Jennifer Wants To Install A Second Hard Drive and more
I want to know how to add a second hard drive to my computer and transfer everything over from the first drive. I also want to re-install my Windows Me along with an XP Home upgrade version on the first hard drive. I am not very computer savvy at all but I am willing to try. My computer is a Dell if that helps you out any.

You've made a wise decision to install a second internal hard drive. It's a great idea for everyone especially in this era of inexpensive, yet very large storage capacity hard drives. And you may not be very computer savvy, but being willing to try is a good first step to learning more about your computer.

Let's face it. The more time passes the more our personal computers become part of our lives. Just a few years ago a computer was something most people used for entertainment - for fun. As the Internet grew, it offered many different things. It is a vast resource of knowledge. Just about anything you want to learn more about can be found on the Internet. With the advent of secure server technology online shopping became safe and practical. We shop online all the time and have do so for three or four years - never once have we ever worried about safety. We understand whether or not you shop online, anytime you use a credit card to buy gasoline, purchase a dinner at a chain restaurant or buy those laundry supplies at Wal-mart with a credit card - you're shopping "online" anyway.

Anyone who wants to learn more about their computers and is willing to try gets a big hats off from us. Computers will only become more essential as we go through the 21st century.

Installing a second hard drive requires a certain amount of fortitude. You're going to (obviously) have to open the case, find an open hard drive bay, insert the drive into the bay and connect the cable connector to the backside of the hard drive. Before you do this, you'll need to set the jumper settings to "slave" if this hard drive is going to be your "second hard drive". We highly recommend you make the second drive the slave, otherwise you won't be able to boot your computer, and that wouldn't be good.

Most Dell computers come with adapters that screw on the side of the hard drive so all you have to do is connect these plastic adapter by screwing them into hard drive then sliding the drive into the empty bay until it "clicks" into place. You don't have to screw the hard drive directly to the computer case.

The cable connection is easy, but you'll need to be aware if you're installing the drive as a second (or "slave") drive, the connector will be in the middle of the cable that connects your current drive to the motherboard. Sometimes it's a tight fit, just remember you might have to close your computer case part way to get it to "reach" the back of the second hard drive. Make sure you push the connector (which is usually a black or gray plastic female connector) all the way into the back of the hard drive. You might have to push pretty hard - but that's OK. Just make sure it's in all the way and the connection is tight.

Then you'll have to format the hard drive or else when you reboot into Windows, Windows will not "see" it and you'll think you've failed. Most hard drives come with a CD-ROM that makes formatting the "invisible" (in Windows) drive easy. Just follow the onscreen instructions on the CD. If you choose to install Windows XP first (upgrade over Windows ME - as we recommend) you'll be able to format your second hard drive in a flash, without even bothering with the CD included with your hard drive, by using Windows XP's "Computer Management's" "Drive Management Feature". See this article for more details.

Most hard drives today come with excellent and easy-to-understand instructions. Make sure you read those instructions before you get started. It will save you a lot of time and aggravation later on, especially since this is your first attempt.

As far as transferring all your data to the second hard drive, this opens a can of worms. Transferring files from one drive to another is as easy as dragging and dropping them. But, you can't just drag and drop programs to your new hard drive. There are registry entries and start menu shortcuts that won't be transferred and you'll end up with a huge mess. You could use a cloning software like Acronis True Image - and make a mirror image of your old hard drive and clone it to your second hard drive, but this would also transfer the operating system as well as everything on your old hard drive including any errors or problems you currently have. We strongly recommend that you don't do this. You're only going to end up with problems. We'd suggest moving only your pictures, files, documents that you don't want to lose; and leave the operating system and programs on the old drive. It's much simpler and will cause you many less headaches down the road.

Finally, there is no good reason to "reinstall" Windows ME on your main (first) hard drive. It's outdated. It wasn't a very good operating system to begin with. When we were still using Windows 98, all those years ago, we ran out and bought Windows ME the day it was released. And about a month later we went back to using Windows 98 - $99.00 poorer and a lot wiser. Windows ME was introduced by Microsoft to fill the gap between Windows 98 and Windows XP. By "fill the gap" we mean "make money". It was nothing but Windows 98 with an early (and poor) version of Windows System Restore built-in. It never worked right until Windows XP was introduced.

