How to remove a hard drive

If you sell or pass on your computer, you might want to remove your hard drive for the sake of privacy. You might also wish to remove an existing hard drive if it is faulty, or to upgrade to one with more memory. In order to remove the hard drive from a PC you will first have to take the unit's casing apart. The exact method of removing a hard drive from a computer can vary quite widely depending on the model. Some are easily accessible, while others require you to partially take apart the device.


Shut down your PC and turn off the power if it has an "On/Off" switch. Unplug the PC and remove all cables. Place the unit on a table or workbench. Touch the metal case to discharge any static charge.

Remove the exterior screws securing the side panels. Put them in a tray or other container as they tend to be small and can easily roll away. Remove the side panel. Some designs will simply pull away. Others have slide locks that require you to slide the panel in a certain way.

Locate the hard drive. It is usually a solid, roughly rectangular shape about the size of your hand. In some units it might be enclosed in a metal cage. Carefully remove the ribbon cable and power cable from the back. Pull them gently by the plastic connectors. Do not pull the ribbon or wires.

Remove the screws securing the hard drive in place. Place them in the tray but keep them separate from the screws from the casing as they may be different sizes. Hold the hard drive by the sides and gently slide it out.


Turn your laptop off and remove the battery. Place the laptop upside down on a table or workbench.

Consult your laptop's manual to find where the hard drive is located. On many models it is easily accessible from an access panel or by sliding it from the side.

Remove the screws securing the hard drive or access panel. Put them in a tray or similar container. Slide out the side-mounted hard drive or remove the access panel and lift the hard drive out. The hard drive will often be mounted in a metal caddy. Remove any securing screws then lift the card drive out of the caddy.

Remove the screws securing the upper and lower parts of the laptop if your hard drive is only accessible by removing the keyboard. Gently pry the sections apart. Do not force them and feel for hidden clips. Use a small screwdriver to unhook clips if required.

Remove the keyboard and other components until you can access the hard drive. If you have to disconnect any cables, make a note of what goes where. Remove any screws securing the hard drive and gently lift it out.


Some laptops are sealed and cannot be accessed without specialist knowledge and skills.

Do not take your laptop apart unless you know what you are doing and are confident you can reassemble it.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Tray
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About the Author

Paul Travers has worked as a freelance journalist since 1990. He has worked primarily for "Kerrang!," the U.K.'s leading rock magazine, but he has also published online content and in print publications worldwide, from "MusikExpress" in Germany to "Smash Hits" in Australia. Travers holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and media studies from the University of Central Lancashire.