How can I determine if a PC’s hard drive is SATA or IDE, and also if it’s a 3.5” one or 2.5” one.

  • 3
    What OS? – EBGreen Aug 20 '09 at 20:27

It would have taken you less time to remove the side from your computer and look at your hard drive than it did for you to type that question. Just open the thing up and take a look. It's perfectly safe to do that while the computer is running (it's safe if this is a desktop computer), and there are probably only 1 or 2 screws holding it on.

If you have a laptop, it is definitely, 100% guaranteed to NOT be a 3.5" drive.

If you have a desktop, and it's not extremely small (so if it's regular desktop computer-sized, then it's almost definitely a 3.5" drive.

If you purchased this computer within the last 5 years, I can pretty much guarantee that it's a SATA drive and not IDE/ATA-6/PATA.

  • Welcome to Super User! Please don't edit other people there answers to insert your personal opinions in them, when you feel you have opinions you can comment on them once you have received some reputation. Please note that people CAN build their own laptop, here is a starting point for example. (: – Tamara Wijsman Dec 18 '11 at 3:13

I don't think you'll get a reliable answer with any software. Since computers can use PATA/SATA adaptors, some controllers report SATA drives as PATA due to their firmware etc. If you have access to the machines then it's a whole different story but each will likely require a different tack.

For most machines, however, if you head to the manufacturer's website and supply the model & serial number it will tell you the system's original configuration.


(editing to make simpler)

If this is Windows, right click on my computer or computer and click manage (or open computer management in your favourite way). Go to device manager and expand disk drives. Double click on your drive and then click details and you could be able to see all the information you need.

Under Hardware Ids, you should be able to see your hard drives code, However only write down model number.

For me it shows - IDE\ST9320421ASG____________________________SD13____

However, I built my laptop and know it is a SATA drive, so I think the safest thing to do is just write down the model number (you can just see this by expanding Disk Drives without even going in to details), and then Googling the model number.

Whilst you can see SATA / IDE in device manager (assuming windows) I am not sure it is possible to see physical size.

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  • Really big honkin' pictures break formatting for some browsers. Does it really need to be that big to show what you need to show? – EBGreen Aug 20 '09 at 20:38
  • Looks good in Opera ;) – Tester101 Aug 20 '09 at 20:51
  • Actually I think it is a matter of screen resolution. – EBGreen Aug 20 '09 at 20:55
  • I have a big screen resolution, but I assumed that it would auto scale? In Firefox there is no problems and it is just taking up a small place where you can click to make it big. What browser you using? It even looks good in IE on my machine! – William Hilsum Aug 20 '09 at 21:24
  • I bet you aren't using IE6. :) – EBGreen Aug 20 '09 at 21:30

for me whenever i needed to find something out about a machine i used Everest - you can find the Free Edition here: http://majorgeeks.com/download4181.html

The Information from Everest and a little searching on the internet always made me find out about the parts in my machines.

  • But Everest often relies on things like WMI. You may be able to get the same sort of info another way, like running " wmic diskdrive get Caption,Model " which may have the advantage of being pre-installed. – TOOGAM Oct 10 '15 at 6:04

Ok, well if you are talking about relatively recent Windows OS machines (Windows 2000 or more recent) then you can get the interface information (along with the model number) from the Win32_DiskDrive class in WMI.

And from the Win32_LogicalDisk class you can get a code for the Media Type that will tell you the size. See here to see the codes.


If it's in a PC, it'll be 3.5"; 2.5" is the size of laptop drives.

Assuming you are in Windows, if you look at the drive in device manager, and go to the advanced tab, it'll say whether it's IDE or sata (sata sometimes shows up as SCSI, but that mostly Linux).

  • 8
    Dentrasi, that's not entirely true. Many servers now use 2.5" drives and some Small Form Factor or Ultra Small Form Factor (SFF/USFF) PCs are beginning to use them. While in general terms you're correct that desktops use 3.5 and laptops 2.5. I thought it could stand a bit of clarification – DGivens Aug 20 '09 at 20:29
  • 1
    I have a netbook using a 1.8! – William Hilsum Aug 20 '09 at 20:31

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