I recently was finally able to ditch the old traditional hard drive in my computer for an SSD drive. Why did I do this? Well, I was tired of the lack of speed and response while trying to work and quite frankly it was driving me bonkers. That and I didn’t win the giveaway to win one. So when I finally was able to get my hands on one you know I had to write up my experience with it. This is my how to replace a hard drive in your computer – which is a lot easier than some people might think.
Why Do You Need to Replace Your Hard Drive?
For a lot of people you won’t need to. If you are happy with the way your computer is running and you have enough space to store all of your applications, pictures, games etc. But for people like myself? The hard drive is that last bottle neck to getting your computer to work the way you want it to. Of course the other reason is that you are forced to as the old one bit the dust. Hopefully you had a backup of all your important stuff before that happened.
Traditional Hard Drives vs. SSD Hard Drive
This is a pretty “top level” view of the differences between hard drives. I’m not going into fancy technical jargon here.
Traditional Hard Drives
The old traditional hard drives a akin to record players in a way. You have a platter that is like a vinyl record. It has data stored on it. To read that data you have a “needle” that finds the data on the platter. To do all of this you have additional hardware to tell it how to find the data. All of this combined you have to imagine that record now spinning at 5400 RPM (or higher) with the needle dancing all of the place to find and retrieve the information onto your screen.
This translates into a few issues though:
- The data stored isn’t stored is magnetic and highly subject to being corrupted
- Unlike a record which has grooves – the data can easily be scattered wherever there is free space
- To find that data the “needle” has to jump around to find the information which takes time to find and put it back together to display it correctly
- You have a lot of moving parts which generate heat and wear out/break over time
- Heat is bad for computers and your data
SSD Hard Drive
If you have a digital camera you probably already own one of these. Albeit a much more simpler version with a lot less space. An SSD Drive or “Solid State” is pretty much a much larger version of that compact flash drive in your digital camera. It just has the extra bits on it so you can plug it into your computer and use it like a traditional hard drive.
What this translates to:
- It has no moving parts
- It runs cooler
- You can get your data a LOT faster
So now you know the benefits on with the tutorial!
How to Replace a Hard Drive On Your Computer
Now before you read any further here. I do want you to make sure that you have everything you need before even thinking about replacing the hard drive. Do you have the Operating System or a Restore Disk that came with your computer? Do you have all of the necessary drivers, application disks, game disks etc that you will need BEFORE you do this? If the answer is no? Then I suggest making sure you have everything ready to go otherwise you will have a computer with a shiny new hard drive – and then won’t be able to use it. Just something to think about.
Purchase the Replacement Hard Drive
The steps to replacing your hard drive:
- Purchase the replacement hard drive
- Backing up your data
- Power Down Computer
- Remove the Old Hard Drive
- Install the New One
- Format, Re-Install OS, Applications etc.
I opted to get a Kingston 120gb SSD drive off of Amazon. Why? It was the ‘best bang for your buck’ type of deal. While a lot of other drives are going for almost 1$ plus per gb this one is around $80.00 from Amazon. Of course you can use this tutorial to replace a standard hard drive the same way, I highly suggest if you want better overall performance of your computer to get the SSD drive instead!
Backup Your Data
You should already be doing this of course. But you want to make sure that you have everything you care about saving backed up onto disks or an external hard drive before replacing your existing hard drive. Of course if your doing this because the existing hard drive failed? Then you can skip this of course…. and I still hoped you had a backup. I hate losing data. 🙁
Power Off Your Computer
I know this goes without saying you will first need to power your computer down completely. Then unplug it and hold down the power button for a few seconds. This will disperse any electricity that might still be resident in the system. Then unplug everything, keyboard, mouse, monitor etc. so you can easily work on it.
Warning: You should always use an anti static wrist strap to make sure you are grounded at all times to make sure you don’t zap anything. With that being said as long as you aren’t in your fuzzy socks and dragging them on your shag carpet before you work on your computer? You can get away with just touching the metal case and you should be fine.
Removing the Existing Hard Drive
In this example I’m using an SSD Drive and SATA connection. The same process can be used for older systems that use the old IDE cables.
- Depending on the type of case you have this should be a simple process:
- You will need to take off both sides of the case to be able to access the screws holding the hard drive in place.
- Unplug the power and data cable connecting to the hard drive.
- Remove the screws using a Phillips head screw driver
- Pull out the old hard drive
Installing the New Hard Drive
Now you reverse the order for the removal process:
- Insert the new hard drive
- Replace the screws securing it in place
- Plug the power and data cables back in. They can only go in the one way so just play “match the shape” and you will be OK
- Replace the sides of the case and screws holding it together.
Note: If you plan on installing the SSD drive – you will most likely need to purchase a special adapter so it fits into your computer.
Re-Install the OS, Drivers, Applications, Etc.
Now its the moment of truth. You will need an Operating System disk. Either your manufacturer provided one (hopefully) or you purchased one. Of course you could always switch to Linux which is 100% free 🙂 And of course you will need any of the other application disks or re-download the software from the internet. Unfortunately for some this means it could get quite expensive quick considering the costs of Windows, Office, and Photoshop.
Another route you could take is to clone the old hard drive to the new one before you install it. There is some free software out there that will work great if you can figure it out. Clonezilla is a free linux based one that does a great job of cloning disks. The only issue is if the old hard drive is larger than the one you are replacing it with this solution will not work. The great thing about this is that you won’t have to spend the few hours restoring your OS, installing any necessary drivers, applications, and games back onto the new hard drive.
What was the Benefit of Doing This?
Well, I now have a computer that boots up to the desktop all the way in less than 30 seconds. Large applications that used to take a few minutes to start now take seconds. I can have as many tabs open in Chrome as I feel like without it crashing. Overall the computer feels like it has a new life to it and I am finally accessing its full potential.
I hope you found this how to informative. No longer do you have to worry about jumper settings or anything goofy like you did with older systems. Now it literally is “plug-n-play” when you want to replace a part in your computer. If you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment below and I will do my best to assist you with it 🙂