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Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to upgrade the SSD in your Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C or NP900X3B/C Ultrabook

-----UPDATE------
If you'd like to see some photos of ultrabook internals (including what the mSata form factor looks like), see some of my other posts:
http://uselesspuzzles.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-fix-lenovo-yoga-fan-noise.html
http://uselesspuzzles.blogspot.com/2012/03/13-ultrabook-with-8gb-ram.html
http://mobtechwatch.blogspot.com/2013/06/sony-vaio-pro-one-of-first-haswell.html
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I've had some folks ask me how to go about upgrading their storage capacity in their ultrabook.

The simplest answer is to buy a Dockbox, so you don't have to install anything to your machine or follow this guide (which is not necessarily for beginners :)

However, if you have some time, know-how, and $$, upgrading the SSD is definitely the best way to get more storage (at the fastest speed).

Here are the steps for doing it on the Samsung Series 9 (it will be pretty much the same for any ultrabook that uses the mSata form factor SSD. The Asus Zenbook Prime uses the Apple-style form factor).

1. Acquire the tools/supplies:
  • Download the clonezilla iso from here
  • get a 2+gB flash drive
  • follow this guide to make a bootable USB flash drive with the clonezilla file you downloaded
  • get an external drive or enclosure for your new SSD
  • get a new ssd
2. backup your existing drive
  • we need to boot to clonezilla. to do this, shut down your computer, and go to BIOS by turning it on and tapping f2 (or 'del' key in some cases) until you see a (likely) blue screen.
  • in BIOS, you will likely need to navigate to where you see 'boot options' or 'boot order' to enable USB boot and move it to the first in the list. The Samsung also requires you to DISABLE 'fast boot' (on another page) and I had to disable the SSD from the boot order list entirely by highlighting it and pressing shift+1 (shift key and the number 1)
  • now you can restart with the clonezilla USB stick in the machine, and it will boot to XBoot, where you can then select utilities->clonezilla. if you can't get to the XBoot screen, try using a different USB port or ensuring you have all the USB booting options enabled in BIOS. Also, make sure you created the USB stick properly ;)
  • clonezilla is pretty simple to use. after it loads, plug in your external drive and you will see some weird text when it 'sees' the drive. press enter and follow the on-screen instructions to make a backup image of your ssd to the external. you can choose beginner mode, and note you use the spacebar to select which drive is which (your external will be where you store the image, and the 'source drive' will be the 120gB Sandisk/Samsung SSD)
  • You can save yourself a few steps if instead of using an external drive you put your new SSD in an enclosure (effectively making it an external drive) and choosing the device->device option in clonezilla instead of device->image
3. install the new SSD & restore the image!
  • After clonezilla creates the image and saves it on your external, shut down the machine, unscrew the bottom panel and look at my photos for removing the insulation tape to get to the SSD. pop that sucker out and slap in your brand new one
  • Assemble, put the USB stick back in if you removed it, and this time do 'restore from image', obviously selecting the image file from your external as the source and the new SSD as the target
  • Undo whatever you changed in BIOS, remove the flash drive, and boot right back to where you left off, but with your new SSD!
If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them below!

-----UPDATE-----
Here are some photos for your reference:





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66 comments:

  1. i installed 16 gb of ddr3 1600 to a np900x4c with no problems and the system recognized it and its working great.
    Next plan to change the msata ssd.

    Regards and thanx for your blog post it reassured me that it was posible.

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    Replies
    1. Glad to hear it, thanks for the comment!

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    2. Hi, I've just bought a NP900X4C in Australia (it is labelled NP900X4C-A01AU). Belarc Advisor tells me the SSD is SAMSUNG MZMPC128HBFU-000 [Hard drive] (128.04 GB). The link you give to a new 256GB SSD is for a SanForce item. Is that likely to cause any problem...or should I try to source a Samsung 256GB SSD? If so, and ideas for a source?
      Many thanks.

