SSDs are high-speed flash-based disks that outperform traditional hard disks, and perhaps the best upgrade you can make to any laptop that doesn’t already have one. Let’s take a look at how to install an SSD in your laptop!
Modern-day laptops are pretty great, especially gaming laptops, and if you’re willing to spend, you can get a lot of bang for your buck. However, when it comes to cheaper or older laptops, even if the general hardware seems powerful enough, there is a single thing slowing the whole system down — the hard disk.
The hard disk drives (HDD) in laptops are usually the worst bottlenecks, which is a problem you can solve by simply upgrading to a Solid-State Drive (SSD).
1. Determining How Many and What Type Disk Slots Your Laptop Has
To begin with, you need to determine which slot your laptop has, that can accommodate an SSD and if you have one or two.
The two possible ways are that either you can upgrade to an SSD — Either you use your primary slot and replace the hard disk, or use a secondary slot (if your device has one)
There are two types of storage slots that can be present in your laptop — SATA or M.2.
It’s necessary to determine which slot your laptop has by opening it up. The SATA slot will have a preinstalled HDD, while the M.2 slot is either going to have an SSD installed already, or be empty. Both these slots are usually accessible through a hatch on the bottom panel of the laptop.
For the M.2 slot, you will need to see the slot length, as these drives come in a width of 22mm, and various lengths — 42/60/80/110mm. Most laptops will have the 2280 slot, meaning they run 22mm x 80mm in dimensions, but be sure to confirm the size of M.2 SSD the slot can take before you proceed to make a purchase. You will also have to look at the slot type.
Here’s a quick graphic to help you determine the slot:
Another way to add an SSD to your laptop is to replace your optical CD/DVD drive with one. The optical drive uses a SATA slot as well, but you will need a caddy adapter to use the slot with an SSD.
Once you have determined which slot is present on your laptop, it’s time to buy the perfect SSD for your purpose.
2. Picking the Right SSD
The first thing to remember is that SSDs have a higher cost per GB in comparison to HDDs. If you have a particularly old laptop, it is recommended to go with a budget choice of SSD, since these laptops have slower SATA slots which cannot make the best of high-speed SSDs.
3. Installing the SSD
Grab a screwdriver and a prying tool, and get to work!
Find the HDD Bay
First off, you need to locate the HDD bay cut-out, on the bottom panel of your laptop. If you have no cut-out, it means that you might have to take off the whole back panel, or worse, the keyboard and the top panel.
In this case, look for your laptop’s service manual, which is usually available on the manufacturer’s support website. Googling “(Laptop brand and serial number) service manual” is bound to get you to the right source.
When it comes to the M.2 slot, the process is similar. Either you will find a hatch, or you’ll have to take off the full panel, but spare M.2 slots have a high chance of having a dedicated hatch on the bottom panel.
Extract Existing HDD
Next off, you need to extract your existing SATA HDD.
The HDD might be held down in a bracket, with screws, which you will need to remove. You can then pull the tab on the disk, and pull in the direction opposite to the location of the slot, and the HDD will be free to be removed from the bay. If no screws are holding the HDD down, you can directly pull the tab back. With M.2, the slot is usually free.
Lastly, you need to slide your SATA SSD into the slot, and you’re done. If your HDD has a bracket, you might want to take it off. Mount your SSD into it, before installing it. Make sure you replace all screws.
If you’re dealing with an M.2 SSDs, slide it into the slot and screw it down using the groove located at the end opposite to the slot.
If you’re replacing your optical drive, the process is as simple as locating the screw on the back panel and sliding the drive out. Remove the front plate of the drive, which has the button clicker. Mount the SSD onto the caddy, attach the front plate and slide in the whole assembly. Make sure to replace the screw.
4. Reusing your HDD
You can use the caddy replacement procedure mentioned above to use your SATA HDD as secondary storage. Do that if you’ve installed the SSD in the primary SATA slot, and don’t know what to do with the HDD.
You can also convert the HDD into an external HDD, with a SATA to USB 3.0 adapter and enclosure.
5. Reinstall Windows (Optional)
After you’re done with the SSD installation, you can reinstall the operating system, which is recommended. You should see a massive difference the next time your laptop boots up. Be sure to share your experience with us!
Palash is a technology and entertainment journalist who loves to geek out over the latest gadgets, TV shows, and movies.