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Upgrade your hard drive
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Need to replace your laptop or desktop's hard drive with a new model? Find out how to transfer everything from your old drive to the new one with the minimum of fuss

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here comes a time in every hard drive's life when it starts to show its age. It's impossible to know when a hard drive is about to fail, although if your drive is approaching five years of faithful service now might be the time to consider retiring it - either completely, or by giving it a gentler lease of life as a back-up device (but make sure it's not your only back-up device!).
 
The trick, of course, is knowing when a drive's about to fail, so you can transfer all of your files, data and settings off it on to a newer model, one that's perhaps faster and larger to deal with the ever-increasing demands of computing. Modern hard drives come with built-in monitoring devices called SMART, but these only kick in when the drive's on the verge of failure (assuming they alert you at all). What you need is a program that can help you determine how physically healthy your drive is.
 
HDD Health is one such tool, and you can download it from the link opposite. Once installed, launch the program (Vista users should elect to run the program as an administrator - do so by right-clicking its shortcut, selecting Properties > Compatibility tab and ticking Run this program as an administrator. The program enables you to get an at-a-glance view of your drive's health and its temperature - the hotter a drive, the quicker it will come to the end of its life.
 
We cover maintaining your hard drive health elsewhere on this site (coming soon), but if you're in the market for replacing your old drive with a newer model, check out our definitive guide to identifying your existing drive (so you can pick the right upgrade), fitting a replacement and transferring the contents of your old drive to the new one with the help of free software. Good luck - and remember, if it doesn't appear to work, just refit your old drive and repeat the process again.



Step-by-step: Everything you need to know about upgrading your drive

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