Free computer hardware tutorials

How to Install a Hard Drive

Before we get started, it should be noted that while the most common hard drives used today are SATA, the system I'm using is IDE based. Besides having different types of connectors, the installment procedure is basically the same. SATA is discussed later.

To start, look at the side of the hard drive. You should see some screw holes.

Note: There are a variety of computer cases and many don't use screws to install drives. Check the case's specifications.

Slide the drive into the drive bay so that the screw holes of the bay and drive are aligned. Then, insert the screws.

Hard drive installation

Now, find the IDE connectors on the motherboard. They are labeled IDE1 and IDE2, although many modern boards have only one IDE connector.

IDE Connectors

Next, look at the IDE cable. The blue end plugs into the motherboard. Notice there's a notch on each connector. This is to ensure that you connect it correctly. It only fits one way. If this is the primary hard drive for the system, connect the cable to IDE 1.

IDE Cable

Now take the other end of the cable (black) and connect it to the 40-pin connector on the drive. Remember, the cable's notch makes it fit one way. Another way to tell if you're doing it correctly is to examine the cable. One side has a thin red stripe that runs the length of the cable. This red side is aligned with pin 1 on the drive.

IDE Cable

The last thing to attach is the power. Get a molex connector from the power supply, and insert it into the power connector. The yellow wire is always to the outside.

IDE power connection

That's it! To install a second IDE drive, it must be configured to be the slave drive by using the jumpers located between the 40-pin and power connectors. The default setting is master. Which jumper to use is listed on top of the drive. Attach it to the middle cable connector.

Installing SATA Drives:
Installing SATA drives is just like installing IDE's except for one major difference. Since SATA cables support one drive, there is no need for a slave configuration if you want to put in a second drive. Just use another connector. Many motherboards come with several SATA connectors and are labeled SATA 1, SATA 2, etc.

SATA connection

Plug one end of the cable into the motherboard and the other into the drive. Then attach the power. The cables fit one way. The boot drive's cable is inserted into SATA 1 on the motherboard.

SATA connection

Related Tutorials:
Introduction to Hard Drives
Installing Hard Drives