Toshiba Portege 3500 disk upgrade



I've had faithful service from my Toshiba Portege 3500 for nearly three years, and in most respects it still satisfies my needs for a system that is both very portable and powerful enough to do basic sofware and web development activities. (With 0.75Gb of RAM, it runs Eclipse quite happily.) But, inevitably, I find that I want more than the originally supplied 40Gb disk capacity (which was, in its day, quite generous for a machine of this class).

Upgrading the disk drive hardware is very easy (taking appropriate anti-static precautions, of course): one screw to slip out the old disk drive, two screws hold the "carrier", and transfer it to the new drive (not so much a carrier as a tab to pull the installed drive out of its bay). I purchased a Toshiba branded replacement drive with the vague idea that I might be less likely to have compatibility problems, but in the event the original drive was an IBM TravelStar, so I guess I need not have worried about that.

What did prove to be less easy was copying the bootable operating system (Windows XP, tablet edition) onto the new drive, using just the laptop hardware and a few accessories. I had purchased an Akasa integral USB-2 IDE drive carrier [1] to connect the second disk drive, which was seen just fine by the Windows XP operating system. My original plan was to use Norton Ghost to copy the system to the new drive, but the stand-alone copy program would not recognize the USB-connected drive, even when using a new driver described on the Symantec support site. A little Googling uncovered another utility called True Image from Acronis [2], which had some favourable reviews in comparison with Ghost, but I encountered essentially the same problem - the stand-alone copy mode did not see the new drive. A note in their technical support forums suggested that this software was not compatible with tablet PCs. Eventually, my son suggested Paragon's Drive Backup software [3], which eventually did the required deed, though not on the first attempt. I found the Drive Backup user interface a little eccentric and non-obvious in a couple of respects, but generally very usable. Most importantly, it did the job.

The remainder of this note describes the steps I used to copy my working system to the new drive. Enjoy!

Copying Bootable Windows XP to the new drive

Hardware configuration used:

Software used:

Disk organization:

My original system is configured with three partitions:

The new system is to be configured thus:


  1. Install the new disk drive in the external enclosure, and connect to the running system. The drive is dynamically recognized and configured.
  2. Use the Windows XP disk manager (Start -> Administrative tools -> Computer management, then select Disk management) to allow Windows to see the new drive. (I created and formatted a partition on the drive to prove to myself that it was working, but that shouldn't be necessary.)
  3. Install Drive Backup software on the system.
  4. Run Drive Backup, select "Disk 0" (the running system disk), then select the "Copy" option.
  5. Select "Disk 1" (the new disk in the external enclosure) for the desination of the copy.
  6. I opted for manual partition layout on the new drive, and worked through the interface to create the target layout indicated above. This is alittle fiddly to do, but pro procedure is fairly straightforward and obvious. Other options are to keep the original partition sizes, or resize all partitions proportionately.
  7. When the new layout has been confirmed, select the operating system partition on the new drive, then command Partition -> Set active. (I don't know if this was really necessary, since it was to receive a copy of an active partition, but I did it anyway.)
  8. With all the drive copy options set up, use the "Apply" button (or Operations -> Apply changes command). This initiates a system reboot and copying of data to the new disk in a stand-alone "blue screen" mode. My system tool about an hour to copy 25Gb of data to the new disk.
  9. When the copy completes, the system reboots back into windows. Continue the reboot and log in to the system. Drive Backup starts up on login: check that the new disk looks OK, then shut down the system. Note that the paritions on the new disk have been allocated new drive letters (in my case, F:, G: and I:, though not in the sequence one might expect).
  10. Remove the original system disk from the laptop, and install the new disk to which the old system has just been copied. (Take antistatic precautions and keep the original disk safe, for now at least).
  11. Remove any network connection, for the time being.
  12. Restart the system with the new disk. I got messages at startup, saying that a previous system startup did not complete, and offering to boot into safe mode. Choose the safe mode boot option.
  13. When prompted, log in to the system and run the Windows disk manager (Start -> Administrative tools -> Computer management, then select Disk management) . Use the disk manager to assign drive letters C:. D: and E: (in my configuration, yours may vary) to the partitions corresponding to the same letters on the original system.
  14. Initiate a system reboot. This time, the system should reboot normally and appear to be an exact copy of the original (except with more free disk space!).

On my first attempt, the new disk created would not boot fully into Windows. Differences between my first attempt and the procedure described above were:

In hindsight, I think my problems may have been due to drive letter mismatches, and that I might have been able to use the first attempt to copy the disk by forcing a safe mode boot and reassigning the drive letters. I guess I shall never know.

Related links

  1. Akasa integral 2.5" external enclosure:
  2. Acronis (True Image):
  3. Paragon Drive Backup:,

Copyright 2005, G Klyne

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