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Help with replacing hard drive in Dell Dimension 4500S

I currently have a working 20 gd hard drive in my Dimension 4500S which I would like to replace with an 80 gb hard drive.  Since the 4500S only has one hard drive slot, I am trying to find out if I can trasnfer the software from my current 20 gb to a 500 gb external hard drive I have attached to the 4500S, then replace the 20 gb hard drive with the 80 gb hard drive, and then transfer the software from the 500 gb external hard drive to the new 80 gb hard drive.  This would save me the trouble of having to reinstall each individual software application that is on the 20 gb hard drive.  Can this be done and if so, are there any tricks I need to use to do so? 

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