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Common Laptop Hard Drive Questions


The term laptop hard drive is often applied to 2.5 inch hard drives even though they are used in many types of devices and not just laptops. For instance, they can be found in entertainment devices, desktop computers, server workstations, and more. Below, NeweggBusiness answers several common questions about 2.5 inch and laptop hard drives.


What does 2.5 inch refer to?

The designation stems from the fact that the disk platters inside of the drive are traditionally 2.5 inches in diameter. The exterior of a 2.5 inch hard drive is actually 100 millimeters (length) by 69.85 millimeters (width).

Thickness can vary, though 9.5 millimeters is very common for most laptops. On the lower end of the scale, Ultrabooks™ can sometimes have hard drives as slim as 5 millimeters. Enterprise-grade hard drives can sometimes be as thick as 15 millimeters.

How do I use a 2.5 inch or laptop hard drive with a device doesn’t support that form factor?

In order to use a 2.5 inch hard drive with a device that is designed for 3.5 inch or desktop hard drives, you will need an adapter bracket. Even with the bracket however, you will still need to ensure that the connectors are compatible.

Can I use an enterprise-grade 2.5 inch hard drive with a laptop?

While some enterprise-grade hard drives and laptop hard drives have similar form factors, they typically utilize different connectors. A laptop for instance, will usually have a SATA connector—or PATA/IDE in the case of older laptops. A server-grade hard drive on the other hand, will typically have a SAS or SCSI connector.

So while a SAS hard drive may physically fit inside a laptop, it cannot be used due to connection differences.

How do I replace a laptop hard drive?

Not all laptops feature removable hard drives, so you will first need to consult the laptop’s user guide or manufacturer’s website for confirmation. If the manufacturer states that your laptop’s hard drive can be replaced, the information below can serve as a general outline.

The first step is to ensure that you have the appropriate tools. Recommended tools include a Phillips screwdriver with a relatively small head, a flat-head screwdriver, and possibly Torx® screwdrivers.

While each laptop model may have a unique design, there are some commonalities with how the hard drives can be accessed. Three of the more common laptop hard drive configurations are as follows.

  • Tray-mounted
  • Access panel on the underside
  • Underneath the keyboard

Once you have determined how to access the laptop hard drive, you should remove the battery and unplug the laptop to avoid electrical damage or injury.