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how to install a second hard drive

Do you know how to install a second hard drive in the laptop or desktop PC? Do you know how to prepare it in Windows 10 for use? Read this post to get a step-by-step guide. In addition, with MiniTool Partition Wizard, you can back up your data and manage your hard drive better.

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Why to Install a Second Internal Hard Drive?

Many of you might like to add a second hard drive to your computers for the following reasons:

For whatever reason, you need to install a second hard drive into your laptop or desktop PC. If you just use the second drive to store photos, documents, etc., for convenience, you can install an external hard drive.

However, some of you may prefer to install a second internal hard drive, not an external hard drive, because of the following defects you have to face when installing an external hard drive:

  • The external hard drive usually takes up an extra power socket, because the motherboard usually cannot provide sufficient power for the external hard drive through the USB interface. Insufficient power supply may cause a situation where the drive can't be recognized by the computer.
  • The external hard drive will use up a valuable USB port.
  • The external hard drive usually has a slower read-write speed than the internal hard drive, which will affect your experience especially when you call a program.

Based on the above factors, I would like to introduce how to install a second hard drive inside the computer, instead of installing an external hard drive. To install a second hard drive, please keep reading to get the main points.

Preparatory Work Before Installing a Second Hard Drive

Before installing a second hard drive, you should figure out two things: is your computer suitable to install a second hard drive, and which hard drive is right for your computer? Let's explore them one by one.

Kindly Reminder: The improper disassembly may cause damage to your computer and make your computer not boot. Please back up your data first. You can use MiniTool Partition Wizard to do that. Click here to get the detailed guide.

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Whether Your Computer is Suitable to Install a Second Hard Drive?

Generally speaking, a desktop is always suitable for a second hard drive or even more, because it is usually equipped with more than one hard drive bay.

However, not all laptops are suitable to install a second hard drive. Some laptops have only one hard drive bay, which means it can install only one hard drive.

Therefore, before you buy a second hard drive for your laptop, you should check the number of the hard drive bays in your laptop.

Here is the tutorial.

Step 1: Shut down your notebook and unplug the power cord.

Step 2: Turn the notebook over to make the bottom side up. Then, remove the battery.

Step 3: Find the location of the hard drive, and then use a cross screwdriver to unscrew the screws that fasten the cover.

Step 4: Remove the cover and you will see how many hard drive bays are there.

Tip: If your PC doesn't have an extra hard drive bay, but it has an optical drive bay, it still can install a second hard drive.

Which Kind of Hard Drive Is Right for Your Computer?

If your computer has more than one hard drive bay or an extra optical drive bay, you can decide which kind of hard drive you want to install. However, to some extent, that is also determined by the hard drive bay. In general, the hard drive bay determines the following three factors of the new hard drive:

Interface: The socket build-in the hard drive determines the interface of the second hard drive, because the socket needs to match the interface.

Here are some common hard drive interfaces and the corresponding sockets for personal computers. You can check which hard drive interface is right for your computer according to the socket.

1. IDE Interface and Socket

IDE interface and socket

Nowadays, IDE interface is gradually being phased out because of its slow data transfer rate. You can only see it in a very old computer.

2. SATA Interface and Socket

SATA interface and socket

SATA interface is the most common hard disk interface now.

3. M.2 Interface and Socket

M.2 interface and socket

M.2 interface is a new generation interface standard tailored for Ultrabooks. This interface is usually used in SSDs. M.2 interface has two types: B key and M key. B key has 5 pins and M key has 6 pins.

On the market, there are few M.2 SSDs with only B key. M.2 SSDs with M key or B plus M keys are more popular.

If you want to know more about M.2 SSD or SATA SSD, you can refer to the following post:

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Size: In general, laptops use 2.5-inch hard drives and desktops use 3.5-inch hard drives. However, if the hard drive interface is mSATA, M.2, or PCI (these interfaces are usually used in laptops), the size will be much smaller.

Thickness: The last factor is thickness. The early 2.5 or 3.5-inch hard drives reached 9. 5mm, but the current hard drives are basically 7mm thick. A thinner hard drive can fit in a deeper bay. On the contrary, a thicker hard drive can seldom fit in a shallow bay.

In addition, some SSDs designed for Ultrabooks may be much thinner (these SSDs are usually equipped with an M.2 or PCI interface).

How to Install a Second Hard Drive in Laptop or Desktop

After you buy a proper hard drive, you can refer to the following tutorials to install it in a laptop or a desktop. For those who want to know how to install a new hard drive or how to install SSD in PC, these tutorials are also worth reference.

