How to Replace a Hard Drive in a Computer

By Lucinda Watrous

If your hard drive failed or you just want a larger storage capacity, then you need to know how to replace a hard drive. Sit back and relax, because by the time you make it to the end of this article, you will be prepared to replace your hard drive immediately. Realize that the process is the generally the same for all desktops, though minor differences may exist due to variations in computer cases. This article will not refer to replacing hard drives in laptop computers.

Things You'll Need

  • Replacement hard drive
  • Cables (existing ones will work, though some may come with your new drive)
  • Screwdriver
  • OS disc

Preparation and Removal of Hard Drive

Step 1

Back up information you want to keep onto an external hard drive, CD-R or DVD-R. If the hard drive has crashed, it may be impossible to recover data.

Step 2

Shut down the computer system and disconnect the power. Open the case.

Step 3

Locate the hard drive in the case. Remove any screws that hold the drive in place inside the case, along with the cables that connect it to the motherboard in your unit.

Inserting Replacement Hard Drive

Step 1

Before touching the hard drive, touch the metal casing of your computer to discharge any static electricity.

Step 2

Remove the hard drive from packaging, being careful not to touch internal parts.

Step 3

Connect the replacement hard drive to the motherboard using the existing cables. If you cannot use those, your hard drive should come with cables, and you can switch them out by removing the cables from the motherboard, too. Careful though, not all replacement drives will come with a power cable.

Step 4

Secure the replacement drive in place with screws, making sure the cable connections are secure as well.

Step 5

Replace the computer cover and power on the system.

Restoring Computer Glory

Step 1

When you reboot the system, you will be prompted to install the OS. Using your OS disc, install the OS.

Step 2

Using the backup discs or external storage, copy the data back to your replacement hard drive.

Step 3

Install any software you need or had on the previous hard drive, and enjoy.

Tips & Warnings

  • Windows does not allow anything in excess of 127GB to be used until it knows your computer can support it, so if you have anything larger, you must partition the drive in order to use it all.
  • Make sure you know if your computer uses IDE or SATA hard drive connections prior to looking for a replacement. SATA is the new standard, but IDE is still possible... the two will not connect without a converter box or cable that must be purchased separately, so it is easier to buy the correct one drive.

References & Resources