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  2. hi, nice tutorial. just want to ask is the cpu on amsung Series 9 NP900X4C upgradeble. I am thinking maybe when haswell comes out, I can upgrade it myself.

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  3. Nice tutorial! But I can't boot clonezilla from an USB stick on my NP900X4C. After selecting an item from the grub menu it always stops with the "no mode found" error. I have updated the bios, tried various clonezilla versions and different USB sticks. Nothing works. Any ideas?

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    1. Thanks dizzy.

      1. Did you make sure to disable fast boot?
      2. Did you try all the USB ports? I forget which, but sometimes USB 3.0 ports don't like to boot (or it might be the 2.0 ones for this machine)
      3. Did you select the USB stick as boot device?
      4. What is the partition formatted as for the USB stick? It needs to be FAT or FAT32. Try a different guide for making a bootable USB stick
      5. Will another machine boot to the USB stick? this will help you narrow down the root of the problem

      GL!

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    2. Thanks, I did all of the above, and the two sticks (with FAT32) boot just fine on an Asus laptop. One without EFI support doesn't boot at all on the Samsung (hmmm OK I can understand that), but the one with EFI support just hangs after I select an any of the options in the grub menu (I actually do get to the menu!).

      Could you please let me know which version of clonezilla you have used? There are too many to try them all.

      I guess I have to take this to the clonezilla/grub guys, but I'm surprised that apparently some Samsungs work where mine doesn't. Either Samsung messed around with the bios in the mean time or there is something wrong my Samsung.

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    3. Do you have an SD card or anything in the other usb ports?

      I don't know which version of clonezilla I used, likely an old (2011) one, but it really should not matter!

      Just go through all the BIOS pages and make sure everything looks right - and make sure you try each USB port with nothing else plugged in :)

      Also, you can make sure it's booting to the proper device by tapping f12, I believe, to see a boot menu.

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    4. Hi Will and others,
      There's a problem here. My laptop is a Series 9 NP900X4C which I assumed is the one we're dealing with. I bought a Samsung 256GB drive and an external case for it, then I cloned to it...no problem. I then opened the computer to see that there's nothing there that's remotely like the case of the 256 GB drive I bought. It looks as though the 128GB of memory is much like the RAM memory...on RAM-style sticks. There's certainly no room even for the 7mm thick drives that Samsung uses for it's SSDs. I'll send a photo if anyone really wants one but I assure you there's no removable SSD inside my case.
      So...I now have an ultra-fast external drive!

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    5. Does it look like the thing that says Sandisk in the middle of this post:
      http://mobtechwatch.blogspot.com/2012/06/8gb-ram-samsung-series-9-np900x4c.html
      ?

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    6. Hi Will
      In that post there are three photos above a caption which says, "Be careful when removing the insulating tape - it wants to steal the Sandisk sticker." Look at the middle of those photos. What I have, when you remove the piece of tape, looks like two rows of those little blocks, no large solid blocks of SSD anywhere. I'll be happy to post a photo if you can tell me how.

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    7. Hi Will, coming back to the original thread...

      grub seems to have an issue with the graphics card in my Samsung. The problem is not that I can't boot from a USB stick, but the boot loader (grub) can't set a supported video mode which then causes it to stop. Apparently such problems are common with EFI, but why does it work with other NP900X4C???

      I couldn't solve this, but I'll take it to the Linux people. Maybe this is even fixed already, just not in the latest clonezilla.

      Anyway, if other people have the same problem with clonezilla try the easeus disk cloning tool (free for private use). It installed itself on USB and booted without problems into the GUI from USB stick. Now I have a working 256GB SSD :). Just need to sort out the partitions to make the space usable...

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    8. Sorby, did you buy an mSATA SSD? mSATA looks like the second picture at http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=6509 . Certainly not 7mmm thick.

