PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM/strange hard drive
Can you help me understand a strange situation? I have an Aspire One 533. I bought it from Ebay. It has a 250gb hard drive but when I got it it said it only had a 85gb hard drive. It worked well and I gave it to a friend who started installing all kinds of programs on it. Then it crashed. The hard drive made a clicking noise and would not repair. I thought it was done for when it couldn't install a fresh Win7 and I was going to put it in the scrap pile. But I had an evaluation copy of Win8 so for fun I put that in and to my surprise it installed. It said the hard drive was 150gb but when it installed it reported the hard drive size as 50gb. It doesn't clack anymore and it runs great. My questions are "Am I on borrowed time?", "The Win8 is only good for 3 months, will it just shut down after that or will it continue working on Win8? The only legal operating system I can put on it is Win XP, will that work or will it have bad driver issues?" "Is there something free like Linex that would work on it?" "Is it worth buying a new hard drive or is it too hard to install and set up and not worth the money?"
Thanks for the help.
The hard drive clicking is a major issue. Regardless of how much the operating system reports the drive has, the drive needs to be replaced with a new one. Your hard drive is damaged and you are lucky it is even running now. I've come across hard drives that with a light tap will work, and with another light tap will fail and start clicking. Back up any data you may need and replace the hard drive.
It is definitely worth the money to purchase a new hard drive. If the rest of the computer is in fine working condition, purchase a new hard drive (2.5 inch SATA by the way), and install it. The installation of a hard drive is literally as easy as a few screws. Most laptops have the hard drive slide into the connector in the bay, others may have an adapter that goes between the hard drive and the motherboard. Either way, it is very easy to install a new hard drive. If you are uncomfortable with it, you can look up "installing a hard drive in a laptop" guides. You may even get one for your specific model if you add that information in the search.
After you've installed the new hard drive, go into the BIOS and look for it, just to confirm it is there.
Yes, you can use a Linux distribution on your computer. All of them are free to use forever. If you have never used Linux before, you may have to get used to how it runs and how to install programs on it. Linux is probably your best bet as an OS to use as it is the most secure set of OS's in existence. I recommend using Linux Mint (Freedom with Elegance) or Ubuntu (Linux for Humans) as they are often the easiest to run and offer a lot of features. To install Linux, you can either burn the ISO of the operating system to a CD/DVD depending on the size. You can also burn it to a USB drive using "unetbootin". Once you make the CD/DVD/USB, you will need to boot to it on start-up. Hit the appropriate key to enter "One Time Boot Menu" or sometimes called "Boot Menu" to select the device on start-up you'd like to use, in this case, the one you have burned the Linux image to. You'll see the Linux OS boot to a desktop. On this desktop, you'll see an icon that reads "Install blah blah blah" (where blah blah blah is the OS name). Follow the on screen instructions and wait for it to finish. Linux installs pretty quick compared to Windows. You may only have to wait 20-30 minutes at most.
If you tried to install Windows XP, that is the best OS for Windows you could possibly have, but the Acer you have may be too new for the XP CD to have to appropriate system critical drivers to install. That is why Linux was recommended to you above.
For your Windows 8, after the trail period, it will lock you out of most if not all functionality. Even if you had a full key for the Windows 8, it is not worth using the OS as there are many bugs and not many programs that run on it right now.
Hope this help, have a great day!