Generally people think that adding or replacing the media drive in your computer is a job only suited for tech's; this however isn't the case most of the time.

The price of various media drives has drastically dropped in recent years, and it actually costs more in some cases to buy an old CDRom drive than to just buy one that's capable of not only reading DVD's, but can also write to them. Adding a new drive to your machine is one of the most simple upgrades, and we'll cover that here today.

The first step is to figure out what what type of connection your existing drive has to your motherboard. If you're simply adding an additional drive, you'll need to check what available ports you have on your motherboard (or spare wires exist in your case). Most systems today will have an SATA connection, older desktop machines will utilize an IDE cable.

The IDE ribbon cable is a bulky cable, with 40 contacts per housing, and generally has 2 housings (other than the port plugging into your motherboard). If your cable is an IDE cable, and only has one housing (other than the one plugging into your motherboard) you may consider replacing it as well (most new drives come with a new cable, which usually has two housings).

You'll now want to decide on a drive, a few recommended drives are:

For those of you looking to upgrade an IDE drive we'd recommend a SATA to IDE/PATA Converter Adapter

Another option is to go with a USB, such as:

Replacing a Current Drive:
You'll want to power down the machine, open its case, and remove your old drive; generally the media drives are held in place by 4 screws, on either side of the bay. Simply remove these screws, and slide out the drive. To get to the screws on the other side, you may have to take off the other panel on your system.

If you'll be replacing an old cable, you'll want to do so now; unplug it from the motherboard and the current drives (ensuring, in this case, that you only unplug the cable for the channel you'll be upgrading).

Adding the New Drive:
From here, you'll want to slide the new drive into the drive cage and attach the cable and power, then secure it with screws. A lot of people only secure two screws on the left side of the drive, or one screw on each side; myself, I recommend doing all 4 of the screws (two in the front, two in the back) on the sides of the drive.

One thing to keep in mind when attaching the drive to the data cable is that the pin1 on an IDE cable (usually signified by a long black or colored line on the cable itself) usually points towards the power adapter; if you plug the cable in upside down, the drive will not function.

If you have a second drive, you can follow the above directions to add it in as well.

After the drives are inserted into the system, you'll want to put it back together and attach the power cable and power on the system. The boot process should show that the new drives are attached and able to be read; additionally, the access light on the drives should power on for a moment during the boot sequence.

Once your boot process completes, your devices should be automatically be installed and configured. If you have software that comes with the drive that you'd like to use, you should install it now.