When you run out of free hard drive space, you can either remove something or add more space. While an external USB hard drive is an easy way to plug and play, it’s actually not perfect — they take up disk space, possibly an extra power outlet, use a valuable USB port, and tend to be slower than internal drives. Today let’s look at a more complex option for adding a second internal drive.
Now is the time to get familiar with the basics of your computer. We’ll only be focusing on the hard drive today, but the guide will give you a great overview of all the random connectors and ports you’ll see on the motherboard when you open it up.
Step 1. Determine if you can add another internal drive or not
Unfortunately, not all computers are the same. If you have a laptop or all-in-one device where the internals of the system are hidden behind a monitor — then the only option is to plug in a USB drive and you really shouldn’t think about opening it. If you have a thin desktop then read on as chances are you will have enough room for a second drive. If you have a medium to large tower, you can easily add a second drive, two or three! Refer to the table below if you are unsure.
Step 2: Backup
While we don’t expect any issues, it’s a good idea to back up your important data before making any changes to your hardware. We’ve covered some great backup options here.
Step 3: Open a Case
Before going any further, disconnect power from the case and all peripherals.
Most tower cases can only be removed with two screws. You need to remove the side that doesn’t have the motherboard, so look at the back of the system, find the USB/mouse ports and remove the OPPOSITE side.
Step 4: Get rid of any static electricity in your body
When touching the inside of a computer, technicians use a grounded wrist strap to reduce the risk of electrostatic buildup in the human body hitting any delicate components. For our purposes, it is enough to touch the radiator.
Step 5: Find your hard drive and its connectors
The internals of all computers are very similar. The hard drive is a fairly large piece of metal like this:
You should find it in a metal cage. Check now to see if you have room for another. A tower case can usually accommodate up to 3 or 4 drives, but a small desktop system can only fit one drive, in which case you’re out of luck and will need to consider upgrading the drive you already have. or use an external USB drive instead.
Step 6: Determine if you have a SATA or IDE drive
Look at the following picture and compare it with your drive. If you have the type on top, with a wide ribbon cable, this is a very old type of connection called IDE. Ideally you will have SATA. If you happen to be with an IDE drive, you’re out of luck, but I’m afraid that’s out of the scope of this guide. It’s getting harder to get IDE drives, and it’s a good sign that your computer is really getting old.
Check out the things included in it. One will be the strength. There are two possible types of power cables and you will of course need to find a spare in your system that you can use. They may be hidden somewhere, so keep a close eye on other power cables and try to find a spare.
Some hard drives can use any type of cable, but connecting it to the SATA type is easier, so I use those if available. If you have a spare power cable that is not SATA, you can still get a second drive, but you need to make sure it can accept a MOLEX type power cable, or you can purchase a MOLEX to SATA adapter for less than $10. ,
Next, follow the SATA (not power) data cable to the motherboard and see where it is connected. Different motherboards have different numbers of SATA ports, and older machines may even only have one. Obviously, if you can only find one SATA port, then you can only connect one SATA drive. If you see a few spare sockets, then congratulations — you can now go out and buy a second drive!
Step 7: Buying a Disc
There is very little between hard drive manufacturers and most hard drives that fail do so within the first week of use. On the technical side, you’re looking for a «3.5» SATA hard drive» and make sure you select a different «SATA cable» while you’re there — the salesperson should help you with that if you can’t find one.