How to replace the Hard disk in a Zoostorm Freedom 10-270 netbook

My netbook is out of warranty and the hard drive has died, or just not working very well. My first hints should have been the noise coming from the netbook – it wasn’t quiet anymore but I’d just got used to it.

I contacted ZooStorm (manufacturer) via email at “” to see what they’d suggest. They got back to me quite quickly – well within 24 hours which is good I think. They suggested a hard drive failure after my explanation of chkdsk freezing, and the amount of error messages. I assumed they would but couldn’t find where to change the drive. No info online, and nothing in the manual/papers I could find.

They told me I could replace the hard drive myself but it does involve a complete strip down of the unit. They say they do not have guides on how to do this and I’ve not found any online either so I share a basic overview:

1. Remove all screws from the bottom and remove the wireless card.
2. Remove the keyboard
3. Undo all screws under keyboard
4. Disconnect the screen and take the top c plate off
5. You should see the hard drive.
6. Replace the hard drive

You will also require:

  • a small cross headed/philips screwdriver
  • a flat edged blade
  • Lots of Patience
  • Somewhere to store all the screws and bits
  • Optional: A camera

It sounds simple enough, and I found out that you need a 2.5″ SATA Drive before starting. I had an old one from another laptop, I re-Imaged the Netbook image onto the old drive on another PC before attempting the task of netbook di-section.

The Process as I did it (following the guide above)

I have some pictures to go with this lot but have not been able to transfer them off my phone yet, so will update this when I do.

I would recommend you take pictures as you go along, it will help you when putting it back together as you can do everything in reverse.

1) Remove all screws from the bottom and remove the wireless card.

I found there to be 8 screws on the bottom of the netbook, 2 for case compartments and only 2 for the wireless card which when removed springs outwards but is still attached to the board. There is a delicate connection wire to the wireless card that needs to be removed.

2) Remove the keyboard

This sounds easy but doesn’t seem to be loose to be removed easily. The front of the case opens up but not the whole thing. I’ve removed every screw I can find but so far, not there.

After about an hour or so of searching for a way to remove this, I decided to re-contact zooStorm Support as without bending back the plastic and watching it snap, I was not getting any further.

I got these instructions the next day:

To remove the keyboard you need to push up the 3 clips along the top, one just off of the ESC and F1 keys, one about halfway along, and one towards the other end. While doing this carefully raise up the keyboard and it will then come away, the keyboard is attached to the motherboard via a cable which will need to be unclipped.

Under the keyboard you will see more screws that will be required to be removed. Additionally you will need to remove the screen, this will have 2 screws holding it in place located under the hinge caps. You can remove these by placing a small flat blade between the back of the hinge and the metal plate and twisting slightly which will then lift it up.

Once these screws are removed the top and bottom panels will start to separate, please note that there are 3 plastic clips within the battery bay holding the top on, you will need to use a flat bladed screw driver or knife to release these.

So I’m back attacking the system again.

2 screws for screen
6 screw under keyboard

To unclip the keyboard you need to raise the black strip up and the cable just falls out easily.

Drive has a caddy, its held in with 4 screws around it, the caddy holding the drive also has 4 screws. Remove the screws and the drive slides out. It took me ages to find the fourth screw holding the caddy in place as its down the side and is black, the same colour as the surrounding.

I used the pictures I’d taken in reverse to put back together. When attaching the keyboard and other things with the light flat ribbon cables you need to raise the black part up and then put cable in and lower the black down clipping it in place. It does make quite a strong hold.

Once everything was put back together it was the moment of truth, I switched it on and the boot screen came on followed by the windows logo and then everything loaded up. It was just as though it was new again (well new to last backup) – works fine and well now and proved to me that taking backups was worth it. Everything re-synced and windows wanted to update itself but otherwise the PC was back up and working.

so.. Result!

Dead Netbook

My netbook seems to have died – well at least it looks like the hard drive has died. It starts to load windows and gets so far and then just stops and stays on a nice screen with nothing useful except a mouse cursor that moves around.

