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"New life to an old laptop - how...?" Topic


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247 hits since 9 Sep 2011
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Doug em4miniatures Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Sep 2011 3:26 a.m. PST

My old laptop's hard drive is kaput. I would quite like to install a new one and use the laptop solely for recording streamed radio via Audacity (and nothing else). The problem is that the computer came with Windows installed – I don't have a disc.

So, how easy for someone not particularly skilled in the technical side of computers (I can use one and that's about as far as it goes) to install a new hd and then load a free operating system…? And having done that, is it likely I could use the machine for the purpose outlined above…?

Doug

GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2011 6:34 a.m. PST

Depends on the laptop – some are easier to upgrade than others. However, it can be awkward to do. You will need to go on the internet and find the manual for that particular make and model of laptop to tell you how to upgrade it (and what you can upgrade it with), you will also need to download all the drivers for that laptop – for example, that work the graphics, sound, modem, etc – and load them as well as whatever distro you choose.

pphalen Inactive Member09 Sep 2011 6:38 a.m. PST

For the time, money, and effort you will spend, why not just get a netbook, or one of the cheaper tablets?

Eclectic Wave09 Sep 2011 7:57 a.m. PST

The question is what model of Laptop? If it's a main stream (DelL, Lenovo, HP) go to their support/download website and they should have all the drivers for you there. Download all the latest drivers for your laptop, burn them to CD, and THEN try loading it. A lot of time you need to extra drivers to get the Network card, all the video, and equipment going, but the CDROM and Hard drive drivers usaully are in the Windows CD.

If it's not a main stream brand… That's a whole 'nother story.

Vicshere09 Sep 2011 10:45 a.m. PST

I have 12 year old Toshiba Satellites that are running Ubuntu :D

Do a live CD and test it out on the laptop, see if it's your cup.

Also, if you still have the license key (usually a sticker on the laptop), you can find an torrent of the iso for your model, download it and use your license key to legally install it back on your PC.

timlillig Fezian09 Sep 2011 2:34 p.m. PST

I put a new hard drive into my old laptop pretty easily, just by figuring out what sort of hard drive it is and buying a new one. I also put Ubuntu on the laptop, which was has become easier since I first did it. As has been said, it will vary quite a lot, depending on the model of laptop.

Jovian109 Sep 2011 8:35 p.m. PST

Well, here is the first thing – do you know what type of hard drive you need to replace the old one? Are you sure that it is the only thing wrong with it? Do you realize that when you are all said and done you could probably purchase a Netbook to do exactly that thing with all the bells and whistles for the headaches you are about to embark on with installing a new drive with no disks and using only free software. Just my two cents. When my last laptop died – I burned it. No point in trying to save that old machine!

KatieL11 Sep 2011 5:55 a.m. PST

Yeah, second the "live CD" approach. It'll tell you if it's worth replacing the drive.

Ubuntu is a good choice of OS for this; it's pretty good at finding laptop hardware.

You don't need a windows disk to do this. Download the Ubuntu live CD, burn it onto a disk. Fire up the laptop and do the magic keypress to find the boot options. Make sure the CD/DVD is higher in the boot order than the hard disk. It should then load and run the live CD when restarted.


Installing a new disk is a fairly simple operation but it's probably worth having it done if you're not familiar with computer innards. Might cost 50-100 quid for the new drive, the replacing should only be 10-15 minutes for someone who knows what they're doing. Try getting a couple of quotes from different computer shops to see.

How do you know it's the disk that's gone though?

pphalen Inactive Member12 Sep 2011 6:55 a.m. PST

Do you realize that when you are all said and done you could probably purchase a Netbook to do exactly that thing with all the bells and whistles for the headaches you are about to embark on with installing a new drive with no disks and using only free software.

That's what I said, particularly when you take this OP comment in light:

So, how easy for someone not particularly skilled in the technical side of computers (I can use one and that's about as far as it goes) to install a new hd and then load a free operating system…?

So, I'll answer again. It is not easy unless you have the technical knowledge and skills to do this. Replacing Hard Drives and installing drivers and a new OS can be difficult fro someone who has the skills, so I wouldn't try it.

I know how to drive my car, but I wouldn't want to download some manuals to try to install a new transmission…

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