[lug] Wanted: Recommandations for HDD and Mem Upgrades for CU Freshman

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Tue Sep 18 18:27:11 MDT 2007

siegfried wrote:

> My daughter just received a couple of college scholarships. She received 
> a new (Del, I think) notebook as part of her first scholarship and 
> recently learned that she has to spend the money received from her 
> second scholarship or loose it.

Not a bad situation to be in!  :-)

> I assume that Del (or whoever the mfr is) has a warranty still in 
> effect. (Unfortunately, it is not convenient for me to consult the 
> warranty documents since they are with her and not me). Does this mean 
> we should not consider a local shop for upgrading her disk drive and 
> memory? She has 2 GB ram, 80GB disk.

Do you have to spend the money on internal modifications?  2 GB RAM is 
pretty good, and an EXTERNAL hard disk (USB/Firewire) could be added to 
the machine.

> The original manufacturer did not include a Windows Vista installation 
> CD! They did, however, create a couple of extra partitions from which a 
> virgin (Vista) OS could be restored.

Pretty normal.  Some will send a recovery CD set (which will repartition 
the machine back to factory in most cases, wiping out the dual-boot) and 
/or a "full" CD set at additional cost.

Either of which might be a "good" use of a few bucks of the second 
scholarship... having restore media around that can fully reload the 
machine is always a "Good Thing(TM)".

Backups of her data OFF the machine (that external disk idea again) and 
a way to restore the original OS to a brand new hard disk if the 
internal disk dies, are always good.

> Since she is using it continually it might be a hardship to pack it up 
> and send it back to Del HQ.

Yeah.  Seems not worth it, to me anyway.

> I was going to suggest she go to a local retailer or repair shop, have 
> them install the largest hard drive they can find, buy a windows 
> installation CD, configure it for dual windows and linux boot and max 
> out the RAM while they are at it. Now do you think Del would do this if 
> she were able to do without it for a week?

I doubt Dell would do this, especially the dual-boot part.  They'd 
probably do the upgrade if you had to do an internal one for some reason 
that made sense... so the machine would still be under warranty.

And not trying to tell you to do "naughty" things, but pulling the hard 
disk of most medium to large laptop sizes is a matter of a screw, and 
pull on the cover.  If you had restore media for whatever version of 
Windows she's using, you could backup her data, plop a bigger disk in 
yourselves, and go with it... and if she really had to send the machine 
back to Dell later, just put the original drive back in.  I've never 
seen a laptop yet (doesn't mean there aren't any) that have any kind of 
"seal" on the drive bay cover that would indicate the disk was 
changed... pop 'er out and put another in, load an OS up and go.

(Not sure how Windows Genuine Disadvantage would see this, though... 
with it's retarded hardware monitoring.  The one time I've run into 
that, a 5 minute phone call to some callcenter overseas, and a key they 
read me over the phone, and the machine was up and running.

Windows didn't like being re-loaded from BootCamp to being virtualized 
in Parallels Desktop on my MacBook... it saw "all new hardware" of 
course, but I wasn't keeping it loaded in both ways, I was just "moving" 
it on the same hardware.  (MS employee was kinda befuddled by me loading 
Windows on my MacBook... heh... that was fun.)

> Does anyone have any compelling arguments as to why a CU freshman who is 
> majoring in architectural engineering would need a dual boot 
> windows/linux machine instead of just a vista boot? If so, I’ll pass 
> them on to her.

No, I can't think of much reason a "normal" student not interested in 
studying OS differences would want a dual-boot machine at all, unless 
there's a particular application they need in Linux that they can't 
get/afford in Windows.

And even then, I might think that they might want to try running Linux 
in a VMWare window instead... not sure... depends on what they needed to do.

(And that's always the key with computers... you have to know what you 
want to do before you can decide how to do it... and she probably 
doesn't even know that yet... so unless you're a Linux zealout or she 
knows of something she needs, leaving the original OS on the laptop 
seems fine to start with.  Of course, there are those who would claim 
that this is how the Windows monopoly works, and she'll never be exposed 
  to Linux that way... to which I'm inclined to say, yep... probably. 
Totally up to her.  And that's the real key -- it's a PERSONAL computer, 
so it should do what she needs it to.)

I think for that second scholarship, she should do some research into 
what CAD/engineering applications are heavily used in the industry and 
perhaps purchase those.

Even with student discounts, some heavy hitting CAD/engineering 
applications can be many hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars. 
(Of course, the really big CAD engines may not run so hot on a laptop, 
no matter how speedy it is.)

An external big hard disk (useful for storing stuff "off-site" from the 
laptop, e.g. backups, and also useful for archiving older work), and 
maybe shop around for other software not included originally on the Dell 
at "Student" prices after she has her Student ID.

The only other reason I can think of to upgrade the internal hard disk 
would be to move from a 5400 RPM disk to a faster spinner... knowing 
that it's likely that it'll fail from heat and abuse sooner... but it'd 
probably help the performance of the laptop quite a bit.  Laptop drives 
are slow.  But again, if she's not disappointed with the performance 
now, she probably doesn't "need" a faster drive... it's just "icing on 
the cake" and raises the MTBF of the system as a whole.)


More information about the LUG mailing list