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IDE/ATA Device Configuration Procedure
This procedure describes how to configure the IDE/ATA/ATAPI devices in the system. This
includes of course most common hard disk and CD-ROM drives, as well as other ATAPI devices
such as tape drives, Zip drives, etc. This procedure should be used when installing a new
PC, when changing the configuration of an existing system, or when adding a new device to
the system. This procedure does not deal with SCSI devices, which are configured and
handled completely differently.
In this procedure I try to look at configuring all the devices in the system as a
whole. While the task of configuring devices for a new PC install may seem totally
different from what you have to do when adding a new device, in fact, they are quite
similar. The reason is that because the configuration of the different IDE/ATA devices in
the system has a strong impact on
performance. Adding a new device may require changing the configuration of existing
devices, or may simply mean that changing the configuration will make the PC run more
optimally. For this reason, it is always best to at least examine the
configuration of all IDE/ATA devices in the system whenever adding, removing or changing
any of them.
- Difficulty Level: 2-3 (Low to Moderate). It's not difficult to actually
configure the devices in most cases, but it can be tricky with some devices. It can also
take some experience to know how best to configure the devices when there are more than
- Risk Factor: 1 (Low).
- Hardware Required: Needle-nose pliers, or another tool for grasping
small objects (long fingernails will do for some people).
- Software Required: None, but you may need the manual to help you
configure one or more of the drives.
- Time to Perform: 5 minutes, plus whatever analysis time is required to
figure out how you want to set up the system. For a simple system (one hard disk and one
CD-ROM drive), this means pretty much 5 minutes. :^)
- Preparation / Warnings:
- If you have not already done so, please read the section on general
installation and assembly tips.
- I strongly recommend reading this large section
devoted to IDE/ATA configuration if you do not understand what all of the following
terms mean in the context of IDE/ATA configuration: primary IDE channel, secondary IDE
channel, master, slave, jumpering. This section will give you a great deal of background
information that will be of value in performing this procedure.
- This procedure assumes that all of the devices can be configured as either master or
slave. Some devices can only be configured as either master or slave, or may have problems
in one configuration or the other. Obviously, this needs to be taken into account when
setting up the system.
- If you are using bus mastering drivers, you may run into compatibility problems if you put hard
disk drives and CD-ROM drives on the same IDE channel.
- Tip: If a particular device requires that no jumpers at all be set for it to be
in the configuration you require, hang the jumper off a single jumper pin. This will act
the same as if the jumper were totally removed, and it will be there if you need it in the
- Determine Configuration: The first thing you need to do is to
decide how you want to configure your system. A system with one hard disk and one CD-ROM
is usually configured with the hard disk as the master drive on the primary channel and
the CD-ROM as the master drive on the secondary channel. However, some systems place both
drives on the same channel (which I usually do not recommend). There are many different
factors that must be taken into account when deciding on a configuration. I cover this topic in detail here. In
addition, I provide specific
configuration recommendations here, for various common combinations of hard disk and
CD-ROM drives. Refer to these sections and decide how you want to set up your system.
- Determine Which Drives Require Jumpering: Any new drives being
added to the system should be double-checked to ensure their configuration matches your
system configuration plan. However, existing drives that you've decided not to change do
not require rejumpering.
- Determine How to Jumper Each Device: Examine each drive you are
going to jumper, to determine how it is supposed to be set. Take into account the
- The best place to find jumpering information is the drive's manual. Major manufacturers
also provide jumpering information for all new and most legacy devices on their web sites.
- Some drives jumper only as master or slave, while others have master, slave, and
"single" configurations. In the latter case, "single" is used when the
drive is by itself on the channel.
- There is no standard for jumpering IDE/ATA hard disk drives. Each drive may have
different numbers of jumpers, and they may be in different places. Fortunately, most hard
disk drives at least now put the jumpering information on the drive labels.
- CD-ROM drives are fairly similar in the location of their jumpers and are almost always
- You can technically leave a CD-ROM jumpered as a slave drive by itself on a channel, but
it's better to just make it the master.
- Set Jumpers For Each Device: Using a pair of needle-nose pliers
or a similar tool (or your fingernails), set the appropriate jumpers for each device.
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