help re: upgrading HDD in a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop

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I'm looking for info.  I want to upgrade my laptop's (2003 Dell
Inspiron 5100) hard drive.  The existing hard drive is a Hitachi
DK23EA-30  IDE 30Gb.  I do not know if it's 4200 or 5400 RPM.  The
articles I've read said users had problems using HDDs larger than
120Gb, even after upgrading the BIOS to version level A32.  I don't
remember if those articles said whether the laptop could handle 5400
RPM drives.  Accordingly, I will be restricting my search to 2.5"
internal hard drives no larger than 120Gb.

I've noticed that some HDDs are described as PATA 6, others as Ultra
100 IDE PATA.  This is the first time I've fooled around upgrading
stuff in a laptop, so I'm not familiar with how to choose HDDs that
would work with the laptop I've got.

First, are 2.5" IDE internal HDDs still being manufactured by anyone?
I'm guessing no but want to confirm that.

Second, does anyone know if the Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop can use the
5400 RPM HDDs?  No point for me to get one if the laptop can't use it.

Third, when I read the vendor's description of a hd, is there any
abbreviation or terminology I should look for that will help me
eliminate it from consideration?  For example, I automatically exclude
SATA drives, but what about things like Ultra 100 or PATA 6?

Fourth, I've found two vendors (OEMPCWorld and Amazon) that seem to
offer a variety of HDs fitting my initial criteria, but are there any
other vendors that specialize in selling hard drives for old laptops?


Re: help re: upgrading HDD in a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop

Yes wrote:
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According to Asus, their IDE implementations were all 48bit LBA
by Jan 2003. That's the transition year. And 48bit LBA
allows >137GB hard drives. Apparently, this is as much a BIOS
issue as anything else. 48 bit LBA works by "double pumping"
the registers, to communicate with 48 bit capable drives
(i.e. IDE drives >137GB in size).

(A copy of the proposal for how to change from 28 bit to 48 bit addressing...)

Before that transition, there would be an era of <137GB drives.

And before that, 64GB drives.

And before that 33GB drive limits (AFAIK, 65536 cylinder limit,
16 bit cylinder number).

On desktop drives with the 2x4 group of jumper pins, one
of the positions corresponded to "CLIP". That was the jumper
that changed the geometry declaration. Depending on vintage
of computer, a drive with CLIP was either interpreted as
a 2GB drive or as a 33GB drive. I don't know whether laptop drives
ever had room for a clip jumper, to perform the same
capacity variation via fake CHS value.


Since I cannot find any other advice, I'd buy a 120GB. It's possible
something larger works, but I don't really know when Dell supported
48bit LBA like the rest of the industry.

The machine probably does not have a 40GB limitation. That could be
the largest drive they tested with. Perhaps the machine was released
before 2003 ?

As an example, I can find one poster who had a P4PE 845PE based
motherboard from Asus, and he had a 200GB drive fitted to it.
That was back in the WinXP SP1 days, so support was still a bit
shitty back then. The OSes are relatively protective, and the
older OSes will not define a partition over 137GB, to avoid trouble.
It's when a partition rides that boundary (beginning of partition
below 137GB, end of partition above 137GB) that corruptions occur.
So if you attempt to connect a 200GB drive full of data, to a computer
that doesn't support 48 bit LBA, the partition sitting on top of 137GB
can cause problems. An attempt to write past 137GB, would
corrupt low LBA areas of the drive (try to write upper partition,
write corrupts lower partition).

If you had WinXP SP3, used a cloning utility and moved it to
a larger IDE, then the OS will likely not give you a problem.
But whether the BIOS is ready to "double pump" the IDE registers
to boot from a large drive, I don't know the answer to that.

Someone did make a utility to test, but they charged money for it,
and I never did find anyone silly enough to part with the money.
In some cases, I could find definitive answers, and in other cases
not. And the evidence is, Dell Tech Support don't have the answer
on their crib sheet, and they give absolutely dreadful advice. You
would need their "real" support people, not the trainees reading
a script.

A good company, provides release notes with newer BIOS files, so
you know whether they improve a situation like that. For example,
my 33GB motherboard got a BIOS upgrade to <137GB, for which I
was grateful. That was my first PC, and I got to use slightly
larger drives in it. I could use a 120GB on that machine.
And I could use more, if plugging in my Promise Ultra133 card.


The RPM factor is a heat issue. The idea is, a 7200RPM drive
would throw off a bit more heat than a 5400RPM drive. Whether
that's a problem, depends on whether the drive bay is ventilated
or the drive bay is insulated. There have been laptops that
"cook" drives, and for one of those, you want the slowest
drive you can fit. A 4200 would be great for that.

The last time I checked, there was only one SSD with IDE connector
on it for sale, and it's too expensive. And there is no guarantee
it draws less power.

Since that laptop is likely to be a DTR (Desktop Replacement),
it likely needs some good ventilation. And maybe the drive
bay gets some of that ?

OK, got a few pictures here, and it almost looks like
the drive bay has an opening ? Do you feel air enter
or exit through there ? If so, go for a 5400 RPM. It
might be easier to find.

Also, one other article I saw, mentions the existing drive
will have an adapter block on the end of the drive. You will
need to move that adapter from the old drive to the new one.
Since I don't know how that works, I can't tell you how
difficult that will be to do. It should just unplug.


Re: help re: upgrading HDD in a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop

On 3/21/2015 12:12 PM, Yes wrote:
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Consider an SSD -- they are, quite surprisingly, available with IDE PATA  

Re: help re: upgrading HDD in a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop

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Be very careful with that. I tried replacing a dead 2.5 inch sata hard
drive with a ssd drive in a laptop. It ran too hot, forcing the laptop
to shutdown within a couple of minutes. Ended up replacing the ssd with
a regular hard drive (now have a second ssd drive in my main desktop :-),
where it's working fine).

Regards, Dave Hodgins

Change to to reply by email.
( has been set up specifically for
use in usenet. Feel free to use it yourself.)

Re: help re: upgrading HDD in a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop

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They can be hell to install on older computers.  I just about tossed mine  
out the window before I found a solution.  Do some research before you buy  

Re: help re: upgrading HDD in a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop

John McGaw wrote:

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How cheap are they?  This is an old laptop ca. 2003; I'm not going to
spend a lot of bucks on it.  If I can make it useful to me again,
that's great, but there's only so much money I intend to spend on it.
I've seen used tablets starting at $50 advertised at newegg that might
accomplish what I want (to use at my library), but my laptop does have
sentimental value plus it's all paid for now :-)

At present, my laptop serves as a fallback if my primary pc hiccups.  I
can use it 'as is' at home.

I'm in the process of maxing its RAM because that should give me the
best bang for the buck.  The HDD upgrade is optional contingent on if
the added RAM works like I hope; I won't know that until probably next
week.  I've read some articles that provide suggestions about other
ways in which an old laptop like mine can be used.  Some of them
appealed to me.

if the added RAM doesn't pan out then I'll probably just put the laptop
in mothballs for use in case of an emergency.  On the other hand, I
might experiment with a non-Windows OS and/or open source software at
home on an ad hoc basis.  Too early to make a hard decision about that.


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