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    9. The SSD I bought was a Samsung 830 series-in a very neat case. You can easily see a photo if you google for Samsung 830 Series 256 GB Internal SSD Serial ATA-600 2.5" (I actually paid $20 for confirmation that this was correct from a guy on the help site linked from within the Samsung support link to a "justanswer.com" site - probably a minor scam of sorts.)

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    10. yeah so you should get one that looks like the one I linked to in my post...

      http://www.mydigitaldiscount.com/mydigitalssd-256gb-smart-series-sata-iii-6g-sandforce-msata-ssd-mdms-sfiii-256/

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    11. Hi Will!
      Thanks for great post!
      I have the same problem as Sorby did (same laptop and samsung 830 series ssd). While this ssd is big, dissemblance makes it look rather small and suitable for upgrade ( according to these photos http://www.storagereview.com/samsung_ssd_830_review_256gb)
      Do you think it makes sence to take it apart and try to fit in in my laptop(Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C) ? Or it won't work anyway? Thanks!

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  4. Thanks Will. I'm away from home for two weeks without the needed screwdriver but there was definitely no Sandisk sticker like the one in your photo, and nothing I could see with the needed connector. I've just run Belarc Advisor and it tells me that the hard drive is: "SAMSUNG MZMPC128HBFU-000 [Hard drive] (128.04 GB) -- drive 0, s/n S0YLNEAC400015, rev CXM12K1Q, SMART Status: Healthy"
    I'll check again when I get home. Thanks heaps for your help.

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  5. Here's a photo of the back of my Samsung NP900X4C: https://picasaweb.google.com/rasadams/SamsungLaptopInsides?authkey=Gv1sRgCOynyaPGssWusAE
    Will...can you tell me where the SSD is? The item on the left of the fan looks much too small, but is that it? Maybe I'm assuming that the SanDisk SSD you refer to is much larger than it really is

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  6. OK thanks. That Sandisk "drive" must therefore be much smaller than I had thought. I'll risk getting one and see how it goes!! It might take a while as they seem to be out of stock. Many thanks. And hey...I was a grad student at U of M...stayed in Nakamura Co-op house way back in 1966-70.

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  7. Hi Will! Thanks alot for your instructions! :-)
    I need your advice about a very frustrating first step : How do you unscrew the bottom panel if a couple of screws are too tight?! The tiny screwdriver that I have is too small to apply extra force to. I ordered a tool with multiple size screwdriver heads, but this size was absent and I can't find one in local stores...I have bought the extra SDRAM and Hard Drive following you suggestions and I can't get them in!:-/ , Warmest greetings from France, Dimitri

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    1. Hi Dimitry
      Perhaps I can answer as I've just done the job. You really really must have the right sized philips head screwdriver, and often the right one is slightly larger than you would think. In Australia hardware stores have sets of small screwdrivers. Push hard and turn, making quite sure NOT to let it turn unless the screw is actually turning, otherwise you'll damage the screw. I found some were quite tight. If the worst comes to worst you might be able to get a cooperative jewellery store to start them all off for you, or maybe a computer repair shop--all they would have to do is loosen each screw. Cheers Sorby

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  8. Thank you so much Sorby! I'll follow your advice. Cheers! :-)

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  9. Hi,

    I think about getting the 900X4C A07 in Germany. It comes with a 256 SSD, but I need more than 256GB (preferably 512GB).

    1) Can you recommend any 512GB SSD for the 900X4C?
    2) Or is there another option to get more storage than 256GB, e.g. another sata slot inside the laptop?

    Any help is highly appreciated!

    Regards, Jan

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    Replies
    1. Definitely only one mSATA slot on board once opened, not sure which 512GB to recommend but another option for more space is to put a fast SD card into the slot like 128Gb or 256Gb that would give you more storage and use your 256GB mSATA for applications

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  10. There's definitely no extra slot inside the machine. I don't know of a 512 mSATA -- you could ask the people at the site recommended above for the 256 drive - I found them extremely helpful - well beyond the call of duty - when I had a problem. Meantime there are some high capacity USB 3 sticks around.

