Can I Use Two Hard Drives in One Computer?

If your tower has space for it, yes, but an external one will work if not

Many, but not all, computers can hold two hard drives inside the case. All computers running consumer operating systems (macOS, Windows, Linux), however, can access more than one hard drive.

It's simple to arrange, but there are some important things you need to consider before using two hard drives in your computer. Here's a look at what you need to know. 

If you don't feel comfortable installing an internal hard drive, you can also add an external hard drive instead. 

What Are the Advantages of Multiple Hard Drives in One PC?

There are some key reasons why it's useful to have multiple hard drives in one PC. Let's take a look at them.

  • Extended storage space. The obvious advantage is you gain more storage space. By having multiple hard drives, you can expand your storage easily without having to replace existing units. 
  • Backups are more secure. While it's possible to partition a hard drive so it acts as if it's multiple hard drives, by having multiple physical drives, you have redundancy lined up. If one drive fails, the other one is still ready to use, making it a more secure backup method.
  • Flexibility. One favored method by some users is to have one SSD drive to install Windows on while a regular hard drive is used for storage needs. That way, the system boots up fast but you can store more files on a cheaper regular hard drive for occasional use. 

What Can You Do With a Second Internal Hard Drive?

Once you have installed a second SSD or hard drive, there are multiple uses you can do with it. Here's a look at some of the most popular choices.

  • Use as a backup drive. You can store all your files on the second drive to back them up. It's sensible to store them on the original drive as well as the new one so you have two copies in case of issues.
  • Install games. If you've bought a second hard drive and it's SSD-based, it's ideal for installing games. By doing so, you get faster performance so your games load faster. A regular hard drive will suffice but its speed isn't as fast. 
  • Use as a dedicated drive. Want to be more organized? A second dedicated drive means you could use it to store all your work files in one place rather than have them available across both devices. 
  • Enjoy the same way as your first drive. You can just use the second drive the same way as the first one. It doesn't need to be used as a dedicated resource. Just transfer any files to it1 you need and appreciate the extra storage space.

How Do You Get the Best Performance From Two Internal Hard Drives? 

Once you have two internal hard drives installed, you want to get the best out of them. Here's some advice on doing so.

  • Optimize Windows. It's useful to check the best methods of optimizing Windows for your main hard drive. One of the simplest solutions is to go to Start > Windows Administrative Tools > Defragment and Optimize drives and click Optimize
  • Consider partitioning drives. If you partition a drive, the more organized your data can become. That means the hard drive's head does not need to move as far to access data so read times are reduced. It can help to partition a large drive into smaller chunks to help here.
  • Move your most frequently used files to the fastest drive. If you've installed a SSD, it's useful to move the files you most frequently use to it. An SSD is faster than a regular hard drive so installing games to it or files you regularly access is a smart move so they can be read faster. 
FAQ
  • How do I format a hard drive?

    You'll use different apps to set up a new hard drive depending on the operating system you use. Windows uses Disk Management, while macOS has a separate program called Disk Utility. Generally, you'll select the drive and then choose either Format or Erase, choose the new format, and the system will delete everything on the drive and set it up.

  • How do I access data from an old hard drive?

    If the drive still works, you can usually just connect it to your computer to get the data off of it; depending on the drive's age, you may need to use an adapter. If the hard drive isn't functional, you'll need to use a recovery service or program to try to retrieve your information.

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