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[ The PC Guide | Procedure Guide | Configuration Procedures ]

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.

Procedure Overview:

  • 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 two.
  • 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 future.

Procedure Steps:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 following:
    • 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 labeled.
    • 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.
  4. 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.

Next: Motherboard Configuration Procedure

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