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To remove and replace an internal hard disk drive.

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Overview

Internal hard disks connect to your computer's motherboard using an IDE interface or SATA interface. Most new hard drives come with either an IDE or SATA connection cable, depending on the type of drive.

To install an internal hard disk, you should be comfortable opening your computer case and connecting cables. Most desktop computers have room for at least two internal hard disks. Laptops generally only have room for only one hard disk, though some models may have other on-board connections. If you are replacing the primary hard disk rather than adding a secondary disk, you'll have to install Windows after you connect the disk.

Useful Information

Many IDE internal hard disks contain jumper pins that you must set to designate a hard disk as a primary disk where you install Windows or as a secondary disk where you store programs and files. These jumpers are small plastic sleeves that you must place on the correct metal jumper pins. For additional instructions, check the information that came with the internal hard disk.

Safety Information

Make sure that any time you are doing any internal work on a computer of any kind that you have a proper working area. That can include electrostatic discharge mats or wristbands, proper lighting and if necessary, ventilation. You never want to perform internal repairs while the power source is still connected as this can not only potentially cause hardware failure from discharge, but also can be a bodily hazard by electric shock! After you disconnect the power source, hit the power button several times to discharge any lingering electricity in the system before you begin.

To remove and replace an internal hard disk

1. Turn off your computer, disconnect the power, and remove your computer's cover. If you have a laptop, remove the battery from the computer as well as check the information from the manufacturer to find out if there is a panel you can remove to access the hard disk.

2. Unplug all cables connected to the hard disk, and then remove the hard disk. Pay attention to which cables you unplug, since you will plug the same cables into the new hard disk. If there are any screws holding in the hard disk, you'll need a small screwdriver to unscrew them. Many hard disks slide in and out of the case on rails. If you have questions, check the information that came with your computer.

3. Insert the new hard disk and connect it to the same cables that are in the same places as the hard disk you removed. One cable connects the disk to the computer's power supply, and the other cable connects the disk to the computer's motherboard. 

Laptop Users

If you have a laptop there will only be one SATA connection that satisfies both needs already installed and available, the only thing you'll have to do is plug it in and seat the drive in the tray. The previous drive may have a rubber spacer or bracket it was installed in, you will need to take that off and install it on the new drive.


To add a new internal hard disk (without removing an existing disk)

1. Turn off your computer, disconnect the power, and remove your computer's cover. If you have a laptop, remove the battery from the computer as well as check the information from the manufacturer to find out if there is a panel you can remove to access the hard disk.

2. Insert the new hard disk into an empty hard disk bay in your computer case. You might need a small screwdriver to screw the disk into your case. Different cases have different ways of holding hard disks. Many slide in and out of the case on rails. If your laptop has the ability to have another drive installed, you may need to purchase an internal hard drive bracket for laptop hard drives so that it can properly be seated and not cause issues.

3. Connect one cable from the computer's power supply to the power connector on the back of the hard disk. If you have a laptop this step is not included.

4. Depending on what type of hard disk you have, connect the IDE cable or SATA cable from the back of the disk to the IDE or SATA connector on the computer's motherboard. IDE cables are wide and flat with large connectors, while SATA cables are thin with small connectors. For more information, check the information that came with the hard disk. 

Laptop Users

If you have a laptop the SATA connector should already be in place. If there is not you may have to consult with your manufacturer for proper installation procedures. Some newer models may just have an additional bay for an M.2 or M.3 SATA connection. These do not require any cables but do have 1, sometimes 2 screws that will fasten it to the motherboard after you have plugged it into the slot. Consult with the user's manual or the manufacturer to determine which drive will be applicable with your computer.


Preparing to use a new hard disk

If you've installed your new hard disk correctly, your computer should recognize it. When you turn on your computer, the basic input/output system (BIOS) should automatically detect the new hard disk.

If you plan to use the new hard disk as the primary partition that contains Windows, then you'll have to install Windows on the disk before you can use your computer. You'll need a Windows installation disc to do this.

If you plan to use the new hard disk as a secondary disk (one that does not contain Windows), you should be able to see the new hard disk drive the next time you start your computer and log on to Windows. After Windows starts, click the Windows Start button, click Computer, and then look for your new drive. The letter assigned to the drive will depend on your computer's configuration. If you don't see the new hard disk drive, try looking for it in Computer Management.

If you are using Windows 8, after Windows starts, click the Windows start button then click on the Search icon on the top right hand corner and search Everywhere for "This PC" and then look for your new drive. 

1. Open Computer Management by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Security, clicking Administrative Tools, and then double-clicking Computer Management. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

2. In the left pane, under Storage, click Disk Management, and then look for the new drive.

Windows 8, 8.1 and 10

1. Click on Windows Start icon on the bottom left hand side of Desktop, search for Control Panel, click on System and Security, click on Administrative Tools and then double-click on Computer Management. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

2. In the left pane, under Storage, click Disk Management, and then look for the new drive.

 

If your computer doesn't recognize the new hard disk, double-check the installation instructions that came with the hard disk. If you have additional questions, go to the manufacturer's website.

Useful Information

You can divide a new hard disk into more than one partition. Each partition on the hard disk can be formatted and assigned a drive letter. For more information, check here.

Sources and Relevant Links


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