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Rescuing old laptop with dead IDE drive

NibbleNibble Registered User regular
The 2.5" IDE drive in my faithful laptop of nearly ten years has finally kicked the bucket, and I'm not sure how best to proceed. It seems that as IDE has been out of the picture for so long, it's incredibly expensive to get a direct replacement -- I've seen 80GB drives selling for $100. I've seen some other options, such as IDE interfaces for SSDs and even SD card readers; but there seems to be mixed feedback regarding performance and compatibility with older motherboards, and I'm not even sure how much longer this laptop might last if I get it a new hard drive, anyway.

I only need enough space to install Windows XP, as the computer only performs one very specific function for me, so I could probably even install XP to a USB flash drive or external HDD, but I don't know if it's actually possible to do that or not. Would it make more sense just to scrap it and buy a cheap netbook?

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Nibble on

Posts

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    I'd go with the netbook option, absolutely.

  • EgoEgo Registered User regular
    You can make a USB-stick based windows XP install, provided your laptop can boot from USB (which I imagine it would, just pop into the BIOS quick to check.) If you only use the machine to do one specific task, that'll be a lot cheaper than picking up a netbook.

    I'd recommend you use a 1-2" USB extender cable and tape (velcro tape is perfect for this) the stick flush with the side of the notebook rather than having it stick out of the laptop, as that's just begging for the stick (or less likely, the port) to get broken when you set the laptop down carelessly one day.

    If the laptop doesn't have USB 2.0, it'll still work, but booting up will be annoyingly slow.

    I'm sure I've said it before, but great avatar, by the way.

    Erik
  • FalkenFalken Registered User regular
    I'd go with the netbook option, absolutely.

    wut.

    OP, what Processor does that thing have? 2002 would put it around pentium IV 2Ghz ish. Still a LOT faster than an atom in a netbook.

    Slap a used hard disk in there and call it a day.

  • NibbleNibble Registered User regular
    As I recall, the processor is an Athlon 64 3200+, so it still runs quite well. I would put a used drive in it if I still had any 2.5" IDE drives lying around; but everything I have is SATA, and I'm not sure if I trust any second-hand drives to work well, as they should all be nearly as old as my laptop.

    I found YUMI, which seems to make creating bootable flash drives relatively easy, so I think I'll try that. The USB extender cable idea sounds like a good one. Let's hope everything works!

    Thanks for the avatar comment (again).

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  • FalkenFalken Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    I was buying new IDE drives for spare computers back in 09. They're not that old.

    Drive failures aren't as common as you think, anyway. I've got a couple 85mb 2.5 ide drives still whirring away in various things.

    I have to warn you here that you better have a LOT of backup flash drives if you're going to do that. They aren't rated for continuous writing (swap files) in the slightest, expect a lot of failures.

    Falken on
  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    Falken wrote: »
    I'd go with the netbook option, absolutely.

    wut.

    OP, what Processor does that thing have? 2002 would put it around pentium IV 2Ghz ish. Still a LOT faster than an atom in a netbook.

    Slap a used hard disk in there and call it a day.

    I was responding to the bolded section:
    Nibble wrote:
    The 2.5" IDE drive in my faithful laptop of nearly ten years has finally kicked the bucket, and I'm not sure how best to proceed. It seems that as IDE has been out of the picture for so long, it's incredibly expensive to get a direct replacement -- I've seen 80GB drives selling for $100. I've seen some other options, such as IDE interfaces for SSDs and even SD card readers; but there seems to be mixed feedback regarding performance and compatibility with older motherboards, and I'm not even sure how much longer this laptop might last if I get it a new hard drive, anyway.

    I only need enough space to install Windows XP, as the computer only performs one very specific function for me, so I could probably even install XP to a USB flash drive or external HDD, but I don't know if it's actually possible to do that or not. Would it make more sense just to scrap it and buy a cheap netbook?

  • FalkenFalken Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    The correct answer is:

    forever unless you drop it, or spill water on it, or something like that. Make sure the cooling fan doesn't clog. Take it for long walks and feed it quality dog food.

    Like maybe in another 20 years it might need new set of capacitors, or the charger might suffer a voltage spike from shoddy household wiring and need it's internal fuse replaced. Oh the horror, I have to go spend a dollar in radio shack now :D

    Falken on
  • NibbleNibble Registered User regular
    Well now it's locking up at or before the POST screen, so that's another thing to figure out :P

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  • FalkenFalken Registered User regular
    I had to open my mouth, didn't I...

    This is with what drives fitted?

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    Falken wrote: »
    I had to open my mouth, didn't I...

    This is with what drives fitted?

    :)

    Nibble, Falken is warming up his multimeter and soldering iron as we speak, just mail your laptop to him, and he'll have it working and back to you in a week!

  • iRevertiRevert Tactical Martha Stewart Registered User regular
    I've been thinking about this and couldn't one use a external and have the boot priority set to "external" and just boot from that?

    Royal PITA to lug around a portable HD but couldn't one do that to squeeze a bit more life out of it? As a plus any files on there would be ready to transfer to a new computer if so desired.

  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    iRevert wrote: »
    I've been thinking about this and couldn't one use a external and have the boot priority set to "external" and just boot from that?

    Royal PITA to lug around a portable HD but couldn't one do that to squeeze a bit more life out of it? As a plus any files on there would be ready to transfer to a new computer if so desired.

    it would work, but booting off external devices on anything slower than usb3 takes a long time.

    Steam Profile: FoomyFooms
  • iRevertiRevert Tactical Martha Stewart Registered User regular
    Well it still drags the lifespan out on the laptop and saves files for when he does upgrade.

  • Serious_ScrubSerious_Scrub Registered User regular
    CompactFlash is similar enough to IDE that CF->IDE adapters are pretty cheap. However, I'm not sure about the speed/life of such a solution.

  • EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Nibble, have you by chance been able to test the laptop hard drive on another system to verify that it's actually broken?

    If this hard drive problem was recent, and the failure to POST is also recent, you might actually be having an issue with solder crystallization (probably not the technical term, but basically solder gets brittle and eventually becomes prone to cracking.)

    Anyhow, if you've got the time, have a look at this:

    http://www.computerrepairtips.net/how-to-reflow-a-laptop-motherboard/

    It sounds retarded. Surprisingly, it's not completely retarded. And if you've got spare time (and a now useless laptop) you don't lose anything by trying it. Just be sure to remove absolutely everything you can from the motherboard, while being sure to put any jumpers or the like back in the right places during reassembly (taking a picture with a digital camera would probably be easiest, the one time I did it was with a desktop mobo so I just wrote down the positions of all the jumpers.)

    Unfortunately it works less well on laptop motherboards, given that they tend to have soldered connectors on both the bottom and top of the motherboard instead of just the top. But again, if you've got a now-broken system and time on your hands, you don't have anything to lose.

    Ego on
    Erik
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