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Installing a Hard Drive

The general procedures for installing any hard drive are similar, but the exact steps and the sequence of steps vary depending on the type of drive you are installing PATA or SATA and the particulars of your case. The basic steps required to install a hard drive are:

  1. Configure the drive as a master or slave device (PATA only).
  2. Mount the drive in the chassis.
  3. Connect the data cable to the drive and to the PATA or SATA interface.
  4. Connect a power cable to the drive. Before you remove the case panels to install the hard drive:
  5. Restart the system and run BIOS Setup. Note the current configuration which ATA and SATA ports are in use and the descriptions of the devices that are connected to them. Alternatively, use a diagnostic program such as Everest Home Edition to determine the current configuration of your drives and interfaces.
  6. If you are also installing a PATA or SATA interface card or RAID adapter, configure that card per the maker's instructions and attach the cables to it. If that card will replace some or all of the embedded PATA or SATA interfaces, use CMOS Setup to disable those interfaces.

Some cases use fixed drive bays, which are a fixed part of the chassis structure. A hard drive is installed in a fixed drive bay either by sliding the drive into the bay and securing it by inserting screws through the chassis and into the drive or by attaching drive rails to the drive and sliding the drive and rail assembly into channels in the chassis. Depending on the mounting arrangements, you may or may not need to attach rails to the hard drive before installing it.

Other cases use removable drive cage or drive tray assemblies, in which you first secure the drive to the removable assembly and then insert the assembly into the chassis. If your case uses removable drive trays, securing the drive to the tray is one of the first installation steps. Figure 7-7 shows a typical drive tray being removed from the chassis, in preparation for installing the drive in the tray.

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Figure 7-7: Removing an internal drive tray

The exact method used to secure the drive in the removable drive tray varies. Many drive trays use four screws that are inserted through the base of the drive tray and into the drive, as shown in Figure 7-8. Other drive trays use screws inserted through the side of the tray. A few use spring-steel clips with projections that seat in the screw holes of the drive, clamps that hold the drive securely with friction, or sliding locking tab arrangements. If your case uses removable drive trays of any sort, make sure to insert the drive oriented so that the data and power connectors are accessible when the tray is reinstalled in the chassis.

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Figure 7-8: Securing a hard drive in a drive tray

Once you remove the cover and decide where and how you will physically install the drive, take the following steps:

1. If you are also adding a PATA or SATA interface card or RAID adapter, install the card in an available slot and route the data cable(s) to the hard drive bay area.

2. (PATA only) If BIOS Setup did not report the details of installed drives, visually examine them to determine how they are configured and to which ATA interface they connect. Depending on the existing configuration, you may be able to add the new drive to a free channel, or you may need to reconfigure existing drives and/or move them to another interface. Follow the recommendations in the article "Assigning masters and slaves" to configure the drive or drives.

3. Decide what to do with the existing hard drive:

  • If you are replacing a failed hard drive, disconnect the data and power cables from the existing drive, and remove the drive from the chassis.
  • If you are replacing a drive that still functions but you need to copy data from it to the new hard drive, leave the old drive in place for the time being. If the old drive occupies the drive bay you need for the new drive, remove the old drive and set it on top of the chassis or elsewhere within reach of the data and power cables. Make sure the drive is oriented normally horizontal or vertical rather than at an angle or upside down. If necessary, use a sheet of paper or cardboard underneath the drive to prevent electrical shorts. Connect the data and power cables so that you can use the drive temporarily to copy data from it to the new drive.
  • If you are adding a drive and will continue using the old drive, decide where to install the new drive and whether to make it the primary drive or secondary drive. For example, if you are adding a large drive to store your audio and video collection, you may decide to install the new drive on the secondary channel, leaving the configuration of the old drive unchanged. Conversely, if you plan to use the new drive as the boot drive and for primary storage and the old drive for secondary storage, you may decide to install the new drive on the primary channel and move the old drive to the secondary channel.

4. After you have configured the new drive (and reconfigured the old one, if necessary), mount and secure the new drive and connect the data cable to the drive, as shown in Figure 7-9. If the drive mounts directly to the chassis, it is often easier to connect the data cable to the drive before you mount the drive. If the drive mounts to a removable drive tray, it may be easier to connect the data cable to the drive after you mount the drive tray in the chassis. If the drive is a PATA model, make sure that the stripe on the data cable is aligned with pin 1 on the drive data connector.

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Figure 7-9: Connect the data cable to the hard drive

5. If it is not already connected, connect the other end of the data cable to the motherboard, as shown in Figure 7-10. Connect an SATA drive that is primary to the lowest numbered SATA interface (usually 0, but sometimes 1). Connect an SATA drive that is secondary to the lowest available SATA interface. (On a system with a primary PATA drive and secondary SATA drive, use SATA interface 0 or higher.) Any PATA hard drive should be configured as a master device if at all possible. Connect a PATA drive that is primary as primary master, and a PATA drive that is secondary as secondary master.

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Figure 7-10: Connect the data cable to the motherboard interface

6. Connect a power cable to the drive, as shown in Figure 7-11. Although it is not a major issue, we prefer to use a dedicated power cable for a hard drive whenever possible, rather than sharing a power cable among two or more drives.

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Figure 7-11: Connect the power cable to the drive

7. Leave the cover off for now, and give the system a quick visual check to make sure that everything is connected properly. Connect the keyboard, mouse, and monitor if you'd previously disconnected them, then turn on the power to start the smoke test. You should hear the new drive spin up. If it's difficult to tell (which it often is with newer drives), you can put your fingertip against the drive and feel it spinning up.

8. The new drive should appear on the BIOS boot screen as the system boots. If that screen flashes past too quickly or your system doesn't display configuration details on the boot screen, run CMOS Setup and use it to verify that the new drive is detected correctly. If the new drive is not detected, take the following steps until the problem is resolved:

  1. Restart the system, run BIOS Setup, and look for an option named Auto Detect or something similar. Choose that option to force drive detection.
  2. Power down the system. Verify that the data cable is connected to the drive and interface, that the power cable is connected, and that both cables are seated firmly. If the drive is a PATA model, verify that you are using an 80-wire UltraATA cable and that the colored stripe on the cable corresponds to pin 1 on the drive and interface.
  3. Restart the system, run BIOS Setup, and verify that the interface to which you connected the drive is enabled.
  4. Power down the system and substitute another data cable.
  5. Power down the system and connect the data cable to a different interface.
  6. If the drive is a PATA model and shares the cable with another device, power down the system and disconnect the other device temporarily. If the second device is another hard drive that is configured as master, temporarily reconfigure the new drive as master for testing.
  7. If the drive is an SATA model and the motherboard uses a chipset that predates SATA, you will need to install SATA drivers from a floppy. Note that even some very recent motherboards use older chipsets that are not SATA-aware, so the age of the system is no indication as to whether it supports SATA natively. These older motherboard designs add SATA support by using a standalone SATA controller chip that is not integrated with the main chipset. SATA drives connected to such a motherboard require drivers to be installed manually before the system can access the SATA drive.

9. Once the system recognizes the new drive, use Windows or a third-party utility to partition and format the new drive. We generally use the disk preparation software that is bundled with the hard drive, such as the Maxtor MaxBLAST utility shown in Figure 7-12.

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Figure 7-12: Maxtor MaxBLAST disk preparation software

More about Hard Drives

One Comment

Very informative and detailed instructions for a novice like me. Thank you very much. :)

By the way I search Google and Amazon for the drive tray you have shown but in vain.

Will you please kind enough to guide me where to purchase this metal drive tray. Thanks again.

Shabbir Malik - Reply

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