Solved Storing software on external hard drives

March 4, 2020 at 08:11:47
Specs: Windows 10 Home, Celeron
I own an inexpensive laptop with only 64GB hard drive capacity. Windows 10 uses almost all the 64 GB, leaving virtually no room for installing software. The hard drive cannot be replaced with a larger one.
Can external hard drives (like WD MyPassport drives) be used to store programs? Or they are supposed to be used only for data storage?

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March 4, 2020 at 11:12:51
The designation Inspiron 3000 covers a large range of computers which have been around for a few years now. Earlier models came with asd little as 32GB solid-state storage (bear in mind that solid-state storage was fairly expensive a few years back), so 64GB sounds right. And I'm sure, as the OP says, that it is in the form of chips soldered to the motherboard.

To answer the question asked, as long as the software allows you to choose the install directory (which almost all does) there is no problem installing software to an external drive. The only caveat is that load times will be appreciably slower. If your computer has USB 3 ports you should use a matching drive. But even with a USB 2 drive you should have no problem running software from it.

March 4, 2020 at 08:45:40
The hard drive cannot be replaced with a larger one.

Can you expand on that information?

What make/model is this computer; and what type of drive is installed?

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March 4, 2020 at 09:18:02
The laptop is a Dell Inspiron 3000 14" screen (internal designation in Dell is 3180)

I believe that the hard drive is a solid state hard drive that is soldered to the motherboard and that is the reason why it cannot be replaced with a larger one

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March 4, 2020 at 10:00:16
Are you "sure" the SSD is only 64GB? The specs for the Inspiron 3000 series start with a 128GB?

Similarly are you sure you have an SSD not an HDD?

This is the manual for your series laptop; and page 40 is the replacing the hard drive section...

message edited by trvlr

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March 4, 2020 at 11:12:51
✔ Best Answer
The designation Inspiron 3000 covers a large range of computers which have been around for a few years now. Earlier models came with asd little as 32GB solid-state storage (bear in mind that solid-state storage was fairly expensive a few years back), so 64GB sounds right. And I'm sure, as the OP says, that it is in the form of chips soldered to the motherboard.

To answer the question asked, as long as the software allows you to choose the install directory (which almost all does) there is no problem installing software to an external drive. The only caveat is that load times will be appreciably slower. If your computer has USB 3 ports you should use a matching drive. But even with a USB 2 drive you should have no problem running software from it.

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March 4, 2020 at 12:33:00
Following is an extract of the specifications of my laptop (3180):


Screen size

Screen resolution
1366x768 pixels HD (entry-level sharpness)


Other display specs
TN display tech (narrower viewing angles than IPS)

Anti-glare coating

Processor (CPU)
AMD A6-9220e (able to complete everyday tasks, but can be sluggish)

AMD E2-9000e (very basic chip for lightest computing)

Graphics (GPU)
AMD Radeon R2 integrated graphics (for the lightest games only)

AMD Radeon R4 integrated graphics (for the lightest games only)

System memory (RAM) size
4GB (for light multi-tasking)

Data storage
32GB eMMC (barely usable capacity)


On the last line of the specs you can see that the capacity is 32 GB, not even 64 GB.

Going back to my original question, could the programs be stored on an external device as MyPassport or some other external hard drive?


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March 4, 2020 at 12:42:36
Yes. As I said in my previous post, no problem.

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March 4, 2020 at 12:47:59
Thanks, ijack. I was replying to the post of trvlr and I did not see your post.

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March 4, 2020 at 13:44:30
I suggest you do more research. The SSD in your Dell appears to be upgradable.

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March 4, 2020 at 14:02:20
Login to crucial and let it run its safe to run upgrade utility.

But also double check what drive you have by running something like Belarc Advisor or Sisandra?

Even the win-10 system hardware info ought to say exactly what type (make and model) drive you have installed

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March 4, 2020 at 14:02:54
It seems that the only way to upgrade the internal storage would be to remove the WiFi card, That would mean adding a USB wireless adaptor, and the upgrade options are still limited.

I would say that the OP's idea of using an external drive, especially if they already have one, is a more sensible option.

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March 4, 2020 at 15:33:56
There's also the option to run Portable Apps from a flash drive. Depending on what you need, they may fit the bill without having to upgrade the SSD or installing to anything more than a flash drive:

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

message edited by T-R-A

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March 4, 2020 at 15:36:21
We're not getting the exact model number. Even the specs posted in response #5 are somewhat generic, listing 2 possible CPUs. Probably got it from here:

Another alternative is mentioned in that article - "you can expand storage space by using laptop’s built-in microSD media card reader"

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March 4, 2020 at 15:50:36
A system hardware profile would give details of both RAM and the hard drive - be the latter SSD or a bog standard HDD.

