How to Install an SSD

Whether you opt for a cheaper solid-state drive with lower capacity or a more expensive one with 1-2 terabytes (TB) of storage, installing an SSD is a relatively simple task. A Solid State Drive is invaluable for those who need fast load times on their computer. Although you may sacrifice storage and cost when you choose an SSD, it is still better than a regular HDD.

Things to Know Before Working on Hardware

Those of you who already built your PC or have a lot of experience with electrical components, feel free to skim through this section. If you’re new to the task, there are a few things you should know before opening your computer’s case and tinkering around.

When you open the case, you should have two goals in mind; one is to get your computer running the way you want, and two should be preventing more damage. There are precautions you can take to complete goal number two.

  • Unplug the power source – This may seem obvious, but it’s an easy thing to forget to do when you’re excited about your new SSD. Prevent electric shock to yourself or your hardware and unplug the power.
  • Be aware of your clothing – From personal experience, bracelets, rings, or baggy sleeves can cause problems and get in the way. You may not have that problem in particular but beware of static in your clothing.
  • Static – There is some debate on how likely you are to ruin computer hardware with static electricity. As someone who errs on the side of caution, use an ESD bracelet or static mat to prevent damage to your computer parts.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions – While we’ve provided an excellent tutorial, some manufacturers have particular instructions to help you along.
  • Organization – This one won’t hurt your computer, but it will help make the process much smoother. There’s no greater joy than opening a computer case and seeing all of the connectors and hardware neatly tucked away and in place—Plan where you will put your new SSD, and it’s accompanying cables. Then, get your tools ready and get to work.

Connect the SSD

motherboard-connections

You screw it into one of your PC case’s dedicated slots, then connect the power and data cables.

sata-ssd-connections

TIP: Make sure that your SSD is plugged into the lowest-numbered SATA port if it will become the default boot drive. For best performance, a type SATA3 port is best. Note that this does not mean port three on your motherboard; it means the type of SATA connection, similar to USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.

Follow the steps below for proper installation practices. Some manufacturers may include a set of instructions specific to that device, so be mindful to review any information that comes with your product.

Note: You will most likely need an adapter that converts 2.5-inch SSDs to a 3.5-inch width to fit in the drive slot. However, some PC cases may include 2.5-inch bays for use. Check your case or manual before purchasing a new SSD.

Step 1: Fit the SSD into the Bay

fit-ssd-into-drive-bay

Most solid-state drives (SSDs) get designed to fit in a 2.5-inch laptop drive bay, which may not work in a desktop PC. Some solid-state drives include mounting brackets to hold them in the drive bay correctly, so attach the drive to the size converter before you start.

Next, find a 3.5-inch drive bay. Be careful not to use an external bay, which has a cutout on the front of the case, as these are for memory card readers and DVD/Blu-Ray drives.

If your PC case has drive rails or screwless fittings, read the case’s manual for instructions on fitting your new SSD. For other case types, slide the hard disk into a spare drive bay until the screw holes in the side of the drive line up with the holes in the drive bay. The disk gets secured with four screws, two on both sides of the case.

Step 2: Plug the SATA power cable into the drive

connect-sata-data-cable-to-ssd

Locate the correct connector from your power supply and plug it into the back of your SSD. It goes in only one way and clicks when it’s connected.

Note: Be extremely careful when plugging it in, as downwards pressure can break the clip and without it, the power plug won’t stay in place.

Step 3: Plug the SATA Data Cable into the Drive

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Unlike IDE, SATA uses a simple and thin connector to carry data. Your motherboard will ship with several SATA cables, so take one of these from the box. Plug it gently into the rear of the SSD. It will plug in only one way and will click when it’s properly connected.

Be careful when you plug it in, as downwards pressure can break the connector and prevent the SATA cable from plugging in.

Step 4: Connect the SATA Data Cable into the Motherboard

connect-power-cable-to-ssd

Next, you need to find a spare SATA port on your motherboard. These are usually located at the bottom-right of the board and are numbered. The lower the number, the higher up the boot chain your SSD is.

If you’re installing more than one hard disk make sure the drive from which you’re going to boot is plugged into the lowest-numbered port. Check the motherboard’s manual to ensure that all the ports do the same thing; some boards have ports reserved for RAID.

Connecting the SATA cable is easy, as it will plug in only one way. It will click when the cable is connected properly.

Transfer Data from the Old Drive to the New One

Whether you’re using the Solid State Drive in addition to your existing drive, or you’ve made a complete swap, you’ll need to move your games and software over to the new drive.

Method 1: Move Files from Drive to Drive in Windows

Windows makes moving files really simple. Under ‘Settings’ and ‘My Computer’ you will find a list of folders containing the files on your computer.

Once your SSD is properly installed as above, the new drive will appear. You can now access the properties of each folder and move it to the SSD.

Method Two: Use Third-Party Software to Transfer Files

If you need to move your entire software setup including Windows, there are a lot of options for third-party software that will get the job done. Some SSDs come with the software already, but if not, you can search online for one that’ll help meet your specific needs.

2 thoughts on “How to Install an SSD”

Avatar Luke says:
So if I understand correctly, SSD uses the same cables that a SATA HDD uses? I plan to replace my SATA HDD with SSD on my i7 for the OS drive. The rest will remain SATA HDD.
Steve Larner Steve Larner says:
That’s correct.

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