If you find your PC running out of storage space in the future and you don’t want to delete your personal files and installed games, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a new hard disk drive. But what happens when that second disk drive runs out of space too? Should you buy a third one? How many hard drives can a PC have? We’ll answer all those questions and more in this article.
Also read: How Long Does It Take To Build a PC?
How To Check How Many Hard Drives Can A PC Have?
There are a number of ways to check how many hard drives your computer can support. They all revolve around checking the number of SATA ports available on the motherboard because that’s how many hard drives you can have on your PC.
Checking The Model
The easiest way to check how many hard drives can a PC have is to check the model of your motherboard. This is also a more efficient method as you don’t need to shut down and open the casing. Most manufacturers have a list of specifications on their website for all their products including motherboards.
To check which motherboard model you have, press Windows + R, type in msinfo32, and press the Enter key. This will open up the System Information menu where you can check your motherboard’s model next to Baseboard Manufacture, Product, and Version.
Now that you know the motherboard model, use your browser to search for its specifications. Once you have the specifications, you need to look for the number of SATA ports available on your motherboard. You can also inspect the image of the motherboard online to see how many SATA ports there are.
Opening The Case
If you have a prebuilt PC or you’re unable to check the specifications of your motherboard for some reason, you might need to open up your PC case. You can check the number of slots you have on your motherboard by opening the case and looking for the SATA ports physically. SATA ports are L-shaped slots on your motherboard placed next to each other.
Moving on, if you don’t want to open the PC case, you can check the BIOS for the number of hard drives that your PC can support. BIOS is an internal program that allows your CPU to boot the operating system and get your computer running after it is powered on. It also has all the information regarding the hardware which is attached to your PC including hard disk drives.
To check the number of hard drives on your PC using BIOS, restart the computer. Before the computer starts booting, you will see the hotkey that’s required to access the BIOS in your computer. This hotkey is different in different PCs according to the manufacturer. Once you press it, you will enter the BIOS setup on your computer.
Now this interface will differ from PC to PC but they will all allow you to check the number of SATA ports available on your PC. It is also important to note that tinkering with BIOS settings can lead to unforeseen problems so when exiting from BIOS, make sure there aren’t any changes made in the settings.
Factors That Affect How Many HDDs You Can Have
So, you know how to check the number of hard drives your computer can support, but Some factors need to be checked before installing a new hard drive on a computer.
As mentioned before, the number of slots available on your motherboard plays the biggest role in installing new HDDs on your PC. Most motherboards come with four to six SATA slots which means you can install up to four to six hard disk drives on your PC, excluding external HDDs.
Most modern motherboards offer the SATA port for the hard disk to motherboard connection. However, there are upcoming NVMe-based HDDs being introduced by Seagate that can be installed on the motherboard without the need for SATA ports but they aren’t coming out anytime soon. You may also find PATA ports on very old motherboards but this technology has become obsolete and it’s rare to find these ports on your motherboard.
Depending on what type of ports and what number of them are available on your motherboard, you will only be able to install that type and those number of hard drives. So, it’s important to check your motherboard before adding any extra hard drives to your PC.
If all the ports in your motherboard are already filled, then you can’t install another hard disk on it. In this case, you can either back up your data and upgrade the hard disks you have installed on your PC, or get a new motherboard that has extra slots available to add a new hard drive. There’s also the third option of installing an external hard drive which we’ll explore further down. But these scenarios are very unlikely to actually happen because most of the time users don’t have a hard disk on every slot.
Moving on, it’s important to fill the power requirements of any additional hard drive that you want to add to your PC. You should know that modern hard drives don’t require a lot of power and you’ll find most of them consuming less than 10 W of power from your PSU. In most cases, your PSU will be able to support an additional hard drive because of their generally low power requirements.
However, if your total PC’s power requirements are already near the power which your PSU can handle, it’s better not to burden it with additional upgrades. Also, if there aren’t any power connectors to connect the PSU to the hard drive, you’ll need to buy them separately which can make cable management a bit difficult.
The physical space available inside your case is also an important factor when it comes to adding more hard disks to your build. Obviously, you can install another hard disk on your PC if there’s no space inside your PC casing. Most ATX cases allow you to hold at least four hard drives, with compartments available for each one. Mainly the issues surrounding insufficient space inside the case come from smaller mini ITX builds.
Some users stack hard drives on top of each other without any clearance in between which can actually damage the hardware. If there’s no space between the hard drives, they can hinder each other’s functionality because of vibration. If there isn’t enough space inside your PC case, and you don’t want another hard drive
Alternative Storage Methods
Here are some alternative storage methods – these could help you getting around maximum capacity of your PC’s storage.
If your PC case doesn’t have space for more hard drives, or your motherboard doesn’t have any extra slots available, you can still get an external hard drive or solid-state drive for your PC. External hard drives are a great alternative since they’re just as fast as normal hard drives and can just be attached to a USB 3.0 port.
Since external hard drives use USB ports, they’re quite portable so it’s good to have one If you have multiple computers. They’re also faster than just USB flash drives.
Cloud storage is a good alternative if you’re running out of storage space on your hard drive. For example, if you need some space to install a new game, you can transfer work files and personal data on cloud storage such as Google Cloud or Microsoft OneDrive. Cloud storage offers a decent amount of space where you can backup data and save some files you don’t access regularly.
USB Flash Drive
USB flash drives are another alternative for storing data and freeing up space on your hard drive. In most cases, flash drives have faster read/write speeds than hard disk drives. They’re also portable and are just as reliable as hard disk drives making them an excellent choice for saving data and moving it into different computers.
In this article, we covered the question of how many hard drives can a PC have. The main takeaway is that you can only install hard drives on your PC as the number of SATA ports available on your motherboard. There’re multiple ways of checking how many SATA ports are available in your PC which we explored in this article.
We also talked about factors affecting the number of hard drives your PC can hold. Of course, there are alternatives available for you to store your data such as external hard drives, USB flash drives, and cloud storage spaces.
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