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Friday, February 20, 2015

Swapping out bootable hard drives, Windows 7 edition

250th Post...

For nearly a decade now I have been building my own desktop PCs.  A friend showed me how easy it was to do, and after that I was done buying machines from Gateway, Dell, etc.

The PC that I am now using was built about three years ago from Newegg parts.  It's not a bad little machine, but it developed an issue.  I originally installed a smallish Solid State Hard Drive that was just for the Operating System (Windows 7 64-bit).

At the time, 32 GB seemed like more than adequate space for the operating system.  I did not intend to put anything but Win 7 on the SSD, so that I could get rapid boot-up.  I installed a standard magnetic Terabyte drive for everything else.

Recently I started getting alerts that disk space was low on my boot disk.  A large number of Win 7 updates and security patches had bloated the operating system to the point that the drive was stuffed. After taking a number of steps to free up space on the 32 GB drive, I bought a little time.  Eventually though, the constant updates and patches finally took up the free space and the computer began to have issues.

At that point I was boxed in, and had to get a larger SSD.  The replacement was a 240 GB SSD that should last for the remaining useful life of this PC.  I took the full 32 GB and new 240 GB drives to a local shop, and had the 32 GB cloned onto the 240 GB drive.  This was done correctly, and the new drive worked perfectly, just like the old 32 GB drive did.

One problem though:  Because I cloned the drive, the new 240 GB thought it was only 32 GB!!!  So the issue of limited space on the boot drive was still there.  This was awful.  I spent a lot of time transferring what few files I could over to the terabyte drive, but I did not salvage very much space.  What little space I gained would be lost on the next Win 7 patch.  The PC was getting unreliable for anything.  Even watching a Youtube video would crash the web browser.

Yesterday I learned that the issue was not that I had cloned the 32 MB drive, but that I had never increased the partition size on the new 240 MB drive.  It's simple, and here's where I learned what I had failed to do to unlock the additional space, beginning at Task #1.  Scroll about halfway down the linked page to find Task #1.

So after a couple of weeks of glitchy operation (failures to install antivirus updates, Windows updates, perform backups, and crashing Firefox), the old PC is up and running fine again!

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