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How to Replace a Hard Drive

April 9th, 2010

hard-drive-replacement.jpgThis article will walk you through the process of replacing a hard drive on a desktop, Windows based computer. Sending a computer to a shop for repairs can be costly, but the actual cost of a new hard drive should be less than a hundred dollars, and perhaps less than fifty. If you are handy with a screwdriver and have a little patience, you can accomplish this task yourself.

The article assumes that you have tried and failed to repair or recover the existing hard drive or need it replaced for some other reason. You will need the original software or recovery CD that came with the computer, including Windows. If you don’t have the software to reinstall on the computer and would need to buy new software, you would probably be better off buying a new computer with the software already installed.

First, you will need the new hard drive. The easiest way to do this is by ordering it from the manufacturer using the model of the computer as a guide. You will then be given a choice of sizes. Depending on how much data you store, you may want to get a replacement at least as large as the one you are replacing. These are not very expensive. The other way would be to follow the instructions for removing the old hard drive and using the model information to determine the replacement. It doesn’t have to be the same brand, but should be the same type, for example, Enhanced IDE Hard drive.

To remove the old hard drive, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for opening up the computer. This may involve removing several screws, or may simply be a couple of buttons to push and the lid swings up or out. Make sure you have the power unplugged first. Identify the hard drive and remove the two cables attached to the back. The wide thin one is the controller, and the other one is the power supply.

Once you have unplugged the cables, you need to remove the hard drive itself. Again, you may need to reference the manufacturer’s website or documentation, but this usually involves sliding or swinging the hard drive out and removing four screws. Once you have removed the old non-working hard drive, reverse the procedure with the new one. Once all the cables are back in place, close up the computer and try to start it.

You should receive the same error message you got before you started all this, so don’t panic. The new hard drive doesn’t have anything on it, and the computer doesn’t know what to do with it. This is where you put in the recovery or reinstallation CD into the CD drive and restart the computer. You will need to follow the on screen prompts or manufacturer’s instructions to get to the boot menu and tell it to boot from the CD instead of the hard drive.

Once you do that, restart the computer and it should start reading from the CD drive. It will display prompts on the screen which will walk you through a complete reinstall of Windows. Once Windows is through installing, you can reinstall other software and copy your data from backup.

Somewhat related article: Firewire External Hard Drive Review

This article on replacing a hard drive was supplied by Darryl Brooks from Constant Content.

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