Some things in life should scare folks, but when it comes to the prospect of swapping a hard drive, the level of concern for messing up thousands of dollars invested in a computer is usually unwarranted. This article aims to demystify the challenge and make removing and re-installing a new hard drive as easy as pie.
Before listing out the individual steps involved with simple, straight forward descriptions, some general warnings might be appropriate. Not to worry, however, nothing said in the following paragraphs should cause one to reach for the box of tissues!
Having respect for the delicate nature of the computer will provide anyone attempting to work on its innards with the proper amount of caution. The last thing one wants is to start swinging a sledge hammer in the china shop that is inside their computer case. With that in mind, having a clean work space with enough room to lay out parts is important.
Equally as important is having proper lighting, and if one is concerned with cleanliness a vacuum with hose attachment to suck up dust and dirt particles (which tend to accumulate inside a computer case) will make life cleaner and easier.
Finally, having an anti-static band to wear around the wrist will help prevent accidental discharge which naturally accumulates on the body to the mother board of the computer. This could cause damage to the system, so caution along those lines is most certainly warranted. Now, on to the good stuff.
Replacing a Hard Drive In 7 Steps
- Open the Computer Case: It is important to understand how the specific computer in question opens. There tend to be lot of screws on the back and sides of most modern PCs and understanding which ones should be loosened when accessing the inside is important. If a guide came with the computer, consult it. If not, a little common sense goes a long way. Once the case is opened (usually a side panel is removed) one should have complete visual access to the mother board, hard drives, and various other components.
- Determine the Hard Drive Mounting Mechanism: Older computer cases tend to mount their drives inside cages. Some are permanently affixed to the internal skeleton of the computer, other cage styles are removable, however the drives still need to be released from the cage. Some newer computers simply have sliding rails the drives rest on. Once the style is determined there should only be four screws holding the drive to the cage. Remove those fasteners, and the drive should slide right out. Oh, be sure to unplug the flat, ribbon cable which connects the drive to the motherboard.
- Gently Remove the Drive: Care should be taken when sliding the drive out of the cage, especially if the cage is still internal to the computer. Space is at a premium inside so pay attention to what might get hit or jostled during the drive removal.
- Removal of the IDE Ribbon: Older systems usually have a wide, flat ribbon style cable that is tightly affixed to the drive. Some gentle pressure should be applied to one side of the plug, and then the other. Rough handling here could cause damage to the delicate copper pins on the back of the hard drive. Unless the ribbon cable is suspected of being bad, it is not suggested to remove it from the motherboard.
- Check the Jumper Settings: Compare the back of the old drive with the new. One should find a small, black bit of plastic on a pair of thin, short copper wires. The new drive needs to have its jumper settings exactly like the old one. Industry standards provide for all drive manufactures to make these settings the same, so confusion is at a minimum.
- Slide the New Drive In: One the jumpers are in place, it tends to be easier to re-plug the IDE cable (oh, and the drive’s power cord!) before the drive is slid back into place. Again, the old drive and new should look the same at this point. With the rest of the space still in consideration, gently slide in the drive and align its screw holes with the cage.
- Tighten Up and Close Up: Some variation on where holes are located on newer drives might exist at this point, however general industry standards should prevail from the perspective of where one inserts the screws to lock the drive solidly in place. Once that is done, replace the computer’s side panel and restart the machine.
This is a guest post by author John Fritter. John likes to share his expertise in the computer technology and cable assembly fields to help others solve their technology issues.
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