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  11. Hi

    Thank you so much for this guide had mine sorted in a no time, when opening the bottom just get your nails under the front end and slowly lift you will hear clicking and such but this is fine. Once you have restored the image you will see the new space unallocated, I unfortunately had the hibernation and samsung restore partition in between my C Drive and Unallocated so i just blew those two partitions away, the extended the partition, I now have 197Gb of free space. I turned off Hibernation too and if i need a restore i'll just use the image again. In fact i'll probably get the machine all configured with my software and make a new image. I brought a Crucial M4 256Gb and bladdy hell its quick!

    Thanks Again

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  12. Is it possible to install Nvidia card in this notebook ?

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  13. I cannot find the ssd in my laptop series 9 ultrabook (np900x4b). Please help! thanks.

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  14. Hi Andre,
    See my photos here
    https://picasaweb.google.com/rasadams/SamsungLaptopInsides?authkey=Gv1sRgCOynyaPGssWusAE#5798992207089820610
    I had the same problem, and it cost me dearly. The problem is that the drive photo you see when you follow the links at the top of this article don't show any scale so we assume a standard SATA-sized drive. However, it's mSATA which is seriously mini. It's top left, next to the cooling fan. The guy who sold me my upgrade 256 GB told me that the "heat sink" covering it isn't at all needed. That sticky item is a pain because it will lift off the label.
    Hope this helps

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  15. Hi Evgeny,

    I hope this gets to you as I can't see your post, emailed to me. Rest assured that a mSATA is MUCH smaller than the Samsung 830 -- no wider than the connectors. Look at the disassembled photo of the Samsung 830 drive -- it's wider than the connectors.

    It cost me dearly--I now have an external SSD with that drive and bought a separate mSATA drive for my laptop.

    Just put it down to experience...and to misleading photos!! :)

    Best wishes
    Sorby

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  16. great pictures. I just bought the 15" and am so dissapointed with the screen. I adjusting the gamma etc like you and its better but just so washed out compared to the 13.3". I also got the Sandisk in my 15". Its going back.

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  18. I used dd to make bootable usb-stick in linux:

    dd if=clonezilla.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=20M

    (X is the disk drive letter in your system)

    First I used ntfs-formatted usb disk drive as a backup device. After backup process finished, I checked the folder I had used, Windows 8 couldn't open it. Then I connected the usb disk to my linux pc and the whole folder seemed to be gone!

    I tried again, with fat32 formatted usb disk, and everything seems good. I can see all the files in the folder, like it should be. I haven't yet tried to restore this image, so I'm not sure how it will work...

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  19. ultrabook that uses the mSata form factor SSD. linux or windows that matters???

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  20. 1. How do I know which SSDs will fit this laptop? (Not just connection-wise but in size too, since the laptop's very thin)

    2. If I don't mind losing everything (i.e. I'll just install a new OS after changing the SSD) do I still need to use clonezilla? Does it clone more than just the OS files and your documents?

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    Replies
    1. Hi donrhummy. By now you've probably done it but I found the clonezilla instructions confusing. Macrium Reflect does the job perfectly and I'm pretty sure the free version is all you'll need. You'll also need a mSATA drive (very small--see my photos above). Yes, it will clone everything--the whole disk. It's much easier if you get an external USB case that will hold a mSATA drive, or a connecting USB cable to go from a mSATA drive to USB.

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  21. I have an np900x3c ao1
    I have yet to open it
    Has anyone upgraded the ram to it?
    And what kind of SSD do I need exactly to upgrade this because I bought a 512gb SSD 2.5 but it was to think to fit in there.
    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi fedism,
      Yours is the 13". I have the 15" (4c). I haven't needed to touch the RAM as it's fine but I have upgraded the SSD from 128 to 256. Please see all the blogs above, including the link to my photos. You'll need a mSATA drive which is very small. Good luck!

