How to Install a Second SSD

Discover how to add a second solid-state drive to your PC

Files pile up over time, and sooner or later every hard disk drive (HDD) and solid state drive (SSD) fills up. Even if you start with a large drive, you'll eventually be faced with the choice of deleting old files or using a secondary storage device.

The easiest way to do this is to attach an external drive to your PC and be done. But if your computer case has the room, you could save yourself the mess of an extra item on your desk (not to mention the cable clutter).

This process isn't too difficult as long as your computer has space inside for a new SSD to be added, but you will have to open your computer up, plug in a few cables, and then use the Windows Disk Management utility to set up your new drive.

The following instructions pertain to Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. Where a step differs from Windows 7 to the other editions, the differences are called out.

A child installs a second SSD in a PC.
Jasmin Merdan / Moment / Getty 

Getting Ready to Install a Second SSD

Installing a second SSD in a Windows PC is a two step process. First you have to physically install the drive inside the PC, and then you have to set it up within Windows for the operating system to recognize and use it.

Here's what you need if you want to install a second SSD in your PC:

  • An open drive bay in your computer
  • An open SATA data connection on your motherboard
  • An SSD drive
  • A screwdriver to open the case and secure the drive in place
  • A SATA data cable
  • An available SATA power connector
  • An adapter if the SSD will be installed in a bay meant for a 5.25-inch drive

Of these items, the most important are an open drive bay and an open SATA data connection on your motherboard. Most computer cases come with a number of open bays, and most motherboards have a number of SATA connections for SSDs and peripherals like Blu-ray drives, but you should check that you have space before investing in a new SSD.

Laptops are an exception, as most laptops do not have space to install a second SSD. If your laptop does have space, then you won't need a SATA connector: laptop drive bays come with built-in power and data connectors.

If your motherboard doesn't have any available SATA ports, then you can buy a SATA controller that plugs into a PCI or PCIe slot. Similarly, you can use a Molex adapter or SATA power cable splitter if you're out of SATA power connections.

How to Install a Second SSD in Your Windows PC

Once you have all of the necessary components and tools on hand, you're ready to install a second SSD in your PC. You can also use these instructions to install a third or fourth SSD, as long as you have enough SATA connectors and don't exceed the output capabilities of your power supply unit.

Be careful to avoid discharging static while working inside your PC case. Use an anti-static wrist strap if you have one, or ground yourself in some other way if you don't.

Here's how to install a second SSD in a PC:

  1. Unplug your PC from power, and open up the case.

  2. Locate an open drive bay.

    An open drive bay in a PC.

    Your case may have one or two different drive bay sizes in addition to peripheral bays. If you don't have any 2.5 inch drive bays available, purchase a 2.5 to 5.25 inch adapter for your SSD and use a 5.25 inch bay.

  3. Remove the drive caddy, and install your new SSD into it.

    An SSD in a drive caddy.

    Some cases don't have drive caddies. You may need to slide your drive directly into the bay and screw it in place, or there might be built-in fasteners that you twist or flip. Consult the owners manual that came with your case if you can't figure it out.

  4. Install the caddy back into the drive bay.

    An SSD installed in a drive bay.

    Depending on your case, the caddy may snap into place automatically, or you may have to use a fastener of some sort.

  5. Locate a free SATA data cable port on your motherboard, and install a SATA data cable.

    SATA data ports on a motherboard.
  6. Locate a free SATA power connector.

    An unused SATA power connector.

    Use a Molex to SATA power adapter or a power splitter if you don't have a free SATA power connector.

  7. Plug the SATA power and data connectors into your SSD drive.

    A second SSD installed in a PC.

    The power connector is the longer of the two connectors on your SSD. Note the orientation of the L-shaped connectors, and be careful to install the connectors in the correct orientation.

  8. Carefully verify that all of the cables are seated securely, and make sure you didn't accidentally unplug anything or knock anything loose.

  9. Close your case up, connect everything back up, and turn on your computer.

How to Set Up a New SSD in Windows

Once you've successfully installed your second SSD and plugged everything back in, it's time to turn on your PC and make sure everything works. If Windows doesn't recognize any of your drives or peripherals, power down and check for any loose or unplugged wires. If everything is in working order, then you can go ahead and set up your new SSD.

By default, Windows will see and recognize your second SSD, but it won't be able to use it for anything. Before you can actually use it, you have to initialize and then format it for use with Windows. After completing this process, your new SSD will be available to save new files and transfer old files from your original drive to free up space.

Here's how to set up a newly installed SSD in Windows:

  1. Navigate to Control Panel > Disk Management.

    In Windows 7, click the Start button, right click Computer, and choose Manage to access Disk Management.

  2. If prompted to initialize the disk, select GPT (GUID Partition Table) and click OK.

    A screenshot of Disk Management in Windows.

    If you're using Windows 7, choose MBR (Master Boot Record).

  3. If the setup wizard starts automatically, skip to step 5. Otherwise, scroll the disk management window until you find your new SSD.

    A screenshot of Windows disk management.

    You can easily identify your new SSD as it will be the only one that is unallocated.

  4. Right click, and select New Simple Volume.

    A screenshot of creating a new simple volume.
  5. Click Next.

    A screenshot of the new simple volume wizard.
  6. Make sure the two numbers match, and click Next.

    The new simple volume wizard.

    If you want to make multiple partitions on this one drive, enter the desired partition size instead of matching the numbers.

  7. Select a drive letter if you don't like the default one, and click Next.

    A screenshot of the new simple volume wizard.
  8. Use the NTFS file system unless you have a reason to do otherwise, leave the allocation unit size as it is, enter a volume label if you desire, and click Next.

    The new simple volume wizard.
  9. Verify the information, and click Finish.

    A screenshot of completing the new simple volume wizard.
  10. Your second SSD is now ready to use.

    A screenshot of newly installed SSD in Windows 10.