Laptop Hard Drive Connection Types

Updated July 20, 2017

Like desktop computers, laptop computers feature hard drives with varying types of connections. When upgrading your laptop, it is important to replace the existing hard drive with a new one that features a compatible connection. Otherwise, you must purchase a special adaptor at additional cost or you won't be able to install the drive in your system.


IDE connections are typically found on hard drives manufactured between 1994, when the standard was introduced, and 2003, when it was largely replaced by the SATA connector. The IDE interface is sometimes referred to as ATA or PATA, which stands for Parallel ATA. While this type of connector can still be found in laptops, it is not as common as SATA.

Serial ATA

Serial ATA, or SATA, has replaced the older IDE standard. It improves upon the IDE standard by providing significantly faster data transfer speeds when accessing a hard disk drive.


USB is often the connector of choice for external laptop hard drives. While you cannot connect an internal hard drive with USB, you can add an external hard drive and thereby expand the storage capacity of your notebook by connecting this type of drive to a USB port. The USB drive offers the advantage of portability and convenience as it can be easily connected by plugging in a cable and just as easily removed by unplugging the device.

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About the Author

Nick Miles has been writing since 2006, with articles appearing on the sci-fi and horror website FanCrush Networks. Miles holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and electronic arts from California State University, Long Beach.