The Complete Guide on Installing a Solid State Hard Drive in Your PC

Matt Smith 23-11-2012

A solid state hard drive is one of the best upgrades available for a modern computer. It increases the load times of programs dramatically, which in turn makes a PC feel snappier. Results can be dramatic. Some games, for example, loaded several times more quickly from an SSD after I replaced my own mechanical drive Samsung 830 Solid State Drive (SSD) 512 GB Review and Giveaway Now we're reviewing one of the most well-known entries into the solid state drive market – the Samsung 830 SSD (Series MZ-7PC512N/AM 2.5" SATA III MLC). And we're not just reviewing any small, inexpensive version.... Read More .


The benefits of SSDs are not in question. But how do you install one? Actually, installing a hard drive is one of the easiest upgrades possible. Anyone with two hands and a screwdriver can do it. Here’s how.

Note: This guide assumes you have a SATA SSD. Not sure what you have? Check our guide on PCIe vs. SATA PCIe vs. SATA SSDs: Which Storage Drive Is Best? PCIe SSDs are faster than SATA SSDs. But you might not need it. This article explains how PCIe SSDs differ from SATA SSDs. Read More to find out.

Obligatory Back Up Notice & Disclaimer

Before we dive in, let me remind you that this is a guide about installing computer hardware. That means opening your PC, connecting new cords and potentially disconnecting others. Problems are rare, but there’s obviously more risk to your computer than there would be if you did nothing at all.

Also, back up your data. This is a guide about installing a solid state hard drive. Even if nothing goes wrong, that new drive will be blank, and you’ll have to install a fresh version of your operating system on it or clone an existing drive to it.

Getting Ready

This guide is not a buying guide, so I assume that you have already purchased a solid state hard drive.


Before installing you’ll need to know if your desktop has 2.5” drive bay inside it. This can be hard to determine if no solid state drive is already installed. It will simple be a small, think bracket 2.5 inches in width. Don’t be surprised if there isn’t one. Even new desktops often lack this feature.

To install a solid state drive in a case without a 2.5” drive bay an adapter is required. This is a small metal tray similar in size to a 3.5” mechanical hard drive. It will have screw holes in its bottom that correspond to the screw holes on the bottom of the SSD. Just line them up and install like so.

solid state hard drive

When you have it assembled it should look something like this.


solid state drive

The only other hardware you must have is a SATA cable. Most SSDs will come with one bundled in the box. It should look something like this.

solid state drive

Once you have the SSD in the adapter (if necessary) and a SATA cable handy, you’re ready to go.


Installing the SSD

Disconnect your PC from all power and peripheral cords and move it to a flat, level surface with good lighting. Once settled, open it open. A standard tower PC will usually open on the left side (as viewed from the front). The panel will be secured by screws on the back. Not every case is like this, however. You may need to refer to your computer’s manual.

Once open, locate the drive bays. These are usually at the front of the case below the large optical drive bays. The bays themselves are usually just metal brackets with screw holes, though some more expensive cases will custom “tool-less” mounting system. If your case has such a system you may need to refer to it for mounting instructions.

solid state drive

Slide the SSD into its bracket, lining up the screw holes in the SSD or the 3.5” adapter with the holes in the drive bay. Make sure to install the drive so that its SATA power and data connectors are facing the motherboard.


solid state disk drive

Now secure the drive with screws. They should have been provided with solid state drive. If you for some reason are lacking screws, they can be purchased an enthusiast stores for very low prices.

solid state disk drive

With the drive secure it’s time to connect it to the motherboard. On the motherboard there will be a SATA port that looks like so.

solid state disk drive

Connect the SATA cable into one of these ports and connect the other end to the SSD. Note the L-shape design of the connection. This makes it impossible to install it in the wrong direction without a ridiculous amount of effort.

Next connect SATA power to the SSD. It is a long, thin, black connector with an L-shape design. It will be a part of your PC’s power supply.

The Complete Guide on Installing a Solid State Hard Drive in Your PC ssdinstall8

A supply will often bundle three of these connectors together on length of cord, so where there’s one, there’s usually two more.

The drive, with data and power connections, should look like this.

The Complete Guide on Installing a Solid State Hard Drive in Your PC ssdinstall9

You’re done! Now all you need to do is put the case back together and boot up your PC.

Installing An Operating System

Now the new SSD is installed. If you didn’t take out your existing hard drive, however, your computer will boot normally when you turn it on. The new drive will appear as a storage drive.

There are two ways to place an operating system on the new drive. One is to clone the data on your previous drive to the new one. The other is to start fresh and put a new installation of your operating system on the new drive.

