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How to upgrade your computer hard drive

A solid-state hard drive means no moving parts

A solid-state hard drive means no moving parts that can wear out. Credit: TNS/Dreamstime

A friend recently asked for advice on updating the hard drive on their computer. They were out of space and wanted to upgrade to a larger solid-state drive.

Traditional hard drives use spinning metal disks to hold your data, which is read by a head that looks like the needle from a record player, but hard drive platters spin thousands of times per minute. Solid-state drives use memory chips instead of spinning platters, so there are no moving parts to wear out. And because data can be read faster from memory chips, your computer will work much faster.

To move the data from the old drive to the new one, you’ll need a way to plug the new SSD into your computer via USB. The best method is to buy a hard drive docking station which can be plugged into a USB drive on your Mac or PC. Insert the new drive and turn it on. The drive should appear for you to use, although you may have to format it using Disk Management on Windows or Disk Utility on Mac.

When the drive is formatted, you can launch an app to clone the data from the old drive to the new drive. For the Mac, use Carbon Copy Cloner, which you can download on a free 30-day trial at bombich.com (it's $39.95 after that). Windows users can download Macrium Reflect for free at macrium.com/reflectfree.

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