I thought, oh no – another re-install due to coruption (i’d tried the startup repairs and none of that had worked neither had safe mode that crashed in same place) so a Re-Install. That’ll be easy – I have a ghost image of the netbook.

I ghosted it last time I re-installed and update windows and other software. I removed all the “freebies” you get like trial AV & Office software and installed a free AV (Avast) and Open Office as well as a few other apps. Ghosted it using “Symantec/Norton Ghost” – its an old copy – it booted from 3 floppy disks originally (now bootable usb) but just works.

To restore should have been a simple 20 minute job, it didn’t work. Ghost wouldn’t even load which was odd but I thought, oh well lets chkdsk the drive.

So I did the full “chkdsk c: /r” to check the drive. That took a while, I guess it would have taken forever really as it got to stage 4/5 and froze. It stayed on 0% for over 14 hours at which time I stopped it, rebooted and tried again. It froze again implying major faults on the drive. My inital hint was the hundreds of error lines where it couldn’t read parts of the drive and finding orphan files all over, so yes – a deaded drive.

Backing up

Its really important to backup, and people previously have said that I am paranoid about losing stuff. My routine may be a little over the top sometimes but at times like this it really pays.

My backup routine consists of a daily backup of all documents and work to an external HDD, aswell as uploaded to personal web space over 2 servers located in different parts of the world. Once a month, DVD/Blu-Ray Disks are burned of the backups and stored in a safe in an offsite location (These backups contain all work and sometimes ghost images of the system). My documents are also saved in Dropbox, and anything I want to keep private I password protect (to a point)

Documents and general settings were safe. I don’t use my netbook for anything major – just usually thoughts and web/email stuff. I use IMAP for email so everything is stored on the server and Dropbox for documents which is shared on other PCs. I also copied my pidgin & firefox profiles into my dropbox there by syncing them elsewhere so nothing was lost.

Useful Backup Tools

SyncBack – Useful to auto backup to external drives and online, as well as automatically make archival copies of stuff. I use the SE edition (which is paid for) but the free version works well.

Ghost [Amazon Affiliate link] – Great to make a copy of your system as it is on a set day. If anything goes wrong you can usually have a system up and running in about an hour.

Dropbox – a set of about 2GB of disk space to auto sync documents and work, and share with friends if wanted. Great for collaboration work or just to share an idea.

Web Disk Space

You can get webspace almost everywhere but a lot of them will complain and is against there terms of service for you to use their space as storage for non-web based things or even as an FTP server. I’ve found the following to be good.

Allows loads of space and their servers seem quite fast. I once got one script slightly wrong and it transferred over 200GB of data to their servers – No complaints or comments sent to me. I once ran a PHP script to make thumbnails of all my photos I’d uploaded and it was done quite quickly. I’d ran the same elsewhere and it had taken about an eighth of the time here.
Costs: Around $60 a year or £37 after exchange rates and you get a domain name too (which is helpful and usually around $10/£8)

Great support but not a lot of space. Good as a starter set – Not tried the scripts here. But I’ve been with them since 2003 and in that time there has only been around 4 times of downtime that affected me and none of that in the past few years.
Costs: Between £4 and £8 per month (£48 to £96) also free domain name

I know some of the people that run this company. They spoke about it when we were in college together and soon after they started it up. I’ve been with them since early 2003 and they have been helpful to me whenever I’ve needed it. Occasionally I’ve really messed up DNS Records and they’ve put them to how I’ve needed them and explained what had happened. Which has been a blessing in the learning curve.
Costs: Depends on the account you want. A basic hosting account will cost around £54 a year – I use the reseller account that gives me more space and control and costs near to £24 per month.

If you want a full control area, you could go down the VPS route but they don’t usually come with backups of the space with it. If interested, a good one is:

* Linode – Linux Based where you can put whatever you want on (within their terms of service) and it will just live there. Comes with a good chunk of space for the smallest package. Costs around $20/£13 a month

Next… Replacing the Hard Drive in the Netbook