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How to replace a CD/DVD/BD drive in your desktop computer

When it comes to desktop computer repair, one of the most common hardware failures is CD/DVD/BD drives. If you're having problems with getting the disk tray to eject or disks are not being recognized, it may be time to replace it. Here's how to replace a CD/DVD/BD drive in your desktop computer.

How to replace a CD/DVD/BD drive in your desktop computer

So you're tired of trying to get your old desktop CD/DVD/BD drive to work and are ready to replace it with a new one. Having to use a paper clip to manually eject your computer's CD/DVD/BD drive tray can get old quick. Replacing a desktop CD/DVD/BD drive is relatively easy; you have to make sure you get one with the correct connections and dimensions.

Find a new drive

The majority of CD/DVD/BD drives on the market nowadays will have SATA (Serial ATA) connectors for data and power. But there are still quite a few older systems that still use PATA (Parallel ATA) for data and 4 Pin Molex for power. SATA type drives are the de facto standard, so finding PATA replacement drives can be tricky. Newegg and TigerDirect are good places to find these older style drives.

SATA and PATA drive connections
PATA and SATA drive connections

Desktop CD/DVD drives have standard width and height dimensions, so all you have to do is check your existing drive's depth. Sometimes you have room to put a deeper drive in, and sometimes you don't. Always check to see what kind of space you have available before purchasing a replacement drive.

Uninstall the old software

Once you have your new CD/DVD/BD drive, you will need to uninstall the software that came with your old CD/DVD/BD drive. It's usually a version of Nero or PowerDVD, and it is branded to your old drive. Once you remove the old drive, the software that came bundled with it won't work anymore. Your new drive should have come with its own disk burning software.

Install the new drive

From here, we need to turn the computer off, disconnect the power cord from the back of the system, and open up the case. Now there are two possible ways of mounting the CD/DVD/BD drive in the case: screws or quick release rails. You may have to remove the front bezel from the case to access the CD/DVD/BD drive, as it will need to come out the front of the case. Please note the connections and remove the old drive and replace it with the new one.

Drives attached by screws and quick release rails
Drives attached by screws and quick release rails

Install the new software

Once you get the system back together, power it up, and let Windows discover the new CD/DVD/BD drive. Windows may require a restart to finalize the setup. After that, you are ready to install the software that came with the new drive.

The most common computer video display connectors

When it comes to computer repair, you have to be prepared to work on different types of systems. One of the biggest issues is having the correct video display connector. With more than ten different types of connectors it can be difficult to identify the correct one. Here is a list of the most common video display connectors.

What type of video connector do you have?

Most common video display connectors  
S-Video
3 variations - 4, 7 or 9 pins.
S-Video display connector
VGA (Video Graphics Array)
2 variations - DE-9 (9-pin) & DE-15 (15-pin).
VGA display connector
DMS-59 (Dual Monitor Solution, 59 pins)
It provides two DVI or VGA outputs in a single connector. An adapter cable is needed for conversion from DMS-59 (digital) to DVI (digital) or VGA (analog).
DMS-59 display connector
DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
5 variations - DVI-I (Single Link), DVI-I (Dual Link), DVI-D (Single Link), DVI-D (Dual Link) & DVI-A .
  • DVI-I (integrated, combines digital and analog in the same connector; digital may be single or dual link).
  • DVI-D (digital only, single link or dual link).
  • DVI-A (analog only).
DVI display connector
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)
Electrically compatible with the DVI.
4 variations - Standard, Dual-Link, Mini and Micro.
HDMI display connector
DisplayPort
Backward compatible with VGA and DVI through the use of adapters.
3 variations - Standard, Mini and Micro.
DisplayPort display connector

My digital toolbox

Every computer repair technician has a digital toolbox, more than likely several. They are either on a CD / DVD or USB drive and contain programs that we use regularly. Here are a few of the programs that I have in my digital toolbox.

My Digital Toolbox

All of the following programs have one thing in common; they don't require installation. Just right-click on them in File Explorer and select Run as administrator, that's it. Some of the programs may require access to the Internet for complete functionality.

AdwCleaner

AdwCleaner is one of the best stand-alone adware removal tools I have found yet. Right out of the box, and it will scan your system with a generic set of definitions. But if you are connected to the Internet before you start up AdwCleaner, it will download a current copy of adware definitions. And if you select uninstall, it will remove any quarantined files and then delete itself.

