Tools for hard drive maintenance

I am a firm believer in using tech until it’s no longer usable. My main laptop I purchased off eBay and it was an off-lease business laptop which was then refurbished. I personally believe this is a great way to buy a “new” computer, especially if you’re not a big gamer like me. If you need a college laptop, a replacement laptop, etc., it’s a great way to do it. You save a lot of cash, you can get some decent specs, and there’s still life left in them. My HP Elitebook 840 G3 was released in 2016 and features an Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, and the original HDD is unknown, but this model seems to have shipped with a 512 GB SSD. Brand new, this laptop was¬† about $1,858. Three years later, I purchased it for $340 for a total savings of $1,518. Not a bad deal.

One of the big issues with off-lease corporate laptops is that generally the hard drive you get with it is not original. This is what can turn a decently spec’d laptop into something slow. So you got your refurbished laptop, you’re noticing it’s slow. What do you do?

Find out what’s in the thing

Chances are your bottleneck will be like mine – a used hard drive. So how do you find out what you have? Well, the (sometimes) easiest method is to pop the cover off and look. But if you don’t want to do that yet, there is a great tool that will help you. Meet Speccy. This is a freeware tool from Priform, the company behind CCleaner, and it will give you all the information about the hardware in your system. Once it’s installed, check your hard drive out. In my case, I noticed it was a 3.0 GBp/s SATA. Well there’s one of the reasons why rebooting this thing was a chore! Speccy should also be able to tell you what model you have as well. Google it. Turns out the Toshiba drive that was slapped in my laptop was a 5400 RPM drive¬† from early 2014 – double yikes.

Clone your drive (easy and free)

Once you have your replacement drive (I happened to have a spare 6 GBp/s SATA 7200 RPM drive laying around), clean all the partitions off of it using diskpart. Now get yourself Macrium Reflect free. It requires registration even for the free version, but it’s no big deal. Once you get it, download and install the home version. You should also get yourself a USB to SATA adapter (for $10) because we’re going to clone your drive while Windows is running! Plug in your replacement drive and let’s roll!

In Macrium Reflect, select the box to the left of your main drive. Then, select the “Clone this disk…” option and run through the wizard. Hit go and it’ll start cloning. I recommend not using your computer because you don’t want to leave anything behind. It’ll take a few minutes, depending on the size of your disk. Once that’s done, swap your drives. If everything is good, your new drive will boot.

Adjust your partitions

I went from a 750 GB drive to a 1 TB drive and as such, I had an extra 200 GB unallocated. However in Windows, you cannot expand a partition unless the unallocated space is next to the partition you want to resize. You might find a recovery partition immediately after your main partition and so we need to move this partition. To do this, we’ll use the free version of AOEMI Partition Assistant.

In Partition Assistant, select the partition you want to move and click on move partition. You can then drag the partition to the end of the disk pushing the free space next to your main partition. Then you can also use Partition Assistant to resize your main partition. Click the apply button, and it’ll do its thing.

Enjoy your refurbished laptop

You’ll now enjoy your faster laptop!

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