My 3 year old Acer TravelMate 100 TabletPC hard disk (20G) was dying. It has served me well as a portable machine. I love the tablet features and the small size. It was one of the original prototype tablets that I started using about 6 months before TabletPCs were available publicly. Recently, the disk was periodically resetting itself, possibly due to sector failures. I tried using chkdsk /f to map out failed sectors (I’m not sure if it can deal with hard sector failure), but it didn’t seem to help much.


About 23 years ago I wrote a program that would read the File Allocation Table (FAT) of a floppy or hard disk. It could read the directory structures and display the fragmentation. I think it was dBase III that had a copy protection scheme that would record on which sectors it was installed and only work if it lived on those sectors. I didn’t like this scheme because it didn’t allow me to defragment my disk, so I used my program to help get around it.


So I bought a 60 gig replacement online for about $90. “Hitachi Travelstar 4K80 - 60GB 2.5", 4200RPM IC25N060ATMR04 - 08K0634”

I was a little worried that the disk may not be physically or electronically compatible. Physically they looked the same, although one was Hitachi and the other IBM. I understand that most notebooks can use any generic notebook hard disk. The rotation speed was the same, but the capacity was tripled. Removing the old was fairly simple: make sure it was shut down and unplugged, remove the battery, remove a single screw, and pull the drive out. There was a thin metal sheath around the IBM that I just removed (1 more screw) and put on the new Hitachi. There was also a connector adapter that converted the male 44 pin connector to female, which was easily transferred. After reversing the steps, I turned on the machine, went into BIOS setup and was immediately relieved to see that the drive was recognized by the BIOS. I changed the boot sequence to network and installed Windows XP Tablet PC edition over our corporate network using RIS (Remote OS Installation). Wow, that is *so* much more convenient than using floppies or CDs! I just answered a few questions and let it go. After about an hour, Windows and Office were set up for me. I visited the Acer web site to download a couple drivers and things seem to be working just fine!


I’m not sure if RIS is available outside Microsoft (I believe it’s internal only, although I believe SMS can help similarly: can somebody confirm? Thanks) but it’s a *very* convenient way to set up a machine.