Replacing a hard drive in a computer: 10 steps (with pictures)

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Replacing a hard drive in a computer: 10 steps (with pictures)
Replacing a hard drive in a computer: 10 steps (with pictures)
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This guide takes you step-by-step through replacing an internal hard drive in a desktop computer.

Steps

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 1

Step 1. If your hard drive is still working, make sure to create a recovery drive or mirror file using backup or recovery software

If the drive has already stopped working, hopefully you have your important files backed up somewhere.

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 2

Step 2. Buy a new hard drive

Make sure you have the correct type for your computer. Generally, you will want to replace your original hard drive with the same one to make the process easier and simpler. Although the capacity of the new hard drive may be much larger than the old one, it is best to have the same data power connection and dimensions as the original drive. However, you may not want the same type of hard drive, so plan carefully to avoid future problems.

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 3

Step 3. Hard drives come with SATA (Serial ATA) or IDE data/power connectors

SATA comes in three different versions (SATA, SATA II and SATA III). You will need to find out what is supported by your motherboard to make sure you have the correct replacement drive. Hard drives nowadays also come in different sizes. Hard drives today are either 2.5 inch (6.4 cm) or 3.5 inch (8.9 cm). 2.5 inch (6.4 cm) drives were mostly used in laptops while the 3.5 inch (8.9 cm) drives were used in desktops. However, due to the popularity of 2.5 inch (6.4 cm), SSD (Solid State Drives) devices have made these 2.5 inch (6.4 cm) hard drives popular for desktops as well. Some computer case manufacturers make cut-outs for 2.5 inch (6.4 cm) hard drives in their newer designs. If you plan to replace a 3.5 inch (8.9 cm) hard drive with a 2.5 drive, make sure your computer case supports the drive to avoid buying an adapter kit for it.

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 4

Step 4. Be prepared when touching electronic parts

Improper handling of electronic components can cause damage to computer components when touched. To avoid this, make sure you are grounded when working on the inside of your computer. You can do this with an anti-static bracelet, which you put on while changing the discs. Make sure to ground the band by plugging it into a grounded outlet. If you don't have one, you have to constantly touch the back of the computer case. Please make sure you are making contact with a metal surface. The static electricity then drains through the computer case.

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 5

Step 5. Open the computer case

Open both sides of the computer case by removing the screws on the back of the case and sliding the panels away. Some computer cases do not use screws. If you have a housing without screws, you will need to find the lever or knob that releases the doors or panels. Remove doors or panels where necessary.

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 6

Step 6. Find the existing hard drive

Most computers have the hard drive screwed into its own housing inside the computer case. Locate and disconnect the data and power connectors.

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 7

Step 7. Remove the screws that secure the drive either to the computer case or to its own case

The drive is probably held in place with screws on both sides. Remove the screws. Support the hard drive with your hand if it is not supported by the case. Once the screws are out, you can slide the hard drive out of the case.

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 8

Step 8. Only do this if you have an IDE hard drive

Set the jumpers on the replacement drive to the same position as those on the original drive. You can choose from 'Master', 'Slave' or 'Cable Select'. SATA drives do not require jumper settings. If you removed the original hard drive, look at the jumper positions on the drive itself. If you don't see them, the drive probably has a diagram on the label showing the location of the jumpers. The jumper settings set the drive as 'Master', 'Slave' or 'Cable Select'. You must copy the settings from the original on the replacement disk.

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 9

Step 9. Install the hard drive by sliding it into place

This is the same spot as the original disc. Carefully screw in the drive and reconnect the data and power cables.

Change a Computer Hard Drive Disk Step 10

Step 10. If you are replacing the primary hard drive, you will either need to reinstall your software or use a recovery drive

You may need to install an operating system like Windows, Mac OS, or Linux if you don't have a recovery disk or mirror file. If you replaced the secondary hard drive, you may need to replace the software that was installed on it or restore data files from a backup location.

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