Mass Storage Installation


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Installing a hard drive or SSD, it could be an upgrade or a replacement.

Some points on installing a hard drive.

New or replacement, IDE or SATA there are some things you need to be aware of when purchasing and then putting the new disks in to your computer.

Note: These instructions also apply to a SSD - Solid State Drive!

The newer hard disk or SSD are SATA format and the older disks are IDE. Before you buy your new disk you will need to know which interface format your computer supports, if your computer is IDE and you buy a SATA disk it may force you to either return it or buy an interface card to access the storage.

Newer disks and SSD's that are SATA II or SATA III may not work with older motherboards (see this page for more information: Installing a Hard Drive).

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....

Here is a free guide to help you get a new hard drive or SSD installed...

There are some ways to identify your current interface by software, physically, or your manufactures hand book.

Software that will identify your hard drive interface:

With the Systems Manager, select device manager, then look at the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. This will tell you what controllers are installed in the computer, it will not tell you the type of drives that are connected to which controller. My system shows two SATA interface controllers and seven IDE channel interfaces, although I can only installed four IDE devices (two DVD drives and two IDE hard drives).

With a search of the internet I only found one utility (and costs over 100 USD!) that would identify hard drives with out opening the case and doing a physical check.

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So visual check is your best choice.

Before you begin installing a hard drive consider this: If the new drive is a replacement for a drive that has not failed you will save yourself a lot of time and work by making an image of your current Operating System installation, one way to do so is with an emergency repair disk, find out how to make your own here.

Once you have determined the interface type and have purchased you new drive you will be ready to install it in you computer.

Note if the drive is for a laptop see this page for laptop hard drive installations.

Installing a hard drive or SSD instructions:

This is what a IDE drive will look like, note the wide cable with three connectors, the blue connector is connected to the motherboard interface, the black connector would be connected to the Master drive and the grey to the slave drive. On proprietary systems the jumpers would be set as the hard drive is master and the CD/DVD drive would be the slave. On custom built systems you may have two cables, one for the hard drive and one for the CD/DVD in this case the jumpers would be set for Cable Select (CS ).

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....
Installing a Hard Drive Jumpers and power connection.

IDE cable locations and alignment key ways Note: If the cable does not have the key protrusion on the top of the cable, this is normal. If you look at the your cable and the key is missing you can identify which way the cable is inserted in to the connector either by the missing pin having a filler in the pin hole or the two small grooves on end of the top of the cable.
  • A - Grooves
  • B - Key
  • C - Jumpers

This is what a SATA drive will look like, note the thin cable, at this time the primary color is red, there are however blue cables available, there is no difference in the actual cable just the color. Also note that there are only two connectors one goes to the motherboard interface the other to the drive. Also note the power connector is different from the older style connectors, it is flat and very wide.

SATA Power (A) and Data (B) connectors. SATA data cable connector with lock.

  • A - SATA Power Connector
  • B - SATA Interface Connector


Newer motherboard's BIOS may not have backward compatibility when installing a hard drive with the older SATA specification. The newer SATA II and SATA III drives use the USB specifications.

That is they use ICH channels the same as a USB device. Older SATA drives used IDE specifications, the problem comes when a motherboard BIOS uses only the ICH specification and does NOT have the IDE specification, this would be found under the Advanced section of the BIOS where you can change the SATA from ICH, AICH, or OICH to either "Legacy" or "IDE".

If you are installing a newer drive in an older computer there may not be support for the drive, or if you are installing an older SATA drive in a newer computer there also may not be support for the drive. If this is not the boot drive you could use an add on card for the drive.


The SATA drive jumpers are not for the drive selection. The interface will control the function of the drive, that is your SATA interface may or may not have a RAID facility built in to it.

If the interface does not have a RAID facility then each channel will only be able to support two SATA drives. If  you have a RAID facility then each channel will support from four to eight SATA drives. (See my page on configuring RAID Arrays).

IDE drives have a set of jumpers that allow you to set the function of the drive, the functions are Master, Slave, and Cable Select (M, S, and CS).

When you install two IDE drives in a computer and use the same cable to connect them to the IDE interface (it can be on the motherboard or an add on card) you have to tell the interface which drive will be accessed first when the system initializes (or starts up).

You can use the CS facility for most drives of the same manufacture, such as two Seagate drives or two Western Digital drives. If you mix the drives then the CS function may fail.

I would suggest if your are mixing brands of drives to use the master / slave jumpers. Normally there will be a chart on top of the drive showing the jumper settings, or in the E-Book that comes with the drive. If this is a used drive and doesn't have the settings on the placard you will have to go to the manufactures web site and find the jumper settings, normally in the support section of the web site.

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....
IDE Jimper settings. Note: The slave jumper may be a vertical position also. IDE Drive lable with jumper settings.

Another function of the master / slave jumpers is to set the 'boot' drive when you have two hard drives or two CD/DVD drives using the same cable. If you use the CS and one of the drives has the OS installation on it you may have an intermittent 'Operating System not found' or 'Missing Operating System' errors.

Installing a hard drive and mounting the drive in your computer.

Mounting the drive can be difficult because of space restraints. The main things is to mount the drive with space around it for air flow and to not mount the drive so that it is at an angle. Always try to place the drive so that the platters are spinning horizontal, or vertical. Never at anything over 180* or less than 90*.

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....
Mounting flat, never at an angle. IDE mounted on edge, never at an angle!

Installing a hard drive in an external enclosure -

External drives come in different sizes and shapes and connect in different ways. There is the extremely small, to the array of drives. Depending on your requirements you can have a 4 meg pen drive (USB) to a 300 Tetra Byte Array that would fill up half your garage. Normally we would think of an external drive as being about 2.5 inches wide and one half inch thick for a very small drive, and four inches wide by one inch thick for a large drive. These drives are very common and are used for backup or extra storage. Most are USB drives although there are still some FireWire and of course the larger Array drives could be SATA or SCSI.

The only thing you would be concerned with if you were to build your own external drive is if you wanted to use a IDE drive in the case. You would want to set the jumper  to CS, not master or slave.

Now installing a hard drive for upgrade or replace your hard drive is easier!


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