What Are Hot-Swappable and Cold-Swappable Devices

Dealing with a PC means that you will constantly be plugging things in and out of it since that is the nature of the hardware that comprises your build. The important part to understand is that certain components need special attention and cannot be just unplugged without proper preparation.

In the PC world these different devices are called hot-swappable and cold-swappable components and we will tell you how both categories operate and what you need to know to not fry your PC.

Hot-Swappable Components

When it comes to hot-swappable components there is nothing to fear since you can plug them in and out without any issues. These components will work without needing to power down or restart your machine and are usually peripheral devices that accompany your main build.

So things like your mouse, keyboard, and monitor can be plugged out in case you need to move them or change them out and then you can just plug them back in without any issues. These are hot-swappable devices – which means you fiddle with them while the PC is “hot” a.k.a is powered and working.

Cold-Swappable Components

On the opposite spectrum are devices and components from your PC that require you to power off your machine. These are usually the main components like your CPU, RAM, and GPU which are responsible for important functions in your PC.

You cannot simply unplug any of them out and plug them back in since your PC will crash and will need to be restarted. Trying to pull off something like taking out your GPU while your PC is working will most likely lead to some sort of data corruption/malfunction of your Windows installation or might lead to hardware failure.

Simple Rule to Follow

If you want to be sure whether you can plug something out or not, generally speaking, if the device you have in mind is outside of your PC (connects through a USB port, HDMI port, DisplayPort) it is safe to hot-swap.

If the device you want to unplug is inside of your PC (PC components like HDDs, SSDs, RAM, etc) you will need to power down your machine first to complete the process safely. Simple as that!

About The Author


Custom Windows ISO enjoyer, FPS optimizer, and aim improvement enthusiast. Will disassemble all of his peripherals (and sometimes PC parts) to mod them even if all of them work perfectly fine. Follow him on Twitch.

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