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  23. Warning: 480GB SSDs don't fit in the Samsung Series 9 NP900X3C-A05US!
    Inspired by this post I decided to purchase a VisionTek 480GB mSATA SSD for my NP900X3C-A05US (13 inch) and lo and behold, the drive is too thick for the space. I did manage to fit it by force, but it pops another card that is placed right on top of the SSD slot.
    Bottomline: At least for this Samsung model, stick to SSD drives that don't have daughter PCBs (apparently all 480GB SSDs currently have two PCBs), just one PCB (probably most 256GB and smaller SSDs have just one, but check). My 480GB SSD is about 4.8mm thick. An SSD that will fit should be about 3mm thick. (Here are some comments about mother-daughter PCBs and thickness: http://thessdreview.com/our-reviews/mushkin-atlas-ssd-review-480gb-performance-meets-capacity-in-the-ultra-world/ )

    Here are the pictures:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/116343055849859813114/Samsung#5904574611154838482

    https://picasaweb.google.com/116343055849859813114/Samsung#5904574619867451634

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have the Series 9 too. Down to 28.8 GB of my 128GB drive. Thinking of upgrade. Can I send the laptop into Samsung for an upgrade instead of doing it myself. How difficult is this upgrade compared to a regular sized notebook, which I have worked with? Are any of the parts tamper proofed with epoxy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Johnny G., I've no idea whether Samsung will do it for you but if you follow the instructions above it's easy enough. No, there's no epoxy. There's a heavy heat-sink style sticker on the existing hard drive that I was told by the supplier of my mSATA drive isn't needed. The catches are (a) getting hold of a 256G mSATA drive (it's tiny-see photos above) and also getting hold of the USB connector so that you can plug the mSATA drive in and clone your existing drive to it in one step. All you do then is swap the drives. There's one more step -- you may have to go into Disk Management to make sure the drive you're cloning to is allocated as C drive. You might need a knowledgeable friend or techie to help with this last step but if all goes pear-shaped it's easy enough to put your original drive back.

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  26. Two questions:

    1. If I don't care about the data on the existing SSD, do I still need to follow the cloning steps? Or can I just put in the new SSD and install linux from a USB stick on it?

    2. How do I know if an SSD is compatible with this laptop?

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    Replies
    1. it just needs to be an msata card like the one i linked to in step 1 - msata is the much smaller (looks like mini pcie) form factor

      no you don't need to clone it if you want to install linux but you may need to restart usind 'advanced startup options' in windows 8 and disable uefi so you can get to the bios menu

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    2. Thanks. I already put Linux on the laptop so I disabled UEFI and turned off fast boot so I could install via USB. I was just wondering if I needed to do any cloning to change out the HD.

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  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  28. Oh yuk! People are starting to use this blog for sneaky advertising. What a shame! I'm unsubscribing--I think it's reached the end of its life anyway.

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  29. Hi All, I have an NP900X4C-A01 UK. I have read all of the posts above and was just wondering if the installing of a 256SSD is also possible for my version of the laptop? I phoned the Dutch customer service of Samsung (as I live in NL) and they said that it is not possible for this model. Was this only the 'formal' answer (meaning it will vacate my warranty) or is it really not possible?

    Thanks a lot!

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    Replies
    1. My guess is that you have received a 'formal' reply. If yours looks like the photos I've given above (https://picasaweb.google.com/rasadams/SamsungLaptopInsides?authkey=Gv1sRgCOynyaPGssWusAE) I don't see why it wouldn't be possible. Take a look inside (doing so may void the warranty). Check that it's a tiny mSATA drive. You lift off the sticky protector and take out one screw. The drive pops up for easy removal.

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    2. all of these machines use an msata ssd that can be upgraded.