The Crucial scanner will provide both, as will Belarc etc., and even the windows device manager ought to cough up that info.?

If it is an SSD for certain, then yes external storage - whichever type - is the only option...

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March 4, 2020 at 19:16:14
As requested, I provide more information on my laptop:

Inspiron 3180
Processor: AMD E2-9000e RADEON R2, 4 COMPUTE CORES 2C+2G 1.50GHz
Installed RAM: 4.00GB (3.88 GB usable)
System Type: 64 bit operating system, x-64 based processor
Local storage: (C:) - 29.1 GB, 25.5 GB used, 3.60 GB free

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March 5, 2020 at 06:42:10
None of the above information includes the specifics of the hard drive installed; only the capacity - not the actual make/model.

Follow the routine here:

Which outlines how to use windows-10 utilities to see what's what in the computer; and thus you ought to be able to see exactly what make/model (type number etc.) is installed.

With that information it will be easy to see what type of drive is present; be it SSD or HDD.

The other way, besides running Belarc Advisor or SisandraSoft...., is simply to remove the base cover of the laptop and have a look-see; the drive details ought to be clearly visible once the base cover is removed?

Personally I start with win-10 approach as in first link; then run Belarc and Sisandra soft. All three approaches are free and give a complete picture of what's in the computer - and the other two will include software keys etc...

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March 5, 2020 at 15:59:23

I was able to do win-10 and Belarc. The following link give access to 3 files:

1. win-10 output
2. Belarc output
3. What I found online about the drive listed in both win-10 and Belarc outputs

I was not able to complete the download of Sisandra. I'll try again later.
As far as opening the laptop, could you please provide a link to instructions? I have worked on desktops, but not on laptops and I want to make sure that I don't damage anything.

Thanks to you and the other contributors for the help.

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March 5, 2020 at 18:49:05
Following is the information provided by Sisandra on my drive.

To summarize it is a Dell SSD (31.3GB, SATA 300, 4MB Cache).
It should be removable, according to Sisandra, see below (boldface).

SiSoftware Sandra

SCSI General Properties
Controller : 0
Bus : 1
Target ID : 0
Logical Unit No. : 0

General Capabilities
Model : Dell WR202KD032G E70245F5
Revision : 450100
Serial Number : 0P7220DKG2**********

General Capabilities
Channel : Slave
Type : ATA
Interface : SATA
Removable : Yes
Model : Dell WR202KD032G E70245F5
Revision : 450100
Serial Number : P02702KD2G**********
ATA/ATAPI Version : 9.26
Cache Size : 4MB
SSD : Yes

Drive Geometry
CHS Geometry : 16383 x 16 x 63
CHS Total Sectors : 16514064
LBA Total Sectors : 61071360
Capacity : 29.12GB

NCQ - Native Command Queuing : No
NQP - NCQ Priority : No
NQS - NCQ Streaming : No
NQM - NCQ Queue Management : No
PEC - Physical Event Counters : No
HIPM - Host Initiated Power Management : Yes
DIPM - Device Initiated Power Management : Yes, Disabled
TRIM - Erase Deleted Data Blocks : Yes
DevSlp - Ultra Low Power Device Sleep : No
LBA Support : Yes

S.M.A.R.T Support : Yes, Enabled
Security Support : Yes, Disabled
Power Management Support : Yes, Enabled
ACPI Power Management : No
Power-up in Standby : No
Packet Command Interface : No
Removable Media : No
Look-Ahead Buffer : No
Write-Back Cache : Yes, Enabled
Host Protect Area : Yes, Disabled
Microcode Update : No
Acoustic Management : No
48-bit LBA : Yes
Device Config Overlay : No

Transfer Modes Support
Block Size : 1
Maximum SATA Mode : G2 / SATA300

Transfer Modes Active
Current Block Transfer : 1

Security Support : Yes, Disabled
Security Locking : Yes, Disabled
EHE - Enhanced Erase Support : No
IEEE1667/eDrive - Secure Authentication Support : No
TZ - Zero Data after TRIM : No
TD - Deterministic Data after TRIM : Yes
SED - All User Data Encrypted : No
ZAC - Host Aware Zones Features : No
DZD - Device-managed Zoned Device : No
TCG - Trusted Computing Features : No

S.M.A.R.T Information
Version : 1.1
ATA Commands Support : Yes
ATAPI Commands Support : Yes
S.M.A.R.T Commands Support : Yes

