An upgrade just because I can, or reflections on reluctance to get a new laptop as a real issue

I start getting claustrophobic when the free space on my hard drive starts nearing the 20% mark. You know, everything is downhill from there.

So, when I saw a WD Scorpio Black 750 GB for a very good price on Amazon (I got it for $85, but the prices fluctuate), I just made the decision to upgrade from my previous upgrade to a WD Scorpio Blue 400 GB. (Incidentally, the 1 TB WD Scorpio Blue can be had for less than $100 at the moment (if it fits your drive bay).

So, I succumbed to specs fetish, and went with the Black version with 16 MB cache, 7,200 RPM. The extra 300 GB for my Windows XP SP3 installation sure did create breathing room for my videos, photos, and the various climate data sets.

I was a little confused about the whole WD Advanced Format thing. I decided to take the lazy road, and use the Acronis TrueImage WD software to resize and copy the Windows XP and ArchLinux partitions from my former hard drive. It went without a hitch, but I can’t help but feel that if I had RTFM for 10 minutes, booted into Arch, and used cfdisk and dd, it would have taken slightly less time. The old drive went into the enclosure I had scored for less than $5 with the new drive as part of my haphazard backup policy.

Another problem with using the Acronis True Image software was the fact that I lost my GRUB boot screen. I have to remember/look up how I get that back without messing up my Windows partitions. I am dragging my feet a little because the multi-boot setup was created using GRUB legacy, and ArchLinux now has GRUB2. The docs kept talking about stuff I have no clue. Can’t you tell I am a dinosaur? Anyway, I had to get some things done, and that problem did not need solving then and there. No biggie, either someone will tell me in the comments, or I’ll finally find ten minutes to look at the docs seriously.

My first impressions: Obviously, it’s no SSD. But, I need capacity with this ancient laptop, not the hassle of trying to figure out how to make ancient technology play nice with shiny new things.

In any case, things did seem a fair bit snappier. I did not measure anything (this was a spur of the moment purchase, after all), but from power on to useable desktop was taking about 3 minutes with the old drive where my main Windows partition was down to about 8% free space. Now, it’s less than 40 - 45 seconds.

Battery usage seems not to have been affected much either. I was getting 4 - 5 hours consistently from the AGPtek replacement battery for my Lenovo, and the first day of real use went all the way to five hours and 10 minutes to bring me down to 10% charge while listening to the WABC-AM stream.

Noise levels seem no different. With power plugged in, this laptop has a tendency to kick the fan into full gear, and that drowns any sounds that might be emanating from the drive anyway. That’s why I mostly use it on battery power. Even in that case, I can only hear the hard drive humming if I put my ear next to the touchpad which is a pretty uncomfortable typing position ;-)

So, the drive fulfills its purpose: Gives me some breathing room until I can score a new Windows machine that is under 4 lbs, has at least a 1440x900 screen resolution, has a good keyboard, at least 8 GB RAM, and either at least a 256 GB SSD, or a 1 TB regular hard drive for under $1,000. Not bad for a machine bought in 2006!