Taking Apart Your Notebook
To start off the upgrade guide we will show how to open up one of the least user-friendly notebooks on the market. The HP ProBook 4720s is designed for the small and medium business segment, where all upgrades are done at the time of initial purchase or by the IT department. For the end-users this isn't a problem since most repairs or upgrades are handled by the company. For a basic consumer though this means you almost need to completely disassemble the notebook to get access to any parts of the notebook. The ProBook 4720s isn't the only laptop like this, but it serves as a good example of what you might have to do with your old PC.
As you can see from the picture above, to swap out the hard drive for something faster like an SSD, we had to remove numerous screws, the upper keyboard bezel, the keyboard, and the touchpad. Once those were out of the way we were left with three remaining hard drive retention screws. Thankfully, not all notebooks are this difficult to upgrade.
From the outside the Dell Inspiron 11z looks like it might be another difficult notebook to tackle but it's actually very simple once you know which screws to go for. The Inspiron 11z has no access panels on the bottom of the notebook, instead the keyboard acts as a huge panel itself. By taking out the three screws circled the keyboard can be carefully lifted up from the top edge.
It is held in with a ribbon cable, but if you are careful you can swap out the system memory, hard drive, and WWAN card without disconnecting it. One thing to be aware of when upgrading any netbook is most only offer one RAM slot, so plan accordingly. An upgrade to 2GB or 4GB would require a single 2GB or 4GB stick of ram respectively, which can be pricey.
The Dell Latitude D630 is a slightly older business notebook but still has its own unique way of accessing internal components. The hard drive is simple to get at from the bottom; one screw and it slides out. One of the memory slots is also located on the bottom through a single access panel. To get at the wireless cards or other system memory slot though you need to take off the keyboard trim and lift off the keyboard.
The first step is carefully popping up the keyboard trim with a flathead screwdriver, getting the right tab up first, and slowly working it back and forth to release the plastic tabs. Once you get that part off you will find three screws holding the keyboard in place. Remove them, slide the keyboard forward and it pops out entirely. Be mindful of the thin ribbon cable connecting the keyboard to the notebook, and you should be able to perform any upgrade without having to disconnect it.
How To Upgrade Your OS or Swap Hard Drives: Handling the Software Migration
Simple upgrades like installing more system memory are usually painless: You can turn the system on immediately after the upgrade as if nothing changed. If you plan on upgrading your hard drive to a faster model or to an SSD, plan on either reinstalling the operating system or using software like Acronis True Image to migrate data from your old drive to the new drive. Some SSD Upgrade kits will include this type of software with an external enclosure to make the process as easy as possible. Kingston offers these types of kits--as well as other manufacturers-for a slight bump in price over the drive by itself.
Upgrading your notebook doesn't have to be a complicated process. Even the most "difficult" notebooks can be handled by a patient user with a screwdriver or two. Handling the upgrade yourself can keep costs down significantly, since most Geek Squad type services might double or triple the cost of a hard drive swap or memory install when you add in labor or data migration fees. If you run into any problems the internet as a whole is a great place to go for advice. Our discussion forums have thousands of helpful and willing users who have probably run into similar problems and would be more than willing to lend a hand.
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