Replace a PXI/PXIe or USRP Controller Hard Drive

Updated Apr 24, 2024



  • Upgrade Hard Drive
  • PXI Controller
  • USRP-2974

  • Is it possible to replace the hard drive in my PXI/PXIe or USRP 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?
  • Can I use an adapter to replace the hard drive on my PXI/PXIe controller?

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.

NI PXI controllers use a standard 2.5 inch IDE or SATA (Serial ATA) hard drive, except for the following controllers:
  • PXIe-8880 uses a 1.8 inch SATA flash drive. These types of hard drives are commonly used in notebook computers. NI 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. An adapter could be used to allow for other SATA types to connect to the microSATA; This is untested by NI and not officially supported.
  • PXIe-8861 has two variants:
    • For variants with NVMe SSD storage, NI does not recommend users replace the M.2 NVMe SSD. There's an adhesive thermal gap pad between the SSD and the rest of the controller assembly. If this isn't reapplied correctly, there can be thermal performance issues.
    • For the variant with a removable drive, PXIe-8861 has U.2 connector (formerly known as SFF-8639) and uses 2.5 inch hard drive. You can use PCIe, SATA, or SAS hard drives.
  • PXIe-8881 uses an M.2 NVMe SSD. It does not have the adhesive thermal gap pad on the SSD.
Mechanically, the drive can be replaced by simply removing the appropriate screws on the hard-drive mount, disconnecting the connector, and installing the new hard drive. However, once the new 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

For NI USRP-2974 which comes with an integrated i7 computer, self-replacement of the SSD is not recommended as it may break any other connections in the box assembly. Please contact NI technical support for further assistance.

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.

NI 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. 

NI 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 .