So you read the specs for The Sims 3 and discovered that you are just about out of harddrive space. After frantically removing programs and junk files, you still don’t have enough room. What are you going to do, you wonder… Well the question is simple – add another hard drive. This tutorial will walk you thru the process of adding another one to your machine so you have plenty of space for the game and whatever else you want on it!

Introduction

Welcome to my harddrive tutorial. If you’re reading this, then you must be interested in adding another harddrive to your machine. I wrote two alternatives that you can follow to do just that! For people that feel like they need to have a Ph.D. in Computer Science, I wrote a very simple tutorial for you to follow on installing an external harddrive. For those willing to be bold and would like to learn more on the structure of a computer, I have you covered as well!

Cleaning up your harddrive

The first approach you want to take when it comes to dealing with harddrives is to cleanup your current harddrive. Videos, music, games, pictures, documents – they all take up valuable space. There are many, many things you can do to free up space on your harddrive. Below are suggestions and tips to clean your harddrive to create more room:

Flash/USB Thumbdrives

These little devices are the size of your thumb and plug right into your USB ports on the computer. They come in a wide range of sizes – 256MB, 512, 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB… And they are reasonably priced…Online (Amazon, Newegg) you can order 8GB sticks for around $15 or less. In stores however, they are priced way more than what they should be.

By getting one with a decent amount of storage (let’s say 8GB), you can transfer and backup your music, documents, videos and pictures. By moving the files from your harddrive to these, you can also transfer files to other computers that you may have. It’s a must have if you work with tons of files – I myself own…about 7 of these – beats burning CDs!

Uninstalling Unused Software & Games

Is your computer cluttered with programs or games that you don’t use or play anymore? Remove them, they are taking up valuable space! To remove unwanted software from your computer follow these steps:

  1. Open your Control Panel (Start Menu – Settings – Control Panel)
  2. Open Add/Remove Programs (In Vista, it’s called Programs and Features)
  3. Select a Program or Game you don’t want and then hit the “Uninstall/Remove” tab.

Make sure you are paying attention to what you are doing. You would hate to uninstall something you often use – reinstalling takes up time! Also, if you uninstall an item, make sure you have it on disk or know where to find it again in case you need to install it again!

Using the Disk Cleanup Tool

Windows contains a built in tool called “Disk Cleanup” in which allows users to clean up temporary files, empty recycling bin and compressing files. To find this utility, follow these steps:

  1. Close all of your open applications
  2. Open up My Computer
  3. Right click on a drive you want to clean up and select Properties. Most of the time the default drive for Windows will be your C: drive.
  4. Select the button that says Disk Cleanup. It’s found under the General tab.

  5. You should see what looks like the above box come up. By selecting the checkboxes, certain files will either be deleted or compressed. Heres an explanation of what the files do:
  • Temporary Internet Files – Graphics and other files downloaded when viewing a web page. You might want to retain these if you have a slow internet connection.
  • Offline Web Pages – Pages that you have downloaded to view offline.Recycle Bin – Files and folders that have been deleted. Click the View Files button to see which files will be deleted.
  • Temporary Files – Files created by software applications when using them. These files can usually be deleted safely (though you may be able to recover some data from a temporary file after a crash).
  • Compress Old Files – Use file compression to reduce the size of files you do not access often. This does not delete the file, but may make it slower to open if you do use it. It also means that the clean up process will take a long time. Use the Options button to set the amount of time to leave before marking a file as unused.
  • Downloaded Program Files – Controls and applets used to display certain features on web pages. You might want to retain these if you have a slow internet connection.

Click Ok and then Yes to the box that pops up. Depending on how many files it detects, it could take up to some time, so please be patient!

Defrag your harddrive

I wrote a separate tutorial on how to do this. Please check out How to defrag and clean up your computer


Adding an external harddrive (simple)

Western Digital My Passport Essential 320 GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive WDME3200TN (Midnight Black) Chances are, if you’re afraid to open up your computer (and I can’t blame you, they are an expensive piece of technology!), you will want to go this route. Lucky for you, it should only take 3 minutes of your time!

If you don’t own an external harddrive, then you can pick one up at your local computer/electronics store. They tend to be a little more expensive then the internal ones – but it is money worth spent. I myself perfer the West Digital brand, as I usually don’t have any issues with them. Feel free to get whatever you want (although don’t get a cheap unknown brand, you don’t want to risk having it crap out on you! For online places, check out Amazon or Newegg.

Once you have one, plug it into an outlet and hook that baby up to a USB port (or FireWire if that’s how it connects) and your computer should recognize it and automatically install its drivers. From there, Windows will give it a drive letter (D:, E:, F: etc). You can find this new harddrive by using Windows Explorer or selecting “My Computer”.

Now you have two choices. You can either make some space on your full harddrive by moving documents/pictures/mp3’s/etc. to your external harddrive or install the game to the external harddrive. Personally, the first choice is better as most external harddrivers were built to store documents and misc. files. Technically, it’s not meant for games even though it’s possible to. By running games from the external harddrive, the data that is streamed via USB or FireWire isn’t as fast as it would be if it was hooked up by an IDE/SATA cable (in which internal harddrives use). So it’s more than likely you will experience a little lag in your gameplay running off of the external harddrive.

