Removing a Hard Drive: 9 Steps (with Pictures)

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Removing a Hard Drive: 9 Steps (with Pictures)
Removing a Hard Drive: 9 Steps (with Pictures)

Your computer's hard drive is where all your documents, software, images, and data are stored. If your hard drive crashes or becomes too full to work with, there's really no need to replace the entire PC. It is not that difficult to replace your hard drive with a new one yourself, and it will save you a lot of money. Take the following steps to learn how to properly remove your hard drive.


Remove a Hard Drive Step 1

Step 1. Back up your data

No matter how hard you try not to lose data, anything that can happen happens, as Murphy's Law has probably made clear to you several times in life. It is better to prepare for possible calamities than to lose all your data.

Before removing the hard drive, copy your data onto an external hard drive or use other backup options such as online storage. If your drive has crashed and you have lost your data, skip this step

Remove a Hard Drive Step 2

Step 2. Turn off your computer and disconnect all cables

You will have to open the PC and then it will be much easier if there are not all cables and cords in the way, or if your computer suddenly turns on and electrocutes you. Unplug the power supply, monitor, and all other peripherals.

Remove a Hard Drive Step 3

Step 3. Open the computer case

Every model of computer is constructed in a different way. Usually you are supposed to remove 1 or 2 side panels of your computer with or without a screwdriver, or by pushing a button the case opens with a flap mechanism. The manual that came with the PC should have instructions for opening the case.

Don't worry if you don't have the manual anymore. Take a good look at how your cabinet is put together and it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out how to remove the side panels or the housing. Most older machines require you to remove the entire case, secured with screws on the back

Remove a Hard Drive Step 4

Step 4. Take a good look at where the hard drive is placed in the PC

Typically, the hard drive is housed in its own enclosure or sled that is attached to the case, removable, or suspended from rails. The hard drive is a metal box the size of a small book.

It is common for the hard drive to be located at the front of the case, close to other drives such as your DVD player. If you look closely it will become clear what your hard drive is - don't just take something out of your computer if you don't know exactly what it is

Remove a Hard Drive Step 5

Step 5. Check how your hard drive is attached to the computer

Now that you know where the hard drive is, you need to figure out how to remove it.

  • You will need a screwdriver to release the drive from the case, whether it is a fixed or removable case.
  • Newer drive enclosures are often made so that no screws are involved, just moving a lever or slider to remove the hard drive.
Remove a Hard Drive Step 6

Step 6. Remove the hard drive from its housing

Hard drives often sit on rails in the front of the computer case. Carefully slide the disc out with both hands.

  • Pull it gently – if you notice something holding the disc, stop immediately! Nothing you find should offer much resistance if you want to remove it - if you have to push or pull hard, you're probably doing something wrong.
  • There are two cables attached to the hard drive. Remove these cables first so that they do not interfere with the movement of the hard drive.
Remove a Hard Drive Step 7

Step 7. Remove the ribbed flat IDE cable

This is a flat, thin, wide, and usually gray cable that connects to your hard drive from the motherboard (or hard drive controller, if equipped).

The cable may be glued to the hard drive, but you should be able to remove it without too much trouble. Remove as much of the glue as you can and gently pry the cable to break up the rest of the glue

Remove a Hard Drive Step 8

Step 8. Remove the power cable

This is a plastic, rectangular plug with 1 or 2 latches (depending on the power supply supplied to your hard drive).

This connector is often a lot more firmly attached than the flat IDE cable. Make sure to release the lock on the plug and pull it firmly. Be careful not to bend any of the metal pins on the inside of the plug

Remove a Hard Drive Step 9

Step 9. Remove the hard drive from the housing and place it in an anti-static bag

Unprotected hard drives lying around can easily be damaged by moisture, dust and static electricity. Anti-static bags are an inexpensive way to protect your hard drive.

Anti-static bags are inexpensive and can usually be found at computer or office supply stores. If you are going to throw away the hard drive or use it in another computer right away, you can skip this step


If at any point during this process you are concerned that you may be removing the wrong cables, check your computer manual to be sure


  • Do not rip out the cables connected to the hard drive. If you bend or damage the pins of the plugs or the inputs, you can damage the hard drive. These cables run directly into the hard disk and cannot be replaced without drastic measures.
  • Take precautions against static shock. Ground yourself by touching the metal of the computer before handling the hard drive. Be careful not to wear anything metal when removing the hard drive. If static charge is exchanged between you and the hard drive or other component of the computer, a short electrical current can cause permanent damage.

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