Can you Plug or Unplug Hard Drive While The Computer is On?

By: Editorial Team

If you have a computer that has a slot for a hard drive, you might wonder if you can plug in a hard drive whiles the computer is on. Here’s what you need know on whether it’s possible and safe to do so.

What is Hot Plugging a Hard Drive?

Hot plugging a hard drive is the process of adding or replacing a computer’s hard drive without turning off the computer.

This can be done by accessing the hard drive from inside or outside of the case.

The first step to hot plugging a hard drive is to find the appropriate slot on your PC.

You need to know how many slots you are dealing with, what type of slot it is, and how much room you have for a new hard drive.

A typical personal computer has four main slots: two 3.5-inch and two 2.5-inch.

If you don’t know what kind of slot it is, refer to pictures inside your computer case or look on an information label on the bottom of your desktop tower.

Once you’ve determined that you have four slots available, start by removing one hard drive and installing your new one in its place.

You should then power down your computer and connect your old hard drive to another device so that it is still functional even though it isn’t part of your PC anymore.

What happens when you unplug hard drive whiles Windows is on?

Can I Plug In SSD While Computer Is On?

Yes, you can plug in an SSD while the computer is running. The drive will be recognized as a secondary hard drive and your computer will recognize it.

If you are using a laptop or desktop, make sure that there is no disk activity on the primary hard disk when you plug in the SSD.

It is safe to do so for up to five minutes before doing anything else with your computer.

Can You Install M.2 SSD While Pc Is On?

You can install a M.2 SSD while the PC is on, but there are some things you should know.

First, the computer needs to have a socket for installing a 2.5-inch hard drive in order to support an M.2 SSD.

If your PC doesn’t have this slot, then it will be impossible to install an M.2 SSD while the PC is on because it won’t recognize the hard drive which would make it not worth installing since you won’t be able to use it later.

If you do find that your PC has a slot for installing 2.5-inch hard drives, then follow these simple steps: 

  1. Connect your new M.2 SSD via SATA cable to your motherboard
  2. Install Windows OS onto your new M.2 SSD and restart the computer
  3. After booting up, go into BIOS settings and set jumpers to AHCI mode
  4. Update BIOS if needed after setting the jumper switch

Can I Plug In SATA HDD While Computer Is On?

If you have a computer that has a slot for a SATA hard drive, you might wonder if you can plug in the hard drive while the computer is on.

In general, most computers have an easily accessible SATA connector on the motherboard.

This lets you connect the hard drive to your computer without having to shut off the power.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s safe to connect and disconnect hard drives while the computer is on.

There are two reasons why it’s not recommended to do so.

First, some computers don’t include enough power supply connectors to power a plugged-in hard drive even if it’s unplugged from your computer and powered by its own power supply.

If you’re in this situation, it may be possible for your hard drive to overheat and catch fire because of insufficient power supply connections.

Second, some laptops or cell phones don’t include enough power connectors for a plugged-in hard drive to be powered.

In these cases, you’ll want to ensure that your laptop or cell phone has enough available power supply connectors before plugging in your HDD.

Can You Plug A Hard Drive While The Computer Is Off?

It’s possible to plug in a hard drive while your computer is turned off. You just need to do it carefully, though.

There are a few things you will have to keep in mind before doing so:

  1. Wait for your computer to shut down completely before connecting any devices, including hard drives, to the ports on your computer.
  2. Unplug the power cord from your computer and the power supply from the wall outlet.
  3. Connect only one cable/device at a time and make sure it is fully connected before moving on to another cable/device.
  4. Ensure that all cables and wires are properly connected and not dangling or unsecured anywhere near the ports of your computer or other devices.

Can You Unplug A Hard Drive While The Computer Is On?

If you have a computer that has a slot for a hard drive, you might wonder if you can plug in a hard drive while the computer is on.

The answer is yes, but it’s not recommended.

It’s possible to do this with some computers, but it’s not recommended because of the potential damage that could be caused by the power surge.

This happens when the power is connected and then disconnected from your hard drive at an abnormal rate.

This can cause permanent data loss or system failure in your computer or even worse: it could cause fires or explosions. 

One way to avoid this issue is to shut down your computer before unplugging. You also need to enable the hot plug capability in the BIOS settings, use safely remove hard drive in Windows or eject button on Mac.

hard drive
Unplugging hard drive

What Happens If You Remove A Hard Drive While The Computer Is On?

When you remove a hard drive while the computer is on, you’re essentially removing one of the components needed to operate your computer.

This could cause major problems for your computer, depending on how it is operating:

  • If your computer is running off of electricity and has a power supply plugged into it, then your computer will cease to function. You should not remove any components that carry power while the computer is on.
  • If your computer is running off of battery and has a battery plugged into it, then the device will lose power and shut down.


Most computers support hot plugging allowing you to plug and unplug hard drives or SSDs when it ‘s on. However, it’s important to go through the recommended steps to prevent data corruption.

Or better still turn off the computer before plugging or unplugging the storage device.

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