But the main reason you shouldn't waste your time installing Windows ME is because it is insecure and will become more insecure as time passes. Like Windows 98, Windows ME will not be updated by Microsoft -meaning you won't get any security fixes or operating system updates which will leave your computer vulnerable to innumerable security issues in the future. Why take that risk. If you have a Windows XP upgrade CD-ROM, install it over Windows ME. Now the so-called technical experts will have a field day with this advice, they love the "clean install" technique. But, honestly, Windows XP does upgrade well from Windows ME and you won't lose your programs, start menu shortcuts and you'll save a lot of time.

You can, if you wish, and we caution you against this, make a dual-boot system by installing Windows ME and then Windows XP. It doesn't make a lot of sense if you're going to keep your operating system on your main (or first hard drive). Since you already have Windows ME installed, installing a second hard drive won't affect your operating system. All you really need to do is install the Windows XP upgrade over Windows ME. But, if dual-booting is what you want to do (and again there are no good reasons for you to do this) - our advice would be to keep your current main hard drive intact and install Windows XP on your second hard drive. When installing XP you'll have to be careful you don't choose the default installation option which is to upgrade your current version of Windows (Windows ME). You'll need to click "Advanced" when installing and point it to your second hard drive. Once the installation directory is set (on your second hard drive) the rest is easy. Windows XP's installation routine will automatically create a boot menu you'll see every time you boot your computer. When you see the boot up screen, you'll need to select Windows ME (or "Earlier Version of Windows" as it will say) or else it will boot by default into Windows XP after thirty seconds. So you'll need to be present during the boot sequence if you want to boot into Windows ME.

Summary: We congratulate you on your decision to install a second hard drive. And we applaud you for being "willing to try" new things - it will certainly give you new confidence and teach you a lot about the mysterious "computer" (which is just a machine like other machines actually). Once you've had two (or more) physical hard drives, you will never want to live with just one hard drive again. The peace of mind that comes with having all your important photos, documents and files safely stored on a second hard drive, away from Windows, is worth it.

Make sure you set the jumpers on the back of your hard drive correctly. If you follow our advice you'll make your number two hard drive the "slave" and set the jumpers to "slave". The instructions that come with your hard drive will show you (and show you pictures) how to do this. This is important. Setting the jumpers wrong or not at all can and will cause you big problems.

Don't bother with Windows ME. You have Windows XP and there is no advantage to putting a nearly seven year-old operating system on your computer. It's not safe, it's not secure, and it's not going to get any safer or more secure as time passes. And despite what the so-called experts say, Windows XP is great even when installed as an upgrade (i.e. not "clean installed"). You'll be farther ahead and most if not all of your programs will continue to function normally.

Don't try to move everything from your old hard drive to your new hard drive. You'll end up with a myriad of issues and problems. Just move documents, photos, important files, etc. to your new hard drive and leave your programs and operating system on your old one. In the future, you will, of course want to install new programs on your second hard drive, and that's fine.

One note we want to make here about new hard drives. There are several different types. Most brand new computers have SATA hard drives (Serial) which are supposed to be faster than ATA/IDE hard drives. SATA drives use a smaller connector. If your computer is older than a year or so, you probably don't have motherboard support for SATA hard drives. SATA drives don't have jumpers to set like ATA. Throughout this article, since your computer is not brand new, we gave instructions for ATA/IDE hard drives and not SATA. Don't buy a SATA hard drive unless you're positive your motherboard (mainboard) supports SATA drives.

And, we hope others who are not "computer savvy" will take heart that you're willing to try new things because you will learn a great deal from the experience. No one is saying everything will go perfectly, but with patience, a little reading and using your head, you'll surprise yourself and learn a lot about computers. Good luck!

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