How to Install a Hard Drive | A Full Guide for Desktops and Laptops

You can have a hard drive installation to your desktop PC or laptop by following the instructions given below.

Installing a hard drive on a desktop computer

  • Getting started

  1. Start by backing up your data so that you can recover it later after you’ve finished installing the new hard drive.
  2. If you don't plan to remove your existing hard drive, you can install a second one instead. 
  3. Proceed to shut down the computer and disconnect the power cable. 
  • Opening up the desktop computer
  1. Remove all screws and nuts from the chassis.
  2. Proceed to remove the tower case side of your computer.  
  3. Open the computer to have clear access to components, especially the motherboard and SATA ports.
  4. Remove the small screws around the computer tower that hold the hard drive in place. 
  5. Proceed to remove the hard drive from the computer chassis. If you're installing a second hard drive, don't remove the existing one. If you're replacing it, remove the old drive. 
  • Ground yourself for safety

Grounding yourself helps prevent electrostatic shock that may build up from compromising the internal components of your PC. 

Touch a metallic component while you work. You can also wear a static wristband on your hand while working. 

  • Removing the old hard drive
  1. Disconnect all cables connected to your old hard drive.
  2. Disconnect any cable connecting your old hard drive to the power supply and the motherboard.  
  3. Then proceed to lift the hard drive from the bay gently. Do this if you intend to replace the old hard drive with a new one. 
  • Fitting the hard drive into the bay
  1. Align your new hard drive to correspond with the bay.
  2. Gently slide the drive into the bay. Stop sliding the hard drive when you hear a clicking sound; this confirms that the hard drive has been locked in place. 
  3. Ensure all screw holes on your new hard drive align to the corresponding screws on your PC tower's chassis. 
  4. Fix all screws tightly to hold your new hard drive in position firmly. 
  5. Position the HDD in between the bay, such that there is space left below and above the drive. This arrangement ensures sufficient airflow necessary for cooling.
  • Connecting the SATA Power cable
  1. Use the SATA cables to connect the new HDD to the motherboard.
  2. If you want the newly installed hard drive to be the primary storage media, then be sure to plug the SATA cable in the first SATA channel. 
blue cable

Use your motherboard information documentation if you're unsure about the input ports. 

  • Connecting the SATA data cable

Unlike IDE, SATA uses a thin and straightforward connecting wire to transfer data. 

Plug the cable gently into the rear of the hard disk. You'll hear a clicking sound when it fits correctly. 

  • Connecting the SATA data cable to the motherboard
  1. Look for a spare SATA port on the motherboard. You'll see them at the bottom-right of the motherboard, and they contain a numbering system that identifies them.
  2. If you've installed several hard drives, then plug into the lowest numbered port. 
  3. Inspect the motherboard to ascertain if all the ports have the same purpose because the motherboard may contain some ports reserved for RAID.  
  4. Connect the SATA cable. You'll hear a clicking sound when the cable fits in position correctly. 
  • Closing up
  1. This is the last step. Put back the sides of your tower chassis into position and tighten screws to fasten it.
  2. Screw all the other panels back in place. 
  3. Plugin all the disconnected cables, both internal and external. 
  4. Plug in the power cable. 
  5. Power up the computer. 
  6. When you turn on the computer, and it produces a strange or noisy sound, then you might have messed somewhere. 
  7. Shut it down and do troubleshooting. If the troubleshooting does no good, consult with an expert to get help. 

Setting up the hard drive on a laptop

Follow the following instructions to set up the hard drive on the laptop.

  • Getting started
  1. Get started by backing up your laptop's data so as to re-access them in future after you install the new hard drive.
  2. Shut down the laptop and unplug it from any cable connection. Also, unplug the AC adapter.
  3. Prepare the area you're going to work on. Make sure the surface is clean, stable, and has enough light. 
  4. Turn the laptop upside down and remove the screws beneath to access the inner components of the laptop. 
  5. Remove the battery from the laptop and place it aside.
  • Grounding yourself

Do not touch the old hard drive before grounding yourself. This helps prevent electrostatic shock that may build up from compromising the internal features of the laptop. 

You can do so by attaching yourself to an electric wall outlet, a screw, or any metallic component. 

  • Locating and removing the old hard drive
  1. Use your laptop's instruction manual to identify the location of your hard drive.
  2. Unscrew the screws holding your old hard drive in position. Keep all screws well so as not to lose them as you'll need them again.  
  3. Gently lift the old hard drive to remove it from the bay. Take care not to damage any component. 
  • Installing the new hard drive
  1. Gently slide the new hard drive into the bay until a clicking sound is produced when it makes contact with the interface.
  2. You'll need to ensure that you fit the hard drive perfectly in the bay such that it corresponds to the screw holes.  
  • Finishing up
  1. Screw back all the loosened screws to their correct positions.
  2. Insert back the battery and put back the back panel into place. 
  3. Plug in all the disconnected cables, both internal and external. 
  4. Plug in the power cable, then proceed to turn on the laptop. 
  5. If the laptop behaves strangely or produces strange noises when you turn it on, then you might have messed somewhere. 
  6. Shut it down and do troubleshooting. If the troubleshooting does no good, consult with an expert to get help. 

