5TB Laptop Modification.

Laptop with foil covered hard drive

When deciding on a new daily driver laptop before I started my second year of College I was concerned over how much additional backing storage costs and the limited options available. I’d like to have a laptop where I can run an entire AD network and various Linux machines virtualised for practising hacking. Normally all that data would be around a terabyte. However, with multiple versions of the network including all major releases of Windows since XP and premade practice VMs, it could be much larger.
Many of the Laptops I looked at with more than 2TB of backing storage cost thousands of pounds. However, these computers had insane markups compared to the costs of buying a cheap laptop and putting a larger HDD in it, so that’s what I decided to do. Firstly, I bought an HP Pavilion with a 500GB NVME SSD in it, which would be enough for my root drive.

I’d like to use the maximum (affordable) storage option I can. I decided to use a 5TB HDD from Seagate. The laptop can support a 2.5″ HDD however, not a tall one which is what I’ve chosen, therefore I’m going to need to cut a hole in my brand-new Laptop to make it fit.
The plan is to use a Dremel to cut a hole in the bottom plate then cover it with copper foil to better conduct heat, protect the drive and stop dust from getting between the cracks. To measure out the hole I simply placed the drive where it would be popping out, traced around it then began cutting.

The final cut isn’t as clean as I’d like. I decided to cut it closer then finish the last 5mm with a hand file, this lead to a much cleaner finish and allowed for a tight fit.

Once assembled with the copper tape applied it’s not very clean but it’s not like anyone will be looking at the bottom of my Laptop anyway. The drive is taller than the rubber standoffs the laptops use so I needed to add some rubber standoffs, the height needed was 3 x 9mm for the laptop and one 3mm to go on top of the drive to protect it from sitting on a desk, making the laptop a bit higher off the desk

It’s been two years since I made this modification to my Laptop, which is still my daily driver and is working perfectly. The only long-term issue has been the Coppers’ strength. It quickly perforated and didn’t provide any protection against dust. Replacing it is also a pain because it requires the whole thing to be cleanly removed and then the replacement sheet to be perfectly aligned or it just looks horrible. However, copper ages beautifully rusting to a darker shade after some months.

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