How to Install a New Drive in Your PC - dummies

By Dan Gookin

If you have decided that you need for file space or that you want to replace your old CD drive with an up-to-date DVD-RW, you need to know how to install one. It’s easier than you think. To shove a new drive into your computer’s case, follow these general steps:

  1. If you’re installing a SATA drive, ensure that you have a spare SATA cable handy.

    SATA drives don’t come with cables. You must buy a cable. But before you do, check inside the console. Some console designs feature SATA cables already in place by the locations where SATA drives are to be installed.

  2. Open the case.

  3. Locate the empty spot that will accept the new drive.

  4. Examine how the drive will be inserted.

    Sometimes, an optical drive must be inserted from the front of the console.

  5. Move things out of the way if necessary.

    For example, you may have to remove an expansion card to insert a hard drive. Or, you might have to slide open a cover or other internal hardware to accommodate the drive.

  6. If the drive needs attachments to be inserted, add them to the drive now.

    Some drives need rails to fit into a drive bay. Sometimes, screws need to be attached to the drive before it’s inserted. The screws help position the drive and keep it in place. Some newer systems may use drive caddies: You insert the drive into the caddy and then plug the caddy into the drive bay.

  7. Configure the ATA drive.

    Some drives have jumpers on the back. You must set the jumpers so the drive is recognized as either Drive 0, the first drive on the cable, or Drive 1, the second drive. This arrangement is also known as master-slave, in which the first drive is the master and the second drive is the slave. You cannot have two masters or two slaves or else the drives don’t work.

    Directions for configuring the jumpers on the drive are found on the top of the drive somewhere. Each drive will look slightly different.


  8. Place the drive into the bay.

  9. If necessary, anchor the drive.

    Some drives may snap into position, and others may require screws to anchor the drive. The screws line up with tiny holes on the side of the drive bay.

  10. Connect the power cable.

    It plugs in only one way.

    When you cannot find a power cable that matches the drive’s connector, you need a power cable adapter. These adapters can be found at computer stores (real computer stores, not warehouses) or ordered over the Internet.

  11. Connect the data cable.

    It plugs in only one way. If you’re adding an ATA slave drive, you connect it to the middle connector in the 50-pin ribbon cable. SATA cables plug in only one way — one end on the drive and the other on the motherboard.

  12. Replace anything you needed to remove.

    For example, reinstall an expansion card if necessary, or redo whatever you needed to undo to place the drive into its spot.

  13. Close the case.

    When you turn on the computer, Windows should instantly recognize the drive, giving it a drive letter and adding it to the list of drives in the Computer or My Computer window.

  • Video 187 covers installing a new disk drive into a PC.

  • You can reformat the drive if necessary. Or, you can assign the drive a new letter, which is often needed because the new hard drive may shift all the other drive letters in the computer. That can be bothersome.

  • To help locate the SATA connections on the motherboard, follow the SATA cable from an existing drive. Available SATA connections will be near wherever any existing SATA cables attach.