The scene inside a computer can seem like a mess of cables and space-age components. But once you know the basic landscape of PC assembling, you’ll discover a beautiful simplicity to it all. It’s especially important to understand how computers work if your company is still growing you and don’t yet have a dedicated team of IT professionals on staff.
A good way to learn about your system’s hardware is to undertake a hard drive replacement (a process that can boost performance and speed). Although it’s beneficial and less risky to have a professional handle the procedure, it can be enlightening to know how it’s done.
Following these tips can help you avoid common pitfalls — here are the key steps:
1. Install New Software
In many cases, a new hard drive will come with software that needs installation. Many hard drive replacements can be done without this step, but read the hard drive’s manual to find out what’s recommended.
2. Remove the Panels from the Case
First, be sure to ground yourself by wearing an anti-static wristband or keeping one hand on the metal part of the case. Then unscrew the panel (the large metal sheet on the back) on the case. In some instances, this step will require taking off the entire case and setting it aside.
3. Pause and Take a Look at the Components and Cables
When replacing a drive, cables may need to be moved or other components shifted. Understand where everything goes before making any shifts. You might even want to take a digital photo as a reference, so you can double-check your work at the end of the replacement. Especially important is to look at where the current drive is plugged into the motherboard.
4. Remove the Existing Drive and Insert the New One
A hard drive will be in a square or rectangular space called a “cage,” although it’s really more of a fence around the drive. The drive is screwed into the cage. To replace the drive, unscrew and carefully remove it. Mount the new drive. This process will vary depending on the drive. But in most cases, the drive should slide into the space easily. Secure it with the screws.
5. Connect the Cables
You’ll need to plug in the data cable and the power cable. This process, too, will vary depending on what kind of drive you have. For a SATA drive, the data cable will plug into the SATA channel that’s marked on the motherboard. For an IDE drive, find the IDE channel on the motherboard and connect it there.
6. Set the Drive Jumper
For IDE drives, drive jumpers must be tweaked. Jumpers are connectors with tiny pins that help to determine how the drive will be used. Consult the drive’s manual to verify jumper settings and locations. These are usually printed on the drive itself as well. Using needlenose pliers, move the jumper to the correct designation. If the drive will be your PC’s new main drive, the setting you want is “Master,” a word that will appear below that portion of the jumper.
7. Put Everything Back into Place
Now is a good time to refer to that photo you took and make sure all cables and components are back where they belong. If everything looks right, replace the panel or case, screw it into place and plug in the power supply. Boot up and see if you were successful.
Opening up a PC and getting to know the jumble within may seem intimidating at first. By taking a process like hard-drive replacement one step at a time, however, it’s much easier to navigate the inner workings.
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