New Tablet PC hard disk and using RIS

My 3 year old Acer TravelMate 100 TabletPC hard disk (20G) was dying. It has served me well as a portable machine. I love the tablet features and the small size. It was one of the original prototype tablets that I started using about 6 months before TabletPCs were available publicly. Recently, the disk was periodically resetting itself, possibly due to sector failures. I tried using chkdsk /f to map out failed sectors (I’m not sure if it can deal with hard sector failure), but it didn’t seem to help much.


About 23 years ago I wrote a program that would read the File Allocation Table (FAT) of a floppy or hard disk. It could read the directory structures and display the fragmentation. I think it was dBase III that had a copy protection scheme that would record on which sectors it was installed and only work if it lived on those sectors. I didn’t like this scheme because it didn’t allow me to defragment my disk, so I used my program to help get around it.


So I bought a 60 gig replacement online for about $90. “Hitachi Travelstar 4K80 – 60GB 2.5″, 4200RPM IC25N060ATMR04 – 08K0634”

I was a little worried that the disk may not be physically or electronically compatible. Physically they looked the same, although one was Hitachi and the other IBM. I understand that most notebooks can use any generic notebook hard disk. The rotation speed was the same, but the capacity was tripled. Removing the old was fairly simple: make sure it was shut down and unplugged, remove the battery, remove a single screw, and pull the drive out. There was a thin metal sheath around the IBM that I just removed (1 more screw) and put on the new Hitachi. There was also a connector adapter that converted the male 44 pin connector to female, which was easily transferred. After reversing the steps, I turned on the machine, went into BIOS setup and was immediately relieved to see that the drive was recognized by the BIOS. I changed the boot sequence to network and installed Windows XP Tablet PC edition over our corporate network using RIS (Remote OS Installation). Wow, that is *so* much more convenient than using floppies or CDs! I just answered a few questions and let it go. After about an hour, Windows and Office were set up for me. I visited the Acer web site to download a couple drivers and things seem to be working just fine!


I’m not sure if RIS is available outside Microsoft (I believe it’s internal only, although I believe SMS can help similarly: can somebody confirm? Thanks) but it’s a *very* convenient way to set up a machine.







Comments (6)

  1. Mike says:

    RIS is a part of Windows Server so anyone that has a server with Windows can use RIS. The only problem with RIS is that it erases everyting on the hard disk.

  2. I guess the reasons behind buying a tablet just continue to mount. No seriously, there are some interesting points within this article….

  3. Luke says:

    RIS is indeed part of Windows Server 2000 and 2003 and VERY cool, but there are some limitations – not least of which is that "image" based installs of Windows + Office tend not to work.

    This is easily resolved once you know the magic trick is reset all registry values to use long names not shortnames.

  4. Greg says:

    This excellent. My Acer 102 TabletPC hard disk just died and was thinking about buying new one. Acer Repair Center here in Sydney quote me today $AUS290 for 20Gb replacement. I can get 60Gb 5K rpm for about $AUS120. Wasn’t sure if it’s a standard 2.5" hard disk thought and funny enough can’t get answer from Acer. So I did Google search ‘acer travelmate tablet pc hard disk’ and your blog came up. Thanks! I’m ordering new HD today. Interesting comment about RIS. I shall try – don’t know exactly how but will find out. I had TabletPC in repair 3 times over the last 3yrs and had to image it every time. The problem is that original CDs are old and then OS downloads all patches including 100Mb SP2. Takes ages. I got MSDN and latest TabletPC OS so network installation would save so much efforts. Somehow that never came to my mind … too much work I guess. Thanks for sharing your experience!