How to Replace a laptop Hard Drive and Reinstall an Operating System

How to Replace a Laptop Hard Drive and Reinstall an Operating System

Technology can be complicated. One minute it is working fine and the next you are looking at your reflection on the black screen. If you need help figuring out how to replace a laptop hard drive and reinstall an operating system, this article will tell you how.  

When to Replace Laptop Hard Drive

First things first, we need to determine that it is the hard drive that needs to be replaced. There are three main indicators that it is the hard drive that is the problem and not something else. 

Computer Running Slowly

This could mean a lot of things. For example, it might indicate that your computer is infected with a virus. However, the most common cause of a slow computer is the lack of available memory. A computer’s memory is stored in a hard drive. 

Hard Drive Running Out of Space

You can tell when a hard drive is running out of space by looking at how much memory is available. You can also compare how much memory you are using to how much the computer offers. If you are close to the maximum number, it means that you will soon need more memory (aka you will need to add a new or extra hard drive). 

Hard Drive Failure

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If your hard drive is failing, you will need to replace it. 

How to Replace a Laptop Hard Drive and Reinstall an Operating System

There are two categories of tasks that need to be done when you replace a hard drive. First, you have to physically remove and replace the old hard drive with the new one. Second, you have to install an operating system to the computer. If you forget to install an operating system, your computer won’t work correctly, if at all. 

Replacing Laptop Hard Drive

Hard drive

First, let me teach you how to remove an old hard drive and install a new one. Here are the steps. 

Back-Up Existing Data

Before you wipe your computer of all its memory, you should back up any files that you wish to keep. Files may include pictures, documents, videos, music, or programs. 

You can do this in multiple ways. The first method is to download all of the files you intend to keep on a USB flash drive. The second method is to back up your files with a cloud service (such as One Drive). The third method is to use backup software. 

Create Recovery Disc

A recovery disc is what you will use to install an operating system onto your computer. It pretty much holds all of the necessary data to completely install the operating system onto the computer. 

To create a recovery disc, you need to first go to the operating system’s website. Then, you need to find out where you can download the operating system. When you have found it, you need to have a blank USB or CD to download the data onto. 

Removal of Old Hard Drive

Before you even touch the bottom of your laptop, you need to power off and unplug it. If you don’t, you risk getting electrocuted or shocked. It is also recommended to do this process on anti-static flooring. 

Next, you need to unscrew the bottom of your laptop. It might be pretty overwhelming when you first open it because there are multiple components in the motherboard. If you need to, you can look up a labeled diagram of the innards of your type of computer.

You now need to locate the hard drive to be removed. In a standard laptop, the hard drive or hard drives are located in a hollow, metallic box/case on the side. Before you will be able to remove it from its case, you will need to unplug connectors, power cables, or other wires from the hard drive. Some hard drives are screwed in place. In this case, simply unscrew it from the case. 

The next thing to do is the easiest part; just pull out the hard drive. 

Note: I would make a mental note of what wires were connected to the old hard drive and where. 

Install New Hard Drive

To install the new hard drive, hook it up to the connectors, power cables, and other wires that were connected to the old drive. 

Then place the new hard drive into the case. If you had to unscrew the old hard drive, make sure to screw in the new one. 

You can then close up and screw back the bottom of the laptop. 

Reinstalling Operating System

Computer restarting

After you have inserted the new hard drive, it is time to reinstall an operating system. In this article, I will be going over how to reinstall the Windows 10 operating system. 

Plug in Laptop and Power it On

A startup menu should appear. When you see this menu, choose the option to access Boot Menu. 

Connect Recovery Disc

Earlier, I told you to back up your operating system onto a USB flash drive or CD. During this stage, you will need to connect it to your laptop to provide the laptop with information about the operating system. 

Input Desired Settings

In the Setup Wizard (the installation program), you will be asked about preferences referring to currency, keyboards, language, the partition, time, and more. If you don’t know what to put for one of the settings, don’t worry. Most of the settings will have a default answer that will suffice. 

Product Key

Most programs that you download will ask you if you have a product key or account. An operating system is likely to do the same thing. If you don’t have a product key, simply select “I don’t have a product key”. 

Select License

The next question that you will be asked is what type of license you have. You need to make sure that you are indicating the correct type of license. Different types of licenses affect how the computer operates. 

Select Custom: Install Windows Only (Advanced)

You must choose this option because you don’t currently have an operating system running on the computer.

Store Operating System on Hard Drive

When you go to store your operating system on your hard drive, you will see an unallocated space or blank “partition”. A partition is what directly connects the computer to the hard drive. You will need to click on the partition to store your operating system there. 

Let the Program Do Its Thing

During this step, all you can do is wait. The computer will have to begin to sync with the hard drive and download everything from the operating system. This requires a lot of time and a lot of restarting. This step may take a few hours to complete. 


Physically replacing an old or failing hard drive is an easy process; you just need to know what is what. Installing an operating system is the most crucial and time-consuming part of this process. You will need the patience to get through all of the necessary settings and computer restarts. If you do require a new laptop, check out our Articles given below

Written by Allison Knowles

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