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Last reply by 06-23-2022 Solved
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XPS 8700, need a hard disk with Dell image?

So I have this old XPS 8700 and the hard disk is dying I need a new one, Problems are:

Dell don't have them.

I don't have any software.

My computer is having issues like I can't get Windows Explorer to open, I can't get the Uninstall thing to work. I got Avast in my computer and I can't uninstall it. I need to download updates but that doesn't seem to want to work either. I deleted some stuff I probably shouldn't have. I need to back up some stuff. How do I get a new hard disk with all the software already on it to make the computer like it was when I first bought it?

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Cloning it not necessary. Since new Hard drive will not have any OS on it, this is why I was recommending clone. 

you can do a fresh start, first make a bootable USB with a copy of windows 10 on it. You can run media creation tool 

and make an 8GB flash drive bootable. Once flash drive is ready install your new hard drive in your machine and boot from this USB from F12 menu to begin windows installation. 

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8 Krypton

@PurpleTealDragon  OK, so no 32-GB mSATA drive...

Let's back up. You said you used tested the HDD using the F12 menu. Exactly what error code did you get? 

If you're worried about possible problems in Windows, in addition to HDD problems, you may not want to clone or image the old HDD. So it would be better to do a clean install on a new HDD.  Instructions to install a new HDD are in the Service Manual.Read/follow carefully.

Before you install the new HDD, go to the Microsoft site and use their Media Creation Tool and an 8- or 16-GB USB stick to create a bootable Win 10 installer. You'll have to boot from that USB stick in order to install Windows after the new HDD is installed. That installer should install most/all of the hardware drivers you need.

After installing Win 10 on the new HDD, you'll have to install whatever software you want, eg Microsoft Office, etc. So make sure you have those installations discs (if the software can't be downloaded from the internet) and the product activation keys. If you don't have all the product keys, you can install Belarc Advisor (free) on the old HDD and run it to find the keys. Print out the Belarc list and have it handy when you install your software on the new HDD.

Maybe you have a geeky friend or relative who can help you... ?


   Forum Member since 2004
   I'm not a Dell employee

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@PurpleTealDragon You said your existing HDD is dying, plus you also said the Windows install on that old boot drive may be corrupted. So that's why it was suggested you do a clean Win 10 install on a brand new drive using Microsoft's Media Creation Tool. That way you get a new drive with a clean new and uncorrupted version of Windows. Obviously this takes longer because you have to install the OS and all your apps, then customized the settings and copy over your personal files.

If you're willing to take the risk that the OS on the existing boot drive is OK, you can clone/image that drive, and then remove the old drive without having to reinstall anything.

When you "clone" a drive, you boot from the existing boot drive and copy its entire contents directly onto the drive that will replace it. Then you simply remove the old drive and PC boots from the new one.

When you "image" a drive, you boot from the existing boot drive and copy its entire contents onto an external USB HDD, as an intermediate step. Then, you remove the existing boot drive and swap in a new/blank replacement drive. Next, you boot PC from a bootable USB stick, created with the same software used to save the copy of the old boot drive, and copy that image from the external USB HDD onto the new/blank replacement drive.

Bottom line: cloning is direct copying of old drive onto the drive that will replace it. Imaging has the extra step of copying the old drive onto another drive, and from that other drive onto the replacement drive. That intermediate drive won't ever be used to boot the PC.

The advantage of imaging is you make an external backup copy of all your files (at least as of the date the image was created) in case you have a problem later on and need to revert back to where you were on the date you created the image. So imaging onto an external drive on a regular basis should become a habit.

Only you can decide whether to clone/image the existing drive onto the new/replacement drive or do a clean install of Win 10 and apps directly on the new/replacement drive.


   Forum Member since 2004
   I'm not a Dell employee

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FIrst I have built PC's in the past, and worked as a Programmer on PC OS's and others. I know my way around and how parts operate. So I probably have a lot more experience than you might.

When I got my old XPS8700 many years ago, maybe even 10 years, I first bought a 1TB hard drive, just like the 1TB that was in the XPS. At that time, SSD's were 'small' and expensive. The first one in it, a 110GB SSD was probably $180 or so. I always configured my PC's with 2 hard drives, one for the OS only (as shipped by the vendor) and programs that INSISTED on installing to the C: drive. I then had the other drive as my DATA and PROGRAM drive. I always run a backup program. If I should have an OS problem or even get an infection, I can easily replace the C: image that way (this is simplifying it somewhat it isn't completely true).

Right now with a single drive you have a lot more than just the OS on it. So you do need a larger one if you intend to 'clone' the original drive.

