Do it yourself hard drive upgrade or add new storage

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Upgrading your hard drive can be a difficult task for some users and while there are a few things you need to know, it can easily be done by anyone.
You will have to do your homework before upgrading your machine. If you have a newer machine, for example, a machine that was built or purchased in the last 3 to 4 years, this will be more an exercise as to just how big you can go. Older machines are in the same boat, but depending on how old, you may need to do more work just to get a 40 GB drive installed.As with all upgrades you will need to check your PC  manual, call the manufacturer or go out on the web and check the motherboard manufacturer’s site to see what it will support. While this is an advanced topic that I cannot cover here, if you find that your motherboard doesn’t support the drive size you want. You may want to check into flashing the BIOS with the latest and greatest version. You can usually find instructions on how to do this on the manufacturer’s site, but be careful to follow them exactly if you decide to go this route. Not following the instructions exactly can take your machine down. Even if this happens there are ways around it but it's often allot of trouble and you may need to pay someone to recover your bios for you. Once you have found the info on the maximum size drive your motherboard will support, you can go out and confidently prchase a new drive for your machine.

Currently on the market there are two main types of hard drives available to the mainstream market.  IDE or Integrated Drive Electronics and SATA which is Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. IDE is currently far more prevalent, as this is what has been used for years. For SATA there are two kinds and you will want to know for sure what kind you have. There is the original standard, SATA 1.5gbs or 150mb per second and there is the 3gbs or 300 mb per second. The latter is very new as of this writing but the good news is that 3gbs drives are backwards compatible with the older 1.5gbs SATA machines.
Installing the drive
 The beauty of SATA is that it's super simple to install. The cables will not allow you to install it incorrectly. So to install an SATA drive is simply a matter of hooking up the cables and screwing the drive into place in a 3.5in bay in your machine. Hook up the power cable that came with the drive and hook up the data cable. Consult the installation manual of course and then power on the machine. You should be ready to roll.

 IDE Drive SATA Drive
IDE Drives
This is what many folks will already have that are looking to expand drive space. IDE is a little more complex. There are allot of rules governing installation and every new drive comes with an easy to read and understand guide for installation. However, there are a few things to watch out for. This is particularly true when adding a new drive to a system that already has a drive in it. So, as this guide only allows me 10,000 words I'm going to refer you to the installation instructions that come with the drive and give you some tips on dealing with drives that do not seem to show up once installed.

1. Use the cable that is in your machine first. There is an exception to this rule for much older machines like a Pentium 3 or older. There are two kinds of cables for IDE drives, the older kind are called 40 wire cables. They have 40 wires and 40 pins. The newer kind, which come with just about every new hard drive you will purchase, are called 80 wire. They look almost identical but the wires on the 80 wire cable are much smaller. There are still 40 pins and both types of cables will fit into your machine. However some older machines don't like the 80 wire cables. On the flip side of that, some drives don't like the 40 wire cables. If you have trouble you may have to experiment with which cable will work for you the best. Also, the cables for an IDE drive are keyed. If you look closely at the picture below you can see that there is a little square peice of plastic in the middle of the connector. There is a cut out on the drive itself to accommodate this key. Some older cables don't have this key and will allow you to install it improperly. This shouldn't hurt your PC or the drive but the machine may not boot properly when inserted incorrectly.
IDE Cable 40 wire  SATA Cable
2. Your IDE cable cannot be longer than 18 inches. Most cables aren't but it's a good idea to check.SATA cables can be 40 inches long however.

3. Jumper your drive accordingly. Read the directions to do this, but know this, if you have a drive in the machine that you don't intend to take out, it is usually set as the master the new drive should be set to slave.

4. Keep the drives together on the same cable. Don't mix a drive with a CD or DVD rom. This can slow the drive down to the speed of the CD rom in some cases. Unless you have no CD ROMs in the machine, this is best way to go.

5.Check the manual for your original drive. This is really important when the new drive won’t show up or after installing your new drive your machine won't boot up properly. The reason for this is that even with newer drives, not all manufacturers use the same jumpering scheme. Sometimes the original drive needs to be set to a specific jumper setting when another drive is present. Take the old drive out, look at the sticker on top and go to the DRIVE manufacturer’s website to download manuals. Seagate, Western Digital and other major drive makers have a huge library of manuals and instructions going way back in time just for this purpose. These days, many new hard drives come with a CD rom that has this information already on it. Even for older drives.

6. Each drive needs power. Make sure that you have power to each drive. There are two cables per drive. The data cable and the power cable. If you don't have them both attached, the drive will not show up at all.

7. Read the manual and use the CD rom that came with your drive. This is important to do because even once you get the drive in properly, you still need to partition the drive and format it as well. The CD will usually have utilities and instructions for this.

8. Make use of the free support that comes with your new drive. Your machine may be out of warranty but your new drive isn't. So if you run into trouble make sure to use the expertise of the folks who help people install these 50 times a day. They are usually able to get you up and running quickly or can point
you in the right direction. Hold times are usually low so go ahead and give them a call.

9. If you have everything hooked up properly and are still having trouble getting the drive to be recognized in Windows, there are a couple of things you can do.

A. Go in to the BIOS utility. When booting up the machine you can usually press F2 or the DEL or F1 to get in. Once inside there is usually an IDE Drive detection utility. Run this utility and save the results before exiting the BIOS. For many BIOS's pressing esc to get back to the main menu and then pressing F10 will save and then exit the BIOS. If this is not the case for your bios you will again need to check your manual for the motherboard or the PC.

B. Sometimes you think you have the drive jumpered properly and the fact is, you just don't. One way to test this is to disconnect your CD or DVD ROMs and use that cable to attach the new drive. This is a troubleshooting step and not permanent. If the drive shows up when connected to another cable, you probably have either the new drive jumpered wrong or the old drive needs to have its jumpers changed to accommodate the new drive in the system.

This guide was designed to give you the basic information and the courage to upgrade your drive yourself. Since SATA drives are so simple to install this guide is really tailored more to IDE drives. Make sure that you know for sure which kind of drive you have before purchasing a new one. The fastest way to tell is to check the manual for your motherboard or PC. Another way is to open up the machine and look at the cable attached to your hard drive. If the cables are wide and flat you have an IDE drive, if they are really thin and skinny then you have a SATA drive. Some computers can support both. Some can only support one kind. Remember that your CD or DVD rom drive will likely be an IDE drive so make sure that when you are looking that you follow the cable up to the device it's actually attached to. This will eliminate making more than one trip to the store. If you have a really old machine you will likely have to do a BIOS upgrade to install even a  40 GB drive. However, there is still hope for you if your machine doesn't support larger drives. You can purchase a card that will support larger drives and attach your new drive to it as well. However it's best to know this before hand so you aren't stuck with a new drive that you can't  use
and end up wasting allot of time. Like this Guide? See all of all of my guides
  Serial ATA adapter card   IDE Adapter Card

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