How to install a hard drive in your computer

How to install a hard drive in your computer

Installing an internal hard drive is one of the more straightforward upgrades out there—and is often a better option than using external drives that may be dropped or misplaced. 

The process usually requires no more than mounting it, connecting a couple of cables, and formatting the drive for use. Still, there are a few things you should know to make installation as smooth as possible. 

Installing a hard drive in your PC doesn’t necessarily follow the same procedure as installing an SSD. If you’ve opted for a solid-state drive, be sure to check out our companion guides explaining how to install an SSD in a desktop and a laptop. SSDs tend to offer much faster speeds than hard drives, but hard drives offer significantly more capacity at lower prices.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, if you’re looking for a hard drive to install in your computer, these are some highly regarded options. All three spin at 7,200 revolutions per minute (RPM), the fastest speed available in consumer hard drives.

  • Seagate BarraCuda: 2TB for $55, 4TB for $90, 8TB for $140, more sizes available.
  • Toshiba X300: 4TB for $95, more sizes available
  • WD Black: 1TB for $70, 2TB for $100, 8TB for $250, more sizes available.

Now let’s get this hard drive installed in your computer.

Drive cages, bays, and mounting options

Internal 3.5-inch hard disk drives are typically mounted in a drive cage or in an available drive bay. Placement and orientation of the cages or bays will vary from case to case. The most common location is at the lower front, near the intake fans and away from other components. Drive cages/bays will most often be mounted perpendicular to the bottom of the chassis, while drives mounted in the cages usually sit parallel to the bottom of the case.

hard drive screw cage mount Marco Chiappetta

Screws are the best way to secure your hard drive into your case’s drive cage. Magnet-tipped screw drivers can help keep you from dropping screws in difficult-to-reach places.

In mainstream cases, drive connectors will typically point to the rear. In enthusiast-class cases, it’s becoming more common to see the drive’s connectors facing the right side, making it easier to route and hide cables behind the motherboard tray. Some enthusiast-class also cases give users the ability to remove drive cages or to mount them in different positions to optimize air flow and simplify cable management.

Mounting your hard drive

Physically mounting the hard drive in a PC is probably the most difficult part of the installation process.

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