BOOT CAMP 352 (16/11/04)
Cloning for beginners, part 1
hard disc drive manufacturers now quote MTBF (mean time between failure)
figures of between 500,000 and 1 million hours, which suggests that your PC
could run 24 hours a day for around 60 years before the disc drive pops it’s
clogs. In reality they can and do go wrong and most PC users can expect to
suffer at least one catastrophic hard disc drive (HDD) failure.
that you have backed up all of your important data you can be up and running
again with a replacement drive in a few hours, a day or so at the worst, but
with a relatively small outlay it is possible to reduce down-time due to disc
failure to just a few minutes.
the next two editions of Boot Camp we’ll show you how to ‘clone’ your hard
drive, so that if the worst happens there will be no need to reinstall your
operating system, drivers, patches, service packs, and applications and waste
time reconfiguring Windows and your PC.
cloning has become a viable option, even for novices, thanks to the dramatic
reduction in the price of hard drives, Windows XP -- which greatly simplifies
drive installation -- and the latest disc copying software; but more about that
in part 2.
PCs use standard ATA/IDE hard drives and you can buy an 200 gigabyte model for
under £20 from online retailers. However, I suggest that you splash out and
purchase a drive with significantly greater capacity than your present one,
particularly if it is now more than half full. The sky’s the limit, though and terabyte drives (1000Gb) now sell for less than £50.
A bigger drive also gives you a wider range of options.
You could start using the clone drive straight away as the ‘Master’ HDD and
avoid future storage problems, keeping the old drive in reserve for
emergencies. Alternatively use the extra capacity on the clone, working as a
‘slave’ drive, for storage and backup, though I still recommend backing up
critical data on removable media, like CD-Rs and storing discs ‘off site’, in
case of fire or theft.
begin with the installation of the new drive; this is something we looked at
earlier this year but it’s worth running through the procedure again. If you
are using an older, pre XP version of Windows (98, SE or ME) refer to Boot Camp
Installing a second hard drive is very straightforward but
if you’ve never done this sort of thing before it’s worth paying a little more
for a ‘Retail’ package, like the Hitachi Deskstar models. These come with easy
to follow fitting instructions, screws data cable and utility discs.
you will be delving around inside your PC you need to observe a few simple
precautions. Always disconnect the computer from the mains (see also Tip of the
Week) before you remove the lid and remember to touch the case metalwork before
handling any components to help dissipate any static charge that may have built
up on your clothes or body. Also take great care not to disturb cables and
connectors on the motherboard and in the vicinity of the disc drives.
you purchase your new HDD check that your PC has a vacant drive bay and spare
data and power connectors. The data connector should be on the end or halfway
down the ribbon cable that goes between the existing HDD and the motherboard, a
spare 4-pin power plug should also be dangling close by. Make sure that both of
them comfortably reach the rear of the empty drive bay that you will be using.
all is well and you have your new drive in front of you the first job is to set
it to slave mode by changing the position of the small ‘jumpers’ on the back,
using a pair of tweezers. The slave setting will be shown on a label attached to
the drive. While you are at check the multi-pin data connector on the back of
the drive and note the position of the notch midway along one side of the
connector shroud. This prevents the data cable plug being inserted the wrong
way around; the power plug is also ‘keyed’ so if either plug doesn’t seat
easily check the orientation and never force them as you may damage the
connecting pins. It’s usually easier to slip the drive into the end of the bay
so you can see the connectors to fit the cables, before sliding it home and
fitting the fixing screws. A torch or desk light will help you to see what you
you are satisfied everything is in place replace the lid, plug in and switch
on. In order to use the new drive it has to be partitioned and formatted and in
Windows XP this couldn’t be easier. After Windows has finished booting go to
Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management and
double-click Disk Management. Right click on the new drive (it should be labelled
Drive 1), then on the drop-down menu select Partition and follow the prompts.
When it has finished -- and this may take a while on a very large drive --
check that it is ready and working in Windows Explorer by copying and pasting a
couple of files or folders.
Next week – Drive cloning, part 2
Advanced Technology Attachment/Integrated Drive Electronics; circuitry
built into a hard disc drive that controls the flow of data and communicates
with the PC motherboard
Disc drive designation; a master drive contains boot up
information and the PC’s operating system whilst slave drives are mostly used
to store programs and data
Preparing a new HDD for use by dividing the space up into
one or more ‘drives’ and creating a filing structure
TIP OF THE WEEK
There are two schools of thought about whether or not you
should unplug a PC from the mains when working inside. Leaving the PC plugged
in, but switched off at the socket will ensure that the case remains connected
to earth and therefore better able to disperse a static discharge but if the
wall socket has been wrongly wired -- and this is more common that you might
suppose -- there is a chance that the mains switch and the power supply could
still be live. Modern electronic devices are now very well protected against
static discharge so I recommend that you play safe and unplug your computer
(and monitor) whenever you remove the lid.