How to Install a Second IDE Hard Drive

February 25, 2009

in computer hardware,data storage and recovery

by Tina Gasperson

If you’re running out of hard drive space, one option is to install a new internal hard drive. You don’t have to take your computer to a professional to have this done. It’s much more economical to do it yourself. If you’re intimidated by that thought, don’t be. Opening up your computer and putting in a hard drive is actually pretty easy. These instructions are for installing a second IDE hard drive on a computer with an existing IDE hard drive.

Shut your computer down, unplug it, take the cover off and have a look inside. There’s a large box with a fan up against the back; that’s the power supply. There’s a circuit board with lots of things plugged into it; that’s the motherboard. Near the front of the computer you’ll see one or more racks with boxes mounted in them. You can match the CD/DVD drives up with what you see on the outside of the computer. Near there you’ll find your hard drive. It’s smaller than you think. It may be mounted horizontally or vertically. There should be an empty rack right beside it. That’s where your new hard drive goes.

The old hard drive that your computer boots from is called the “primary master.” Your new hard drive is going to be the “primary slave.” There are small jumper pins on the back of your hard drive that you will set to primary slave according to the instruction manual that came with your drive. Next, you’ll install the drive. Take the screws out of the empty rack, slide the hard drive in, and replace the screws.

There’s a grey strap that plugs into the back of your existing hard drive. Notice that it has another open plug. Line up the pins on the back of your new hard drive with the holes on this plug and carefully press it until it rests securely in place. Now look for another plug with several colorful wires that come from the power supply. Plug this one into the appropriate slot on your new hard drive. Make sure all connections are snug, double check your jumper pins, replace the cover, plug the computer in and boot it up. Your system will automatically recognize the new hard drive, and you’re all set. Be careful – before you know it, you’ll be doing tech support for your entire family.

Tina Gasperson (, affectionately known as Computer Lady by her family, has been writing about IT, home computing, and the Internet for more than a decade.

{ 1 comment }

Jetty Birdsong 03.02.09 at 6:58 pm

I have a HP w2007 with Vista, SP1, 1 gig memory. I have an old computer with XP on it. Can I take the hard drive out of it and put it in the new computer as the primary slave and access it that way? My old games won’t play on Vista. Thanks in advance……..

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