Replacing the hard drive on your old computer or laptop can be a confusing job, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. However, it is well worth the hassle, because it will give your computer a great performance boost.
So, what is everything that you need to know about how to replace hard drive? It includes when to replace a hard drive, what precautions you should take, how to do it, etc. let’s begin.
Table of Contents
- Why Do You Need to Replace Hard Drive?
- Risks of Replacing the Hard Drive
- What do You Need to Replace Hard Drive?
- How to Replace Hard Drive
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Why Do You Need to Replace Hard Drive?
You will be needed to replace the hard drive in your computer for one of the following two reasons –
- Your current drive must have experienced a hardware failure or hard drive problem prompts and needs to be replaced.
- Or you may want to upgrade your primary hard drive for an increased speed or capacity.
Risks of Replacing the Hard Drive
You should never remove your computer’s hard drive if the drive is still functioning. But if you decide to, beware that removing the drive exposes it to static electricity which might damage its contents. When you are working with a hard drive or inside a computer generally, keep it in your head that it’s best to work on a clean, neat, dry surface and to always touch a grounded object like a table or a chair, etc. It is to ensure that you don’t transmit static to the fragile electronic components. A static shock or push may damage the sectors on the hard drive of your computer and could cause you to lose information accidentally.
You have to be extra cautious when replacing hard drive on your computer. Some nuisances and extra unknown functions to other hardware parts of your computer can bring serious damage to your computer.
The hard drive in your computer normally stores all of your files and eventually also the operating system, which is essential for using the computer. If you take the hard drive out all of a sudden and moreover, don’t put a new hard drive in, the computer will turn on still, but without a hard drive there will be an operating system, as a result, the computer won’t load and you will not be able to do anything with it; for, it will be useless.
What do You Need to Replace Hard Drive?
- Hard disk(Old and new)
You are going to need both of your hard drives (the old and the new one). Not all of the hard drives are the same. If you have an older laptop or PC, it is possible that the connector for the drive might not work with newer hard drives. Similarly, it is obvious that you’ll want to make sure the drive you buy should fit properly and in a convenient manner into your laptop or desktop PC bay. To find out what kind of drive will be appropriate for your computer, do a quick web search for your current drive manufacturer and also the model to get the size and thickness as well as interface with it.
Most laptops use 2.5-inch drives, but you should check yours to make sure that it suits your computer; you can find the info is on the drive label itself.
Hard drives generally come with either SATA or IDE data/power connectors. SATA usually comes in 3 different versions. You will need to check what your motherboard supports perfectly for itself to make sure you have the correct replacement drives. Moreover, hard drives also come with different physical sizes. Hard drives may either be a 2.5 inch or a 3.5-inch form factor now. 2.5-inch drives were basically used in laptops while the 3.5-inch drives were used in desktops. However, the popularity of 2.5-inch SSDs devices somehow has made 2.5 inch hard drives popular options for desktops now as well. Some computer case manufacturers have started including 2.5 inches hard drive cages in some of their newer designs. If you are planning to replace a 3.5-inch drive with a 2.5 drive, there is technically no problem; just make sure your computer case has support for it, otherwise, you may need to purchase an adapter kit.
- Cloning software
For data back up or to clone the necessary data from older drive to the newer one, you are going to need to use cloning software. Some of the software is- Acronis True Image, free Clonezilla and so on. By using them, you can save a total image of your current drive onto your existing external drive.
- Other necessary tools
You may need other tools, for example – data backup tools like flash drives or external hard drives, other software, connector cable, adapter kit and so on according to your situations.
Back up Your Valuable Data
To replace a hard drive, you need to have a backup of any data you want to keep, uninstall your old hard drive, install the new hard drive, and afterward restore the backed up data. In fact, Backing up the data is the most important step in this process. The hard drive isn’t that valuable, rather it’s the priceless files and group of data you’ve created and collected over the years. Backing up might mean something as simple as copying the necessary files you want over to a large flash drive or another storage device you’re not using. Better yet, if you’re not doing it regularly already; maybe, use this as an opportunity to start with cloud back up service.
There are many ways to back up your valuable data.
- Create image file to recover next time: If you have an external hard drive or network connected to a storage device, you don’t need to buy anything else besides the new hard drive. Using software such as Acronis True Image or free Clonezilla, you can save an image of your entire current drive onto your existing external drive or to a flash drive or the old drive itself. This copies the drive completely in a good way with data, applications, and settings intact.
- Deploy the recovery media to new disk: Then, you can physically replace the old drive in your computer with the new one, run the cloning software again on the new drive, and install the cloned image or mirror of your data you saved from that external drive or any other storing tool.
- Moreover, if you want to start afresh with your computer OS and applications install and just transfer your data. You can copy just the My Documents and other data folders you find important to the external drive. After replacing the drives, install Windows and your other important apps fresh on the new drive on your computer. Finally, copy the data or folders you saved to your external drive or to your storage device back to your new drive.
