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Tutorials | How to install a new hard drive

Publish date: 11:06 Thursday, 1st September 2005
Written by: Murf
Audience intended for: Hardware
Category: Computer Hardware

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Installing a Hard DriveHow to install a new hard drive

The actual physical installation of a hard drive in a PC is relatively simple. All you will need is a screw driver (generally a phillips), and a grounding strap (not a requirement, but nice to have). Before replacing a hard drive that has the operating system on it you need to get into SETUP and write down all of the CMOS settings. Lets look at a hard drive first:

To start turn your drive over and look at the printing on the circuit board to locate the pin settings for the master/slave jumper. Newer drives you will find these on the front of the drive, next to the power cable connector. See the following illustrations:

Older drives have the jumpers on the controller board. Newer drives they are next to the data cable/power connector.

Hard drive jumpers

Looking at the image above, the connectors are in this order: Data Cable Connector / Jumpers / Power Cable Connector

Depending on the drive you purchased, you may have to select whether to install it as a master drive or a slave drive, before you actually hook the drive up in your system. If you have a manual that came with the drive, it will tell you. Many drives will automatically chose master or slave status based on how they are connected. The master/slave settings allow more than one hard drive to be hooked up. The first drive connected to the data cable is usually the MASTER and the second drive attached to the same cable a SLAVE. Most drives come set to MASTER by default.

If you already have a drive in the computer and are adding a second drive to the same cable, then it should be set as a SLAVE. Junpers are used to set the hard drives as shown. You will need to check the manual or the manufacture web site for the correct jumper setting, as this varies by manufacture.

Newer hard drives can use a CABLE SELECT jumper setting. As the name implies, with this system the cable--or more correctly, which connector on the cable a device is attached to--determines which device is master and which is slave. The goal of cable select is to eliminate having to set master and slave jumpers, allowing simpler configuration.

To use cable select, both devices on the channel are set to the "cable select" (CS) setting, usually by a special jumper . Then, a special cable is used. This cable is very similar in most respects to the regular IDE/ATA cable, except for the CSEL signal . CSEL is carried on wire #28 of the standard IDE/ATA cable, and is grounded at the host's connector (the one that attaches to the motherboard or controller). On a cable select cable, one of the connectors (the "master connector") has pin #28 connected through to the cable, but the other (the "slave connector") has an open circuit on that pin (no connection). When both drives on the channel are set cable select, here's what happens:

  • Master: The device that is attached to the "master connector" sees the CSEL signal as grounded, because its connector has pin #28 attached to the cable, and the host's connector has that signal grounded. Seeing the "zero value" (grounded), the device sets itself to operate as master (device 0).
  • Slave: The drive that is attached to the "slave connector" does not see the CSEL signal as grounded, because its connector is not attached to the CSEL signal on the cable. Seeing this "no connection", the device configures itself as a slave (device 1).

Data cables go from the motherboard to the drive. They have a COLORED SIDE (usually RED and the outer edge of the cable). This indicates the position of the #1 pin. This MUST line up and be connected to the #1 pin on the hard drive and the motherboard. Newer hard drives have the #1 pin facing towards the power cable connector. Once you have determined how the data cable connects and you have the jumpers set correctly, then you can mount the hard drive into the computer case, using an available bay.

A typical Hard Drive Data Cable:

IDE Cable

Always ground yourself by rubbing your hand on a metal portion of the computer case and/or wear a ground strap. Make sure the power cable is disconnected from the computer before attempting to replace/add the hard drive. The hard drive is secured within or under a bay in the case, usually by 4 screws. Use the screws that came with the drive, or if you have known, go to a computer store and buy screws specifically made for hard drives (hardware within a computer) as if they are too long, you could damage the drive. Use EXTREME care when selecting and inserting mounting screws. Damage to the printed circuit board is possible if screws are inserted too far into the side mounting holes of some drives. Check hard drive documentation for requirement. Follow these important precautions:

  • Keep the drive inside the original packaging (ESD bag) until you are ready to begin installation.
  • Hold drive by its sides. Do not drop, jar, or shake the drive.
  • Do not touch the green printed circuit board assembly with your hands or tools.
  • Do not stand drive on its side.
  • Do not place any object on top of the drive.
  • Clothing often builds up static electricity. To help prevent ESD damage, do not allow clothing to touch drive.
  • Take care when removing cables from the disk drives. Remove squarely.

Place the drive in its location, try to have the controller board (printed circuit) facing down. Slide it into the bay so the 4 holes line up and secure. Once it is secure connect the power cable and the data cable, you may be able to do this prior to sliding the drive into the bay. Notice that the RED side of the data cable on some older drives face away from the power cable. On newer drives it faces the red side of the power cable.

Hard drive with IDE cable

Now that the drive is installed, its time to boot the computer. Reboot and when you see the first screen come up hit DELETE KEY (or whatever key the screen tells you to use) to get into CMOS (SETUP). Once in SETUP go to one of the menu items that says something like AUTO DETECT IDE DRIVES. This will let the computer detect the drive. Once it is detected go to SAVE & EXIT, and let it boot up. If the hard drive is a MASTER and there is no operating system, then boot with a boot disk to get to the A:> prompt so that you can partition and/or format the drive. If it has an operating system on it, then boot without a boot disk.

You are now ready to Format or Partition the drive.


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