1. Shall I buy an external hard drive and put all my stuff in it thereby freeing the space on my laptop OR replace my existing HD and reinstall the OS?
2. I have never installed/reinstalled the OS on a laptop and have no idea how to do it ( had the OS and other essential softwares installed on my laptop when I had bought it).
1. You could use an external hdd with the operating system installed on it. Your BIOS should be new enough that booting from a USB device is listed as one of the boot options. The problem here is that your portable computer will no longer be so portable. Another drawback is the fact that unless you purchase an external hdd with its own power supply it will be powered through the USB port. This means that if you are running on the battery alone it will decrease the length a charge will last. A internal hdd is the best way to go. Installing one is very straight forward. You can watch a video of this being done here.
2. You will need the installation disc to install Windows 7 on your new hdd. Dell is pretty good about giving their patrons a free installation and drivers discs. Just call them and explain that your hdd has failed and that you need the discs to install the operating system on you new hdd. When you are ready to do the installation, let me know and I will provide you with a good tutorial.
To confirm that your hdd is failing please use Seagate's diagnostic tool SeaTools for Windows.
When the website opens scroll down till you find the I Accept button and click on it.
If you scroll down below this button you will find instruction for installing this.
Once you install this program you will see an image similar to the one below.
1. SeaTools for Windows will search for hdds on your computer. Please remove any external storage devices connected via USB port.
2. Detected Drives will list the hdd/s found. Place a check mark in the drive you want to run the scan on.
3. You will see Basic Tests above Detected Drives, move the mouse pointer over this.
4. A menu will open with options for different scans, please click on Long Generic Test
5. This will start the scan. When the scan is complete you will see the result under Test Status , please post the results in your topic.
6. When the scan is complete you will see Test results, post the status. If it is green it has passed the scan.
7. Click on Help, then click on View Log File. If the scan failed take a screen shot of the Log File and post it in your topic.
Edited by hamluis, 17 August 2015 - 11:34 AM.