Replacing Laptop Hard Drive / OS


Dec 6, 2012
My problem is that my friends Dell laptop is low on space and literally says 0 room. He said that his Windows 7 randomly started saying that it isn't genuine but he has had it for a couple years or something and it only recently started saying this. As I looked through his laptop, that's when I noticed he has absolutely no space. After I cleared out like 8-10 GB, something was eating up the room again. I was using spacesniffer to see what was happening and it seemed like the area under winsxs kept taking up room. Would any of this effect it saying genuine? It keeps trying to windows update but doesn't complete and it's a pain. All I know is that his laptop is a Dell and has an i3 at 2.2 - 2.4 ghz, forgot what it said exactly.

Well, all that aside, he doesn't have much room on his hard drive even if it was empty and I want to replace it. I'm wondering how to go about this. Is replacing a hard drive on a laptop with a clean install the same as a desktop? Swap it, go through the partitions/bios/OS screens real quick or is there something weird I should look out for? Also Is there a way for me to use the current Windows 7 that he has. He has a product key thingy on the sticker on the bottom of his laptop for his OS. I have a copy of Windows 7 Home that I used for making my desktop. My idea I had in mind is transferring some of his files to a USB flash drive and then just swapping the hard drive with a new hard drive and using my Window 7 disk and his product key. Or do I need a whole new Windows 7 product key? I heard people talk about contacting customer service when using their product key when using a new hard drive/making a new pc and they allowed them to. Wondering if that would work for a laptop as well.

Your thoughts?

Thanks for the help~


Sep 13, 2010
Since it is a Dell he has an OEM license and he is allowed to replace the HDD. The easiest way to do that is to download the iso image of the same version of Windows 7 that he uses now from DIGITAL RIVER, burn to DVD and install.

Most of the time you can do an online activation, but sometimes you have to do a phone activation, which is no big deal -- the MS people are pretty helpful on this sort of thing. If you don't see the sticker with the key on his laptop, look in the battery compartment, as Dell often puts it there.

Of course you need to download all the drivers from Dell support -- enter his service tag number on the Dell support site so it will show you his exact parts. Changing Dell hard drives is very easy, and for most models Dell has good service manuals to download.

Just make sure that the first step you do is to remove the laptop battery before doing any work on the laptop.


Mar 2, 2013
Swapping out the HDD is just like on a desktop. If your friend has a DVD writer in the laptop, you could use backup and restore to create custom recover discs. The way you propose really should work as long as they are the same type of Windows 7(Home Premium, Pro..ect...). I know that when you digitally buy Windows 7 you are doing exactly as you say, just purchasing a key. For example netbooks often use this method.
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