OK, prices for SSD's are much lower now, and have larger capacities than when I did it. Matter of fact, when a few years later I put an SSD on my wife's XPS8500 (which already had a hard drive with only the OS on it) for less than I paid for the 110GB SSD I got a 500GB drive for her. Heck, just checked Best Buy (https://www.bestbuy.com/site/shop/500-gb-ssd read is carefully, not all are 500GB drives and forget the PCIe cards for now) and most 500GB are $50 or less.

In terms of SPEED, HD's take the longest to get data off or write to them. Increase in boot and shutdown time as well as program opening and data being loaded/saved. Flash drives use USB interface, and although faster than a HD, it is nowhere as fast as an SSD for loading. A USB drive is really an SSD on a stick with a different access method to the PC.

Best bet for you (or what I'd do):

  1. Determine if your present drive is VIABLE... that is can it be READ reliably? If yes, good. If not, more work will be needed.
    1. If Yes, then leave the drive where it is.
    2. Buy ANOTHER 1TB hard disk
    3. Install it into the 8700 (note, check to see if there are both a spare (2) sets of power and data cables for the drive). If not you'll need to by more and possibly a splitter for them, I don't think I needed too). Don't do anything to it yet.
      1. If NO, leave it alone for now, but install the newly purchased 1TB hard disk for now.
      2. Buy a 500GB or 250GB (under $50 or less now) SSD and install it.
      3. Get a 16GB Flash drive and use the MS Media Creator tool (https://www.microsoft.com/software-download/windows11 ) to install the OS... link is for W11 (which I had installed and have NO problems with) or get the W10 ISO. Be careful when installing the SSD and make SURE it is the TARGET drive (can tell in the tool by the drive size to select).
      4. Test to insure you can boot.
  2. Once installed, on the new HD, create a PARTITION and label it and assign a drive letter. Could be tricky, but will be the CD/DVD, and the C: may become E:, so use F:.
  3. Now you could access the OLD boot drive (E: probably) to extract any data you need.
  4. Me, I'd create a TOOLS and/or PROGRAM directory (Folder) on F:. When INSTALLING programs, install them to the F: drive, and either to the ROOT (F:) or utilities/tools, like FireFox or Chrome for instance to the PROGRAMS folder.

Need more help, PM me and I'll try to assist.

This is NOT hard, but I'm sure you can do it.

If you do it this way, you'll be SURPRISED how fast that older XPS will work in general. It will feel like a new PC. Just putting an SSD as the OS drive on my wife's XPS8500 makes it perform almost as good as my XPS8940, so well, she doesn't want to get a new one and pay the 'pain' of migrating all her programs over to a new PC (yes, there will be some you have that MUST be re-installed as there are a LOT of data placed on the C: drive by programs in the Registry and USER folders by programs as they install). Dell does sell a program for transferring, but all I've used do not do the job completely. I know enough how to find things and copy them from drive to drive. It can take time though.

Good Luck. Go the SSD route vs. a hard drive or flash drive, you will not be sorry you did.



Irv S.

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4 Ruthenium

You don't need Dell to replace the hard drive. it's very simple. 

Your computer Supports 3.5 inch, 2.5 inch and mSATA storage drives. 

The slow performance is mostly due to bad hard drive and I would recommend upgrading to an SSD. 

Please find the link below to buy a compatible SSD from Amazon 


Once you have purchased the SSD install the SSD. 

run Samsung software which comes with SSD to clone your current drive. 

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Hi and Thank You for replying. Are there instructions online how to clone? Also, I know the harddisk is bad because I discovered how to do a test on it when I pushed F12, lol I didn't know that was a thing.

I did manage to get some updates and this morning Avast FINALLY uninstalled but I am worried there might be registry problems and other things I don't want copied to a new harddisk. Would it copy all my files and most importantly my pictures and videos of my loved ones? Some of them are dead now and I want to be sure I save all those memories.


Cloning it not necessary. Since new Hard drive will not have any OS on it, this is why I was recommending clone. 

you can do a fresh start, first make a bootable USB with a copy of windows 10 on it. You can run media creation tool 

and make an 8GB flash drive bootable. Once flash drive is ready install your new hard drive in your machine and boot from this USB from F12 menu to begin windows installation. 

Community Accepted Solution


I just went back over what you typed. If you have important pictures and Videos. Get those off ASAP. Copy those to a flash drive or external hard drive. Make sure the flash drive or external is large enough. Pictures and Video's may be in your user folder. You can just copy that folder.

Here is what I do.

