Tag Archive: HDD

Adding a 2nd HDD to Dell Studio XPS 1647/1645/1640 laptop

Our house was burglarized in early January, and we lost a whole bunch of portable electronics stuff. Our old fully loaded Inspiron 1420 too was a victim of this theft.

After that I was looking for a good laptop to replace it …. and finally ordered a Dell Studio XPS 1647. It took over a month and a half for Dell to ship the laptop and I finally received it last week. Its a pretty good laptop. However, Dell officially supports only one HDD on it. I wanted to use a SSD (solid state drive) as my primary drive for the OS, and then have a second HDD as secondary drive for bulk data storage. So, I bought a 60GB SSD drive and used it as the primary drive. SSD makes a HUGE difference in the performance. No more waits. The entire windows 7 installation was complete in less than 15 mins…  Its a major improvement in performance.

However, the problem is.. the SSD is way to expensive for now. For e.g: 60 GB SSD costs around $170 to $200… and larger capacities cost a fortune. I am pretty sure prices would come down eventually in a year or so.. But for now, I wanted a second HDD to store bulk data – like movies, HD videos that I capture, tons of photos from my dSLR ..etc.. and 60GB won’t suffice. Offcourse, I can connect an external HDD.. but its a hassle with the laptop. So, the search began to see if I could put a second HDD into this laptop. I had heard of people who had replaced their Optical Disk Drives (CD/DVD) with a HDD Caddy and have a second HDD.

So, I did some research on the net and across this specific thread on the notebook review forums, which I visit frequently. Thanks to the author of the thread, I could confirm that this could be done. But since Dell XPS 1647 is a new model (just released), .. no one had really done this, and I believe I am one of the first few to try this out. Not a big deals as such since 1647 is almost similar to 1645/1640 series (except for the processors) and some have reported success on those systems.

So, here is how I did it….. for all the hopefuls :

Pre-Requisites:

  1. Confidence to open your laptop :)
  2. HDD Caddy to replace the Optical Disk Drive – I got one from New Mode Electronics, which sells such caddys. This specific machine uses 12.7mm (height) slot-loading model with SATA external interface. You can buy it on ebay too for a cheaper price, but most of them ship from China and takes a long time to arrive.. and if there is a problem..its  a nightmare to return or re-order.
  3. A second HDD
  4. Dell Service Manual for Studio XPS 16 series – Specially how to replace the Optical Drive

Here is the Pictorial :
Click on each of the image below to see a larger image (in a new window)

Step 01 – Ready to Dismantle the Laptop
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 02 – Remove the Back cover (10 screws to remove)
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 03 – Remove the Rear caps (slide, and pull out as described in the dell service manual). Don’t apply force.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 04 – Remove 14 screws (this is needed to remove the palm rest). On my system 10 screws were marked “P”, 2 were marked “K” and 2 were flat screws.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 05 – Turn over, and remove the two screws to remove the palm rest. (Point to remember – once you are done, and when you tighten this later, don’t tighten it too much, else the plastic under it would crack). Once the two screws are removed, use the two tabs to pull out the palm rest (as described in the service manual)
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 06 – Disconnect the cables connected (by lifting the tab – again – its described very well in the service manual).
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 07 – Remove the cables connected (two of them). Now the palm rest is free & the motherboard and the ODD is visible
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 08 – View of the mother board and ODD
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 09 – View of the mother board and the 3 screws that need to be removed to free the OOD
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 10 – One screw at the back to remove the ODD. Point to note – the HDD caddy did not have this screw hole – but the HDD Caddy fits in place securely with other 3 screws.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 11 – the ODD is now free – You can see the inter-poser (SATA to the motherboard pins) – simply pull it out from the ODD to set it free.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 11a – View of ODD out of the system
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 12 – The ODD and the HDD Caddy that I got from New Mode Electronics. There is a component that is used on the ODD to secure it to the motherboard – This needs to be removed (2 screws) and put on the new HDD caddy as shown in this image.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 13 – View of ODD, Securing Component, Interposer, and the HDD Caddy – all side by side.
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 14 – The new HDD caddy with the 500 GB Seagate HDD (that came with my system), interposer and the securing component
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 15 – Plug in the HDD caddy in the system and fasten the screws. From this point, its just a reverse process of putting things back in place (palm rest, screws, rear caps and the back cover)
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 16 – BIOS – now shows the second HDD !
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Step 17 – Window Shows the second HDD!
Dell XPS 1647 2nd HDD

Total time taken from start to finish (including taking photos..etc) –  60 mins!
So, there you go.. you now have a second HDD in your laptop.. hope this pictorial helps!

What if you want to use you CD/DVD drive ?
Well, I have ordered  a eSATA/USB to SATA cable. Using this cable, I can use my CD/DVD drive as an external driver (on the rare occasions that I use it!)

Hello!

Its Spring time here in Houston, and I am back after a long silence :).. Its almost more than two months since i ‘wrote’ a post I guess.

Well, the last couple of months have been pretty hectic on the work front. Things are settling down slowly. (I think! & hope). Lets see. Fingers crossed. … Hopefully, you should soon see some regular posts back on this blog!

