Laptop computers often ship with a DVD drive. But is this device really needed? More and more people are opting to abandon the internal optical drive, and install a second hard disk drive (HDD). Either that, or they specify a computer without the optical drive at all.
Assuming you’ve already bought your laptop, and noticed that you’ve barely used the DVD drive, you might be considering a replacement storage device. Here’s how to remove the DVD drive and replace it with a 2.5-inch storage drive, such as a replacement HDD or even a solid state drive (SSD).
This tutorial is available in video form, or you can read on for the full written tutorial below.
Order the Caddy
To replace the DVD drive, you’ll need a caddy to slot into the space occupied by the drive. In this caddy, you’ll slot a replacement HDD or SSD.
At this stage, you might be thinking: “Hang on, there’s no standardized design for laptops. How can this work?” And you would be right… to a point.
While there remains a lack of standardization for laptop computers, the same isn’t true of the upgradeable parts. Additional RAM, hard disk drives, and DVD drives almost always have the same connectors from device to device, meaning that they can be swapped. Check our information on upgrading laptop components for further details.
DVD drives in particular are mostly a certain shape and size. This means that a caddy can be easily slipped into the space that the DVD drive occupied.
Where can you find a caddy? The best place is on Amazon or eBay. A caddy will set you back less than $10. Equipped with the necessary SATA connector for the new drive, and a SATA connector to connect the caddy and drive to the laptop, once slotted in and secured, the replacement drive can then be used for additional storage, dual booting, etc.
Choose Your Replacement Drive
As the idea is to expand the amount of storage available to you, you’ll need a new drive to sit in the caddy. Obviously, the capacity of the drive will depend upon your requirements. However, we would recommend installing as large a drive as possible.
A larger drive has superior backup possibilities. It’s also a good choice for saving personal data to, thereby avoiding data loss should the main HDD fail.
If a larger drive isn’t possible, however, perhaps you’ll consider an SSD. Faster and with no moving parts, a solid state drive is ideal as a second storage device. It shouldn’t take too much effort to install the main (or a secondary) operating system to this drive, and you’ll certainly notice the speed improvements.
Get Started: Remove Your DVD Drive
Removing a DVD drive is usually straightforward. It will depend on the manufacturer, but the standard method is to flip your laptop over (placing it on a towel to avoid scratches) and remove the screw towards the middle of the laptop. This will typically be indicated by a small DVD icon.
Some laptops will have a push-button removal system; alternatively, there might be a catch to depress while the drive is removed. This is similar to how you might remove a laptop battery.
You’ll need to slide your fingernails — or perhaps a credit card — into the gap between your DVD drive and the computer in order to start sliding it out. There should be no resistance, however.
Once the drive has been removed, use a screwdriver or plastic knife to gently remove the fascia. Unless your laptop shipped with a spare, blank fascia for the DVD drive bay, you’ll need this later.
Insert the Disk Caddy
This should be the easy bit! With your HDD or SSD unpackaged, it should be simple to slip the drive into the caddy.
Depending on the retailer, you may have received a screwdriver with the caddy. Either way, check to see if any screws are included. These will need to be tightened to secure the HDD or SSD in the caddy. Make sure these screws are flush with the caddy when tightened, otherwise it won’t slide into your laptop.
Additionally, you will want to remove the locking screw hole from the DVD drive. This is usually attached with two small screws, which you’ll be able to attach to the caddy for locking in place.
Once this is done, find the fascia you removed earlier. Another standardized aspect of laptops is the fascia attachment on DVD drives. Because the eject button has to be in a certain position for universal accessibility, so the fascia attachments have the clips in the same place. Simply attach the fascia, then slip the caddy into your laptop.
Use the securing screw to fix the caddy in place, and you have a new storage device, ready to use with any operating system that you have installed! Don’t forget to format it first!
Using the Old DVD Drive
What about the DVD drive that now sits lonely on your table top or at the back of a drawer?
Although this will require another trip to eBay, and another small outlay, it’s possible to install a laptop drive into an external housing. With a pair of USB connectors (for data and power) on the back of the drive, you’ll be able to attach the new external DVD drive to your laptop when required.
Our guide to making an external DVD drive from an old laptop drive should help here. Such a device can also be used with a tablet computer, or an ultrabook (which would typically ship without an optical drive).
Extra Laptop Storage: It’s That Easy!
If your laptop has a largely redundant DVD or CD drive, using that space for extra storage is a good idea. With the vast file sizes that high definition photography and videos require — not to mention games — having that extra capacity could prove extremely valuable.
Does your laptop have a mostly-unused optical drive? Thinking about replacing it with a HDD or solid state storage? Or have you made that change already? Tell us all about it in the comments box below.