About Replacing HP Laptop Hard Drives

by Michael Hinckley

Hewlett-Packard is one of the world's largest producers of computers and computer components, including laptops. But even with the cutting-edge technology and high performance of today's laptops, it usually becomes necessary to replace the hard drive. Understanding the "whys" and "hows" of replacing an HP laptop hard drive can make this upgrade a no-brainer.

When to Replace

Typically, most users who purchase a laptop do so for the portability it offers, not for its internal specifications, including hard-drive space. But, over the lifetime of your Hewlett-Packard laptop, its hard drive may become filled with documents, pictures and music files that affect the overall performance of the computer. In such a situation, the best option is to replace the hard drive. This may be within a few months of purchase or several years, depending upon usage.

Why Replace

There are several reasons to replace a Hewlett-Packard laptop hard drive: it is too small, the disk is getting old, or you want to extend the work life of your HP laptop. Replacing a laptop's hard drive will improve performance in two ways: First, a larger hard drive will allow for the storage of more documents, programs and other information on your laptop. Second, a larger hard drive will allow your computer to use more of what is called "virtual memory." Virtual memory is space on your hard drive that is used by the computer in a manner similar to RAM memory; complex mathematical and algorithmic computations are stored on a small section of the hard drive for easy reference. The more space on the hard drive, the more "virtual memory" the computer can use, and the more quickly calculations can be rendered.

How to Replace

In recent years, laptops have become increasingly easy to upgrade. Typically, the HP laptop hard drive is accessed by a panel held in place by one or two screws on the bottom of your laptop. Removing these screws and opening the panel reveals the hard drive, which can then be removed and replaced with another one. Consult the HP website or your owner's manual to learn the specific requirements of your HP model before attempting to replace its hard drive.

Where to Have It Replaced

Though it is possible to replace the HP laptop's hard drive yourself, many consumers prefer to have a trained technician replace it for them. The majority of computer-repair shops can easily replace a hard rive for a nominal fee. Even large chain stores like Best Buy offer qualified and certified technician's services that can help replace a hard drive fairly cheaply.

Warning

Before replacing any item on your HP laptop, particularly a hard drive, take a few precautionary steps. First, check with Hewlett-Packard to make sure you are replacing the hard drive with a compatible model. Second, always make a backup of any critical information from your old HP laptop hard drive before installing a new hard drive; using a ZIP drive, flash memory stick or other information-storage device will suffice. Finally, be sure that the risk of shock is minimized: Remove the battery, unplug the laptop and ground yourself by touching the metal frame of the computer before touching the sensitive electronics inside.

About the Author

Michael Hinckley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in US history from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Arts degree in Middle East history from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Hinckley is conversant in Arabic, and is a part-time lecturer at two Midwestern universities.