June 8, 2011

How to Install or Replace an Optical Drive.

Has your desktop pc stopped reading CDs and DVDs and you want to replace it? Do you want to add Blu-ray disc support to your PC? These types of drives, known collectively as optical drives, are extremely easy to upgrade or install. As far as PC components go and depending on functionality, they can be very inexpensive as well.

In this TechTip, I’ll show you how to install or replace an optical drive.

What you need:
● Optical drive (The CD/DVD drive or Blu-ray drive you want to install)
● A Philips-head screwdriver
● An available Serial ATA or IDE cable connection (depending on your drive’s interface type)
● An available 5.25-inch drive bay
● Antistatic wrist strap (optional)

How to Install an Optical Drive, How to Replace an Optical Drive

The first thing you want to do is unplug your pc computer tower completely. You especially do not want the power cord plugged in during this or any time you open the case. Remove both side panels, since you’ll need to access the left and right sides of the case. If your drive bay has a plastic insert or a metal punch-out panel, go ahead and remove both of those to make room for the new optical drive.

If you’re removing an existing drive, unplug the cables connected to the back of the drive. There should be one interface cable (IDE ribbon or SATA cable) and one power connector leading from the case power supply . Once disconnected, you can remove the screws on the side of the drive, or if you have a screwless case, go ahead and unfasten those, too. Slide the drive out of the front of the case and set it aside.

How to Install an Optical Drive, How to Replace an Optical Drive

With your drive bay empty and your new drive in hand, slide it into the bay with the front panel facing outward. Push it all the way in until it becomes flush with the front bezel of your case. It should also line up with the eyelets already punched in. If the holes don’t match up, just slide it in or out to line up the drive’s screw holes with the eyelets and insert one screw and screw it in only partially to hold the drive in place for the next step. Now you want to try connecting your interface and power connectors to make sure they will reach your drive.

More than once I’ve screwed a drive all the way in before realizing my cables will not reach, leaving me to start all over again.

How to Install an Optical Drive, How to Replace an Optical Drive

Both types of interface connectors and power connectors are keyed to prevent improper insertion, so if it’s not sliding in place easily, check the orientation of the connector to be sure it’s supposed to go there. Remember, Serial ATA or IDE, even if your drive has two power connectors, only connect one to the drive. Once you are sure your interface and power connectors reach, screw in the rest of the screws (or make sure whatever knobs, buttons, or levers in your screwless case are fastened). Reattach your side panels and plug everything back in.

A side note for IDE users: If you are using an IDE cable that already has a hard drive attached to it, make sure the jumpers for the hard drive are set to primary and it’s connected to the primary IDE connector. You always want the optical drive to be a slave in these situations since you use it much less than a hard drive and it generally operates with lower data transfer rates. If there are no other drives on the IDE cable, this step is not required.

Another tip: if there is a red stripe on your IDE cable, it should be on the right side of the cable when it’s plugged in.

Once your case is all sealed up and you have everything plugged back in, turn your PC on and, if applicable, insert any included CD/DVD disc(s) into the drive once you’ve booted all the way up so you can install any included software that came with the drive. Once your software is installed (or you didn’t install any), you’re all set. Your new drive should be ready to go.

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