How do you remove a hard drive from a desk-top computer?

sort by: active | newest | oldest
thegeeke6 years ago
As some of the community have said... power down, unplug, open case, remove all cables, and then remove. However, I would like to add: 1. Use a ground strap if you would ever like to use anything in that computer again, and 2. after unplugging your CPU, wait about 2 min. before removing any cables from the hard drive. Even after that, press the power button on the PC to remove any leftover power. The reason for this is that computers have capacitors in them that can store power for awhile. You wouldn't hurt yourself, however you could damage components. (Especially if you are using a Molex power cord... ask me how I found that one out...) ;)
Good practices, but I'd quibble just a bit about how important they are for this particular question.

1) I considered recommending a ground strap... but CMOS electronics is far less sensitive to ESD (electrostatic discharge) damage than it used to be, and many folks have stopped bothering to guard against that. I still have a few practices that reduce the risk, but for the most part I've stopped bothering with an actual ground strap unless I'm working with components which I know need one.

If you do want to use a ground strap: The critical thing is that there be a large resistor (typically 1 megohm) in the discharge path. The goal is to bleed off the static charge slowly enough that you don't create exactly the kind of sudden discharge you're trying to prevent -- and the large resistor also provides keeps the ground strap from killing you if you bump into a live wire. It is a useful thing to have in your toolkit. Suggested approached to making your own have appeared elsewhere; I used to just clip onto my metal watchband.

2) Good practice generally... but, again, I don't _think_ it's likely to become a problem in this particular environment unless one opens the inner case around the power supply (or pokes something into it). My guess is that trickle current through the PC's components, including the drives, should suck the power supply outputs down to near zero pretty quickly ... probably before the user gets the machine unplugged and opened up. And I've rarely seen the drive cables flop near enough to anything else to threaten an unintended connection; in fact there are often spare drive power cables floating fairly loose inside the machine.
I like the idea of using a resistor... but being a data recovery technician, I am required to use a ground strap. #2: Again... I have personally seen molex cords spark when removing from hard drives... so I would suggest discharging the power supply.
MacroPower6 years ago
1. Open the computer.
2. Find the small, rectangular box.
3. Pound with a Hammer until it comes out.


(really, do not do that)

I hope this helps.
orksecurity6 years ago
I'll answer the question as posed, but it might be helpful if you told us why you want to do this so we can tell you what else might need to be changed.

Power down the PC. Unplug from the wall. Unplug the power cord from the PC.

Open the PC case. (Details depend on the exact design of that case; you may need to remove some screws, push a button and slide, a combination of those, or other. There may also be a case lock.)

Find the hard drive. There may be several; if so, you'll have to determine which is which.

Unplug the power and data connectors from the back of the hard drive.

The drive may now slide out (if it was mounted on rails), or screws may need to be removed before it can be slid or lifted out.

The website for your PC's manufacturer may have a copy of the user's manual which may show this in more specific detail.
Ha ha, both of us typing away at the same time with the same answer. Anyway, I presumed they would know enough to turn the thing off first and unplug it, but then I suppose that is not always the case. There is always that one, "well you didn't tell me to shut the engine off", after you watch the car drive away by itself.
Some case designs don't like opening while the power cord is plugged in. Seemed better to mention it. Could have mentioned many other things too (ground strap?) but didn't want to scare off the Original Poster.

Some of us have been doing this too long... I have to actively remind myself that this question really is a bit more complicated than "how do I remove a screw". Not _much_ more complicated, but enough so that folks appreciate reassurance before attempting it.

I still want to know the question behind the question. Removing the drive, by itself, is generally not all that useful... the question is what you intend to do with the drive or the PC after that. And some of the answers really want some prep work done before you pull the drive.

Of course if you're just reducing a junker to parts for the sake of seeing what's inside it...
Remember, some screws are not meant to be removed unless
you want to remove the computer's "yet"  :-)

The repair tech replied  " yes the short is in the computer yet ! " :-(

iceng Vyger6 years ago
What..... you both work Up the list ?
Vyger6 years ago
Its pretty simple. Depending on the case design, some are "screwless" , but just open the case side, locate the drive visually, unplug the 2 cables to it (one is power and one is data, it will either be a small flat cable or if its older a wide ribbon cable). Then find how the drive is physically screwed in, if its in a standard drive bay there will be screws on each side, 2 to a side. You might have to remove the other side of the case to get at the screws on the other side. If its a screwless then just unclip the plastic things that hold it in place. Then just slide it out. It should take less than 5 minutes, possible 30 seconds.