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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Construction and Operation of the Hard Disk | Hard Disk Packaging and Mounting ]

Drive Rails and Mounting Kits

The simplest way to mount hard disks into the system case is the direct mounting method, where the disk is screwed directly into a drive bay. This has largely replaced the use of drive rails, which were common in older PCs. Drive rails are small metal strips which are screwed onto the drive and then used to slide the drive into the case. Some people like these, others hate them; they are in fact still used by some case manufacturers. Some cases also have drive cages, which are removable brackets into which the drive can be mounted. These different mounting techniques are described in detail on this page in the system case section.

Most hard disks used in PCs today are 3.5" form factor drives, designed of course to go into 3.5" drive bays. Pretty much all newer cases include these bays. However, there are some older cases that do not have 3.5" drive bays at all. To allow 3.5" drives to be used in the larger 5.25" drive bays, mounting kits are available. These are mechanical adapters that screw into the side of the drive to "widen" it to the size that a 5.25" drive would be, so it can fit into a 5.25" drive bay. You can find more information on these adapters (including a picture) on this page.

At one point these mounting kits were often included in retail-boxed hard disks. Today they are much less common, simply because it's rare to find a PC still in use today that doesn't have a 3.5" drive bay. They should still be available for purchase separately for a few dollars from stores that sell PC accessories.

Next: Temperature Limits and Drive Cooling

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