How to Install an SSD

Whether you opt for a traditional hard disk or a newer (and more expensive) SSD, installing your storage in a PC is a relatively simple task. A Solid State Drive is invaluable for those who need fast load times on their computer.

Although you may be sacrificing storage and/or cost when you choose an SSD, it is still better than a regular drive and rather simple to install.

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

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TIP: Make sure that your SSD is plugged into the lowest-numbered SATA port in order for it to be the default boot drive. If available, a SATA3 port should be used for the best performance.

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Things to Know Before Working on Hardware

If you’ve built your own PC already, or you have a lot of experience with electrical components, feel free to skip this part. But, if you’re new, 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 just get in the way. You may not have that problem in particular but definitely 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 very specific instructions to help you along.
  • Organization – This one won’t hurt your computer, but it will help to make the process much smoother. There’s no greater joy than opening a computer case and seeing all of the cables and hardware neatly tucked in its place. Plan ahead where you will put your new SSD and it’s accompanying cables. Then, get your tools ready and get to work.

How to Install the SSD

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

1. Fit SSD Into the Bay

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Most solid-state drives (SSDs) are designed to fit in a 2½in laptop drive bay, which you won’t find in a PC. Fortunately, they come with mounting brackets to get them to fit, so screw these in before you start.

Next, find a 3½in 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 floppy disk drives.

If your case has drive rails or screwless fittings, read the case’s manual for instructions on how to fit your drive. For other cases, 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 should then be secured with four screws, two on either side of the case.

2. Plug in the SATA power

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In the main picture opposite, you can see the SATA power connector on the hard disk and on the power supply. 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 surrounding the power connector. If you do this, the power plug won’t stay in place.

3. Plug in the SATA data cable

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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.

4. Plug SATA Data Cable into the Motherboard

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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.

Moving Your Data Over

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 One: Moving Files

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: Third-Party Software

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.

One thought 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.

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