Copy Data From the Old Drive to the New Drive Directly
If you don’t want an intermediate drive to work between the old and the new drive in back up purpose, you can copy data directly from the old drive to the new drive. Connect your new drive to the laptop with the cable. Then use the cloning software to clone or copy the old drive onto the new one. Lately, replace the old drive with the new drive.
Clone the Disk to Newer Disk
Cloning disk to the newer disc can be one of the best upgrades you can do for your computer. If you do upgrade to a larger drive, you will gain much-needed storage space or at least a good productivity boost definitely from faster hard drive speeds. And with solid-state drives/ SSDs, dropping in a dramatic manner in price, you can really speed up your computer for very little investment.
Clone HDD to SSD (Best Option)
Installing a solid-state disk or SSD is one of the best ways to upgrade your Windows which we are quite familiar with. However, migrating your Windows installation to a smaller disk might be more complicated, because the data won’t necessarily all fit on the new disk.
When you try to migrate to an SSD, things get a little confusing. Instead of upgrading to a bigger drive, people usually migrate or copy Windows to smaller drives unknowingly, a lot of files like photos, music, movies, etc. may not all fit on the SSD. Fortunately, it has become pretty easy nowadays, and you can get all these done within some minutes. But what do you need before migrating to an SSD?
- Backup everything needed and then deletion your personal files.
Your documents, movies and music, games etc. from the current hard disk should be deleted, which will ultimately make your Windows installation small enough to fit on the SSD.
- Clone or copy your current disk/ drive onto the SSD, and completely erase your current drive.
For cloning you have to choose professional hard drive clone software which can create an exact copy of one hard drive to another one, keeping all the partitions and data including the operating system intact as they were on the original disk. Among many of the software, which one is the best for your PC and the data? Here you may try EaseUS Todo Backup, clone software, which will help you smoothly upgrade Windows system drive.
Clone Windows 10 to SSD
If you have been tired of waiting for your computer to boot up or your programs to load for you, then you want a solid-state drive or SSD on your machine. And when SSD is more affordable than ever, you should consider it of getting one for your desktop machine; but it might not quite familiar for you to migrate Windows 10 from HDD to SSD. The EaseUS Todo Backup is designed to solve this problem.
If Windows 10 is installed on a common regular hard disk, users may migrate windows 10 system to new SSD by cloning the whole system drive with the help of software. If you are looking for a free method to completely migrate Windows 10 from HDD to SSD, EaseUS Todo Backup Free can be the best choice for you.
The process is likely to be similar to my discussion above.
How to Replace Hard Drive
The steps to replace a hard drive are one of the easiest things in the world.
If your hard drive is somehow still working, make sure you make recovery disk or image or mirrors by using backup or recovery software. If your drive has already failed, I just can hope that you have your important files saved somewhere as a backup.
- Backup (for high-level security): This step is very important. For, the data are the most important thing than even the hard drives. There are many ways to back up data. As I have discussed them already, you can choose whatever you feel comfortable with.
- Get a new hard drive: Do make sure that you have the right type of hard drive for your computer. Frankly speaking, you want to replace your original drive with a similar drive to make the process easier, trouble-free, and simpler. Although it is possible in every sense that the hard drive’s capacity might be much higher on a newer replacement drive, you by instinct want to choose the same power connector type and the same to the same physical form factor as your original drive. However, sometimes you might not want to keep the same hard drive type also out of some personal usage problem, so be careful because good planning can help avoid problems later.
- Power off pc: After ensuring your valuable data backup and before replacing the hard drive you have to switch off your pc. Otherwise, it may damage your pc.
- Uninstall your computer hard drive: Open both sides of the computer case maybe by removing screws and sliding the panels off. Some computer cases may not use screws. If your case is a screw-less case, you will need to find the button that releases the panels. Remove the doors or panels as you can.
- Locate the hard drive. Most computers will have the hard drive that may be screwed within a cage inside the computer case. Carefully identify the data and the power connectors and slowly disconnect them. Remove any screws that are holding the drive to the computer case or maybe the hard drive cage. Once the screws are removed from there, you can slide the hard drive out of the cage or case of your computer.
- Install new hard drive: Install the hard drive by sliding the drive into its actual position in the case. This will be the same position as the original drive has. Carefully screw the drive-in and reconnect the data and power cables like before.
- Format new hard drive: You must format the new hard drive.
- Install operating system: Install the operating system you prefer.
- Transfer your valuable data: Finally, transfer all your valuable data and files to the newer drive. There are many ways to it. As I have discussed earlier in the data backup section, you can follow one of those methods.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Will I lose my Windows 10 license if I change hard drive?
Even though you will lose your Windows 10 license ifs you do a significant hardware change like the motherboard, changing hard drive is safe. Replacing your hard drive with a new one or an SSD will not result in your Windows 10 license being lost.
Can you replace hard drive without reinstalling Windows?
If you use the legacy backup application that came with your windows, then yes, you can replace hard drive without reinstalling windows.
Now you know everything there is to know about a hard drive replacement. If done properly, there’s no risk of damaging your computer or data. However, if you are unsure, it is wise to take professional help. Thanks for reading.