How to replace a hard disk drive.
Step 1: Back up and scout around
First, back up your critical files (don't forget your Outlook .PST archive) to optical discs, an external drive, or online storage. Then check whether a CD comes with the drive, providing drive-specific information and general upgrade assistance. It may also later help you copy the contents of one drive to another. Install this software first. Then, power down your PC, unplug all cables, and open the case. Next, ground yourself by touching a metal portion of the chassis.
Look inside—your first task is to determine where your new drive will go. Bays for internal drives are usually located below the wider, front-accessible bays that house CD or DVD drives. If you plan to replace your boot drive with the new drive and don't have an empty bay, your upgrade will involve more steps than we can cover here. But if you're replacing your boot drive and you have an empty bay, follow our steps for adding a second drive. After formatting it, use Norton Ghost (or a similar program) to clone your boot drive's contents to the new drive. Then, revisit steps 3 and 4 to direct your PC to boot from the new drive.
We'll be installing a SATA drive, but the process is similar for the other common drive type, IDE. SATA drives use a thin, seven-pin data cable; IDE drives use a 40-pin ribbon cable that's usually gray. If you're unsure which drive type your PC already has, check its documentation or label. Most PCs more than a year or two old employ IDE hard and optical drives, and don't support SATA unless they have a SATA PCI card installed. More-recent desktops may use (or just support) SATA drives but should support IDE, too.
Tip: If you transfer Windows XP from one drive to another, you may have to reauthorize Windows.
Step 2: Examine data and power connections
Most hard drive kits include a data cable (SATA or IDE, depending on the drive), a power adapter cable (with some SATA drives), and screws. If yours doesn't include cables, you can purchase them separately.
First, the data connection. If you're installing a SATA drive as secondary storage, follow the data cable from your current drive (assuming it's SATA, too) to the other end. See if an unused SATA port lies nearby on the motherboard or an interface card. If you can't find one, consult your PC's documentation.
If you're adding an IDE drive as a second drive, you may be able to connect it to the same data cable as your primary IDE drive, or along with an IDE optical drive. Look for a third, free connector in the middle of the cable that connects your currently installed IDE drive to the motherboard. Note that some older PCs use 40-conductor IDE cables, not the 80-conductor ones current drives require. (Compare your kit cable to the one installed—the 80-conductor variety has much thinner wires.) 80-conductor cables are backward-compatible (both types use the same 40-pin connector), so you can swap out a 40-conductor cable for your kit's 80 if need be. (The "master" drive goes at the end—see step 3.)
Next, consider the power connection. Our SATA drive has a 15-pin SATA power connector. If you already have a SATA drive installed, follow its power cable (the wider of the two connectors) to see if an unused power-supply lead with the same connector is nearby. If so, earmark that lead for your new drive. If it can't reach the empty bay, see if any bundled adapters help.
Some SATA drives also support familiar legacy Molex four-pin power connectors—you can use a Molex or SATA connector. If so, hunt for a free Molex-style lead. Still no match? Then you'll need an adapter, such as a Molex-to-SATA adapter (some kits bundle one), or a Y-adapter that splits a lead in two.
IDE drives are simpler: They always use Molex connectors. You just need a free Molex-style lead (or a Y-splitter).
Step 3: Mount and connect the drive
When installing SATA drives, jumper settings usually aren't an issue. That's not true of IDE, where a jumper indicates whether a drive is a primary ("master") or secondary ("slave") drive. Check its documentation for the proper setting. If your PC has only one IDE hard drive, it's probably set to "master." Assuming you chain another IDE drive off its cable, the new drive should be set to "slave." (You'll later have to change the jumper to "master"—and attach the drive to the cable's end—if you remove the original boot drive and make the new drive the boot drive.) Another option: Set both IDE drives on an 80-conductor cable to the Cable Select (CSEL) jumper setting. The PC will determine master/slave status according to the drives' placement on the cable ("master" at the end, "slave" in the middle).
Next, look at your current hard drive to see if mounting rails are attached to its sides. If so, screw a set onto the new drive (look inside the case for spares), then slide the drive into its bay. Otherwise, screw it directly into the bay. Four screws are sufficient. Usually, the label side points up; mimic the boot drive.
Attach one end of the SATA data cable (which is keyed for correct insertion) to a SATA port on the motherboard or interface card, the other to the drive. IDE data cables, also keyed, usually have a red stripe that lines up with the "pin 1" marking on the drive.
Next, plug the power-supply lead (keyed, too) that you scouted out in step 2 into the drive, including any necessary extender or adapter. Then close the case.
Step 4: Configure the BIOS
Next, boot into your PC's BIOS-setup utility to verify that it recognizes the new drive and positions it correctly in the drive hierarchy. (Check your PC's startup screen to determine which key launches the utility.) Once there, also check that "auto-detect" is selected for the drives, if an option. If the utility lets you select the boot order, give your intended boot drive priority over any other hard drive. This information may be under Boot Options, Boot Order, or Boot Sequence.
Save changes and exit the utility. Your PC will reboot.
Tip: Using a SATA PCI interface card? It may have its own BIOS to check.
Step 5: Partition and format your hard drive
Our PC runs Windows XP, which lets you partition and format drives within Windows. Older Windows versions, such as 98 and Me, make you do this from DOS.
With XP and 2000, though, use Windows' Disk Management utility. Click Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management, and choose Disk Management from the tree at left. Your new drive should appear, with a black bar indicating it isn't partitioned. Right-click the bar, and choose New Partition to launch the New Partition wizard.
Click Next, and check that Primary Partition is selected; click Next again, to the Specify Partition Size screen (don't change the partition size in the "Partition size in MB" field); and click Next to advance to another screen, on which "Assign the following drive letter" should be selected. Click Next yet again (to the Format Partition screen), and ensure that "Format this partition with the following settings" is selected and that the "File system" drop-down reads "NTFS." Click Next a final time, hit Finish, and formatting begins.
Formatting could take an hour or more, depending on drive capacity. But don't be surprised if your formatted drive has less capacity than the package claims. A 320GB drive, for instance, formats to about 300GB. Drive manufacturers advertise preformatted size, but a portion of the drive is inaccessible.