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Get a 500GB laptop hard drive for $78

Upgrade your small, pokey drive with this speedy half-terabyte bargain. It works in laptops as well as in Netbooks.

This inexpensive hard drive should make an excellent upgrade for any storage-challenged laptop or Netbook.

Are you running out of storage space on your laptop or Netbook? It happens often, especially since low-end models tend to come with 120GB to 160GB hard drives.

It's time for an upgrade. Newegg has a Hitachi Travelstar HD20500 500GB laptop hard drive for $77.99 shipped. To get the deal, apply promo code EMCYSYV23 at checkout and--as with most Newegg promo codes--you must be a newsletter subscriber for it to work.

The drive runs at 7,200rpm, which should net you a decent performance boost if you're replacing a drive that spins at 5,400rpm. However, the faster speed will consume a bit more power, which is something to consider if you're a Netbook user with a small battery.

The Travelstar has an SATA interface. If you're upgrading an older laptop, check to make sure your laptop uses SATA and not IDE. (I'm not sure how long it's been since laptop and Netbook manufacturers switched  to SATA. Does anyone know for certain? Let me know in the comments.)

Replacing a laptop or Netbook hard drive is usually pretty easy. The only real challenge is cloning, aka copying, your existing drive to the new one before making the swap.

My advice: Buy an inexpensive external hard-drive enclosure--such as  this one for $11.98 from Newegg--and load the new drive in it, copy everything over, then swap the two drives. After you've verified that everything works and your data is intact, wipe the old drive--now residing in the enclosure--and use it as secondary or backup storage.

Recently, Lifehacker explained how to do this in a feature on using free tools to clone a hard drive. There's some work involved, but the end result is awesome.

The Hitachi Travelstar is a retail drive with box, manual, and everything, and it's backed by a three-year warranty. Newegg's promo code is good until May 13, but the drive could sell out before then. I think it's a great upgrade for any space-challenged laptop or Netbook.