Replace a PXI/PXIe Controller Hard Drive

Updated Nov 19, 2019

Reported In


  • PXI Controller
  • Upgrade Hard Drive

Issue Details

  • Is it possible to replace the hard drive in my PXI/PXIe embedded controller? 
  • What kind of hard drive do I need to replace the hard drive of my PXI/PXIe controller?
  • How do I replace my PXI/PXIe controller hard drive? 
  • Can NI recommend a PXI/PXIe controller hard drive?


PXIe controllers can be treated as typical PCs. You can swap hard drives between PXI controllers in the same manner as you could between typical PCs. However, the same caveats apply when swapping PXI hard drives as typical PCs -- you should always back up your hard drive, and there is always the chance that driver incompatibilities or other OS mismatches can cause difficulties.

National Instruments PXI controllers use a standard 2.5 inch IDE or SATA (Serial ATA) hard drive, except for the PXIe-8880. The PXIe-8880 uses a 1.8 inch SATA flash drive. These types of hard drives are commonly used in notebook computers. National Instruments recommends using 8.5 mm thick hard drives. If the hard drive is thicker than 9.5 mm, the hard drive will protrude into slot 2 of the PXI chassis.
Mechanically, the drive is replaced by simply removing the appropriate screws (8 total) on the hard-drive mount, disconnecting the 2.5" IDE connector, and installing the new solid-state hard drive. However, once the new solid-state hard-drive is installed, you will still need to install appropriate software (i.e. Windows) onto the blank drive. For information on operating system installation and boot options for PXIe controllers, consult your controller's user manual

Additional Information

In the event you need to recover your hard drive, see Restore the Operating System of My PXI, VXI, cRIO-908x, and cDAQ-913x Controller for more information on hard drive recovery options.

If you are intending to replicate an existing setup on the new PXIe system, it may also be useful to back up your current Measurement & Automation Explorer configuration files. See Export/Import (Save) the System Configuration in Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX) for instructions on this process.

National Instruments validates shipping hard drives at the rated environmental ranges for the PXI controller and replacing the hard drive or other components may affect the environmental response. 

National Instruments also sells hard drive accessories that are compatible with our controllers. To see what accessories are available for your controller, consult your controller's product page.