S.M.A.R.T Data
Power-On Time (09) : 100 (0 - 100) [00000002]
Power Cycles (0C) : 100 (0 - 100) [00000064]
Wear Leveling Cycles (AD) : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
Command Timeouts (BC) : 100 (0 - 100) [000001D1]
Drive Temperature (C2) : 100 (0 - 120) [00000020]
CRC Fail/Write Sectors (C7) : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
Blocks Written (F1) : 100 (0 - 100) [000000BF]
Blocks Read (F2) : 100 (0 - 100) [000000EB]
TEA : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
TEB : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
TEC : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
TED : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
TF3 : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
TF4 : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
TF5 : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
Host Writes (F6) : 100 (0 - 100) [00000000]
Host Program Pages (F7) : 100 (0 - 100) [00000101]
FTL Program Pages (F8) : 100 (0 - 100) [00000001]

Power-On Time : 2 hour(s)
Data Read : 117.5kB
Disk Enclosure Temperature : 32.00°C

Translation Mode Disk Geometry
CHS Geometry : 3801 x 255 x 63
Bytes Per Sector : 512bytes
Capacity : 29.12GB

Cache Information
Read Cache : Yes
Write Cache : Yes
Prefetch Buffer : No

Partitions Information
Partition #1 : GPT EFI system partition 650MB (1MB-651MB)
Partition #2 : GPT Microsoft reserved partition 128MB (651MB-779MB)
Partition #3 : GPT Basic data partition 27.39GB (779MB-28.15GB)
Partition #4 : GPT 990MB (28.15GB-29.12GB)

Logical Drives
Logical Drive : C:

Performance Enhancing Tips
Warning 3115 : DIPM is supported but not enabled. Consider enabling to reduce idle power draw.

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March 6, 2020 at 04:41:40
Does appear that the drive is an SSD: and not one of the best performance wise - if one considers report/test here:

And this site seems to confirm the drive as SSD?

To be absolutely sure...(?) you could still remove the base cover and have a look-see?

SSD are usually wired/soldered in on current kit; but I think they may also be occasionally plug in as per standard HDD?

This is a link to the Dell site - service manual for your 3180:

You may have to click on the blue procedure box to open a given page; unless you download the whole pdf (which I would as well as use the relevant online page(s).

When you remove each screw... sellotape/scotch tape it to the base close to the place it came from. That way you won't lose any of them, and also will know which one came from were. Occasionally there are mixed sizes screws used in laptops; Apple and occasionally Acer have done this in the past.

The screw heads very likely a small/fine Philips - NOT usually a Pos-idrive. Ensure you use the correct type of screwdriver.

Remove the battery as well as the obvious mains/charging cord. before going inside the laptop.

I often put a laptop in large tray - with a soft cloth to avoid scratching the top cover when the laptop is upside down - when removing the base etc.;as it provides catchment area for small items. Means even less chance of losing any screws or other bits that may easily get lost as they're removed.

message edited by trvlr

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March 6, 2020 at 06:08:29
The drive is an SSD, as stated at the following link:

Dell told me some time ago that the drive on this laptop is soldered and cannot be replaced. I assume that they meant that the drive cannot be easily replaced. Somebody that can solder could de-solder the existing drive and solder the replacement drive. Is this correct or are there other reasons why this could not be done?

As far as opening the laptop, one screw in the center of based cover assembly is covered with a plastic cap that is supposed to be removed with a plastic scribe according to the service manual. I have a tool that could be used for this purpose, but it is metal. Is that ok?

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March 6, 2020 at 09:23:53
Anything that is non metallic would be preferable; so as to avoid scratching/damaging the case around that cap. Even a wooden flat stick (as on some ice cream stick, or lolly-ice - frozen fruit flavoured stuff on a stick) would like be ok; just shave down one end to something akin to chisel end...

But if you cover the end of your current tool with say a little scotch/sellotape that ought to be sufficient protection?

Dell do appear to have made some laptops in that 3000 series with a conventional HDD, and some with an SSD. The HDD version would be upgradeable (some of their info suggest that too); whereas the SSD will be soldered in, and not really upgradeable. It takes skill and care to remove a soldered item from a pcb these days; as the way they're soldered in is vastly different from days of yore... As all three utilities - and even Dell too - indicate the drive installed is an SSD I'd accept that as proof enuff... and go the additional external storage path as best option.

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March 6, 2020 at 17:40:15
I agree. I'll give a try to the external storage option for the programs. I will also try to increase the free space on the SSD. At this time I can not install the Windows 10 updates and the computer is very, very slow.

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March 6, 2020 at 18:06:48
The SSD you have is shown as rather slow compared to a lot of SSD. One of the links I posted above shows the drive as “very” poor compared to Samsungs. Seems like Dell out sourced the SSD to a really low spec. supplier; or at least specified an SSD of mediocre performance so as to cut costs and maximise profits...?

