Friday, March 30, 2007

Replacing Your Hard Drive

My new 160GB hard drive came in today and I was happy to get rid of the 60GB my Dell 1501 came with. So again, it is smarter and cheaper to upgrade your hard drive yourself.

This is how you do it:
Back of Dell 1501
This is the back of the Dell Inspiron 1501. Turn yours over, it looks exactly the same. Blue is the power cable, red the hard drive area and brown/orange the battery. Remove the battery and the power cable. This is the MOST important step and the one thing, if not done, that can permanently damage your computer.

After removing the battery and unplugging your power cable:
Strike Plate
Locate these two screws in the red. This holds the hard drive in the laptop. Unscrew them and put them in a safe place. Now pull the battery out, it comes out easy and shouldn't need to be removed forcefully.

Hard Drive Screws
Locate the two screws on the hard drive itself. these hold the battery to the laptop drive cover. Remove these screws and put them in a safe place.

Now reverse these steps with your new hard drive:
1. Screw the hard drive onto the driver cover.
2. Gently insert the hard drive back into the laptop.
3. Screw back in to two screws on the back of the laptop and hold the drive in place.
4. Plug in your battery and power cable.
edited by pHreaksYcle


Joseph said...

Hey I was wondering what type of hard drive you used, since I want to upgrade my drive as well, and I don't want to end up using ATA when I need SATA. Thanks in advance

redDEAD said...

I bought a HITACHI Travelstar 160GB 5400 RPM 8MB Cache Serial ATA150 2.5 Notebook Hard Drive

S-Jong said...


I love your blog. It help me a lot to install my ubuntu on Dell Ins. 1501.

I am just wondering if there is any way to replace the DVD/CD rom drive with a new hard drive. I intend to buy a new hard drive but, if possible, I would like to replace it with the DVD drive.

Many thanks in advance.

S-Jong said...


I love your blog. It help me a lot to install my ubuntu on Dell Ins. 1501.

I am just wondering if there is any way to replace the DVD/CD rom drive with a new hard drive. I intend to buy a new hard drive but, if possible, I would like to replace it with the DVD drive.

Many thanks in advance.

redDEAD said...

i don't think so, and if you could it wouldn't be too easy

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have an old dell laptop, it came with an IDE hard drive, it is possible to replace it with a bigger SATA drive? I mean will the SATA drive fit into the slot? thank you

redDEAD said...

nope ide and sata are not interchangeable

Dreamer said...

Is it possible to put a 7200 rpm hard drive in this laptop? I JUST purchased one and would LOVE to do this.

Dreamer said...

I'm interested in putting in a 7200 rpm hard drive in my Inspiron 1501. Is this possible at all? I'm new to laptops and need to know if this is possible to do with my 1501?...if so, what hard drive would I use?

If this were a desktop, I'd have NO problems at all doing pretty much anything I wanted, but laptops are something I've never ventured into before now.

redDEAD said...


You can put any 2.5 notebook hard drive you want into your Dell 1501. from 5GB to 250GB and at any speed. The only problem is faster drives make more noise. I put a 160GB drive in mine but chose to go with a slower HD so my Dell 1501 wouldn't get too loud.

Dreamer said...

Thanks for the advice reddead! I don't mind the noise. I am looking for power and speed, ya know? I know it's a laptop, but I wanna squeeze every bit of performance into this system as possible. Thanks so much for the advice you've given me. VERY helpful. I hope you keep yer blog up for a LONG time.

Dreamer said...

Does anyone here know how to replace the dvd/cd drive in this Inspiron 1501?? I could REALLY use this info! Please lemme know.

Luobotou said...

Great "instructable". As always, the first place I look for any Ubuntu "hints and kinks" is your blog. Ubuntu 7.10 beta is finally running 100% on my 1501. Thanks to all your information.

Vlad said...

Sadly my Dell 1501 just crashed (after only 2 months) and I have to take it in to service to be replaced. But 1st I would like to back-up my HDD if it`s possible, and for that I have to remove it from the notebook. So I wonder: by doing this, am I violating the waranty? Or is it ok to take the HDD out ?

redDEAD said...

I couldn't give you sound legal advice on that Vlad, I do not work for Dell or know the ins and outs of Dell's warranty policy.

I can tell you that both times I sent my 1501 into service I did it without sending in the hard drive. Call them and ask, I'm thinking it doesn't make a difference.

Henry Schofield said...

Thank you for the clear, step-by-step instructions with photos. I'd not messed with a laptop's hard drive before. You made it easy.

Replaced a 5,400 rpm 60 Gb Hitachi with a 7,200 rpm 100 Gb Hitachi to get a little more speed and space.

Is the old hard drive now trash? No way! Along with the new drive I got (from Newegg) a Rosewill SATA to USB adapter. The old drive now has a new life as a portable backup drive.

Anonymous said...

Just a minor correction: in your last picture you have the wrong screw holes marked. The ones that the disk drive slot cover attach to are on the sides of the drive (at least they were for me). Other than that, very useful post.

