How Does a SATA Hard Drive Work?

By Josienita Borlongan

System Requirements

A SATA hard drive (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or Serial ATA) is a massive storage device that connects to the SATA on a motherboard using a SATA connector. It receives data transmission from the motherboard using the SATA connection inside the computer. In order for a SATA hard drive to work on a computer it is necessary to find out if the computer supports a SATA. One can accomplish this by checking the computer's system documentation. After confirmation, it is necessary to locate the SATA on the motherboard and the SATA connector. A system that is devoid of a SATA connection can still work with a SATA hard drive by using a SATA host adapter that is compatible to the computer and operating system. A SATA host adapter would need an appropriate device driver installed in order to work. Check the system's manual for compatibility requirements.

Cable Attachments

SATA hard drives make use of serial cable attachments. One end of the serial interface connects to the Serial ATA interface connector on the computer's motherboard or Serial ATA host adapter. Each computer has a different location for the SATA interface connector; therefore, it is necessary to consult the system's documentation to locate the connector before proceeding.


Attach one end of the serial interface cable to the SATA interface connector. Then, attach the interface power cables to the drives. Use four 6-32 UNC mounting screws on the bottom and side mounting holes. Insert the metric screws inside the mounting holes. Avoid over-tightening the screws to prevent damage to the drive. Close the computer case, and then restart the computer.


Run the system setup program while the computer is restarting. You can go to the BIOS by pressing ESC (escape), DELETE or the F1 key while the computer is starting up. Instruct the computer to auto detect the new hard drive. Save the settings then exit the setup program. Restart the computer again so that it recognizes the new hard drive. Troubleshoot if the computer still does not recognize the new hard drive. Some older systems may see a SATA hard drive as a SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) device if you are using a SATA host adapter. This is normal even if a SATA is not a SCSI, since a SATA is a new interface type.

References & Resources