Wait! If you want to retain your existing Windows installation, you’ll need an additional hard drive. In our case, we used a portable USB 2.0 drive.
If you followed all of the preceding steps, then your laptop should be ready to boot with its new hard drive. Usually, there's no need to change any BIOS settings. Most laptops will automatically detect the hard drive. As a general rule, we recommend a fresh installation of Windows, if only to clean out the inevitable, system-clogging accumulation of background apps and registry junk. Be sure your BIOS is set to let you boot from your optical drive, and have your Windows installation disc handy. After installing the OS, don’t forget to install all necessary drivers and software.
Now, we know that a clean install entails a lot more work than most folks anticipate. The installation itself is easy. It's the drivers and app reinstallation and tweaking settings back to where you like them that takes hours—OK, who are we kidding? It often takes days. If the work seems impractical, it might make sense to retain your old Windows installation. So we decided to document how to create a full system backup that you can restore onto your newly installed hard drive.
You need to pay attention to the following:
- You need Windows Vista or Windows 7 to use Windows Backup and Restore.
- Run the backup before you replace your hard drive.
- You will need an additional, external hard drive with sufficient capacity to hold your entire system installation. Any USB 2.0 hard drive with sufficient storage capacity will work.