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How to install a second SSD or HDD on your laptop?

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  • 5 min read

Almost everyone who uses a laptop these days knows that SSDs are the way to go in storage. They’re more reliable, faster and just a lot better than HDDs in general. Most modern-day machines do come with at least a 128GB SSD inside to run your OS on them. However, if you’ve got something a bit older, chances are, you’re stuck with a good old 5200RPM 1TB HDD. And, speaking from experience, that’s not good.

But then SSDs are way more expensive than HDDs regarding storage capacities. For instance, if you’re rocking a 1TB HDD, an equivalent SSD will cost you around INR 10,000. That’s a lot of money to shell out on storage.

Instead, you could opt for hybrid SSHDs that sit somewhere in between but are still slower than a full-blown SSD. So how do you get the best of both worlds?

In this article, we’re going to look at how you can put in an SSD alongwith your regular HDD in your laptop, which doesn’t have a dedicated SSD slot and make it work.

You can watch the video below in English and Hindi or continue reading the article.

Also read: Why does an HDD get bad sectors? Do they corrupt data?

What all do you need?

Now, this method has a little bit of a prerequisite. Your laptop needs to have a CD drive. It doesn’t matter what type; we’re just going to need that connection.

If you have one, it’s now time to go shopping. I run a pretty old system with an i5 6200U, 8GB RAM and 1TB HDD that runs at 5400RPM. The HDD was becoming a significant bottleneck to the system, so I decided to go for a 480GB SSD as it fits right in the budget, which was not a lot.

The SSD will run Windows, some software like Premiere, Photoshop and a few games. The rest of the data, alongwith the Linux partition — yes, it’s a dual boot system — stay on the HDD.

Next up, we need to buy a caddy. A caddy replaces your CD drive, allowing you to connect a standard SATA drive to your CD drive port. You’re essentially trading out your CD drive for an extra SSD/HDD.

Do keep in mind that these caddies come in different shapes and connectors. If you have a mini SATA port for your CD drive, you’re good. Anything other than that, you’re in proprietary land and can’t do anything about it unless you find a caddy that fits your machine.

Pull out your CD drive and measure its height to determine what size caddy you need. That’s the height of the caddy you’ll need. As you can see, it is 9.8mm here. This shouldn’t be too expensive, either.

Also read: Master Boot Record (MBR) vs GUID Partition Table (GPT): Which method to use for your SSD

How to insert two storage drives in a laptop with a single slot?

It’s pretty simple. Everything is plug and play.

Step 1: Get access to your HDD. You might have to disassemble your machine for this. Look up your laptop model on the internet and find proper instructions.

Step 2: Replace the HDD in the SATA slot with the SSD you bought.

Step 3: Place your HDD in the caddy and put the caddy back in place.

You can replace the front of the caddy with what you have on your CD drive. It’s held down by little plastic tabs that come of quite quickly.

If you’re wondering why we put the HDD in the caddy and not the SSD, that’s because even the cheapest SSD would saturate the bandwidth of the mini SATA port. As far as HDDs go, they’ll be just fine.

Your SSD might saturate your primary SATA port as well, but you’ll still get better speeds.

And that’s it. That’s all you need to do to get the hardware side up and running. Note that you still need to make the SSD your boot drive to see any performance improvements.

Once you’ve your SSD all set up and running simultaneously besides the HDD, it makes sense to migrate the OS to drastically reduce the system boot time. Check out our guide here that will help you migrate the OS from HDD to SSD for free in seven easy steps.

Also read: Dual boot vs Virtual Machine

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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