On the external drive I make a folder called Pictures then one called Videos Documents ETC. I copy Pictures Videos and Documents to the new folders, or I cut and paste. Sometimes you get an error about app data cannot be copied. Just ignore that it may be best to just clean install. I know what I suggested sounds like a lot, but I rather be safe than sorry. Good luck I hope your important data is safe. The video I posted that guy has videos on how to use Acronis to make backups. But only the paid version of Acronis will do the backups. There is other free software like Macrum reflect and how to videos. Macrum even has a option to fix boot errors.

8 Krypton

Does this PC have a 32 GB mSATA SSD that's used as a cache for the HDD?

If you have the cache mSATA SSD, it's possible that's the failing component, rather than the HDD. (Been a number of recent threads about 32-GB mSATA cache failing in these older PC models.)

So if you have the mSATA SSD, you may want to disable the cache and see if that solves the problems, before buying a new HDD and doing a clean install.

The mSATA SSD is hidden from the user, so if you don't know if you have it, go to the Support page and enter your Service Tag. (Don't post it here.) When that opens, look on right side for Quick Links and go to the System Config screen and see if a 32 GB mSATA SSD is listed there.)

To disable the cache, open the Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) app on your PC and look for the option to disable HDD acceleration. If that solves the problems you can just use PC without the cache, but performance may be a little slower.

Assuming you have the mSATA cache, but disabling acceleration doesn't help  you should open BIOS setup and change SATA Mode (aka: SATA Operation) from RAID to AHCI before installing Windows and apps on the newly installed HDD.

NOTE: You'll see a lot of things posted on the net saying just to change BIOS to AHCI without disabling acceleration using IRST. That will just make the PC unbootable, so the cache needs to be disabled first.


   Forum Member since 2004
   I'm not a Dell employee

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None of this makes any sense. I am older and I don't understand a word. First you tell me you don't want me to clone then you do in the same first sentence. So what is a clone?

What I need is to replace this harddisk I thought buying an empty harddisk or solid state disk as was suggested was to make a clone or copy of my bad harddisk so I can have my computer working. That is all I want a working computer that isn't freezing up all the time because of a bad disk.

This is an OLD computer that I've had for a long time and that is why there are few parts for it.

From these answers sounds like it would be a lot less stressful just to save up for a new computer but I was hoping for a cheaper option.



Replacement OEM MSATA Drives are not worth it.

Since you have Sata bus a better deal would be a samsung 2.5 drive.




Clone or Image of drive is NOT supported by Microsoft or Dell.  This is the policy since 1995 and WINDOWS NT 3.5 and WIN95.

OEM Windows 10 DVD will install on ANY Dell that supports windows 8.1 including but not Limited to Older Models Like the XPS 400 or Optiplex GX620 from 2006.  So windows 10 or 11 WILL install on ANY Dell that has AT LEAST Dual Core Pentium D 915 to 960 and 4 gigs of DDR2 ram and a PCI-E 2.0 or higher video card slot.

Not supported does not mean not working.   Windows 7 COA key will be needed to Activate windows HOME or PRO but is not required for INSTALL of windows 8 or 10.  You can use the "I don't have a key" or Generic Install Key option to get base windows on a new SATA Hard drive set to AHCI because RAID ON is the default for Dell bios which wont install without F6 mass storage drivers.

If you have  FAT32 usb 2.0 flash Drive aka SANDISK FIT drive you can install windows 10 by using the media creation tool to make an F12 boot from USB installer.  This works on ANY Dell from 2006 on and is essentially free.

HOWEVER I recommend buying at least ONE OEM WIN10 DVD because in 2025 when 8 and 10 are no longer available the OEM WIN10 DVD will work as a forever DISK allowing OFFLINE INSTALL of 10 even if microsoft goes out of business.   Windows 11 is flawed in this because it REQUIRES you to be ONLINE to install 11 Home.  So unless your system came with PRO windows COA or PRO windows in bios you wont be able to login or access your computer or recover or reinstall if the power is bad or internet is down.

This OEM WIN10 DVD works with ALL Dell models that support 8.1 or 10.


SANDISK FAT32 FIT Drive  apd A7610903

ST2000DM008 B07H2RR55Q


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@PurpleTealDragon  Did you check to see if you have a 32-GB mSATA SSD by looking at the factory configuration of your PC on the Support site? That's the first thing you should do.

And if you have the mSATA SSD, disable HDD acceleration using the IRST app. If you're lucky that will solve the problem and you won't have to buy a new HDD (or SSD) or reinstall any of your software.


   Forum Member since 2004
   I'm not a Dell employee

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No mSATA. I did what you said and reviewed the list a few times to be sure and no mSATA.

This thread has confused me more than anything. 'clone, don't clone, that's why I said clone, clone not allowed, make a f12 boot disk thingamagoober'

Its like trying to get a simple answer from a physicist.


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