You no longer need to be a certified computer technician or even experienced with computers to understand the inner workings of your favorite digital devices. Thanks to video tutorials and comprehensive step-by-step walkthroughs, building, deconstructing, and modifying your computer has never been easier.
When it comes to computer modifications, hard drive upgrades and replacements are among the most popular projects DIY-ers take into their own hands. While your computer’s hard drive is an essential working piece to the larger machine, it’s also one of the easiest to install or upgrade yourself.
Hard drives are data storage devices that a computer uses to store a computer’s operating system, applications, and files. You may want to install a hard drive on your computer to gain additional storage space or to replace a faulty hard drive.
Using this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about hard drives, how to install one into your desktop or laptop PC, and much more. Let’s get started.
What Is A Hard Drive?
A hard disk drive, more commonly referred to as a hard drive or HDD, is the non-volatile memory hardware responsible for the storage and retrieval of data on a computer.
Every desktop and laptop computer houses a hard disk drive, though more modern computers are adopting newer solid-state drive technologies that perform the same function.
While there are a number of key hardware pieces that allow your computer to boot up and perform, as usual, the hard drive is one of the most integral components you depend on with every power-on.
Hard disk drives are composed of five integral components:
- A head actuator
- A read/write actuator arm
- A read/write head
- A spindle
- A platter
Internal hard disk drives are connected to the computer’s mainframe by two essential cables: a data cable (SATA, SCI, or IDE) connected to the motherboard and a power cable connected to the power supply unit.
The hard drive functions as home to all of your necessary data, ranging from your library of photos and documents to your operating system and input drivers. Your computer simply cannot function without Your Hard drive Correctly Installed and working up to par.
How To Install A Hard Drive In Your PC
Learning how to install a hard drive will take a bit of patience and a fair amount of careful plugging and unplugging. Following our user-friendly guide, you’ll be well on your way toward a brand new hard disk drive, ready for action.
TIP. If you’re installing more than one hard disk, plug the one from which you want to boot in the lowest-numbered SATA port. The BIOS will pick this hard disk as the boot drive by default.
1. Make Sure That You’re Using a Windows Computer
While it’s technically possible to replace an iMac hard drive, doing so is incredibly difficult and could void your warranty. Windows desktop computers, on the other hand, tend to be fairly easy to tinker with.
- If you want to install a hard drive on a Mac computer, you can take it to an Apple professional and have them help you
2. Back Up Your Computer’s Data
If you’re removing an existing hard drive from your computer, back up its information so that you can restore the information later.
- If you want to keep your original hard drive installed, consider adding a second hard drive instead.
3. Remove The Old Drive
If you are removing an old hard drive, make sure any and all cables are disconnected from both the motherboard and the power supply. If the hard drive is screwed in, remove all screws.
- You may need to remove more cables or cards in order to access the hard drives in a tight case.
4. Fit The Hard Disk Into A-Bay
To fit a hard disk, you’ll need a spare 3.5in the drive bay. Be careful not to use one of the external bays, which have a cutout on the front of the case, as these are designed for memory card readers and floppy disk drives.
If your case has drive rails or screwless fittings, you’ll need to read the case’s manual for instructions on how to fit a drive. For other cases, slide the hard disk into a spare drive bay until the screw holes in the side of the drive line up with the holes in the drive bay.
The disk should then be secured with four screws, two on either side. Suitable screws should have been provided with the hard disk or case. Screw them tightly to prevent the drive from wobbling.
5. Plug-In The SATA Power Cable
In the picture below, you can see the SATA power connector on the hard disk and on the power supply. Locate the correct connector from your power supply and plug it into the back of your hard disk. It goes in only one way and clicks when it’s connected.
Be extremely careful when plugging it in, as downwards pressure can break the clip surrounding the power connector. If this happens, the power plug won’t stay in place.
6. Plug-In The SATA Data Cable
Unlike IDE, SATA uses a simple and thin connector to carry data. Your motherboard will ship with several SATA cables, so take one of these from the box. Plug it gently into the rear of the hard disk. It will plug in only one way and will click when it’s properly connected.
Be careful when you plug it in, as downwards pressure can break the connector and prevent the SATA cable from connecting properly.
7. Plug The SATA Data Cable Into The Motherboard
Next, you need to find a spare SATA port on your motherboard. These are usually located at the bottom-right of the board and are numbered. The lower the number, the higher up the boot chain your hard disk is.
