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How to Fit a Drive in Your Desktop

Every computer, whether tower or laptop, needs storage. The more storage capacity you have, the fewer hard choices you have to make, and that holds true for both optical and magnetic drives.

How Much Room Does a Drive Need?

Most computers mount their internal hard drives in bays. These bays come in three sizes, depending on the design and configuration of the device. You can also often find adapters to fit a smaller HDD in a larger bay, which makes it easier to find room for a new hard drive in an existing tower. The three drive sizes are:

  • 5.25-Inch: This is the size of standard DVD-ROM, Blu-ray, and other optical drives.
  • 3.5-Inch: This is the size for standard desktop hard drives.
  • 2.5-Inch: Designed for laptop hard drives, this form factor is also compatible with 3.5-in. bays through the use of an adapter.

Choosing a Dell Internal Hard Drive

Choosing the right drive for an internal bay is a little more complicated than choosing an external hard drive. For one thing, you have to install it, you can't just plug it into a USB port and be done with it. You have to know what you want to do with the hard drive, as well as whether it's even compatible with your existing Dell motherboard. There are a number of things to consider before choosing the right hard drive for your needs:

  • Interface: Most HDDs and SSDs use SATA interfaces offering anywhere from 1.5 to 6.0 Gbps transfer rates. While different SATA revisions have different levels of performance, they are compatible with each other. This is not the case for PATA and SCSI drives which are not compatible with SATA.
  • Speed: Hard drive speed depends largely on how fast the edges of the platters move, which depends on both diameter and RPM. When possible, consider a 7200 RPM HDD.
  • Capacity: The more data you have, the more capacity you need. 500 GB is a good beginning point, but many people can benefit from 1 TB or more storage capacity.

Installing a Hard Disk Drive

The first thing to do with any installation from a 320 GB hard drive to a video card is to shut down the computer and disconnect the power. Once that is done you can open the case and look for an open bay to install your storage device. Always fasten it into place in order to ensure that it does not vibrate during operation, and be sure to connect both the power and data lines. Some cases are tool less, so you don't need a screwdriver to mount internal hard drives.

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