Hard disk migration – please erase

7 May

With the price of Solid State Disks coming down, I decided to give a 4-year old home laptop a new lease of life with an update. Not having the first idea about how to do this, I did some Google based research, found some very helpful web sites. All went well with the advice given, right until the end!

Ready…

  • Was this even possible on the laptop I had? A quick check in the Toshiba page for my laptop suggested this was OK.
  • How do I go about doing it; what tools do I need? Lots of sites with plenty of advice (we’ll return to this later…) I chose to follow the advice on How-To-Geek.
  • What SSD did I need? The Crucial Advisor Tools, helped me. Chose an M500, and decided to upgrade the RAM too. Approx £130, so not a cheap exercise (SSD, RAM and SSD-to-USB cradle).

A few days later the parts arrived.

Steady…

  • Did a full hard disk backup (online and to USB drive).

Go…

  • Upgraded the laptop BIOS (Toshiba web site).
  • Installed RAM. Reboot.
  • Connected the SSD via a USB cradle.
  • Installed EaseUS Partition Master, so I could clone the disk. Reboot.
  • Did the preparation referred to in the How-To-Geek. Reboot.
  • Used EaseUS Partition Master to clone the disk. Took about 2 hours. Shutdown.
  • Removed the old hard disk, inserted the new SSD. Reboot.

Phew. It all started up (quite a bit quicker), and all seemed well…

Minor hick up.

I just thought I’d do a Windows Update to make sure all the drivers were correct. Window Update Failed. Hmm, I’ll deal with that later, do some other bits first. Tried to download TrueCrypt (the old laptop was not encrypted, tut-tut) – the download would not run. iTunes popped up to say a new version was available, but that would not download.

Did a bit of Googling, tried a few things, then came across a lifesaving article on the Crucial user forum. Somehow a thing called the “Intel matrix storage manager” had installed itself. No idea what it does, but uninstalled it as suggested by scott4534.

Rebooted. Windows reported it was updating various drivers. Everything worked. Phew.

I then installed TrueCrypt (update iTunes), and encrypted the new drive.

Job Done. Was it worth it (I have not got to the security issue yet…)

Performance Tables…

All timings in seconds (based on timing just once – not truly scientific).

Before

Memory Upgrade (2G-4G)

HDD to SSD Upgrade

Removed Intel matrix storage manager

TrueCrypt Encrypted Disk

Boot time (which on to logon prompt)

32

33

26

24

25

Time MS Word takes to start

27

17

14

10

14

Time IE takes to start

29

16

5

3

4

Shutdown time

75 (prepared to accept this is a rogue time)

28

15

12

17

In conclusion, a significant performance boost (IE especially). Not cheap at £130, but cheaper than a new laptop.

Now my gripe…

I am left with an old HDD, full of personal data.

NOT ONE of the sites that so carefully talked me through the process gave me advice about the secure disposal of the old HDD. For me, this is a serious omission in the process.

I wonder how many people just threw the disk away. I wonder how many people used Windows to mount the disk, and just used Windows to delete the files (just in case you are not sure – this does not actually delete stuff from disk, it just removes the file from the index).

There is quite a lot of advice about regarding how to erase a disk securely, but not much of it linked to the disk migration process – no tips for the novice this this is an essential step (this erasure article did say it was good to do after a clone.)

The erasure advice also seems quite complex. Having installed TrueCrypt I did what I think was relatively easy…

  1. Mounted the HDD via the USB cradle.
  2. Used TrueCrypt to encrypt each partition, selecting the option to fully encrypt data (so old, previously data was encrypted (erased) too.

Not 100% erased, but only I know the key. Good enough to prevent all but the most determined attempts to get at my data. Now I can truly say Job Done.

The point of this blog? A useful reminded that security is not technical; it’s about thinking about where your data is, and how it is protected. In this case, my data was on an old disk, about to be sent to the scrap heap.

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