[lug] Laptop hard drives

Chris Riddoch socket at peakpeak.com
Sat Nov 25 21:45:33 MST 2000

Aaron Crane <aaron.crane at pobox.com> writes:

> Chris Riddoch <socket at peakpeak.com> writes:
> > The hard drive I've got is a Toshiba MK1301MAV, 1.3 gigs, "Slimline 12mm"
> > and 2.5 inches long.  2633c, 16h, 63s.  A lot of the hard drives I'm
> > finding are either slightly larger, or slightly smaller.  12.5 and 12.7mm
> > are common, as is 9.5mm.  What's the likelihood of being screwed if I go
> > with a slightly different size?
> The best thing to do is to open the machine up and look at how you'll be
> fitting the new drive.  My experience is that laptops usually have a
> metal-shielded plastic cage into which you fasten the drive itself.  Then
> the only major issue is whether the drive will physically fit into the cage.
> (I suppose it would be possible for a drive to fit physically without
> leaving enough clearance for adequate airflow, but I think that would be
> very rare.)

Yeah, I did pull it out to have a look and grab some numbers from it.
It's a pretty snug fit on the sides, I didn't check to see whether the
cage has room to fit a bigger drive, I'll look.  I'm just paranoid
about buying something without doing some homework on it, since laptop
hardware seems rather less standardized than desktop hardware.

> According to www.toshiba.com, your existing drive _is_ 12.7mm, so drives of
> that size won't be a problem.  I would also expect 9.5mm drives to be fine,
> as extra clearance at the top of the cage isn't usually a problem.  However,
> you should have a look at the cage first to see how the drive is fastened
> into place.

Yeesh. And I spent almost an hour trying to find out. I found
Toshiba's site to have rather incomprehensible design.

> By the way, I got a 20GB Toshiba 2016GAP drive recently.  It's a 9.5mm drive
> (replacing a 12.5mm IBM in a cage with clearance for drives up to about
> 17mm), and it seems to serve my needs well enough.  I've also heard good
> reports about the IBM Travelstar drives.

Ah, good. Always nice to hear a "get one of these" recommendation.

> > The other thing, what're the chances I'll have bios issues with hard
> > drives of particular sizes?  I remember the 8 gig limit for booting a
> > kernel, and I'm worried about needing a bios updates.
> It's possible that you'd need a bios update if you wanted to run some other
> operating system, but, if you stick to Linux, you should be fine with a
> small (30MB is ample) /boot partition right at the start of the disk.  You
> might find that the bios insists on calling your huge drive an 8GB one, but
> in my experience (an old desktop with a much newer 20GB drive) this isn't an
> issue.

The main reason I ask is because the laptop's bios is changed and
updated by a program for an operating system I don't use or even have
installed anymore.  It'd just be a hassle to find the right floppies
to get that system running and then the floppies to install the screwy
Toshiba bios software...  It's a Linux-only system.  As long as Linux
boots and runs, I don't care much *what* the bios thinks. 

> > What's my safest bet, when looking for a hard drive to replace one that's
> > going to die any week now?  (Just before finals, whee.)
> That's nothing. ;-)  The laptop drive holding four months of work on my
> dissertation died ten days before the deadline.  Thankfully, my backups
> prevented me losing even a single byte.

I've been doing weekly backups of /etc and my home directory to CDs.
I'm not worried about losing any real amount of data, I'm mostly
worried about having a portable machine to work on.  Thankfully, by
desktop is working better than ever, since the AMD and memory
upgrades, and is backed up just as frequently.  It'd be an
inconvenience rather than a tragedy to have my laptop die.  Still, the
timing is frustrating.

Chris Riddoch
socket at peakpeak.com

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