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Installing the Hard Disk Drive

Hard Disk Drives or HDDs are among the IDE drives and are connected with the IDE data cables. Each IDE cable can support up to two IDE devices, such as hard-drives, CD-drives, Zip drives, etc., but in order for this to work, one IDE device must be designated as a master, and the other must be designated as a slave device. You cannot have two master devices or to slave devices on a single cable.

First, ensure that the HDD is set to be the master drive. If you have more than one HDD that will go inside your PC box then make one the master and other the slave if both are going to be driven by a single IDE cable. You may also want to keep both the HDDs as master by connecting them to different IDE cables. Just remember that there cannot be two master drives or two slave drives on a single IDE cable.

Examine the top of your HDD. There should be a chart there depicting the necessary jumper settings to make the drive a master or slave device. The set of jumpers will be on the back end of the drive.

Ensure that they are set correctly to enable the drive as a master. You may need a set of tweezers to move the jumpers around if you have been biting your fingernails.

Insert the hard drive into the 3.5" drive-tray and screw it in securely on both sides. Note that hard-drives generally use a different sized screw than CD-ROMs and floppy drives for some completely inexplicable reason.

Attach the Molex power cable to the drive. Unlike the floppy drive power plug, these Molex connectors can only fit into the drive one way, so relax, you can't make a mistake here.


Attach the Primary IDE cable to the drive (for any recent motherboard, this should be a 80 wire UDMA cable). It will be keyed to only fit in one way, but to make sure, the red or blue on the cable should be facing the hard-drive power cable.

Attach the long end of the cable to the IDE 0 connector on the motherboard first, then if there are other drives attach those IDE cables to the IDE 1 connector. Serial ATA (SATA) drives are still fairly new, so we will only cover them briefly.

If you have a SATA hard drive: The Serial ATA cable is keyed to fit into the SATA motherboard header, and hard drive in a certain orientation. It is impossible to attach the Serial ATA cables backwards, and since there is only one hard drive per cable we don't need to worry about the master/slave settings of IDE hard drives.

Serial ATA and IDE are not compatible, so to use SATA hard drives the motherboard must have SATA headers. Some motherboards may come with SATA-to-IDE adaptors, but again the motherboard still must have one SATA header per drive.

The SATA hard drive will require either a 15-pin SATA power connector, or standard 4-pin Molex power connector as we described previously.