It is actually fairly easy to replace the hard drive on Dell laptops. Usually, the hard drive is located on the side of the laptop and fastened with one or two screws. To replace the hard drive, you will need a Philips screwdriver to take it out.
First, make sure that the hard drive needs to be replaced and that there is no virus infection or driver conflict, etc. A how-to guide to hard drive diagnostics is described here.
You will need a new hard drive which should be the same interface as the old hard drive. This can be a SATA or IDE interface. IDE hard drives are usually on older laptops and have one wide connector with many pins. SATA hard drives have two connectors, one is used for data and the other is used for power.
First, unscrew the two screws and slide the hard drive caddy out to the side. It will come out with a small caddy.
Next, unscrew the two screws on the caddy sides. Do this but in reverse order for the new hard drive. Make sure you replace the SATA hard drive with a new SATA hard drive and an IDE hard drive with a new one with an IDE interface. If the interface is different, the laptop will not recognize the new hard drive.
Restore the operating system using System Restore Disks that came with the laptop initially. If you do not have the System Restore Disks, you can usually get them from the laptop manufacturer or buy them online from a third party.
If you connect the old hard drive as an external disk, you can then confirm that you did have a hard drive fault.
Here is how to do this. Download GSmartControl. Install it on your laptop and connect the old hard drive through USB to a SATA adapter. Chose the hard drive that is connected. The program will show the specific hard drive model. Next, go to Attributes. If there is a red line showing, then the hard drive is faulty. If there is a record in the Error Log, then you know the hard drive was faulty. If there is no red lines evident and the Error Log is clean, then you can determine you had a virus, driver conflict, or another issue entirely.
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