Can a Laptop Run Without a Hard Drive? (Resolved)

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  • Post category:Hardware
  • Post last modified:August 23, 2022
You are currently viewing Can a Laptop Run Without a Hard Drive? (Resolved)

As you know, a hard drive is one of the critical components of a laptop. However, you may still wonder, can a laptop run without a hard drive?

A laptop can run without a hard drive. However, you cannot save files, applications, and operating systems. In short, the laptop’s functionality becomes limited.

Keep reading to discover how to run a laptop without a hard drive.

What is a Hard Drive?

Before we dive into the answer, let’s define what exactly a hard drive is.

Also referred to as a hard disk or HDD, a hard drive is a technology used to store applications, operating systems, and data files like music, pictures, and videos. The rest of the components in a laptop work together to display files and applications stored on the hard drive.

This rigid rotating disk is coated with magnetic material and kept in separate compartments on the internal surface, resembling a vinyl or record album. The disk constantly spins at high speed alongside the read-write heads moving about the disk’s surfaces to find and decipher data.

A hard drive comes in another form – a solid-state drive (SSD). This type of hard drive comes with internal storage. It uses a semiconductor memory to store data rather than spinning platters. It offers faster speed and lowers power consumption than traditional drives.

How Does a Hard Drive Work?

A laptop hard drive is composed of a platter containing compartments to store data. It also has an actuator arm designed to move across the platter to write and write the data requested. The platter spins while the actuator arm moves across to make the process faster.

The compartments holding the data can be spread throughout the hard disk. The actuator arm can find all the pertinent data with the indexing system. 

Both the actuator arm and the platter are delicate. That is why they are covered by the steel case to prevent damage.

Can Laptops Run Without a Hard Drive?

Most laptops do not work because the hard drive is broken or corrupted. So, can a laptop run without a drive is a common question among laptop users.

The answer is YES. However, it is possible only with some actions before turning on the machine and loading the operating system before removing the hard drive. 

Without HDD, I cannot use my laptop since I fail to access the operating system. On the other hand, I can still access the BIOS interface and make some changes in the settings.

How to Run a Laptop Without a Hard Drive

I will share with you the easy steps to run a laptop without using a hard drive. Check out the steps below:

  1. Connect the laptop to an external keyboard and monitor.
  2. Go to the BIOS menu.
  3. Set the boot device as an internal CD-ROM or primary master. 
  4. Enable virtualization options like Parallel, VMWare, or VirtualBox to install the software.
  5. Boot from the installation disc and pick an operating system to load.
  6. Remove the hard drive from the laptop and install a new one.
  7. Install drivers if it comes on a disk or if an existing one is already on the laptop.
  8. Put everything back in.
  9. Boot up.
  10. Power up the laptop and press F10. Alternatively, press the correct key on the motherboard’s manual to enter BIOS.
  11. Turn off one video card if it comes with different video car options.
  12. Go into the BIOS.
  13. Change the boot order to make the video card first in line to be used.
  14. Save the settings.
  15. Exit BIOS.

How to Run a Laptop Using a USB Key 

Another way to run a laptop with a hard drive is by running an external operating system. You can do this by using a USB key. You can use the USB interface to boot a laptop. Then, enter the BIOS.

Here are the simple steps:

  1. Restart the laptop while holding down the Shift key.
  2. In the menu, search for the boot sequence.
  3. Access the menu item after starting the BIOS. Alternatively, look for the menu item under system.
  4. Set the menu accordingly to activate the USB interface.

The laptop should come with an optical drive and be set as bootable. However, if you fail to boot the laptop using the USB stick, you can opt for a Live CD. Then carefully interest the live CD and start the laptop.

Boot your laptop using a live CD with the following steps:

Step 1: Download GParted ISO File 

First, you have to download the Gparted ISO file. Alternatively, you can use JonDo Live CD or other live systems.

Step 2: Burn the ISO file onto a CD

Next, burn the ISO file onto a CD using the CDBurnerXP software. If not, you can also buy a live CD.

Step 3: Inset the Live CD into the CD/DVD Drive 

Now, it’s time to insert the live CD into the laptop’s CD/DVD drive. Then, start the laptop. It will automatically recognize the CD as a boot medium.

Step 4: Change the Boot Order 

If the laptop does recognize the live CD, you need to change the boot order in the BIOS. This allows the laptop to boot from the CD.

Meanwhile, here are the steps on how to alter the boot order:

Step 1: Press the Delete Key

Press the Delete key while starting the laptop to get to the BIOS. Alternatively, you can press the F2 key. When booting the system, you will reach the Enter Setup.

Step 2: Go to the Boot Section 

Once you reach the setup, go to the boot section. Beware that the procedures differ depending on the BIOS vendors. The simplest way is to select the Boot link using the arrow keys. Then, select the Enter key to confirm the action.

Step 3: Arrow Keys to Navigate 

When setting the boot order, use arrow keys for easy navigation. You can use the plus and minus buttons when making changes.

When moving after the first position after navigating with the arrow keys until the hard disk shows, using the plus and minus is a good idea. With multiple hard drives, select only one drive on which the OS was stored.

Step 4: Save the Boot Settings 

Now, save the boot settings and press the F10 key. You can also navigate the Save and Exit menu. Select YES to confirm the changes made.

Step 5: Start the Laptop

Finally, start the laptop. This allows the laptop to work with a new boot order. Then, start working on the laptop without a disk.

Can a Hard Drive Be Replaced in a Laptop?

Yes. Replacing a hard drive in a laptop is easy, depending on how easy it is to disassemble the laptop. Generally, it is easier with the right tools. 

You can have two storage types in the laptop, like SSD or HDD, or replace the CD/DVD driver with an extra SSD drive.

Is Hard Drive Still Necessary Even SSD Being Already in the Laptop

Yes. It is recommended to use both the hard drive and SSD. An SSD drive is usually faster than an HDD drive. When using an HDD, the laptop will not be as fast but has plenty of storage space. On the other hand, SSD drives often hold less capacity than HDDs.


CanLaptopRun Team

Hi, we're the CanLaptopRun team. We're here to help you find out if your laptop can run the latest and greatest games. We're experts in our field, and we know what it takes to get your laptop up and running. More About us

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