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Replacing the Hard Drive in a Laptop

written by: Jesma•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 4/30/2009

Whether you want a larger hard drive or you need a new one because yours failed, we can help you find a replacement hard drive for your laptop and install it yourself.

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    A 2.5inch Laptop Hard Drive Traditionally laptops do not come endowed with very large hard drivers. I know that when I bought a laptop just last year, I got the largest hard drive I could and have already filled it up. Is the problem that you can only fit so much storage into a 2.5inch drive? Not really, with technology as it stands we are already seeing 500GB and larger laptop hard drives. You know you want one.

    So if you're saddled with a low capacity hard drive, or even a laptop hard drive that doesn't even work, you're not out of luck. Fortunately, replacing the hard drive in a laptop is an extremely simple procedure - most of the time.

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    Finding a Replacement Hard Drive

    The single most important thing you need to ensure you find in a replacement drive is the same bus type. The most common types at ATA-6, SATA 1.5GB/s, and SATA 3GB/s. Your new laptop hard drive may be the best thing on the market but if it uses an incompatible interface then you're out of luck. The easiest way to find out what kind of interface your hard drive needs is to look at your laptop's documentation. You can usually do this online by visiting the manufacturers website and looking for documentation by model number. If the laptop manufacturer's website does not give you what you need, you can instead look at documentation on your specific hard drive.

    To do this, you'll need to remove the hard drive from the laptop (discussed below) and read the sticker. You'll need the name of the manufacturer (Fujitsu, Western Digital, etc.) and the serial number (SN:). Do a search for the model number on the manufacturer's website and you'll find the information you need.

    As far as purchasing the hard drive goes, you have several options:

    a) Manufacturer - Most laptop manufacturers will sell laptop hard drives as replacements or upgrades. You won't get the best price from them most of the time, but you will skip the hassle of ensuring that your laptop is compatible with the new hard drive.

    b) From a Retail Website - There are plenty of hardware retail websites out there that offer great deals on laptop hard drives. Prices tend to be lower, but you also have to pay some shipping cost. Finding what you need is relatively simple on sites like, so I recommend looking there first.

    c) At the Electronics Store - You can sometimes find what you need at electronics stores. So long as they sell more computer parts than they do music cds, you should be in luck. Prices will usually be higher, but it saves you the hassle of shipping waits and costs.

    d) Used - After many years dealing with hundreds of hard drives, I can sincerely say that I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that brand new hard drives and 3-year-old hard drives have the exact same chance of failure. As such, I don't discourage people from buying used hard drives if it saves them money. With the low cost of storage these days, though, most will choose to pay for new.

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    I Have a New Compatible Drive! .... Now What?

    After you've obtained your new hard drive (or, are still trying to find out the type and need to remove it), you need step by step instructions on how to do the physical act of replacing it. Even if you're not a very technically inclined person, replacing a laptop hard drive is easy to do. The basic steps are:

    1. Unplug the power.

    2. Remove the battery.

    3. Located the hard drive access panel (may require use of documentation).

    4. Unscrew hard drive cage.

    5. Remove hard drive from cage.

    6. Remove the pin adapter.


    A much more detailed guide can be found here.