How to Install an SSD in Your Computer

Speed up your computer by adding in your own super-fast SSD

What to Know

  • Before you start, unplug all cables and turn off the power supply. Wear an anti-static wristband or rubber-soled shoes, too.
  • SATA SSDs are installed differently than M.2 SSDs, so check your computer carefully before buying and installing any SSD.
  • After installation, check the BIOS to confirm that your computer recognizes the new SSD.

This article explains how to install a SATA SSD and an M.2 SSD.

How to Install a SATA SSD for Desktop

One of the best upgrades of the 21st century has been the move from hard drives to solid-state drives (SSD). These are faster than platter-bound drives and make your computing experience snappier and more enjoyable. Plus, SSDs are easy to add to a computer.

Unless you opt for the most high-speed of high-end solid-state drives, a SATA SSD is more than enough for your everyday needs. SATA SSDs are affordable, too, with a terabyte of SSD space available for under $100 in some cases. These are also a cinch to install.

  1. Unplug the cables from your desktop PC and turn off the power supply. Lay the desktop on its side on a desk or table of comfortable height. Don't put it on the floor, as there is too great a risk from static.

  2. If you have one, attach an anti-static wristband to yourself and the case to avoid any static discharges that could damage the PC components. If you don't have one, wear rubber-soled shoes, especially on carpet. Also, periodically touch a metal portion of the PC chassis to ground yourself.

  3. Take off the side panel to gain access to the computer. 

  4. Locate a 2.5-inch drive bay. The location is dependent on the case. The bays are typically found at the front end. If needed, use the SSD as a measuring tool to see where it would fit. Make sure the screw holes line up with those on the side or bottom of the SSD.

  5. Use the screws supplied with the SSD or the computer case to fit the SSD into its respective spot in the case.

  6. SATA SSDs have two cables you need to attach to operate them: a power and a data cable. Both are L shaped but different sizes. The larger of the two is for power and should be attached to the power supply. Locate it, run the cable to the SSD, and plug it in.

  7. Find a SATA cable. One may have come with the new drive or the motherboard. Plug one end into the SATA drive and the other into the respective slot on the motherboard. It should be located near the right side, toward the front of the case.

    If you want the PC's airflow to remain optical, tuck the excess power and data cable portions into a crevice. That helps air move through the computer to keep components cool, and it makes the inside of the computer look neater.

How to Install an M.2 SSD

M.2 SSDs are typically faster than SATA SSDs, but, most crucially, M.2 SSDs are a different form factor. These require a dedicated slot on the motherboard, so make sure you have one before buying one of these drives. Also, confirm it's PCIExpress or SATA, as these have different sockets. Either way, installation is simple.

Samsung NVME Drive
Samsung / Flickr
  1. Follow the instructions at the start of the SATA SSD guide for protecting your computer from static electricity.

  2. Locate the dedicated M.2 slot on the motherboard.

    M.2 Port
    Dsimic / Wikimedia
  3. Remove the mounting screw.

  4. Gently plug the M.2 SSD into the slot. It stands up at an angle until secured.

  5. Gently press down on the drive and secure it with the mounting screw.

How to Transfer Your Data to an SSD

Once your new drive is installed, you may want to do a new system installation to take advantage of its speed. If you want to bring over your old data, though, follow our guide on upgrading drives and migrating data.

When installing any new drive in a PC, check the BIOS after installation to confirm that the computer recognized the SSD drive. If not, make sure the connections are correctly in place.

Why Should You Install an SSD Anyway?

SSDs are much faster than even the quickest of hard drives, offering faster file transfer speeds and quicker random access times. This means a PC boots up faster when the operating system is installed on an SSD, and games load faster, too.

If you aren't a gamer and don't mind leaving your computer running all the time, an SSD can make it feel snappier and more responsive, with less waiting around for applications to start or files to move around.

Better yet, SSDs are cheap. You'll probably want to use a hard drive for storage purposes. On a per-gigabyte basis, hard drives are cheaper. However, for a boot or game drive, SSDs are a great way to improve your PC experience.