How can I Set Up a Second Hard Drive on my Windows 10 PC?

You can set up a second hard drive in your Windows PC - see also installing Windows 10 on external drive - by following the steps given below.

  1. Shut down your Windows device, open its casing, and install the new drive to its appropriate position.
  2. Plugin the cables into the new hard drive and attach them to the motherboard. Then move on and screw the HDD in place.  
  3. Close the casing, fix back the screws, and plug in all the cables.
  4. Power on your device. Proceed to launch Windows 10. 
  5. At the lower-left corner of the interface on the screen, right-click, then click on Disk Management. This will bring the Disk Management dialog box to appear on the screen.
  6. Go through the list to locate the new hard drive you just installed. The HDD will be labelled as Unallocated. Its identification should be Disk 0.
  7. Right-click your hard drive and select New Simple Volume. 
  8. Click on the Next option. You'll be asked to specify the volume size you want.
  9. Skip this step, don't change any figure. 
  10. Tap on the Next tab. You'll be asked to specify a drive letter. 
  11. Choose a letter and click Next. 
  12. You'll be prompted whether you want to configure a different allocation unit or use something apart from the NTFS file system. Decline this prompt. 
  13. Click on the Next tab, then Finish. Windows will finish the setup, and you'll be set to use the new hard drive. 

What is a Hard Drive?

A hard drive is a memory component of the PC keeping your PC information. It also allows you to access this information any time. It's also called an HDD or a hard disk drive. They are a must-included component in laptops and computers, although the solid-state drive (SSD) can replace it, especially in modern PCs. 

The hard drive contains five integral components, as shown in the list below.

  • The hard drive platter
  • The hard drive spindle
  • The hard drive head actuator
  • The hard drive read head and write head, and actuator
drive

The internal hard drive is connected to the mainframe of the computer by two cables. These are the data cable and the power cable. The data cable includes SATA, IDE, or SCI and is connected to the computer's motherboard while the power cable is connected to the power supply unit.

The hard drive is the crucial component that stores all user data, the operating system, and input drivers. Without the hard drive, the computer can not perform any task, so you may consider installing a hard drive monitoring software, as well.

Advantages of a Hard Drive

The advantages of a hard drive are listed below.

  • Hard drives are more durable than the SSD - Hard disk drives are more durable than solid-state drives. Solid-state drives are restrained to a limit of the number of writes and erase exercises. This implies that the SSD has a life limit; you'll be able to complete operations on it up to a certain number, after which it becomes functionless.  Hard disk drives are designed to handle much more tasks than the SSD before handling any more, meaning the hard drive will last longer than the SSD. 
  • The hard drive is more reliable than the SSD - The technology behind hard disks has been improved due to technological innovations. The hard disk drive has been enhanced to become more reliable, especially the modern hard disk drives. The modern generation hard disk drives are much faster than their predecessors in the early generations. Unlike the solid-state drives, which degrade their physical integrity due to frequent data writing and erasing, the hard drive can be written on and read for long without physical depreciation.
  • Hard drives are more cost-effective than the SSD - Hard drives are the preferred option for those on a budget. They are more affordable compared to solid-state drives.  The hard disk drives have a lower dollar pricing rate per storage gigabit, making it hard drives are typically the better deal. A hard drive having 1 TB of storage will cost much less than a solid-state drive with the same storage capacity.
  • Hard Drives are readily available and in surplus in the market - Hard drives are readily available in surplus supply in the market. The internal and external hard disk drives are available, even in the local electrical and devices hardware. This is the opposite when it comes to solid-state drives. The hard drive supply consists of hard drives that are mostly compatible with your PCs. This is an advantage to the HDD as the SSDs are not readily available and have limited stock. 
  • The Hard Drive has a greater storage memory compared to the SSD - Yes, a hard drive has a greater storage memory compared to their counterparts, the solid-state drives. It's more preferred by users who need internal drives that can accommodate large PC libraries. Hard disk drives' base storage capacity is higher than those of solid-state drives. The lowest HDD capacity available is 500GB, while solid-state drives have a base storage capacity of 128GB. 

However, the smaller storage capacity SSD can outdo a larger storage HDD in terms of price. 

The solid-state drives also have their advantages, including speed and better performance than the HDD. Ensure you understand their performance and features differences before deciding which to use in your PC. You also need to consider your computer needs. You can even install all of them to run concurrently on your PC. 


What to Do When Your PC Fails to Start After You Install a New Hard Disk

If your PC fails to start after you install a new hard disk, you can follow the set of instructions outlined below.

  1. Inspect the SATA cables to ascertain that they are correctly attached to the motherboard and the hard drive. A loose SATA cable can not transfer data; therefore, the PC can't start.
  2. If the SATA cables are faulty, replace them.
  3. Inspect the motherboard. Sometimes the motherboard might be faulty. 

Conclusion

The set of instructions discussed in this article will guide you when installing a new hard disk drive on your PC. Don't hesitate to liaise with the hard disk manufacturer if you find any challenge installing your new hard disk. 

Instead of removing your old hard disk, you can install the new one to co-exist with the existing hard disk. 

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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