Hardware Topic
   >  What to Upgrade
   >  Before you Begin
   >  Upgrading PC RAM
   >  Upgrading PCI/Graphics Cards
   >  Upgrading Drives
   >  Upgrading a PSU
   >  Upgrading a CPU
   >  Upgrading a Motherboard

 

Upgrading Hard/DVD/SSD Drives

When to Upgrade your Drives

There are normally only three reasons to upgrade your drives:

  • Failure of an existing drive
  • Increase in Capacity: for example, you have filled your current drive and need more space
  • Increase in Speed: for example, the computer is taking to long to boot, load in files from disc, etc.

An excellent way to dramatically reduce boot/shutdown and the time taken by the operating system to start/stop utilities is to put the operating system onto a small SSD or fast .. drive, leaving your data on the existing drive

An excellent way to dramatically reduce boot/shutdown and the time taken by the operating system to start/stop utilities is to put the operating system onto a small SSD or fast (e.g. 7200rpm cached or hybrid) drive, leaving your data on the existing drive.


Choose a Device for the Correct Interface

It is critical that you buy a drive of the correct interface type and that your motherboard also has a free socket of that type available. Nowadays, there are only two basic drive interfaces in use: the older IDE type and the current SATA standard.

Modern motherboards normally have one IDE and multiple SATA ports. However, there is a complication in that there are different versions of each (-normally they are backwards compatible), so be sure that if your motherboard only supports SATA2 (-also known as SATA 300Mbps) then you do not buy a SATA3 (-also known as SATA 600Mbps) drive by mistake!

If you have a suitable socket but it is already occupied, then you need to consider if you can can just exchange one drive for the other. Normally, this makes perfect sense, as the aim is usually to replace a slower device with a faster or larger one.

If you cannot identify the port types by opening the case and comparing it against the photos in the IDE and SATA sections, then it is best to search for your PC product/motherboard number using a search engine to try and see if you can find the original specifications. If your PC is relatively new this should work but the older the PC, the less likely the specs will still be available.


Removing an Existing Drive

The removal of a Drive is straightforward: the only fiddly part is securing the drives into the computer chassis on some cases:

  1. Back up any data you cannot afford to lose (-on all drives) before you begin, just in case things do not go according to plan!

  2. Before starting work, clear a flat work area and deploy anti-static controls

    Anti Static Mat
  3. Prepare an anti-static bag or box to place the old drive in once it is removed (-to avoid static damage)

  4. Ensure the power is off, then remove the access panel(s) from your computer case: these are located on either side of the case and will either be secured with screws or thumbwheels

    Case ThumbwheelsOpening the Case
  5. Locate the drive to remove and unplug both the data and power cables from the back of the drive. If you are going to replace the old drive with a new one, then leave the data cable connected to the port on the motherboard, ready to connect to the new drive. If you are not going to replace the drive (-and it is not attached to any other drives if it is an IDE cable) then remove the data cable from the motherboard port as well and store it somewhere safe for future use

    Removing Drive Cables
  6. If the drive is secured by screws then remove them now (-there are normally two on each side); if not secured with screws, then release the drive locking mechanism according to the case instructions. You may need to remove the other side of the case to access the second side of the drive - and in some cases, you may need to remove the entire drive bay to get better access

    Unscrewing a Drive on first sideUnscrewing a Drive on other side
  7. Once the drive has been unsecured, slide it backwards, towards the motherboard and lift it out of the bay. With some drives that have a front opening (-such as CD/DVDs) it is sometimes easier to extract these forwards instead of backwards. Again, in some cases, you may need to remove the entire drive bay to extract the drive

    Sliding the Drive backwards to remove it
  8. Place the removed drive in the anti-static bag or box prepared earlier

    Placing the Drive in an anti-static bagThe removed Drives in anti-static bags
  9. Repeat the above steps for any other drive that requires removal


Installing a new Drive

Installing a new drive is simply the reverse of the removal process:

  1. Before starting work, deploy anti-static controls and ensure the power is off

  2. Ensure the power is off, then remove the access panel(s) from your computer case: these are located on either side of the case and will either be secured with screws or thumbwheels

    Locating the thumbwheelsRemoving the case cover
  3. Locate a suitable free drive bay, then remove the new drive from it's packaging and - holding it by it's metal case sides to avoid touching any exposed electronic components - place it inside the case and slide it forwards into the bay. Ensure that the power/data connectors are facing rearwards, so you can plug the cables in!Removing the drive from the anti-static bagSliding a new drive forward into a spare bay

    Note: for smaller 2.5 inch drives (-such as SSDs), you may need to purchase a separate adaptor (-normally a metal bracket) to allow the drive to be secured in a standard 3.5 inch drive bay

  4. For front loading drives, such as CD,DVD or Blu-Ray drives, you will probably need to pop out a blanking plate in the front panel:Removing the front panel blanking plate

    Next, slide the new drive backwards, through the slot in the front panel, into the chassis:

    Sliding a new drive back into the bay

  5. Line the drive up with the securing holes. If the drive is secured by screws then insert them now (-there are normally two on each side); if not secured with screws, then snap the drive locking mechanism into place, according to the case instructions. You may need to remove the other side of the case to access the second side of the drive - and in some cases, you may need to remove the entire drive bay, fit the drive, then refit the drive bay again

    Securing the drive to the bay with screws
  6. Once the drive has been secured, find a spare power cable connector attached to the PSU (-there are normally several of these) and plug it into the power connector on the rear of the drive. For IDE drives, this will be a four pin Molex connector whilst for SATA, it will be a SATA Power Connector

  7. If this is a SATA drive, then plug the data cable into a free SATA port on the motherboard and then connect it to the data port on the back of the drive

    Cabling up the new drive
  8. If this is an IDE drive, then:

    • If you have an existing IDE drive in your machine, with a free slave connector (grey), then you can connect this to the data port of your drive. You may also have to set the jumper configuration on the back of the drive to indicate the device is to be used as a slave device (-see the drive manual for details)

    • If you have an free IDE port on your motherboard, you can connect the blue or white connector to this port and the black connector to the data port of your drive. You may also have to set the jumper configuration on the back of the drive to indicate the device is to be used as a master device (-see the drive manual for details)

  9. Repeat the above steps for any other drive that requires fitting


Post Installation

The new drive is now installed, but is blank! If you intend to use the new drive for the Operating System, you will need to install it to the new drive using the standard procedure. If you are using it as a data drive, you will need to format it for use by Linux before you can use it.


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