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My laptop is about 6 years old and the HDD's about to give way so I thought I'd get a new one and copy an image over.

How do I find out what type of connection my laptop uses? Eg is it SATA or whatever? Might be a bone question but I'm not really aware of the different types and if they've changed much in the past 6 years.

Do I need to think about this or is it not an issue?

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I think the switch to SATA drives started around 2002-2003. However, I am not quite sure when the tipping point occurred and SATA became the de facto interface. Also, I believe this took slightly longer to happen with notebooks than desktop systems. My point being your ~6 year old notebook could have gone either way. If it uses a PATA drive, good luck. Because PATA is less commonly used these days you would probably have to pay a slight premium to upgrade a deprecated technology. You'd probably do better upgrading to a "used but newer" notebook. – irrational John Jun 18 '10 at 15:01
SATA wasn't common in laptops until much later...perhaps 2005 or 2006, depending on the manufacturer. My Inspiron 8600 purchased in early 2004 has an IDE/PATA hard drive, and the same model with the same drive was still available at least through the end of 2004. IDE laptop drives are still widely available, but they don't come in capacities as large as the available SATA drives. – rob Jun 18 '10 at 18:56
@rob: Thanks for the helping to refine the timeline! Yes, PATA is still available, but the price is not "competitive". I'm not saying that the price of a PATA laptop drive is that bad. I popped over to newegg and took a quick look.… Price of 160GB PATA seems ~$60-$70?? A few weeks back I got a 500GB Seagate Momentus 5400.6 SATA for $60. <shrug> What chya gonna do? :) – irrational John Jun 18 '10 at 22:14
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm going to assume that you are using Windows. If you are then you can try this.

  1. Open a command prompt window. Either use WinKey-R, type cmd, and press enter or look for Accessories -> Command Prompt in the Start Menu.

  2. Open the device manager by typing devmgmt.msc in the command prompt window and press enter.

  3. Look for the category named Disk Drives and expand it.

  4. Since you are using a laptop there should be only 1 hard drive and thus 1 entry. That entry should give you the model number and possibly manufacturer for the drive.

  5. Google for it. The description for the drive should almost immediately tell you whether it is SATA or PATA.

FWIW, the next time you ask a question please include details such as what operating system you are using. It helps when trying to answer to have some context to work with.

In hindsight it came to me that it would probably help to see how the drives connectors differ. So after Googling about a bit, I came up with the image below from this site..

Comparison of SATA vs PATA 2.5" hard drives

The above may not actually be a very good comparison pic. The SATA drives I'm familiar with all have a protective half-shell surrounding the contact pads. They look like the drive in the picture below. Or you could also look at the product pictures for this HITACHI Travelstar 5K500.B at

2.5" SATA drive with protective half-shell around connectors

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You have 2 choices -

1) Google the laptop model and lookup the detailed specs
2) Take out the hard drive and look at the connection

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It's not always easy to find a screwdriver small enough to open it up. – Ivo Flipse Jun 18 '10 at 9:33
How would he replace the drive then?!? – admintech Jun 18 '10 at 9:38
my laptop brand went bust 6 months after I bought off them, and I've a bazillion programmes running at the moment. Will shut down later on and have a look, but I'll just be reporting back something along the lines of "it's got 8 pins sticking out of it" mind ;) – rutherford Jun 18 '10 at 10:41
ok here's the images: samsung hdd motherboard connector not sure what it is – rutherford Jun 18 '10 at 17:28
@rutherford: that is an IDE (aka PATA) hard drive. – rob Jun 18 '10 at 18:59

You might try Speccy.

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I opened my HP Pavillion zv6000, which was built in 2004, and discovered that my crashed hard drive was a 40GB IDE drive.

Noticing as others did that the price of a 500GB SATA drive was comparable to an 80GB IDE drive, I looked for and found this Serial ATA TO IDE Converter Board available for $20. I'm going to try it -- $70 for a new drive and adapter is cheaper than a new laptop, and I can still use the drive when the laptop gets too slow for me (which is not likely to be soon, because the screen conked out long ago and I've been using it as a file server).

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will that fit in a laptop? – rutherford Nov 7 '10 at 21:43
@rutherford I haven't tried it yet, but the picture makes it look like that is exactly what it was designed for. – Terrel Shumway Nov 8 '10 at 12:05
@rutherford oops. good call. It says "Suitable for POS Systems (will not fit into most laptops) Great for all Mini Computers that use 44 pin IDE connector and require an upgrade to new SATA 2.5 Inch Drives." I'll have to measure it. – Terrel Shumway Nov 8 '10 at 12:13
@rutherford. no go for me. In my laptop, the bay is only 10mm deep and I have only about 5mm of extra space at the end. The picture looks like it adds and extra 8 mm to the length after it is plugged in, and the 17.5mm height definitely won't fit. :( – Terrel Shumway Nov 8 '10 at 12:23

Well, it's either going to be a SATA (more probably) or a variant of PATA/IDE

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