There are 2 methods of moving your operating system to a new drive:
1. A clean install of Windows on the new hard drive
2. Cloning your old hard drive to a new one, there are lots of free ones out there that works great. If you use a Samsung SSD, it comes with its own migration software.
Most (if not all) people recommends the first one, but I chose the 2nd option as it was an easier option for someone who hasn’t used a windows computer for 5-6 years and has zero experience on DIY hard drive replacement.
A few things to note before you tinker with a computer’s hardware:
1. Work on a clean and flat surface
2. Ground yourself, here’s a good forum thread on this topic
So here’s how I did the upgrading process 🙂
1. Install the migration software
2. Connect your SSD to the computer using a mSATA to USB cable (3.0 or 2.0, both works). I’m using an old school 2.0 cable, it needs a separate usb for power :3
3. Start the migration process and ensure that the new hard drive is the target disk
From this point onwards, I used my iPhone to capture the process. Sorry if the resolution is lacking 🙂
4. Once the migration is complete, turn off your computer. It’s upgrading time!
5. Remove the 2 screws. Slide the bottom panel to your side and lift it up.
6. Disconnect the battery from the motherboard
7. Carefully plug it off to prevent cable breakage. A wooden ear pick is useful for this.
If you choose to remove battery and put it somewhere else safe, remove the 3 screws that keep it secure. If not, it is actually pretty safe to leave it there.
8. First stop, the empty mSATA slot
10. Insert at a 45-degree angle then push it downwards
11. Secure it with a screw, usually bundled with the purchased mSATA
12. Next, remove the CD drive if your hard drive is located underneath it.
13. Carefully lift up the white plastic bit that secures the CD-drive to the motherboard
14. Remove the screw that holds the CD-drive, lift it up and put it somewhere safe.
Next, we’ll disconnect the hard drive from the motherboard
14. Careful 🙂
15. Remove the 3 screws, lift it up and disconnect the mSata connector from the old hard drive
16. Remove 3 screws that secure your old drive to the metal casing.
Replace the old drive with your new SSD and put the screws back in.
17. Now, redo everything else that you did, in reverse. Make sure nothing is missing 😀
19. This is the hardest bit to reinsert. Be very patient and don’t break the innocent RAM sticks sitting nearby.
20. Everything is put back together [kinda, I actually forgot to reconnect the battery to the motherboard. Had a mini heart attack when i tried turning on the laptop :D]
21. When you turn on the computer, Go to the BIOS setting (by pressing F2 as soon as you see the boot-up logo).
Go to the UEFI boot setting and rearrange the order. Press F5 to bring your new drive to the top of the list of the boot order.
If this is not done, you’ll see a black screen with “checking media(fail)” for a few seconds before the computer attempts to boot from your drive.
22. You’re done. But what if your mSATA is not appearing as an available disk drive? (it happened to me)
23. Go to Disk Management. If you see the “unallocated” drive, you’ve installed the mSATA correctly 🙂 Now you only need to initialise it as a usable drive.
24. Right click on the disk icon and choose initiate and you’re done! In this picture, I had to right click on the “Disk 1 unknown” box and initiate it as a new drive.
I hope this post is helpful for Alienware 14 users who are seeking to upgrade their own hard drives at home 🙂 Other laptops should be quite similar to this when it comes to the steps taken (the CD drive need not be removed if it doesn’t block your hard drive though).