I deliver boats for a living. The equipment I take with me has to be portable and run off a 12v DC system. I use a refurbished Dell Latitude D630 with a hand held GPS connected to it's serial port. I also connect an Iridium 9555 satellite phone for periodic email transmission. I also use the dell for picture and music storage. I have a number of other programs installed that are used on occasion. The email connection is via a dial-up link.
The dell operates as a chart plotter and a sat-phone link, once I leave on a trip the dell stays running till I get to my destination. When in port the chart-plotter and sat-phone side gets shut down and then use a wi-fi link if available for contact to the out side world (email and browsing). I port the dell does get turned off and used when necessary. I run an anti virus when mailing or browsing in port, but gets disabled/partially disabled when used as a chart plotter again. The latitude series suites my purpose as it has a lot of " connector points". The navigation program only reads the gps through the serial port, the sat-phone to a USB, a wireless mouse to another USB and 2 spare USB's for connecting flash or external drives for music or storage downloads. The modem for the sat phone is dedicated to a specific USB port. Refurbished units are used as I do not expect them to have a long life expectancy, due to the constant running and constant exposure to sea air - corrosion is rife!
My wish is to be able to have a replica of the dell's hd, which if it's hd ever fails. I am able to remove it from the dell and replace with the spare/replica hd. Connect all my goodies to it and be operating again with out any pain - hopefully!
Also I hope to be able to the next latitude replacement.
I am no computer fundi, what I know is dangerous......!
I am looking for a dummies guide of how to do this if it is at all possible to do this.
I am sure it is as technology advaces in leaps and bounds.
What you know may be dangerous, but you also know enough to understand how valuable a plug-n-go backup drive will be when you need it.
You'll need to buy a couple things. A new drive compatible with your computer and a method of connecting that drive to make a clone of the drive you now have.
The new drive will need to be the same type, either SATA or IDE (sometimes called PATA).
Hard drive prices have sunk (like that eh?) in the past few years. If the one you are now using is large enough for what you are doing, get another one the same size. There is a theory behind that statement. Dell is notorious for making it a real chore to put a larger drive in their laptops unless you buy the drive from them. The problem is that the computer won't want to recognize a larger drive, it just reports and uses the same size the computer came with no matter how much larger the drive is that you purchased.
Perhaps the easiest method of cloning a laptop drive is to buy a USB to SATA/IDE adapter. Newegg.com sells them in the $20.00 range. ClickHEREto see their selection. I like the Sabrent one the most (HERE).
You will also need software to perform the clone operation. There are some free "Web-programs" (as I call them) that might work, but I have one posted at a file storage location that I feel is superior. It is made to initialize a new drive (prepare it for storage or other use), partition, and format a new or used drive. It has a mirror-image clone feature that makes the target drive an exact copy of the original, unless the target drive is larger (of course). The CD you will burn is bootable and runs without Windows or can be installed as an application in Windows. A more exact clone of your drive is done by booting the CD, as Windows will make a volume shadow copy, which is fine, but it uses 'snapshots' of the drive that might change during the clone process.
The program is stored as an "ISO Image" file, ready to be burned to CD to make the original disk again. The CD burner must be able to process an ISO image back to useable format again. There are free ISO burners out there that do it correctly.
One must keep their wits about them when cloning a drive. Be certain of the source and destination drives. My program will warn you if it sees data on the target drive, but it is far better to read what you are doing on screen and make correct choices the first time.
The file to burn back to CD is named "Hitachi" and can be downloaded after clicking HERE.
Nero Burning ROM will handle the ISO properly, but if you don't have a burner program that can process an ISO image, you can get a free programHERE
Bookmark this page and gather all these thing together. When you are ready to actually make the clone, come back for exact step-by-step instructions and answers to questions that may arise.