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How to install a Desktop Hard Drive

Whether you're installing an IDE (aka ATA/PATA) or SATA drive (the newer hard drive choice), the installation process is pretty much the same and it’s also very easy. Please check look for your model on our site to be sure to get the right kind.

What you'll need:

  • Hard Drive
  • Interface cords (should be harvested from your old drive)
  • Screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers (IDE only)
  • Your computer
  • Optional Anti-Static Gloves

For my sample installation, I'll be using the IDE hard drive pictured above.


Step 1: Prepare your computer


To get your computer ready, you need to make it safe. That means turning off the switch on the back of the power supply unit. (If you're going to be using your PSU as a grounded metal source, you'll want to keep it plugged in. If you have another ground, (such as Anti-Static Gloves) it's best to unplug the computer completely.)
After turning off the power supply, wait at least 10 seconds before cracking open your case to allow the motherboard's capacitors to discharge. Now it's time to open up your case. This process varies from case to case, but it's relatively simple, especially with newer cases and usually involves the removal of a couple of screws and a side panel. This should give you easy access and plenty of room to install your new hard drive.


While working inside your case, be mindful of static electricity. To avoid building up a static charge that could potentially short out a component, some people use an anti-static strap to ground themselves (available from our site). Remember to touch a grounded metal surface from time to time to prevent a static charge from building. Touching your computer's power supply unit (provided it remains plugged in and turned off) should do the trick.


Step 3: Remove and Replace the old drive


Generally the hard drive bays are located toward the front of the PC. It should be easy to take out your old drive. Remove the cables and screws and place aside for the new drive. Some times hard drives are enclosed in a caddy, which will need to be harvested for the new drive.


Mounting the hard drive in your enclosure varies from case to case. On my case, the hard drive mounts to a slide that can easily snap in and out of the hard drive enclosure. Other cases require you to mount directly in the case. Either way, this isn't difficult. Just line up the screws with the holes in your hard drive and mount away. Some cases require you to mount to the side of the drive, others mount to the bottom.


Step 4: Find and connect the proper cables


From here out, it's a simple of matter of matching square pegs to square holes. First, use the power connector from your old drive and connect it to the new drive.

input identifier.jpg


Next, connect the interface cable to your hard drive. In my example, the cable is an IDE connector, but it's the same idea with an SATA drive. If you're installing an IDE drive, you’ll need to take note of the jumper settings for Master/Slave selection and make sure they are set correctly (should be the same as your old drive).


Step 5: Set the drive jumper (IDE only)


Setting the drive jumper is simple. Consult your drive's documentation to verify the jumper settings (jumper settings are generally printed on the drive). Using needle nose pliers, move the jumper to the appropriate setting for your installation.


Step 6: Finishing up

It's all pretty simple from here on out. Replace your computer's side panel and screw it into place. Plug in your power supply unit (remembering to flip the switch back on) and boot up.