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I have a Dell Vostro 230 mini that has a Seagate 320 GB hard drive that is close to failing (I know this because its S.M.A.R.T. status reports a rapidly increasing Reallocated Sector Count). Because I want to replace the drive before it fails, I have ordered a WD Caviar Blue 1 TB hard drive that I plan on installing as a second hard drive to migrate all of my data to. Concerning this situation, I have a few questions before the drive comes:

  1. I do not have another SATA data cable to plug into the new hard drive, but the PC comes with one extra SATA power cable. However, the CD/DVD reader built into the computer connects via an almost identical SATA data cable (it's a different color?), and I was wondering if this could be used to connect the new hard drive. Will Windows automatically recognize this as a hard drive, or do I need to move the cable to a different port on the motherboard before installing?

  2. As I mentioned earlier, I want to make an exact duplicate of the old hard drive on the new hard drive. What would be the best way to do just this? I'm thinking in terms of creating a system image in Windows Backup to the new drive and then "recovering" it to transfer all of my files, programs, and settings, but I've also looked at Clonezilla. Is there one way that tends to be the most reliable?

  3. For a follow-up question to #2- will any of these methods copy bad or reallocated sectors to the new drive? I know that these are supposed to be hidden from the operating system until space runs out, but this is still one of my primary concerns as I wish to maintain a long life for the new drive.

4. Reading reviews for the WD Caviar Blue, I notice that it supports the new SATA 3 standard of 6 Gbit/s, and I want to take advantage of this. I've looked through documentation for this model on Dell support, but I cannot find anything about SATA 3 compatibility. How can I check for this compatibility before testing it?

EDIT: It seems I have answered my own question here. Unfortunately, it will be impossible to transfer at speeds faster than its SATA 2 controller can handle.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Yes - in fact you can do this even when Windows is actually running and simply refresh devices in device manager. I don't recommend it through ;)

  2. Any copying of file structure will work - if you don't change any other devices (so there won't be any conflict in drivers), you can use pretty much everything. Note through that it is best to do this when both drives are not booted from (ie. boot from any Linux live CD, mount both drives and copy data outside of OS)

  3. Not any I am aware of, the logical and physical data layout are pretty much separated

  4. In your motherboard manual (should be shipped with PC - if not look for PDF online version)

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