AdwCleaner

.NET Framework Cleanup Tool

When it comes to resolving .NET problems, you are sometimes better off just removing and reinstalling the framework. The .NET Framework Cleanup Tool is a stand-alone program that does just what its name implies. Just pick the version you wish to remove (or all) and click Cleanup Now. Once it is complete, reboot and use Windows Update to reinstall whatever version of .net framework you need.

.NET Framework Cleanup Tool

Sysinternals Suite

Sysinternals is hands down, the best collection of Windows troubleshooting tools. All of them are stand-alone programs, over 70 altogether from seeing everything that automatically starts up with Autoruns, exploring running processes with Process Explorer, or monitoring network usage with TCPView. When it comes to Windows diagnostics, you cannot beat the Sysinternals Suite.

Sysinternals Suite

How to upgrade or add more memory to your computer

Doing computer repair for a living, I get a lot of questions about how to speed computers up. When it comes to improving the performance of your computer, adding more memory has always been the best 'bang for the buck'. And it's not that hard to do. Here's how to upgrade or add more memory to your laptop or desktop computer.

How to upgrade or add more memory to your computer

When you start to look at upgrading your computer's memory, there are three (3) things you need to know: type of memory it uses, how much memory you currently have and the maximum amount of memory your system can handle. Computer memory is installed into slots on the motherboard. Laptops use SO-DIMM (Small Outline Dual In-line Memory Module) slots and desktops use DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Module) slots. The amount of memory slots varies from laptop (1-2) to desktop (2-8). High performance motherboards, like the ones used in servers, can have 16 or more memory slots.

There are a couple of ways to find out the memory specs of your computer. The first is the tried and true method, the manufacturers manual (either system or motherboard) and physically checking the slots in the computer (some laptops have the memory slots in two different locations). Or you can download a program like CPU-Z to find out what type of memory is in your computer. In some cases, instead of just adding more memory, you may have to replace the existing memory modules with larger ones.

Once you have found out what type of memory you need, it's time to go and purchase it. You can buy it on-line or locally. But remember, if you need to return it, it's easier to do it locally. Also, if you need two or four modules of memory, many vendors offer twin and quad packs of memory for less than the individual price. Once you have your new memory, it's time to install it.

Note: Remember to disconnect the power going to the system before working on it.

  • Desktops - Disconnect the power cord going to the computer
  • Laptops - Disconnect the ac charger and remove the battery (if possible)

How to remove a laptop memory module from memory slot

How to remove a laptop memory module from memory slot

  1. Spread apart the securing clips on each end of the memory module slot until the module pops up.
  2. Remove the memory module from the memory module slot.

How to install a laptop memory module into memory slot

How to install a laptop memory module into memory slot

  1. Align the notch in the memory module with the tab in the memory module slot.
  2. Slide the memory module firmly into the slot at a 45 degree angle, and press the memory module down until it clicks into place. If you do not hear the click, remove the memory module and reinstall it.

How to remove a desktop memory module from memory slot

How to remove a desktop memory module from memory slot

  1. Push the release tabs near both ends of the memory module slot until the module pops up.
  2. Remove the memory module from the memory module slot.

How to install a desktop memory module into memory slot

How to install a desktop memory module into memory slot

  1. Align the notch in the memory module with the tab in the memory module slot.
  2. Insert memory module vertically and press down until it snaps into place.

How to upgrade the hard drive in your computer

Updated September 28, 2020

Are you running out of free space on your computer's hard drive? You've uninstalled unused programs and cleaned it up, but still cannot free up any more room? Doing computer repair, I've seen this often and have personally run out of space more times than I care to remember. Here's how to upgrade the hard drive in your computer.

Changing out a hard drive may sound scary, but it's not. If your existing drive is healthy and you have a good backup of the data on it, you should be good to go. The procedure is the same for desktop computers and laptops, with slight differences due to the form factor (physical size).

Two different sizes of hard drives side-by-side
Two different sizes of hard drives side-by-side

There are two types of drives, SSD (Solid State Drive) and HDD (Hard Disk Drive), two different types of hard drive interfaces, SATA (7 pin connection cable) and PATA (40 pin ribbon connection cable), and two different form factors (physical size) of drives; 2.5" and 3.5" (the dimension relates to the width of the drive). HHD's come in 3.5" and 2.5" sizes; SSD's come in only the 2.5" form factor. Laptops use the 2.5" form factor, and desktop computers can use either size. If you're planning on using an SSD or 2.5" HDD in a desktop computer, you'll have to use 2.5" to 3.5" adapter brackets. Also, if you're installing an SSD into a laptop, check the physical dimensions first. Some SSD's are higher (thicker) than standard 2.5" HDD's and may not fit into a laptop.

