Friday, January 16, 2009

How to add a second hard drive

The questions most ask by people are how do I add a second hard drive to my computer? I bet you've been using your computer lately to store MP3 files, downloaded movies or videos, high resolution images, or to play games. Right?

These days, anything less than 40 gigabytes of storage just isn't enough, so it may make a lot of sense to add a second hard drive to your computer. There are two possible ways to expand your computer's data capacity. One is to replace your current hard drive with a newer larger one, and the other is to simply add a second drive to accompany the first. Before you decide which option to pursue, consider the following.
Is your computer capable of supporting a second drive (sometimes called a "slave" drive)? If you have an older system with only one IDE channel (a connector inside your computer to add internal IDE parts to you motherboard), your existing hard disk and CD-ROM may already take up that connector. There goes your further expansion plan.
If you've never so much as opened up your computer's case, perhaps you might want to let someone slightly more experienced help you with this. If you're keen to try and want to go ahead and add a second drive on your own, here are some straightforward steps to follow to get the system up and running.

1. First, you're going to need a new hard drive, such as Seagate, Western Digital, Maxtor, etc. You should notice an IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) cable (a wide gray ribbon cable) running from the back of your current hard drive and down into the motherboard primary IDE connector. Hopefully, the CD or DVD drives are plugged in to the secondary IDE connector.

2. As you follow the cable along, you should find another white IDE pin connection that is unused (not plugged in to another drive). Now, look for a spare unused power connector (white plastic head with wires running to the power supply). Lastly, locate the empty drive bay in the case into which you'll be mounting the new hard drive. Now, look at the back of your new hard drive. You'll notice an opening into which the power connector will plug and also a set of pins onto which the IDE cable will connect.

3. Before installing your new hard drive, locate the diagram for changing the jumper setting to a slave. These are the pins which regulate how the new hard drive will be used. The three common settings are MA (Master), SL (slave) and CS (Cable Select). Assuming your current hard drive is already running as the "Master" or MA, you should ensure the plastic sheath for the pins is covering the "SL" pins, or "Slave" pins. The diagram depicts different sets of pins with a black box around them. First look on the top of your drive. If it's not there, see if your drive came with printed instructions or check the manufacturer's website. To change the jumper, you may need to have a set of tweezers handy. Use them to reposition the jumper between the four male prongs and the IDE ribbon connector. Match the settings depicted in the diagram on top of the hard drive to make sure you do this correctly. You may want to make sure your original hard drive jumper is set to a master. Chances are it already is since most hard drives come this way. You should double-check just to be sure. Once these pins are set, connect both the power and the IDE cables.

4. Now, you're ready to mount the drive in the case. Most newer desktop hard drives will fit snugly into one of the spare bays in the case. Slide the drive into the bay and then secure it in place with the screws that come with the drive.

5. Once the drive is secured with the cables already attached, it's time to power up the computer and turn it on. Leave the case off for now until you've established the drive is properly connected and accessible.

6. Once the computer starts to check memory, press the DEL key to enter the system BIOS screen (in some systems this is the Esc key or some other FN key).

7. In the BIOS, access the standard settings and set the hard drive menu to auto, then save and exit the BIOS and reboot.

8. This time, the BIOS should recognize the new drive. If for some reason the BIOS don’t acknowledge the new drive, you should double-check all the connections and the pin settings. If the BIOS have recognized the drive, you're ready for the next step.

9. Now, you're going to need to partition and format this new drive. An excellent walk-through for using FDISK is located Radified Fdisk Guide or Microsoft’s How to use the Fdisk Tool. (See also How to partition and format the hard drive). Reboot and enter Windows. Once there, go into My Computer icon and select the new drive letters and chose to format them. Whatever you do, DO NOT accidentally format or partition your existing hard drive (usually C :). Now, after a reboot, you should see the new drives ready for you to fill them up with a pile of new data.