Well, nothing much has changed over the past few months, pretty much the same work schedule. No major travels…except that we had been on a 4 day road trip to Fredericksburg (Texas) & Dallas back in December ’06 during the Christmas holidays. . so I have a lots of posts/pics that have been backlogged (including the Las Vegas trip snaps!). I hope i would be able to clear all the backlogs soon :)

Well, having said above, I must tell you all that I am not totally off the internet :) I am very much connected. Thanks to Google Reader, I am still actively tracking all the blogs that I used to read and follow (and a lot more!). Also, Google Reader is my primary feed reader now!. Bloglines is out for me! And Google Reader gets better by the day! The only thing that I would like to see on Google Reader is a search feature to search contents my subscribed feeds (or starred/shared posts). Surprising that a ‘search’ powerhouse like Google doesn’t offer ‘search’ feature natively! (160GB Seagate Portable Hard drive (USB powered) – got it from newegg.com
2. 750GB Seagate External Drive (USB 2.0 + FireWire + external power) – (Just ordered – yet to arrive!)
3. Canon Digital Rebel XTi -400D (Sold my old Canon Digital Rebel 300D on eBay!)
4. EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Telephoto Zoom (Sold my old 75-300mm lens on eBay)
5. 3 GB of CF cards (2 GB – Sandisk Ultra II & 1 GB – Lexar Platinum)
6. Garmin Nuvi 360 – GPS – Use this a lot. In fact we were totally dependent on this on our last road trips!

Well, I must say that I got pretty good deals on all of the gadgets! But the sad part is, I haven’t had lot of time to play around with most of the above gadgets :(

Well, next post coming up soon!

A offline weekend!

While I was working on the laptop on Saturday night, all of a sudden, the laptop stopped responding. A minute later, I got to see the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death).

For me it was pretty much routine to see the BSOD, and I thought to myself..”yet another Microsoft/driver problem”… but I was wrong. I rebooted the laptop, and found that the system wasn’t booting up. Further investigation showed that the hard-disk wasn’t detected in the BIOS itself :(. Aaahhhhrrrrrr………

What a bad time for the HDD to crash. I didn’t have a boot disk or any alternative media with which I could boot. :( So, the entire Sunday, was without a computer. Somehow spent the day seeing some (stupid) TV channels ….etc.

Monday.. i.e., today took the laptop to the office, and they said that its totally dead, and all the data is gone. .. they could try sending it to some external agencies to recover the data, but its gonna cost quite a bit. Luckily, there wasn’t any major data loss.

So, spent most of the day today setting up the software and environment that I would need for my day to day work…and its not fully over yet.

New Hard disk and Webcam

Bought a new hard disk and a webcam today!

I already have a 160 GB Maxtor hard disk, but I always wanted a second hard disk after I lost my previous hard disk in an ant attack. So, bought a 80 GB Seagate hard disk – 7200 RPM. Yet to install it. The idea is to make my Maxtor hard disk a pure storage volume and use this new one as a system disk. Also, it would be very convenient for me to plug out the 160GB maxtor whenever I want to! Moving data/music/videos etc would be much easier :)

I paid Rs. 2650 for the hard disk. (A 40 GB hard disk was available for Rs. 2350). Bought it from my local vendor. What say?

Also bought a Intex webcam. Its has a pretty decent feature set. Here are the key features…

  • 350,000 pixels resolution(max. 500,000 pixels), the frame rate up to 30 fps
  • 3X digital zoom function
  • Adjustable lens for accurate image shooting
  • Night view function without any daylight
  • Automatically controls the brightness of night lights
Intex Webcam

Cost : Rs. 900. There was Logitech available too, and I was all set to buy it, but the vendor suggested that this has got better features and that he as got better feedback about Intex from the users. Let me see how good it is. Else, I think I will ask him for a replacement. BTW, logitech was priced at around Rs. 1100. Intex has some lights (6 LEDs), which are automatically lit up in low light conditions and are pretty bright.

Next I need to install Skype 2, which is out of beta and has video support!

Attack of the Ants

The ants needed some hard disk space, and so, my hard disk was attacked by red ants last Friday.

Result : Hard disk conked off.

For the past couple of days, I could see some ants on my table. But never thought that they would get into the machine and take shelter inside the hard disk.

Everything was working fine till Friday morning. When i switched on my machine Friday night, the boot sequence was kind of abnormal. Scan-disk came up, and reported that some parts of my HDD weren’t readable, and was kind of stuck. Then I rebooted my machine, skipped scandisk, and managed to boot into windows. But it took around 30 mins to boot into windows. Damn slow. Knew something was wrong with the HDD. Rebooted again, and went into BIOS setup to detect HDD. In BIOS, things were behaving in a very unpredictable fashion. BIOS would detect the HDD sometimes and sometimes, on boot, i would get the message ‘Primary master failed’ etc. So, I decided to open up the PC and see whats up inside. Only to find that there were lot of ants right inside the HDD. :(

I have 2 HDD. Seagate (40 GB) and Maxtor(160GB). Both are stacked one about the other inside the cabinet. The ants were between these two HDD. Both the HDD’s were effected. But my primary HDD – Seagate was kind of damaged – may be bcoz of a short circuit. I immediately cleared off most of the ants that were outside. But there were ants inside too. i.e., between the PCB on the HDD and the sealed section of the HDD.

Took the hard disk /machine to the local vendor on Saturday, opened up the PCB of the HDD, cleared it. But the damage was already done to Primary HDD. :(.

Impact : Immediate and major impact was, lost the windows installation and some data. But nothing major that i can remember. So, i had to start from scrape on the other HDD. I am done installing all the basic stuff needed for day to day use.

Recovery : Luckily, the failed HDD (Seagate), was recognized by the BIOS. But there weren’t any partitions. I guess the partition table was damaged. Now, the recovery is on. I have managed to recover 3 out of the 4 partitions, and attempts are on to recover the last partition too. Some data is gone. But thats nothing to be worried about.

Reason : Not very sure what the reason is, but this is what my wild guess is. Its rainy season now, and is pretty cold outside. I keep my PC on for the whole night most of the days, and as a result, the HDD area is kind of Hottest spot in our room/house! So, i guess the ants sensed the warmth, and decided to take shelter over here.

Need to do a full fledged pest-control of my room/home. Now, no antivirus software can prevent this :). Can they ?