How to upgrade your laptop with an ssd install digital trends

Of this pair, the 2.5-inch drive is by far the most popular. Smaller 1.8-inch drives are found in some new laptops that offer an SSD as standard equip. But this is an upgrade guide, so that’s presumably not what you have. A 2.5-inch drive is what you’ll need.

Some Ultrabooks have extremely thin drive bays that won’t fit standard drives. You’ll instead need a drive that’s just 7-millimeters thick or less. Be prepared to hunt for slim drives because retailers do a poor job of advertising them. You may need to call the retailer or look up specifications on manufacturer websites.

There are two ways to handle the data on your existing hard drive. First, you can back up important files and start over with a new operating system install (make sure you have an install disc!).


This is an easy approach, but it can be time-consuming.

Cloning is not as simple as dragging and dropping. Everything, including the portions of the drive that allow Windows to use it as a boot device, must be copied. A growing number of SSD manufacturers are bundling software with their devices, but, if you’re left on your own, check out Norton Ghost, Arconis True Image, and Paragon Drive Copy. Don’t want to pay? Try ShadowCopy, XXClone, or MiniTool. Just remember that free software doesn’t have a customer support line to call if you are confused about the software or how it works.

Find a level surface with good lighting that you can work on. Place your laptop upside-down with the power unplugged and battery out (if possible). You should see a plastic cut-out panel in the bottom which is covered by multiple screws. Some laptops will have two panels, in which case you should remove the one marked by the hard drive symbol, an engraving that looks like three stacked discs.

Once you remove the screws, pry the cut-out panel off with a sharp object. You’re up a creek without a paddle if that panel breaks, so please, don’t Hulk out on it – just lift it gently. If one section seems stubborn, try loosening another instead.

With the panel off, the hard drive will be exposed. In a modern laptop, the drive is usually covered by a metal bracket or metallic wrap with a tab attached to it. Pull the tab gently out and up to remove the drive. Some laptops will have a loose connector, in which case the cable and SATA connector will begin to go with the drive. Detach it.

If your laptop uses a bracket, you’ll notice the drive is secured to the bracket by screws (usually four). Remove them to detach the drive, then place your new SSD into the bracket and use the same screws you removed to secure it. If your laptop doesn’t use a bracket, simply discard any wrap used by the previous drive.

Now slide the drive back into the bay and plug it in the SATA connector used by the old drive. Remember, SATA connectors have an L-shaped pattern, which makes them impossible to incorrectly install. You shouldn’t need to use much force if you’re installing the new drive correctly.

Your new hard drive doesn’t need an additional driver installation to function, but it may come with a disc of software tools that can help manage the drive. If no disc was shipped, as might be the case if you purchased a bare drive, you can download the software from the manufacturer’s support page.