Tip: If your SSD is an M.2 SSD or PCIe SSD, which is very thin, the installation process is slightly different. In this post, I don't give detailed steps on how to install SSD in PC, but you can refer to another post I write to know how to install it correctly: How to Upgrade the SSD in Lenovo ThinkPad T490s - A Detailed Guide.

How to Install a Second Hard Drive in a Laptop

Step 1: In the similar way, remove the computer bottom cover to find the hard drive bay.

Step 2: Use a cross screwdriver to screw the screws, fastening the hard drive in the hard drive bracket.

Tip: The hard drive bracket is used to protect the hard drive from vibration and is generally suitable for 2.5-inch hard drives. In addition, some computers may be not equipped with it.

Step 3: Insert the hard drive into the slot and screw the screws to fasten the bracket (with the hard drive in it) into the computer.

Tip: Unlike 2.5-inch hard drives, mSATA, M.2, or PCI SSDs don't need a hard drive bracket. To fasten them, you just need to screw the fasteners at the end of the SSDs.

Step 4: Remount the bottom panel of the laptop and screw the fasteners.

Further Reading:

You can follow the steps below to install a second hard drive in the optical drive bay.

Step 1: Disconnect the power and remove the battery.

Step 2: Unscrew the two fasteners (shown in the following picture) to remove the optical drive tray.

Step 3: Fasten the second hard drive into a hard drive caddy tray for optical drive slot.

Tip: When you buy this hard drive caddy tray for optical drive slot, please note the thickness. You should measure the thickness of the optical drive tray in advance.

fasten a hard drive into the hard drive caddy tray for optical drive slot

Step 4: Remove the baffle from the optical drive tray and install it on the hard drive caddy tray.

Step 5: Insert the hard drive caddy tray into the optical drive bay and screw the two fasteners unscrewed previously.

How to Install a Second Hard Drive in a Desktop

Step 1: Disconnect the power to the chassis.

Step 2: Remove the front cover of the chassis by unscrewing two fasteners shown in the following picture, and then nudging the cover to the side.

Step 3: Remove the hard drive bracket from the chassis and fasten the hard drive into it.

Tip: Hard drives are usually installed at the lower right corner of the chassis.

Step 4: Slide the hard drive into the hard drive slot.

Step 5: Plug in the power and data lines, with one end into the hard drive and the other end into the slot built in the chassis.

Tip: Some chassis need you to remove the back cover to plug in these lines.

Step 6: Remount the cover.

Prepare the Hard Drive for Use

After physically installing a second hard drive, you may wonder how to install it in Windows 10. For that, you should initialize the hard drive, create new partitions, and format the new partitions.

Here is the tutorial on how to install a second hard drive Windows 10.

Step 1: Turn on your computer and open Disk Management by pressing "Win + R" keys, entering "diskmgmt.msc" in the Run box, and clicking "OK" button.

Step 2: For the newly installed hard drive, the system will automatically pop up the prompt to initialize it. The pop-up window looks like the following one.

initialization prompt

Step 3: Choose MBR or GPT and then click OK button.

Tip: You should choose GPT if your hard drive is more than 2T. Click MBR vs. GPT to know more.

Then, you can use this hard drive normally.

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As for how to format a new hard drive, you can refer to the following steps.

Step 1: Right-click the black unallocated space and choose New Simple Volume. Follow the wizard to create a new partition.

click New Simple Volume

Step 2: Right-click the new partition to choose Format. Then, uncheck Perform a quick format to run a full format, which will automatically check the hard drive to fix some errors.

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You can also complete the above process through MiniTool Partition Wizard. It is a professional partition management software.

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Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install a second hard drive in your laptop and desktop PC. If you are planning to do that, I think you may need this tutorial.Click to tweet

Bottom Line

Do you have any problems in installing a second hard drive? Please leave a comment below. If you have problems with data backup or disk management, please also leave a comment below or email us at [email protected]. We will reply to you as soon as possible.

How to Install a Second Hard Drive FAQ

How do I get my computer to recognize a second hard drive?

To make your computer recognize the second hard drive, you should initialize the hard drive through the following steps:

  1. Open Disk Management.
  2. Initialize Disk window will pop up and then choose MBR or GPT to initialize this drive.
  3. Format the drive.
How do I add a second hard drive in Windows 10?
  1. Remove the computer bottom cover.
  2. Insert the hard drive into the slot on the computer.
  3. Remount the bottom panel of the laptop.
  4. Initialize and format the hard drive in Disk Management.
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