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Installing a Tape Drive

There are two basic types of tape drives available, IDE drives and SCSI drives. IDE drives are the most common of the two types and are available at most computer stores. The main difference between an IDE and a SCSI tape drive is in the transfer rate, the speed at which the drive copies data from your hard drive. Most IDE drives are capable of transferring data at a rate of 10 MB/minute. So if you are backing up a 1 GB hard drive, it will take approximately 100 minutes. SCSI tape drives on the other hand are capable of transferring data at a much higher rate, usually around, 50 MB/minute. So, the SCSI tape drive would take only 20 minutes to backup the same 1 GB hard drive. Other than the transfer rate, both drives do the same thing, one is just faster than the other.

When selecting a tape drive to install in your computer, it is important to consider future hard drive upgrades. If you purchase an 1.0 GB tape drive for your 1.0 GB hard drive, then add a second 1.0 GB hard drive, you will need two tapes to do a complete backup instead of one.

The installation of an IDE tape drive is similar to installing a second diskette drive, in that the controller data cable that you will use to connect the tape drive to is the same one that the diskette drive uses. You need to make sure that you have room in your computer to install the drive, then it is just a matter of inserting the drive into an open drive bay and securing it. There should be an available connector in the middle of the data cable running to your diskette drive, that connects to the data connector of the drive. Finally, connect one of the available Px power connector to the drive and the installation is complete. Note, the data cable must be installed correctly or you could damage the drive. One of the sides of the data cable will have a red stripe indicating that that side of the connector coincides with pin 1 on the drive's connector. If you are not sure which side of the drive's connector is pin 1, look on the circuit board where the connector is attached.

In addition to the above, SCSI tape drives require a special SCSI controller card to be installed in the computer. Most SCSI drives come with a special proprietary SCSI controller cards that works only with that drive. The installation of a SCSI tape drive is essentially the same as an IDE with the exception that the data connector on the tape drive is connected to the SCSI controller and not the IDE controller.

Installing a CD-ROM Drive

Just like installing any other drive in your computer, first make sure your power supply will support another drive and that you have a spare Px cable available. To install the drive, open the computer's cover and insert the drive in a spare drive bay. Secure the drive and connect the Px cable and data cable.

One thing to watch out for if you are installing a CD-ROM drive on a 386 class computer is that you do not install a 4x speed or faster drive, the computer will not be able to keep up with it and you will have problems.

Replacing the Battery It used to be with the older model computers, when the battery died, you had to either purchase a special battery pack to replace the dead one, or if you were lucky, you just needed to stop by the local hardware store and pick up a couple AA batteries. With the modern computers, this is no longer the case. With the current line of motherboards being manufactured, the battery is soldered directly to the motherboard. So if you had a computer that was still under warrantee and the battery died, they would just replace the motherboard. If you have one of these motherboards with the battery soldered to it, it is possible to replace the battery with the proper set of heat sinks and a very low Watt soldering iron, but I would suggest that you didn't attempt this. This is one of those situations where you suck up your pride and pay the $65/hour charge to have the local computer repair shop do it for you. However, if they are merely going to replace the motherboard as is the common practice, you are more than capable of doing that yourself.

Upgrading the Microprocessor

If you are thinking about upgrading your microprocessor, the first thing you need to find out is what upgrades your motherboard will support. This type of information is generally not contained in your computer manual, so you will have to either contact your dealer or the manufacturer of the motherboard. Some of the older 486 class motherboards will only support only one speed of microprocessor, while others may support only a certain range of speeds. If you are able to upgrade to a faster 486 microprocessor, the cost for this type of upgrade usually ranges from $100 to $200, depending on the manufacturer of the chip and the microprocessor's speed. A few motherboards will allow you to install a Pentium Overdrive chip to speed up the computer's performance. Overdrive chip prices range from around $150 to $400.

Another upgrade option if you have a 386SX or 486SX class computer and you can not upgrade the microprocessor is to install a math coprocessor chip, such as a 387 chip for a 386 class computer or a 487 chip for a 486 class computer. This route will cost you somewhere in the range of $50 to $100, assuming that you can still find a 387 chip on the market. Keep in mind that adding a math coprocessor only improves a small group of software applications that make heavy use of math calculations so you may not notice any substantial increase in speed.


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