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  30. First, thank you very much indeed Will for this excellent article on how to upgrade your hard drive.
    I noticed that a few people had issues getting their USB drive to be recognised as a boot drive. I had the same problem (Window 7 Home Premium user). The solution for me was to follow the instructions below.
    Download the Clonezilla Live zip file.
    2. If you already have a partition of at least 200 MB in size on your USB flash drive formatted with a FAT file system then skip to the next step (3).
    Otherwise create at least a 200 MB partition on your USB flash drive and format it with a FAT16 or FAT32 file system.
    3. Extract all the contents of the zip file to FAT16/FAT32 partition on your USB flash drive. Keep the directory architecture, for example, file "GPL" should be in the USB flash drive's top directory (e.g. G:\GPL).
    4. Browse to your USB flash drive and as an administrator, click the makeboot.bat in the dir utils\win32\. WARNING! Makeboot.bat must be run from your USB flash drive.
    5. Follow the on-screen instructions.
    (PS: The above description is modified from: http://www.pendrivelinux.com/2007/01/02/all-in-one-usb-dsl. Thanks to PDLA from http://pendrivelinux.com)

    This info along with Mr. Stone's instructions regarding BIOS mods got me a bootable USB drive and from there it was 'Bob's yer Uncle'.

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  31. My own comment is that I, personally, found Clonezilla to be difficult to deal with. I used Macrium Reflect's clone routine which worked perfectly. At the end I had to launch Disk Manager to assign a letter to the new drive, but that was the only hitch in an otherwise totally painless process.

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  32. Just came across, awesome..used it step by step for this exact PC and for this exact reason. Many thanks

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  33. Only problem I came across was I had to drill 3 of the 10 screws because there was absolutely NO WAY they were coming out. Still worked. Awesome article.

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  34. hey Will, I followed the steps and my new 240gb Crucial m500 is in my series 9 but the system still seems to think I have the same amount of free space than before...is this because I need to set up a partition? I had about 8gb of free space and it's still the same currently.

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    1. That's exactly right - you need to open Windows' partition manager (It's preinstalled with windows) and choose to expand your C partition.

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  35. Hello, I have a Samsung Ultrabook 9. How can I find a qualified technician to give me a bigger hard drive? I live in Scottsdale, AZ. Thank you.

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  36. Did anyone successfully upgraded to SAMSUNG 840 EVO MZ-MTE1T0BW with this computer?
    I would love to get 1TB but scared about compatibility.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. This guy seems to have tested it with an NP900X4C, so I guess it should work.
      http://www.notebookreview.com/review/msata-ssd-review-crucial-480gb-m500-vs-samsung-1tb-840-evo/

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  37. hi

    I am having trouble creating the clonezilla USB stick

    following the instructions I downloaded and extracted the clonezilla stable releases - 2.2.3-25. also downloaded the xboot software and tried to follow the instructions to get the clonezilla on the xboot to create a boot drive. on the lik provided here (http://www.pendrivelinux.com/xboot-multiboot-iso-usb-creator/#more-5755) on line two step (1) it says to “Drag and drop some ISOs into the XBOOT window “. I tried to drag n drop the clonezilla files that I downloaded/extracted but it wouldn’t do it and I don’t know where to go from here.

    I would really appreciate anyone who could guide me through this process.

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  38. I've just upgraded my NP900X4C (running Windows 7 64-bit) with a Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD. I used Samsung Data Migration tool and the process was quite easy and everything is working fine. I have one small issue that has been bugging me. When I close the lid and leave it for a few hours, instead of using Samsung's Fast Boot it is doing a normal Windows Sleep resume. I've checked the Samsung Fast Boot settings to make sure its on but I can't seem to find what exactly is causing it. This definitely started after I changed my old SSD to the new one.

    Any ideas how can I fix this?

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    1. Hi Eco, I found some strange interactions among the Easy Settings. For example, if Eco Mode is on WiFi must be manually re-connected after sleep. I've also found different sleep behaviour depending on whether power is plugged in or not. Give all the Easy Settings a try--I wouldn't be surprised if there's some interaction there that's the cause.
      Cheers

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