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Solved: Replacing a laptop hard drive with a compact flash

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Hey everyone,

I wanted to know how to go about replacing a laptop hard drive with a compact flash and adapter.

I heard I can replace it with a compact flash and use a CF to IDE adapter. I saw a couple of items on Amazon, but their pins don't seem to be correct for my laptop.

The laptop is a Dell Inspiron 8200. The hard drive is a Hitachi Travelstar, ATA/IDE. The pins on the hard drive have a cover that sits over them and plugs into the laptop (internally), so the pins don't directly connect to the laptop.

Also, the BIOS is really old, so it can't boot from a USB flash drive, if that makes a difference.

Thanks in advance for any help/advice.
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I have a CF to 2.5 IDE adapter that does what it says on the tin. However you will likely still need the 2.5 adapter for your laptop as well.

USB abilities have nothing to do with CF to IDE.
Thank you for the reply.

The cover that sits on the pins is a Foxconn IDE connector for Dell.

Looking at the product pages for the CF to IDE adapter, I don't see how this would fit.
Someone recommended I try either this or this (both are CF to 44-pin IDE converters).

They don't seem like they would work with the adapter. I'm guessing the side with the smaller pins is where the compact flash would connect. I don't see how the other pins would fit into this adapter.

Thanks again for the help. I just want to make sure I know I'm getting the right parts.
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It does with either of the two CF to 2.5 IDE adapters shown. I have a Dell and all those bits and all work as designed.
Thanks again.

Are there any other parts I would need?
It does with either of the two CF to 2.5 IDE adapters shown. I have a Dell and all those bits and all work as designed.
I don't doubt you, hence the *


- You'll need a fast enough CF card
- You'll need a large enough card, storage space wise, to install your OS
- Your card will take a beating with repeated writes
- if the card or the adapter are even recognised

I've also used CF cards in place of hard drives for some projects I've done years ago.

Don't get your hopes up. A used IDE drive at a local shop or even eBay will give you less headaches.
I didn't say that I recommend it - for the reasons you give.
I have a 32Gb 600X card which I was interested in seeing if it could be used like a SSD (which it should). The cards controller handles resource levelling. I wanted to try using it as a super fast boot drive.
My machine isn't new/fast enough to justify the speed. Also even though access is fast, writes are still painfully slow.
I wonder whether that is really a problem with SSDs or whether they put an unusually large buffer in there to hide it. ;)

As a secondary justification I have a client that uses tiny disks in their hardware devices that can't draw much power, but use XP. I was hoping to be able to use CF cards instead.

My conclusion was that they are superb in cases where they are are used purely as read only.
Thank you both for the input, and pointing out the drawbacks of CF.

I will probably still go that route since in the short run, it's more affordable.

Most of the hard drives I've looked at are large-capacity, and I've read that the laptop I have can't handle large capacity hard drives.

I found some instructions for replacing the hard drive with CF and adapter. According to that guy, one of the pins will have to be removed from the adapter to fit Dell's proprietary IDE connector. I take it from his experience that with minor adaptation, the pins do fit. That was my main concern.

Thanks again for the advice.
Dell's adapter sometimes needs a pin removing from ANY 2.5in drive. It is a pin which is missing from many 2.5 drives, but not all. A simple snip with a pair of wire cutters is all that is needed - but do double and multiple check that you snip the correct one.
I'm interested in the results.

I'm sure you'll be back to let us know how this all went.
FWIW I managed to install and run BartPE on an SD card in an SD to IDE adapter which I am using in a Digital Photo Frame. But I couldn't get XP to install, I think the card was too slow, the install kept crashing in the text mode file copying stage.

I have read that CF cards in CF to IDE adapters are more like real IDE hard drives compared to SD cards in IDE adapters so you may be able to install XP on one.
I haven't used SATA adapters though so I don't know how they perform with SD or CF cards.

@DaveBurnett : Real SSD drives are fast at both writing and reading, you would not see Reads slowing down, just the opposite, they would speed up compared to a mechanical hard drive.
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