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How To Upgrade the SSD In Your Windows 8 Tablet

Updated on August 18, 2012

I Need My Space

If you have a tablet with a Solid State drive (SSD), and like me you have already filled it up or it was too small to begin with, you might be thinking about upgrading it to a larger drive. After all, SSD cards have become really reasonably priced these days, and replacing the SSD doesn't seem like that big a deal, that is if you can figure out how to get the case open on your tablet. This is what I was thinking when I decided that the SSD on my Windows 8 tablet was just too small. Actually, I was trying to upgrade the Windows 8 O/S from the pre-release to the RTM version when the computer complained that there was not enough free space on the drive to allow the upgrade. It was then that I decided that I needed more drive space on my tablet.

Gathering the Tools

To pull off this little trick, I figured there were a few things that I would need.

1) A larger SSD that would fit into my tablet. In my case, my SSD is of the mSATA variety. There are also Micro-SATA and other formats so make sure you find out which one you need before you order. I opted for a RunCore RCP-V-T501B-MC, which is a great SSD, very fast, with a good warranty and 120GB of space.

2) The right tools to open my tablet up. Opening most tablets involves a bit of delicate surgery. My tablet is an Acer W500 and is a clamshell design held together by little tiny plastic tabs that break really easily. It requires a tool called a spudger to open it up. (I am not kidding). So I went over to Radio Shack and bought a mobile phone toolkit with two spudgers and a couple of screwdrivers in it.

3) An external USB SSD enclosure. This is where you will put your new SSD to format it and make it bootable prior to installing it into your tablet. I chose the BlacX ThermalTake enclosure from BestBuy. I like it because it will hold all kinds of hard drives and SSD drives, so I can use it for other hacking tasks.

4) A SATA to mSATA adapter so that you can put the mSATA drive into the BlacX enclosure. The RunCore SSD comes with an adapter, but if you choose another brand you might need to buy your own adapter.

You will also want a clean working surface that does not make static electricity when you work on it. I use a wooden desk and printer paper to protect my tablet screen.

Gettin' Her Done

Full disclosure: This process took me two days because I kept making errors and false starts. Hopefully, my mistakes will save you time.

1) Unpack your new SSS, mount it into the mSATA to SATA adapter, and put that whole thing into the USB enclosure.

2) Plug the USB enclosure into your existing tablet.

3) Format the SSD (You could also clone your new SSD from your existing SSD if you purchase cloning software that can make a bootable drive from an existing drive). To format the SSD
a) Open a command prompt on the tablet
b) type DISKPART (press enter after each of these steps)
c) type List Disk
d) type select disk x (where x is the disk listed in step c that you wish to format)
e) type clean
f) type create partition primary
g) type select partition 1
h) type active
i) type format fs=ntfs
This will take a good while to complete if the drive is large, so go get coffee now and come back.
j) type assign
k) type exit

4) Now from the same command prompt, type bootsect /nt60 x: where x is the drive letter of the new drive. (You have to be logged in as an administrator to do this)

5) Now you are ready to install your new drive. Crack your tablet case open using the spudger tool. This usually involves gently prying the cover apart with the spudger using a gentle touch. If in doubt of how to open your case, search the Interwebs for a YouTube video or Bing it or something. There is lots of guidance out there that will keep you from damaging your case.

6) Locate your old SSD and remove the screw or screws holding it in. If there is protective foil or tape over the SSD, preserve that stuff and put it on the new drive.

7) Remove the old drive by sliding it out of the socket and slide the new drive into the socket. Now reverse the procedure, screw the new drive in and close the case.

8) Now you are ready to install a new O/S on your new drive. In the case of Windows 8 (pre-release), this means downloading the O/S onto a USB drive using this guidance.

Good luck!


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