Sam said...

i was just wondering if you knew what the maximum size hard drive that can be installed in a 1501 is?

rjaduthie said...

I think I know the 'answer' already though it's not mentioned above, so to clear the issue up:

-a DEll Inspiron 1501 has a SATA-150 bundled.

-to upgrade one must match this with another SATA-150?

If one bought a SATA-300 drive, the drive would not function. Yes?

Also: the fact that there is an SATA controller chip in "IDE mode" is not the issue. Is it that the IDE part is the part interfacing with the OS? This meaning it doesn't matter that the drive is SATA and not IDE.

Anyway, it'd be nice to hear another opinion!


ssunford said...

I was wondering the Exact same thing. Can I replace my SATA 150 80gb drive with lets say.......a 320gb SATA 300?
If anyone has tried a SATA 300 in one of theese please let me know if it's backwards compatable I'm tired of relying on externals

rjaduthie said...

To answer (with a little more definiteness) an earlier post by myself - I think that if a SATA-300 were to be put in, it would simpy just run as a SATA-150.

To answer someone else's post: I don't think there is an upper limit to the size of the SATA drive you put in - the only limit being the engineering of the drive (you probably wouldn't find a readily available multi-terabyte drive for SATA-150 in the laptop's dimensions.

You could put a more modern drive (ie. a SATA-300) with more capacity and the drive would act as a SATA-150, though with a bigger size. I say this only because I presume that newer drives are faster and bigger.

What do you guys think?

Jozer99 said...


Yes, SATA300 drives should fall back to SATA150. The limit for the size of the drives SATA supports is pretty astronomical. However, there are limits to other aspects of the system. Older operating systems (Windows NT, 2000, and XP before SP1) only support hard drives of up to 137 GB. Patches exist for 2000 and XP (possibly NT as well).

File systems are also a limitation, Windows has trouble with drives formatted as FAT above 60GB or so, although it is possible to format them much larger, and they may work fine. NTFS can format up to very large sizes very well.

The 1501 comes with a 5400RPM hard drive rated for 700mA of current draw. You can use any 2.5" SATA drive of roughly the same or lower power consumption. Some 7200 RPM drives may need to much current to work correctly. 5400 and 4200 RPM drives should work fine.

Gene Kernan said...

Great post on replacing the 1501 drive, but what about the programs & data on the old drive (can you tell I'm clueless?)?

rjaduthie said...

The usual thing to do is to re-install your operating system (OS) on the new drive, and also the programs which you have within the OS.

As someone mentioned already above, you can get yourself a SATA to USB (I found one for 20GBP - which is around 32USD and 22EUR - @ and then use the drive via a USB port. Though the programs and all other files should still be on the drive you removed - I wouldn't like to say that you could boot from it, I've never tried this type of thing - maybe you can.

Does anyone know the answer to this question of programs/OSes on old drives (taken from your Inspiron 1501, of course)?

redDEAD said...

you use hard drive cloning software and you can copy your old hard drive to your new.You will need a cable/enclosure as mentioned above.

my favorite cloning software is clonzilla

rjaduthie said...

Another thing - whilst the thought is fresh: HDD power consumptions.

The Fujitsu MWH2060BH which *I* had installed with my Inspiron 1501 has a quoted power consumption as maximum power consumption of 5.0W at spin up with a drawn current of 1A. This is pretty big! This spin up only happens every so often compared with read/write (R/W) actions (I presume) - though how should two HDD power stats be compared? Are R/W actions more important than seek actions?

The fujitsu info came from:

I'm also looking at (for example):

If the powers are good for these Western Digital (500mA R/W, 400mA idle, it claims), then you could install a 1TB SATA-300 into you Inspiron would only transfer at 1.5GB/s rate, though perhaps the power consumption is okay?


PS. BTW I've been following this blog for a while now, and I'm still to do the deed - it may happen soon, however. Watch this space!

Samuel and Jenny said...

Having a problem with the battery, but it's related to the hard-drive (kind of) so I'd thought I'd post it here. A few weeks ago my hard drive died. I had a replacement installed, and the guy who replaced it loaded windows 7 x64 onto the new hard-drive since I was running the windows 7 beta on a partition before it crashed. Anyway, because the lovely 1501 isn't supported for x64 in Windows 7, I don't have the right drivers and my battery doesn't work. As soon as I unplug the power cord, the laptop dies, and it will not boot. My power meter says that my batter has 68.8 percent battery power left and that it is charging (even though it is not charging). Since I'm running Ubuntu on another partition now (and likeing it alot, this will probably become my main OS) I was wondering if I could get the correct drivers through Ubuntu so that my battery will work again. Also, yes, my battery does work in another computer, just because I get the feeling I'll get asked that. Also, I don't have any problem with my AC adapter, that also works perfectly. Thanks for any help anyone might have.

redDEAD said...

Samuel and Jenny,

Drivers don't work like that. The Ubuntu drivers will not work on Windows 7.

glennybuck said...

That really help me to replace the hard drive. But my next question is. When i replace the hard drive on my 1501 will i haft to put a new window on? Or will be able to use it with out?