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March 6, 2020 at 19:21:52
The small dimensions and low weight of the 3180 make it very easy to carry. I purchased it because of that and because of the low cost. Of course, I did not have great expectations about performance, but, at least with my configuration, it is virtually impossible to use even for simple tasks.

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March 7, 2020 at 10:46:54
I found this: "32GB eMMC + microSD slot supports up to 128GB SD Card (card not included)"

If you want to stay portable, get a decent size microSD card rather than lugging an external HDD around with you.

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March 7, 2020 at 12:38:50
Is it possible to store programs on microSD cards? And on USB memory sticks?
Or you can only store data on these devices.

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March 7, 2020 at 14:06:54
One thing to be aware of is the long term reliability of micro cards and usb sticks.

They are getting more reliable but they can still fail at any time. Especially if not accessed at regular intervals; volts applied to them to revitalise them in effect.

I would make DVD copies of any micro cards//usb sticks at very regular intervals; and update as required. This to ensure you can rebuild any card/stick should it fail. Likewise safeguard personal files similarly - to DVD at least.

As it is possible to boot some current OS from a usb stick/card... I’m inclined to yes to your query in that regard. But others here will also chip in advise more definitely, based on experience... So hang about for them.

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March 7, 2020 at 22:49:18
Bear in mind that USB sticks and SD cards are, in general, slower than USB disks, particularly as your computer has a USB 3 port. Partner it with a
Samsung 500 GB external SSD (about £80) and you have a very fast setup. I use one of these with my Mac Mini (but with a USB C interface) and it is about 5 times as fast as an internal mechanical HD would be. About the size of a credit card, and not much heavier.

message edited by ijack

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March 8, 2020 at 07:18:53
"ijack"s suggestions sounds good; and way to go?

Certainly the smaller physical size of the drive he suggests is impressive.

I have a couple of Crucial 2TB SSD in Inatek housings - usb 3 connectors - and boot my my Mac Mini (2012 vintage) from them; running either Catalina or High Sierra (when still required for some apps). Those Inatek housings are top notch but of course the 2TB drive is larger than a 500GB and thus the case (which is of course extra) is necessarily larger too.

As you wold be regularly, frequently powering up/connecting to an external SSD, the caveat re' what happens to data if the drive isn't powered up (as it were) at regular intervals - doesn't apply.

I'd still make DVD copies as well of anything seriously critical in terms of personal files though; photos and legal stuff are the usual two critical items?

This is the Samsung to whichI think ijack refers:

And obviously available in N. America etc. as well?

message edited by trvlr

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March 8, 2020 at 07:32:34
"ijack", "trvlr",
Based on what you stated, an external SSD drive seems an interesting option. However, I still see an issue: on my 32GB internal SSD I don't have that 15-20% free space that is considered necessary for a computer to operate properly. Right now even going through my e-mail is too slow. It would be possible to configure part of the external SSD as a virtual extension of the internal SSD?

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March 8, 2020 at 08:06:10
It's certainly possible to link your "Documents" and "Downloads" folders to another drive. And any programs other than the default Windows ones could be reinstalled on a new drive, but it would mean that you really need the external drive plugged in at all times. Also, the swap file could be moved to the external drive. (The one trvlr linked to is indeed the one that I have. It's a very impressive bit of kit.) Microsoft list the minimum disk space needed for Windows 10 (64 bit) as 20 GB, so this should be possible.

Alternatively, you might want to consider whether it is time to look at a new laptop. Some very good ones, with specifications better than your current setup, are available for just a few hundred pounds (dollars). Or you could look at second-hand or reconditioned ones. (Reconditioned computers, from the manufacturer, are well worth considering. I managed a far better spec Mac Mini than I could have justified otherwise by following this route.)

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March 8, 2020 at 08:48:45
re' space on current drive issue:

Are you sure you don't have accumulated "junk" on the drive; some of which may even be running around in the background as well?

Have you run the ccleaner, malwarebytes, Adwcleaner apps to delete and such stuff - if it's there?

And also are sure your virus protection is current?

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March 8, 2020 at 15:24:26
I already own another laptop with a fast processor and a large capacity hard drive. But it is rather bulky and it is not what I want to carry with me all the time. I’ll try the external SSD option or the USB memory stick option and we’ll see what happens. I am in the process of checking whether there are any files that can be removed from the internal SSD. For virus protection I have Windows Defender. I am not sure about whether it is current or not. Windows 10 is not current because I cannot install the updates for lack of disk space.

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March 8, 2020 at 15:38:44
How about the bug/pest remover utilities I mentioned?

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March 8, 2020 at 15:42:59
I have run Malwarebytes and did not find any threats, I will run the other utilities too.

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March 8, 2020 at 15:52:06
Each has a slightly different set of pest targets, as well as some in common.

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