How to upgrade Laptop HDD to SSD


Upgrading your laptop from a HDD (Hard Disc Drive) to a SSD (Solid State Drive) is a simple task.  It would require the same steps as upgrading your laptop's HDD to a larger HDD.  Most laptops come standard with a 2.5" hard drive, therefore replacing it with a 2.5" SSD would be a simple swap.  If you want to upgrade your 2.5" HDD with a 1.8" SSD, then you would need to use an adapter to convert the 1.8" SSD form factor to 2.5".


There are two aspects to upgrading:
1.    The swapping of the HDD with the SSD
2.    Do you clone your current HDD to the SSD or do a completely new/clean install of Operating System and applications/programs to the new SSD

Swapping of the HDD with the SSD

Before you start anything, shut down the computer and remove the battery.  Consult your owner's manual on how to remove the primary HDD.  Most laptops have the primary HDD accessible by removing a plastic HDD door or HDD caddy.  A HDD caddy is a bracket that holds the HDD in place.   Some HDD caddies are more involved than others. 



Some HDD caddies have interface connectors and cables that attach the HDD to the laptop motherboard.  Some HDD caddies are as simple as a faceplate (or HDD door) that is attached to the HDD and HDD connector attaches directly to motherboard.

Clone the HDD or do a complete Install?

You can do a clean install of your operating system and applications unto your new SSD, but If you like your current setup in your laptop, you might as well just clone the HDD to the SSD with a disk cloning software.  Disk cloning software will make an exact copy of your current HDD to the SSD, including operating system, applications, data and settings.  This will save you a lot of time and effort--no need to reinstall and reconfigure anything. Your laptop will boot up just like how you had it with your original hard drive.

If your laptop does not have two internal HDD bays (only a small number of laptop models have two internal HDD bays), you can use an external USB device to clone your HDD to the SSD. 

Then transfer the SSD after the cloning process.   Some companies offer hardware and software cloning kits, which includes the cloning software and external USB enclosure in one package to make it simpler for users to clone.


How to replace your laptop HDD with a SSD, then use your original HDD as a second drive

To replace your laptop's HDD with a SSD, and use the original HDD as a second drive will depend on what type of laptop you have.   We will break this down to four  general laptop categories:

1)    Laptop with a main/primary HDD and a fixed Optical Drive
2)    Laptop with a main/primary HDD and a removable Optical Drive
3)    Laptop with two internal HDD bays
4)    Laptop with a main/primary HDD and no Optical Drive


1) Laptop with a main/primary HDD and a Fixed Optical Drive

These are laptops that have Optical Drives that are not easily swappable/removable.  For some of these laptops it may just be as simple as removing a screw from the bottom of the laptop to slide the optical drive out.  For others you may have to remove the keyboard, or partially disassemble the laptop to remove the optical drive.  This scenario is often found in laptops that come from the factory with a slot-loading (as opposed to tray-loading) optical drive  like those found on the Apple MacBook, MacBook Pro laptops and the DELL Studio 15 Series laptops.

Slot-loading optical drives have a tiny slit in the laptop.  The CD/DVD disc is inserted into the optical drive via the slit.  Tray-loading optical drives have a button on the faceplate.  Press the button to release a tray to insert the CD/DVD in the tray-loading optical drive.

To replace the main/primary HDD with an SSD and use the original HDD as a 2nd drive in these kinds of laptops, you will have to remove your optical drive and replace it with your original HDD using a Optical Bay HDD Caddy


An Optical Bay HDD Caddy is an enclosure with interface/conversion board that will house your hard drive and enable you to replace your optical drive with a hard drive.  Consult your laptop owner's manual for optical drive removal and replacement procedures.


2) Laptop with a main/primary HDD and a removable/swappable Optical Drive

These are laptops that have multi-function optical drive bays such as the DELL Modular-Bay, DELL Media-Bay,  HP Upgrade Bay, HP MultiBay, and Lenovo UltraBay.  These laptops with these special mutlti-function bays were designed to have their optical drives easily removable.  Some examples of these laptops are the DELL Latitude E6400 & E6500 and the HP Elitebooks & HP-Compaq Notebook PCs.


To replace the main/primary HDD with an SSD and use the original HDD as a 2nd drive in these kinds of laptops, you will have to remove your optical drive and replace it with your original HDD using a Optical Bay HDD Caddy designed for that laptop's special multi-function bay.


3) Laptop with two internal HDD bays

These are laptops that have two internal HDD bays and an optical drive.   A large number of laptops that have a screen size of 17 inches or larger have two internal HDD bays such as the HP Pavillion dv7, DELL Studio 17, HP Envy 17 and DELL Inpsiron 1720.  Most of these laptops come from the manufacturer with only one HDD installed and an empty 2nd HDD bay. 


To replace the main/primary HDD with an SSD and use the original HDD as a 2nd drive in these kinds of laptops, you will need a 2nd HDD Caddy Kit designed for that laptop's special 2nd HDD drive bay.  These 2nd HDD Caddy Kits vary by notebook model. 

Some caddy kits are just a simple bracket and screws and others more complex with  bracket/caddy, connector, cable and screws.   Kits are specific to notebook models, so be precise if you will be ordering a 2nd HDD Caddy Kit.

4) Laptop with a main/primary HDD and no Optical Drive

These are small, sub-notebook laptops.  Unfortunately, there is no room in these laptops for two drives.  Therefore you can't have a secondary drive.

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