Help Me, Laptop: Can I Replace My Hard Drive or Add One?

Whether you want to install games or keep a collection of media files on your computer, you

may find that you need more internal storage than your laptop came with. Forum user wllen1 recently bought an Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop and wants to know if it has space for an extra hard drive inside.

Whether you own a mobile gaming rig like wllen1 or a tiny ultraportable such as a Dell XPS 13, you may be able to upgrade your SSD or hard drive. While some larger laptops have the bays for multiple drives, many others can be upgraded by replacing their existing drives.

The first step in the upgrade process is to find out whether your laptop is user upgradable and what types of drives it supports. The easiest way to get this information is by visiting Crucial's Advisor tool and selecting your exact make and model of laptop from the menus. Just make sure you have an exact model number to select; in this case, it was Acer Aspire AN515-51-56U0.

When I searched for this laptop, the Memory Advisor showed me that the computer has one SATA 3 port for storage, and it also listed some 2.5-inch Crucial brand SSDs I could purchase for that purpose. This means that the Nitro 5 doesn't have any extra drive bays, but wllen1 can purchase a 2.5-inch SATA SSD or hard drive, the most common type, as an upgrade.

Our article on how to replace your laptop's storage drive shows the exact steps you would need to follow. In short, the easiest way to perform this task is to attach the new storage drive to a USB port with an adapter, use disk cloning software such as EaseUS Todo Backup Free and open the laptop to make the switch.

To find out how to open up your laptop, check to see if it has a service manual available on the manufacturer's website. Some models provide an upgrade door on the bottom, while others make it more difficult.

If your laptop is one of the few that have more than one drive bay, you can skip the cloning procedure and just open the laptop and perform the surgery right away. Either way, you need to do your research before you get started. As G.I. Joe always says, knowing is half the battle.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.