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or replace a hard drive
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There's nothing hard about hard
Adding or replacing an IDE hard drive (the kind installed in
overwhelming majority of personal computers in use today) is
relatively simple. Unless you deliberately opt for OEM (original
equipment manufacturer) packaging, the new drive will come with
everything you need to get it installed and running. OEM
packaging may cost less, but unless you're very familiar with
the procedures involved, you probably should stick with retail
packaging that includes instructions, screws, and installation
A typical 3.5" IDE
The double row
of pins on the left is where the IDE cable connects to the
settings are determined by positioning the white jumper block
on a designated pair of pins.
connector is keyed to the four pins on the right.
We like the drives
from Maxtor, which come with a utility called MaxBlast. This
handy software automates the task of partitioning and formatting
your new hard drive, and will even copy the contents of your
existing drive to the new one.
Although we prefer a "clean install" beginning with an empty
drive and the DOS prompt, in the real world it's a whole lot
quicker and easier to sidestep the software reinstall with the
copy option. We're talking about waiting a couple of hours while
the computer transfers 10GB of software and data versus
potential days to reinstall and reconfigure everything.
Whether you're replacing or adding a drive, you'll likely want
the new one to be your boot (c:) drive, as it will almost
certainly be much faster than the one you're using now.
Taking it step by step...
In this project, we're replacing a 13GB drive that has five
partitions, moving up to a 40GB unit. To preserve file
references and network mapping, the new drive will also have
five partitions. We'll elect to make each one proportionately
larger during the setup procedure.
We don't worry too
much about partition sizing- we can always use
Partition Magic later
to change what we've done.
Before shutting down the system to install the new drive, we run
ScanDisk or equivalent. This is a precautionary measure, as an
undetected disk error can cause the copy process to fail.
Always power down a computer when poking around inside, but
leave it plugged in to a properly grounded outlet. Touch the
metal chassis before touching any components to discharge static
After removing the access cover,
the first step was to temporarily connect the new drive
alongside the old one, first configuring the jumper so the new
one would be designated a slave. The jumper pins are very
fragile, so be careful to align the jumper block correctly
before pressing it on.
Atop a stack of
CD cases, temporarily hooked up to spare IDE/power connectors
Then we turned the
system on, booting to the setup screen to ascertain both drives
were recognized. In some systems, it may be necessary to power
down, set the original hard drive's jumper to a "master"
designation, then recheck setup.
Once the drives have been recognized by setup, we insert the
Maxtor installation disk, and exit. When the system reboots, the
software will detect your new hard drive and offer a series of
From there, it's just a matter of reading onscreen instructions
and following the prompts- a far cry from the days of cmos setup
table entries, fdisk, and format commands.
Once the installation software has copied the existing contents
to the new drive, we power down, disconnect the new drive and
set the jumper to the "master" position. We remove the old
drive, and properly install the new one in its place.
Add or replace...
Had we been adding a second hard drive rather than replacing
one, the procedure would have been about the same except we
would have had to find another spot to mount the new drive in.
In some of today's compact and stylized cases, this can be a
It will be easier to connect the
cables before sliding the drive into place. Clearances are
often very close, and it may be necessary to disconnect or
move other components.
Just don't forget what goes
where. Masking tape and a marking pen can be helpful for
labeling cables if you have to disconnect some for access.
Holes in the side of the hard
drive line up with holes in the mounting bay.
Here, the old
drive has been removed and the new one slid partially into
place. It's easier to connect the cables now,
while you can still maneuver a little.
Use the screws provided to secure your new hard drive to
the computer chassis. They should be snug, but don't strip the
At this point, we
like to boot from a floppy disk, just to check everything out
before Windows tries to load. This way, if any problems crop up,
we'll know it's not a software glitch.
If all checks out from DOS, we reboot into Windows, poke around
some to satisfy ourselves that everything's as it ought to be,
then shut down, close the case, slide the system back into its
resting place, and we're done.
What can go wrong?
Anything from a bad connection to a too-deeply nested
subdirectory structure can spoil the process. Modern hard drives
are extremely reliable, so a faulty drive is the least likely
If your drives don't show up in setup, recheck your connections
first, then see that the "master-slave" settings are properly
configured. Some systems ship with "CS" (cable select) settings,
where the hierarchy is established by position on the cable.
Most use the "master-slave" arrangement, but whichever is used
both drives must be in agreement concerning which will have
The copying software that comes with some new drives is not
exactly high end. When dealing with large drives and complex
file systems, we often have to utilize something like Drive
Image, Ghost, or Drive Copy to successfully duplicate all
contents of one drive on another.
More about Drive Image
What to do with the old drive?
Assuming you replaced the old drive for speed or capacity and
not because of failure, you have a perfectly good hard drive on
your hands. You could install it as a secondary drive, but how
about converting it into a portable USB device?
These can be ideal for backups, transporting large amounts of
data, and many other uses. To learn more about USB hard drives
and how to convert your old drive into one,
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