No you can’t just add space to your hard drive, here’s why

I saw a friend post on Facebook that “no, you can’t add more space to your hard drive” and laughed to myself that I’ve had those customers too. That of course got me thinking that maybe there’s something to this that we, the IT community, could share with normal users to explain exactly why your technician is trying to sell you something and not just modifying what you have.

As we explained in an earlier article about hard drive issues, a traditional hard drive can be likened very much to a vinyl record. As a quick recap, a hard drive contains a number of magnetic platters that spin like a record, and a magnetic read head which looks at the platter exactly like a record needle follows vinyl tracks.

So now that you have that picture in mind, let’s just pretend for a moment that you want another song on your vinyl record. Can you make that any bigger? Not really. It is scientifically possible to weld more vinyl around the outside and cut the track in it, but at what cost and for what actual benefit? If you want that one more song, you’ll go buy the other album for a whole lot less than sending your original off to the factory to be extended.

The same is true of hard drives, it’s scientifically possible but not at all practical to attempt it – just buy the bigger drive.

So what you can do is add more storage to your computer without touching the existing drive, just like you can buy more records for a jukebox. There are some technical considerations about drive types and power requirements and spare spaces in the computer, but generally speaking it’s pretty easy. You could even throw out the first drive and replace it with a bigger one, like throwing out the single and buying the album, but again this does have a few limitations not the least of which is the pain of rebuilding or copying everything that was on the first one.

Except laptops. They’re special.

The above advice is general, and doesn’t really apply to most laptops. Only specific models offer more than one hard drive slot, and you can’t simply chuck another one in. You can replace the drive and put a bigger one in (to a point, limitations do apply), however you then have to take the time to set up the new computer from scratch. As a guide, don’t be surprised to pay $500 for a new bigger hard drive and the time for windows to be reinstalled and set up for you – more if you don’t have the original driver CDs. That’s why we usually offer customers a new laptop entirely, especially if it’s just an educational-type system.

So after all of that, no you can’t extend your storage that easily, but you can usually add more drives to it.