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Installing a Hard Drive

All IDE controllers which are standard in most computers, either embedded in the motherboard or as an adapter card, have the capability of running two hard drives. Some high-end model computers may have two embedded IDE controllers in the motherboard, which gives you the capability of connecting four hard drives. If you have a SCSI adapter in your computer, it has the capability of connecting up to 7 hard drives or other devices.

If you are planning to install a second hard drive in your computer, make sure that there is enough room inside the case. With desktop configurations, there may not be enough room for a second drive, but if you have a tower or mini tower configuration, you should have plenty of room.

Another thing to check is to see if your power supply can support an additional drive. If you see a spare Px power connector available inside, then you should be all set. If there isn't a spare Px connector available, you can purchase a Y-splitter from most computer stores or Radio Shack, provided the power supply will support it (check your manual).

If you are installing the hard drive in a 486 or Pentium class computer, you shouldn't have a problem. However, if you are installing the hard drive in a 386 computer or an older model 486, you will need to check to see if the computer will support the drive (check your manual or contact the manufacturer). Some of the older model 386 and 486 computers did not support drives larger than 528 MB, although upgrading the computer's BIOS or using a third party software application to override the computer's BIOS would take care of the problem.

When selecting a brand of hard drive to install as a second drive in your system, my advice is that you should try to purchase the same brand of hard drive (Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, etc.) as what you already have, it will make life a lot easier. In other words, if your computer has a Western Digital hard drive, the second hard drive that you plan to install should also be a Western Digital hard drive. If your computer has a Fujitsu hard drive, the second hard drive should also be a Fujitsu hard drive. The access rate, number of heads, sectors, and size of the drive doesn't matter, just the brand name. For example, if I had a Western Digital 1.2 GB hard drive in my computer and I wanted to install a second drive, as long as it's a Western Digital drive, whether it's another 1.2 GB, 2.4 GB, 4.0 GB, or larger, it doesn't matter.

When installing a second drive in your system, you need to set one of the drives (usually the one currently installed) as a master and the second drive (usually the new drive) as a slave. This is where it can be a bit tricky if you are using drives from different manufacturers, particularly in the older drives.

Although most of the current brands of hard drives available today do indeed work well together, some brands and models do not. If for some reason you are not able to get the same brand of hard drive as what you already have in your computer, stick with a well know brand, such as Western Digital, Fujitsu, Maxtor, Seagate, etc. If the installation manual that comes with the new drive doesn't help you to get the two brands of hard drives to coexist in your system, these companies tend to have very good technical support and fax-back services. If all else fails, try switching the settings for the two drives (master and slave). Always remember to have a backup of the drive before you start changing the configuration settings. It may take a while, particularly if you are backing up the drive to diskettes, but that won't seem to matter so much if the drive gets toasted!


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