Installing a second hard drive

If you find that you are running out of hard drive space, why not think about installing a second drive? External hard disk drives are great for backups and portability, but they are slower than internal drives and take up more resources.

Before you can even think about installing a second hard disk drive, you need to establish whether your system actually has any capability. Mid to full size desktop towers are usually fine, but if you have a slim-line desktop or all in one setup, you will be limited. As always, before attempting to install a second drive, backup your data and verify the backup.

Once you are ready, unplug the desktop from the mains power. Then press the on button to get rid of any residual power. The side of the tower will likely be fixed with screws on the back. Once these have been removed, the side should simply slide off. To know which side to remove, look for the USB/mouse ports on the rear and remove the opposite side. Before handling any electronic components, rid yourself of any static electricity. A simply way is to touch a radiator.

Inside your tower will be a metal cage holding the hard drive. Attached to the hard drive will be a power and interface leads – perhaps SATA or IDE. There should be a spare power connector for your second hard drive and you will need to look on the motherboard for a spare interface port. Make sure your new hard disk drive has the right interface – either SATA or IDE and connect both the power and interface connections and fit into the cage.

When you turn the computer back on you may need to access the BIOS and look in the Advanced or Boot menu to identify which hard drive to boot from. Enter the BIOS by hitting the DEL or F2 keys after powering up. If your new drive doesn’t show up in the BIOS, check all the cables. Once booted, to confirm that Windows recognises the drive, open up the Device Manager and check for the drive in the Disk Drives section. Thereafter, you will need to partition and format the drive using Disk Management. Congratulations, your second hard disk drive is now ready for use!