Can I swap hard drives?

A reader has a hard drive question.

“Hi Cyn, hope the virus is not surrounding you. Be well.

With all this time on my hands, I decided to check out what’s on my external hard drives. I have one that’s not recognized by my HP Pavillion laptop. Is the hard drive in my external drive like the one in a PC?

I replaced the nonworking hard drive out of my old Dell Studio and replaced it with a new Seagate Momentus. I actually succeeded in getting it connected to where it can boot up. Now I just need to add an operating system. 

Can I also take the drive out of the external hard drive (the one my laptop won’t recognize) and put it in a PC?  Would I be able to access the data? 

Even though you work at home and now we do too, they never said we couldn’t be comfortable doing it – as I sit here in my jammies day after day, trying not to be bored. Thanks for any ideas, thoughts, instructions, etc that come to mind. Always appreciative.”

I’m doing great! And I’m always appreciative of you, too. My number one tip for working at home is to get dressed every single day before I plant my butt in my office chair.

And congrats on replacing that non-working hard-drive. As for your external hard drive, I’m tempted to say it’s exactly the same as the drive inside your PC, but that’s not precisely right. It serves the same function.


In fact, you can put old internal hard drives into hard drive covers that turn them into external hard drives.

An internal or external hard drive may be either mechanical or solid-state. These days most are likely solid state. They do come in different sizes. Your external hard drive might not fit into your PC.

If it’s a solid-state drive, your drive is just a drive with a cover and a cord that lets you plug it into your PC. So, if a computer won’t recognize it as an external drive, it probably won’t recognize it as an internal drive because there’s nothing different about the connection other than the length of the plug.

If your computer won’t recognize the drive, there’s likely either a physical issue with the drive itself being damaged or you don’t have the right drivers. So, I’m not sure you’d have any better luck.

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