How to Replace a Dell Hard Drive

By Sara Williams

Dell makes most of its computers easy to work on by including things like special rails on the internal drives. Removing a drive from a Dell does not require tools, although a Philips head screwdriver is required to take the rails from one drive and put them on a new one. Finding a new part for a Dell computer, including hard drives, is easy due to the part number listed on each part and their many replacement parts sold online. However, a Dell hard drive need not be replaced by one with the same part number.

Things You'll Need

  • Small Philips head screw driver

Step 1

Take the computer to a flat, clean surface such as your desk or kitchen table. Open the case and locate the drives; they are held into place typically by green, plastic rails. Find the hard drive, which is the one that does not stick out the front of the case (i.e., not the optical drive). Disconnect the two cables attached to the drive.

Step 2

Pinch the ends of the rails together and pull upward to remove the drive. Find the Dell part number on the drive, which is prefixed by "DP/N." At this point, if you wish, go to Dell's website and input the part number in their search bar to look for replacements. However, non-system specific drives also work in Dell computers.

Step 3

Look at the drive's label and find the interface type. Interfaces for personal computer (PC) drives typically include either Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA). Drives using IDE are easily recognizable by the two rows of pins on one end of the drive. Other specifications of the drive are only important if you wish to replace the drive with one of the same exact capacity and speed. Capacity is listed in gigabytes (GB), and speed is labeled as rotations per minute (RPM).

Step 4

To buy a replacement drive through a site other than Dell's, use the information you got from the drive label and look for a drive with the same interface type. Drives are found online at sites like TigerDirect or NewEgg and at computer or electronics stores.

Step 5

Using a Philips head screw driver, remove the rails from the old drive. Screw the rails onto the new drive, with the indented ends sticking out on the end of the drive where the cables are going to plug in. Slide the drive back into the bay you removed it from. Plug in the same two cables you previously removed from the old drive.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your computer only used one hard drive, and you remove it, Windows is no longer on your computer and must be re-installed on the new drive.
  • Never drop a hard drive, and always store it in a static-free bag.

References & Resources