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Acer Harddisk Upgrade
By Chris De Herrera
Revised 2/23/03

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If you recently bought a Tablet PC, you probably have an IBM (now Hitachi) Travelstar or Toshiba hard disk.  These 2.5" hard disks (the NEC uses a 1.8" disk drive) are slower than the desktop disk drives.  During February 2002, IBM released an updated version of the Travelstar with higher performance. Here's a comparison of the specifications:

Hard disk specifications

Specs Desktop 3.5" Disk Drive IBM Travelstar GN Hitachi Travelstar GNX
Cache 2 to 8MB 2 MB 8 MB
Rotational Speed 5400 - 7200 RPM 4200 RPM 5400 RPM
Interface ATA100 or ATA133 ATA100 ATA100
Size various 20, 30, 40, 60 GB 20, 40 GB
Thickness varies 9.5 mm 9.5 mm
Price varies 40 GB $120 (street) 40 GB $140 (street)

The Hitachi Travelstar GNX drives are much faster due to the larger cache and the faster rotational speed. So I decided to purchase a drive from TheNerds.NET since I had a 20 GB drive in my Acer.  I bought a Hitachi Travelstar GNX  model number 07N9482 for under $140 (without shipping).

What You Need

I used the following hardware and software to upgrade my Acer:

  1. Travelstar GNX disk drive

  2. #0 Philips screwdriver

  3. USB floppy disk

  4. ethernet network/cables

  5. Desktop PC (with enough disk space to store the image of the Acer)

The upgrade took approximately 1 hour for me to complete. My Acer had about 4 GB of data on it at the time I performed the upgrade.  Of course the more disk space you have used on your Acer, the longer it will take.

Backing Up the Acer

I used Ghost 2002 from Symantec to copy all the data from the Acer's hard disk to another PC.  I connected the 2 PCs together using the Ethernet option.   So in order to move the data, I had to create a boot disk with the Realtek RTL8139 chip. You can download the DOS driver from RealTek's website. Look for the NDIS2 driver which list Ghost.   Once you create a disk for the Acer you need a disk for the other PC and you're all set.  Then you can follow the standard process of using Ghost to copy your hard disk.  Note you need to know your serial number of Ghost to restore the image! I used a desktop image and then copied the image back to the hard disk.

Upgrading the Acer

Here is a visual tour of how easy it is to upgrade your Acer's hard disk.  Please keep in mind that this may void your warranty so do this at your own risk!

The bottom of the Acer where the hard disk is.

Once I unscrewed and removed the cover, you can see a ribbon sticking out of the area where the hard disk is installed.  To remove the hard disk, just gently pull on the ribbon.

Here is the Travelstar hard disk coming out of the drive bay.  Notice the hole on the left side where the white sticker is viewed through the drive enclosure.  This must be installed so that the hole in the drive is aligned with the hole in the enclosure.

Here is the new hard disk installed in the enclosure. Notice that there is a special adapter on the end of the hard disk that you must remove from the old hard disk and install in the new drive.  It is not polarity sensitive.

Here is a closeup of the Acer hard disk adapter which you must remove from the old hard disk and install on the new one.

Here is a picture of both hard disks, the external cover, hard disk adapter and enclosure.  You'll notice that there's a silver screw.  This screw is the only screw that holds the hard disk in the enclosure.

If you have additional ideas on what users should configure on their Tablet PC, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

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