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Windows Vista - Upgrade Hard Drive

My laptop is running Windows Vista Home Premium and I am researching upgrades to both the hard disc and memory. I have run out of space and the PC is awfully slow.
Currently there is a 120GB HDD with 105GB available to me as the user, and only 521mb open. There is 2GB of memory with a total of two slots available that I intend to upgrade to 4GB (2 x2GB). I believe we are going to purchase a 500GB drive, but I am unsure how to proceed once I have the drive. I would like to copy the current drive including the OS to the new one.
I would appreciate it if somebody would point me in the right direction to prepare for this, so I don't screw everything up.

Thanks in advance!

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No machine make or model.

No story about backup systems, how you safeguard your files and if restore media is available. The lack of details mean I must offer the safest paths.

1. Clone the old drive to a new drive and boot up the new drive leaving the old drive untouched. No need to write how since that's been done thousands of times. But I'll note I use an external USB case and CLONEZILLA.

2. As to RAM. Your post didn't reveal which Vista. 32 bit version have many (too many?) complain about getting from 2.75GB to 3.5GB (tops) of RAM reporting after an upgrade to 4.0 GB RAM. To curb the calls to support, Microsoft issued a small patch to report BUT NOT USE the additional RAM. Hope you are aware of this before you pay for a so little payback upgrade.

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Machine info:

HP Pavilion dv6258se Entertainment Notebook PC.

All personal docs & photos have been backed up to an external HD (via usb connection), but not the programs. It is possible to do a full backup though.

Again, thank you for your input.

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That's no backup.

Once we begin the clone the usual external drive at that time now has the one last copy of what you can't lose. It's not a backup but the only copy in existence. This lesson seems to be learned too often in the Cnet Storage forum.

Ok, if you think it's worth the risk of no backups then clone the drive from the old to the new drive with CLONEZILLA or your choice of clone software and when we install the new drive it should boot right up with all the files intact. If not you can put the old drive back in to think over what step was amiss.

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no backup

I don't own the replacement drive yet, and there is no program which I can't re-install or re-download. Currently, all that I have wished to protect are the personal files. In the instance of switching to a new hard drive, I would begin by preforming a complete back up of the system, and don't believe that I have stated otherwise.

I guess what I am looking for is exactly how to go about this.

At the moment I think it is: a new hard drive, an external case to put the new hard drive in, and a cloning software to clone the old drive to the new one.
I am also guessing that the steps I need to take are: make a complete backup to my current external backup drive, place the new hard drive into an external case, install a cloning software program to the current hard drive, connect the external case to the laptop, clone the drive and then switch them over. Have I got all the steps correct, and if not, what am I missing?

Again, thanking you for your patience.

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That's about it.

I've done this clone too many times and there are now too many web pages about it. I mention CLONEZILLA because that's what I use.

If there is space on your current USB HARD DRIVE you can save an IMAGE FILE of the current drive there to sidestep the need for another USB CASE but all my warnings about backup are only because I read about loss far too often (and people who bring me the lost systems.)

So another method is to boot CLONEZILLA and use it's image file mode rather than the CLONE mode to save an image of the system to the external. When done (hours usually) I then exit, change drives and use CLONEZILLA to restore the image from the external to the new drive.

There are at least a dozen methods out there along with many other titles to choose from. I happen to use CLONEZILLA.

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