sales!

  15. #15
    I've updated the storage on a number of laptops and have not found it to be all that difficult. In general, you need a set of small torx screwdrivers and access to the hardware service manual for your laptop - the laptop makers generally make those manuals available on the web.

    Cloning a drive is pretty easy - the free Marcrium Reflect is good and if you buy Samsung, their cloning software is also good. For standard SATA drives get a USB3 SATA enclosure - you can use that with your old drive as an external disk drive after you do the replacement.

    Put your new drive in the enclosure and run your cloning software. Shut off your laptop. Take it apart and change the drive. Boot from your new drive. Easy-peasy. [Note: for many laptops all you have to remove is the bottom to access the SSD.]

    Advice: If going from a 256GB drive, go to a 1TB and you won't have to do it again. 1TB is not that expensive any more.

    PCIe is a but more involved because the enclosures are expensive. There's a way to avoid buying a PCIe enclosure - if that's what you have, let me know. All laptops (that I've ever heard of) use replaceable "disk" storage. It's never soldered in. RAM is soldered but the bulk storage is not.

    Mike

    P.S. if you lived near me I'd do it for you.
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 01-02-2019 at 2:02 PM.
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