View of hard drive properties inside of Disk Management
View of hard drive properties inside of Disk Management

The next thing to do is find out what you have for an existing drive. Open Computer Management, expand the Storage section, and select Disk Management. Find the disk you want to upgrade, right-click on the disk name (Disk 0, Disk 1, etc.) and select Properties. On the General tab, you will find the model number of that drive. Do a Google search for it and find out the specifications (form factor, data capacity, and interface). Now it's just a matter of getting a new drive that matches the form factor and interface. Remember that your new drive's data capacity has to be equal to or larger than your existing drive.

If your existing drive is an HDD, the first thing to do is to check the current drive for errors. Running a Checkdisk will find any errors that might prevent the successful cloning of the drive.

Running Checkdisk in Windows 7 / Windows Vista

Running Checkdisk in Windows 8

Running Checkdisk in Windows 10

If errors are found on the existing drive, you may not be able to use the new drive's manufacturer's software. In this case, you will have to use third-party software like R-Drive that can ignore read errors.

Two ways to clone a hard drive

Drive-to-drive cloning

Drive-to-drive is the easiest to do, and a few drive manufacturers (Western Digital, Seagate, etc.) have free utilities to do this. There are also a few free disk cloning utilities out there. Check out the UBCD; it has a few. All you have to do is turn off your computer and install the new drive into your computer. If your system is a desktop computer, consult the manufacturer's documentation on how to do this. If it's a laptop, you will have to attach it using either a USB adapter or inside of an external case.

A laptop hard drive connected to a USB adapter
A laptop hard drive connected to a USB adapter

If you plan on reusing your existing laptop drive, an external case might be the way to go. That way, when you're done, you can put your current drive into it, reformat it and use it as an external drive for storage.

Once you have the new drive in place, start your computer up, install the manufacturer's software and start the disk clone. If you're installing a larger drive, always remember to check and make sure that the new free space is going to partition you want to expand. Once done, just power off the computer and change the drives out. If your system is a laptop, consult the manufacturer's documentation on how to change out the hard drive. If you installed an HDD, the first thing you want to do is a Checkdisk. When you clone a drive, you copy everything, including the MFT (Master File Table). SSD's will automatically adjust them, HDD's don't. Run a Checkdisk to fix them.

Drive-to-image / image-to-drive cloning

Drive-to-image / image-to-drive are a bit harder to do, but it has an advantage, a full disk backup. This process does require third-party software like R-Drive and an external drive or network drive. Most disk cloning tools allow you to create a boot disk; that way, you can boot your system up on it to clone the drive. Once you have made a boot disk, you're ready to go.

The process is the same as drive-to-drive, but instead of cloning to the new drive, you create a file containing an image of the existing hard drive on a removable hard drive or network folder. I prefer the portable (2.5") external hard drive, as they don't require any additional source of power (AC adapter). Boot your computer up on the disk you created. Once it is booted up, attach an external hard drive or configure the network settings and select your drive image location.

After you create the drive image, you can shut down your computer and change out the drives. Consult the manufacturer's documentation on how to change out the hard drive. Then you boot your computer back up on the disk you created, reconnect your external drive or network drive, and restore the drive from the image file. If you're installing a larger drive, always remember to check and make sure that the new free space is going to partition you want to expand. Once done, just shut the system down, remove the boot disk and start it back up. If you installed an HDD, the first thing you want to do is a Checkdisk. When you clone a drive, you copy everything, including the Master File Table. SSD's will automatically adjust them, HDD's don't. Run a checkdisk to fix them.

For more information on upgrading computer drives. click on the following links.

How to clone the drive in your Windows computer

How to upgrade your computers hard disk drive to a solid state drive

Customer service is #1

Here at Geeks in Phoenix, we take pride in providing excellent customer service. We aim to give the highest quality of service  from computer repair, virus removal, and data recovery.

Bring your computer to us and save

Diagnosing PC problems can be time-consuming. From running memory checking software to scanning for viruses, these are processes can take some time. We base our in-shop service on the actual time we work on your computer, not the time it takes your computer to work!

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Geeks in Phoenix
Professional service at an affordable price!
4722 East Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
(602) 795-1111

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in servicing laptop and desktop computers. Since 2008, our expert and knowledgeable technicians have provided excellent computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, photo manipulation, and website support to the greater Phoenix metro area.

At Geeks in Phoenix, we have the most outstanding computer consultants that provide the highest exceptional service in Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Tempe, Arizona. We offer in-shop, on-site, and remote (with stable Internet connection) computer support and services.

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