Saturday 3 September 2022

Upgrading the mSATA Drive In My Dell Latitude E7250

I have had my Dell Latitude E7250 for just under a year. It is a great little fifth gen i5 laptop with 8GB RAM and a 13” screen and more than copes with everything I throw at it.

I’m not a gamer, but it handles the video editing using Kdenlive, image editing using GIMP and writing work using LibreOffice very well and anything else I choose to run.

It’s only caveat is the 128GB internal storage it came with, normally this wouldn’t be a problem – just open it up and replace it with something a bit larger – however, this laptop doesn’t take a standard SATA drive – it uses the smaller mSATA.

This brought about a number of problems. Firstly, mSATA drives are a bit pricier than standard SATA SSDs and a bit harder to get hold of. I did toy with the idea of replacing the whole laptop with something a bit quicker that took standard drives, but I really didn’t need to, so splashed out and replaced the 128GB mSATA drive that was in it with a 256GB mSATA drive.

The second problem is that I have a number of external enclosures, but I don’t have one for an mSATA. How was I going to transfer my existing info from one drive to another?

I had decided I wanted to do a fresh install. I use Linux Mint and had done a number of system upgrades and thought it was about time to do a fresh install of Linux Mint 21 Cinnamon, to help clear out anything unwanted. But it still left what to do with all my files.

I could have just hooked up a large flash drive or connected one of the many spare laptop hard drives in a case – but I didn’t really think of that until later. Instead I opted to buy an mSATA USB enclosure.

So I made sure my Linux Mint 21 USB installer was ready, I removed the battery, took the inspection panel off the bottom of my Latitude, removed the old mSATA, popped the new one in and put the panel back on.

Then it was simply a case of booting from the USB installer and installing Linux Mint 21 on the fresh drive. I love installing Linux. It is so straight forward. Run the installer, tell it where you want it, include any updates and within 15 minutes you are staring at a fresh ready-to-go install. I then ran the Mint Updater to pull in any straggler updates which was about 700MB, which I decided to do over Ethernet as it's more reliable and quicker and then it was all done.

I put the old mSATA drive in the tiny little mSATA USB enclosure and copied across all the files I wanted to keep. That was very fast. It was copying at over 200mbs.

Everything is working fine and I just have the annoying task of getting everything how I like it and installing the few apps I need – but this is done easily via the Synaptic Package Manager.

My old 128GB drive was getting a bit tight, with only about 20GB free. After clearing up, a fresh install and only moving the stuff I wanted on to my new 256GB drive I have about 170GB free – more than enough for me.

What I will do with the old 128GB SSD I do not know? Do I keep it in the tiny enclosure and use it as a back up drive? I use a 64GB Sandisk Cruzer Micro USB flash drive for that, it’s so small it's almost flush with the USB port – just to keep a few things off the main drive in case of a disaster – with everything else held in a Dropbox folder for ultra safety.

Or do I sell it on and recoup some of the money I spent on the larger drive?

I am glad I kept the laptop and just changed the drive. I love everything about the relatively small and thin Dell Latitude E7250, which still has an amazing battery life and is super comfortable to use.

That is me sorted for a while, with a decent laptop and now decent storage size.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at