How to Replace a Hard Drive

In this tutorial I am going to show you how to replace a hard drive. Replacing computer components is usually a job for a qualified technician, however you can do it yourself.

When your computer hardware components, such as your hard drive, dies or you just need to upgrade, don’t pay big dollars for a computer technician or IT guy. Upgrade it yourself! Once you have done this you will realize how easy it is.

What Type of Hard Drive Do You Have?

  • IDE/ATA/PATA: Integrated Drive Electronics/Advanced Technology Attachment/Parallel ATA, connectors for older magnetic hard drives. Called IDE or ATA in its day, most people call it Parallel ATA (PATA) these days to distinguish it from the current standard, SATA.
  • SATA: Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, the current most popular way to connect magnetic disk drives or solid state drives inside your computer. Can be exceedingly fast. (See also eSATA.)

Now Days Laptops and PCs each have two common different connectors—PATA and SATA. Older PCs and laptops use Parallel ATA (PATA) drives. Note that a laptop PATA drive won’t work in a desktop computer without a special adapter, and a desktop drive won’t fit in a typical laptop. This is why you need to know what type of hard drive you have so you can replace it with the right one.

To Replace a Hard Drive you Will Need:

  • A replacement hard drive. If it is second-hand you should test it and format in an external hard drive case.
  • You should know how to open computer cases safely.
  • A Phillips head screw driver, possibly a normal screwdriver, or maybe nothing if you have thumb screws which can be undone by hand.
  • That’s it, presuming you are just upgrading and have an existing computer with a motherboard with hard drive cables still attached to it. Either SATA or IDE (which is pretty much outdated).

Below is a picture of a hard drive. It shows there are jumper pin settings, an IDE connection type, and a power connector. Some SATA drives do not have jumper pins and some do.

How to Replace an IDE Hard Drive

  1. Firstly you must make sure the power is off on your computer, remove all plugs at the back. WARNING: You are dealing with an electrical item, proceed at own risk. Don’t forget to read How To Open a computer case safely.
  2. Open case, usually with a Phillips head screw driver.
  3. Take note of how your old hard drive is plugged in and where. Then remove it. When you do not know anything, the key is to copy exactly what you have seen. (This is how I taught myself)
  4. There are three parts at the back of the hard drive. 1=Where the IDE cable goes. 2=Jumper setting pins. 3=Where the power goes. How to set jumper settings.
  5. On your replacement hard drive there will be a diagram of the jumper setting. Set it to cable select or master if it is the only hard drive in the computer.  If set wrong the system may not find or recognise the hard drive.
  6. Plug in the IDE. It will have a little notch in the top to show which way the cable goes in.
  7. Connect the power that runs from the computers power supply to the back of the hard drive.. See picture below. The power supply will also have the motherboard and any cd drives connected to it.
  8. Close your computer case, plug all of your cables, and turn the power on.
  9. The hard part comes now. You have to format and install an operating system.

Here’s how to format using Windows XP or Vista

Notes about how to install an IDE hard drive:

  • A blue end on the IDE cable means it is a cable select. A normal black one means you have to set the hard drive jumpers to either master or slave.
  • A master gets plugged into the end of the IDE cable.
  • If you want to upgrade your hard drive yourself but are still not sure, try asking someone if you can watch them do it first. If you do not know anyone to watch, try looking for a tutorial on Youtube.com.

If you wanted to add another hard drive you should have a master and a slave, selected with the jumper pins at the back of the harddrive. However the easiest way is to set them both to cable select. Then connect them on the same IDE Cable( they usually have two connections) but put the main hard drive on the last or end connection of the IDE cable. This way the one connected on the lower is the slave.

How to Replace a Sata Hard Drive

It is very similar to the tutorial above.

A SATA hard drive does not always have jumper pins, but if you watch this video below, it shows why you really need to check if the drive does have these pins.

This is also an interesting way to speed up your hard drive?

Comments

  1. Mike says

    A nice informative post it always amazes me how many people pay someone to fit a new hard drive. You may need to update the article to include a diagram for Sata and ssd hard drives which are now the norm for new computers.