The Complete Guide on Installing a Solid State Hard Drive in Your PC partedmagic clonezilla

Our own Justin has written a guide about how to clone your hard drive How to Use Clonezilla to Clone Your Windows Hard Drive Here's all you need to know about how to use Clonezilla to clone your hard drive in the easiest way. Read More . Please see his article for information on that topic and come back here once you’ve finished. Otherwise, continue on.

Now that you’ve cloned data to the SSD, or decided to do a fresh install, you need to make the SSD your boot drive. This can be done only by entering your computer’s BIOS. Reboot the computer and then press the BIOS hotkey at the first boot screen (this is usually Delete or F12). Your operating system will not boot and BIOS will appear instead.

Windows 8 users might be able to access UFEI (the successor to BIOS on modern computers) through Windows itself. See our guide for more.

Once BIOS or UFEI is open look for a section labeled “Boot” or “Advanced Options.”  Then look for the hard drive sub-category and open it. You will then see a list of currently connected hard drives. Your old hard drive will appear at the top, while your new hard drive will appear further down. Change the boot order so the SSD is at the top. Make sure to save the new settings when you exit BIOS/UFEI.

solid state hard drive

Now your computer will boot from the solid state hard drive. If you cloned data to that drive you are done. If not, you can now install the operating system of your choice as you would normally.

Driver Installation

Once you’ve boot into your operating system from the solid state drive it’s time to install drivers. Most SSDs will come with drivers, and I do recommend installing them. They usually include drive management utilities that maximize the performance and reliability of the drive.

There’s nothing else to note about installing drivers. They install like any other software. Just pop in the CD or run the executable and follow the installation wizard’s instructions. You may need to reboot after installation is complete.


I hope that you enjoy your new solid state drive. You’ll no doubt notice that programs load much more quickly than before. Boot times will also be quicker. Because SSDs tend to have small storage capacities it’s a good idea to manage data so that only important files and programs are on new drive. See our SSD management guide Using a Small SSD & a Regular Hard Drive: How To Organize Your Files I recently reviewed a Samsung 830 512GB solid state drive that now serves as the primary drive for my computer. Before it, however, I was using a 60GB solid state drive. Why? For the same... Read More for more.

Image Credit: Legit Reviews

Related topics: Hard Drive, Solid State Drive.

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  1. Jeff Fisher
    February 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Again, very useful But, what about installation on a Linux system?

  2. Abba Jee
    November 30, 2012 at 11:03 am

    thanks for your article along with pics it was sure helpful :)

  3. Burt Philp
    November 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    "UFEI" - this is a typo, right? You did mean Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)

    • Mat Smith
      November 30, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      That is correct

  4. Terafall
    November 25, 2012 at 8:20 am

    I was just planning for an SSD when I found your article

  5. Ray Herring
    November 25, 2012 at 7:17 am

    quote "A solid state hard drive is one of the best upgrades available for a modern computer. It increases the load times of programs dramatically, which in turn makes a PC feel snappier."


    Maybe it's just the aussie in me, but, that's not a good thing, shouldn't it be: 'decreases the load times of programs'? since the reason to get an SSD is to make the system load programs faster not slower.

    • dragonmouth
      November 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      "Maybe it’s just the aussie in me, but, that’s not a good thing, shouldn’t it be: ‘decreases the load times of programs’?"

      Up here in the Northern Hemisphere things work backwards from how they work in Oz.

      I think it should be "increases the load speed".

  6. Bayzid Hussain
    November 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    This may be a stupid comment from me but the motherboard in the pictures is from GigaByte, yet the picture of the UFEI is from asus? Either you have a really funky motherboard or you grabbed a random image of an UFEI...

    • Matt Smith
      November 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      Yes I used a stock image for the UFEI. I thought it looked better than photos I snapped of my own monitor.

  7. Ron Lister
    November 24, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Aww just noticed I missed the giveaway for the Samsung 830 512GB SSD that would have been nice to win. You guys have such great Give aways, and awesome guides and reviews, glad I found your site I will definately be recommending you to my friends everyone needs to know about you guys.

  8. Ron Lister
    November 24, 2012 at 2:49 am

    Nice I looked at SSD a while ago, looks like they got bigger, which is what I was waiting for. thanks for sharing Matt and thanks for the instructional. Gonna have to check out that cloning guide of Justins.

  9. sakthi thasan
    November 24, 2012 at 12:05 am

    what about the price tag???

  10. Alykhan Lalani
    November 23, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    once i get an ssd, i need to do this

  11. Igor Rizvi?
    November 23, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Very detailed,i like it,thanks....sharing this

  12. NotoriousZeus
    November 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Detailed and useful as always

  13. Michael Jan Moratalla
    November 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    thanks for this