If you’re installing more than one hard disk, therefore, make sure the drive from which you’re going to boot is plugged into the lowest-numbered port. Check the motherboard’s manual to ensure that all the ports do the same thing; some boards have ports reserved for RAID.
Connecting the SATA cable is easy, as it will plug in only one way. It will click when the cable is connected properly.
Installing a Laptop Hard Drive
- Unplug your laptop from any connected power sources or external cables and unscrew the underside of the body to gain entry inside of your laptop’s inner wiring. Remove the battery and place it to one side.
- Take a look at your laptop’s instruction manual to locate the hard drive. Remove any screws that may be securing the current drive in place. Set the screws aside in a safe, accessible place.
- Carefully maneuver the old hard drive free and remove it at the appropriate angle from its bay or compartment.
- Using the same angled positioning, insert the new HDD and push it firmly into place until it makes successful contact with the interface.
- Fasten the removed screws back into their correct positions. Re-insert the computer battery; re-fasten the back panel into place, and power on your laptop.
What are the advantages of an HDD?
Since their 1956 inception at the hands of IBM labs, hard drives have existed inside the bodies of computers from all manufacturers across the globe.
Though the HDD hardware itself has seen a number of technological upgrades and advances over time, it continues to be the most popular storage media option living inside desktop towers and laptops.
As manufacturers and consumers lean further toward solid-state drive alternatives, it’s important to first understand where the differences lie and whether or not making the switch is a smart next move for you. Let’s explore the top five advantages of operating your PC system on a traditional hard disk drive.
With years and years of tech innovation behind hard disk drive hardware, there’s certain reliability built into the hardware of modern hard disk drives. The state of the hard disk drive that exists in today’s computer is eons faster and more impressive than HDDs of earlier generations.
Solid-state drives physically degrade when erasing and writing data, which means that they deteriorate over time. Hard disk drives, on the other hand, can handle an infinite amount of reading and write tasks, meaning you don’t have to worry about your storage media reaching a point of irreparable decay.
2. Market Availability
Availability in the modern tech market is another advantage of operating an HDD. Unlike solid-state drives, hard disk drives are far easier to pin down at your local computer hardware shop.
Whether you’re on the hunt for internal or external HDDs, you won’t have to worry about scouring the depths of the internet to find the right driver for your computer. The market is flooded with hard disk drive options, many of which are bound to be compatible with your PC.
On the other hand, solid-state drives can be significantly more difficult to source due to their retail prices, limited stock, and storage capacity constraints.
3. Cost Efficiency
If you’re working with a tight budget or simply looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, hard disk drives are the way to go. Generally speaking, hard disk drives tend to be the more affordable option next to solid-state drives.
In fact, if you narrow it down to dollar pricing per storage gigabit, hard drives are typically the better deal. A solid-state drive with 1TB of storage will likely come at a far higher cost than an HDD with 1TB of storage.
When it comes to durability, the hard disk drive reigns supreme. Solid-state drives are constrained to a finite number of write and erase tasks. This means that you are only able to complete a certain number of data creation and modification operations before the SSD can no longer handle your input requests.
Based on the simple fact that hard disk drives are engineered to accommodate a higher number of read-write cycles than solid-state drives, HDDs are built to last longer and stronger.
5. Large Storage Capacity
For power users on the hunt for an internal drive that will accommodate large, expansive PC libraries, HDDs will impress. Generally speaking, HDDs begin at higher base capacities than their newer SSD siblings.
The vast majority of base-level HDDs start at 500GB whereas SSDs start at a base capacity of 128GB. It’s also important to note that it’s not uncommon for the price of a smaller base SSD to run a higher final cost than a larger base HDD.
There are also significant advantages to using an SSD. then make an educated decision about storage that best suits your computing needs. You might even choose to install a combination of the two.
Installing an internal hard drive is one of the more straightforward upgrades out there—and is often a better option than using external drives that may be dropped or misplaced.
Whether you’re upgrading your current hard disk drive or you’re tacking on an additional HDD, do so with confidence and careful finesse. For even the most novice PC mechanics, this step-by-step instructional guide is all you’ll need to install a new hard drive.
I hope you like this guide to installing hardware on your PCs and laptops.