An important fact to note…If you install any games or programs on this harddrive, you need to keep in mind that more than likely you won’t be able to use it on another PC. For example, say you have a desktop and a laptop that can support TS3. If you install TS3 on your desktop to your external drive, you cannot expect the game to run when you unhook the drive and take it to your laptop. While you are indeed installing the game’s files on the external hard drive, there are still files that are installed to your desktop’s registery and the main Windows drive. You’re laptop will not have the files to run the game if you decide to carry it over (thus you’ll have to install it on the other machine as well).

Adding an internal harddrive (advance)

As Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus would say, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” For those that are interested in what the insides of a computer look like and are bold to take a chance (let me get my disclaimer in – I’m by no means responsible for whatever you do), then you might want to look into the process of adding an internal harddrive.

Before you Begin

There are a few important things to do before you start digging in.

First off, unplug the computer’s power cord – always a wise decision to make.

Now you will need to remove your computer’s side cover. For some reason, this is the most difficult task for me to accomplish (but it should be a easy process). I’m used to having two screws on the back of a computer to unscrew, but Gateway, Dell, HP have buttons, clips to push or press in to remove.

Next, you will either want to purchase a ground strap or touch the metal of the computer case. This will get rid of any static you might be carrying, you don’t want to ruin any of your computer’s components with a static shock!

Also, check your harddrive bay area to make sure you even have room to install another harddrive! Take a look at the picture on the right. If you see that you only have two slots for a harddrive and they both are full, then you’re going to have to use an external drive! If you see an unused slot, then you should be in the clear to put in another drive!

IDE or SATA?

I’d figure you would get a kick out of the above picture. There are two different internal harddrives which are identified by how they are hooked up. They are IDE or SATA. IDE is for older models, while SATA is often in new models of computers. IDE has a cable hooked up to a harddrive that is about 2 inches wide and looks like a ribbon. SATA is about 1″ in width and has an end that is thin.

Once you know how your harddrive is suppose to hook up, you can now purchase the proper type of drive you want.

Installing an IDE Drive

  1. Before you begin, unplug power cord.
  2. Touch metal or put on your grounding strap and attach it to your computer case.
  3. Open your newly bought harddrive.
  4. Since you already have an existing IDE drive in your computer, set your new harddrive to “Slave”. You should see little pins on the back of the drive and a little jumper. Move it to either “S” or “Slave”. (Pictured below)

  5. Put the harddrive in an empty harddrive slot bay, secure with screws that came with the drive.
  6. Attach the IDE Power Connector to the Harddrive (the 4 prong connector). You should be able to find a spare one on the power supply cable harness. If you find out that all of your connectors are used, then you might need a power connector splitter. Sometimes harddrives come with these, but if they don’t you can pick them up at a computer/electronics store.
  7. If you have a spare connector on the IDE Cable, attach it to the newly installed harddrive. If you don’t, you can either replace the cable with one that features multiple connectors, or if your motherboard is equipped with another IDE slot, add another IDE cable.
  8. Now that you are done, unhook your wrist ground strap, put your cover back on and fire up the machine.
  9. When it boots up, you will want to go into the BIOS to make sure your computer detects it properly. Access the BIOS by either pressing the DEL key or one of the Function (F#) keys at the top of your keyboard. Since each machine is different, I cannot give you accurate instructions. Check your computer’s manual for BIOS information and go to the proper section that lists the harddrives so you can see if your computer picked up on it.
  10. Once you are done in the BIOS, resume normal operation of the computer.
  11. Now you will need to format your drive. After your machine has booted up, click the Start Menu and open the Control Panel. Find the Administrative Tools then click on Computer Management. From there, click on Disk Management. You will see something that looks like this:

  12. At the bottom of the above screen, you’ll see a new drive (Disk 1). More than likely the new drive will not be formatted, so you are going to have to do that. Select the new drive and then hit the button (or right click the drive) that says Format (Initialize). Format it as an NTFS volume. Formatting may take an hour or more, so be patient.When the formatting is done, you are ready to use your new drive!

Installing a SATA Drive

  1. Before you begin, unplug power cord.
  2. Touch metal or put on your grounding strap and attach it to your computer case.
  3. Open your newly bought harddrive.
  4. Put the harddrive in an empty harddrive slot bay, secure with screws that came with the drive.
  5. Attach the SATA Power Connector to the Harddrive. You should be able to find a spare one on the power supply cable harness. If you find out that all of your connectors are used, then you might need a power connector splitter. Sometimes harddrives come with these, but if they don’t you can pick them up at a computer/electronics store.
  6. Find a SATA connector on your motherboard and attach one end of the SATA cable to it. Then attach the remaining end to the newly installed harddrive.
  7. Now that you are done, unhook your wrist ground strap, put your cover back on and fire up the machine.
  8. When it boots up, you will want to go into the BIOS to make sure your computer detects it properly. Access the BIOS by either pressing the DEL key or one of the Function (F#) keys at the top of your keyboard. Since each machine is different, I cannot give you accurate instructions. Check your computer’s manual for BIOS information and go to the proper section that lists the harddrives so you can see if your computer picked up on it.
  9. Once you are done in the BIOS, resume normal operation of the computer.
  10. Now you will need to format your drive. After your machine has booted up, click the Start Menu and open the Control Panel. Find the Administrative Tools then click on Computer Management. From there, click on Disk Management. You will see something that looks like this:

  11. At the bottom of the above screen, you’ll see a new drive (Disk 1). More than likely the new drive will not be formatted, so you are going to have to do that. Select the new drive and then hit the button (or right click the drive) that says Format (Initialize). Format it as an NTFS volume. Formatting may take an hour or more, so be patient.When the formatting is done, you are ready to use your new drive!