BOOT CAMP 551 (18/11/08)

Make Do and Mend, part 3


Stand by your screwdrivers! This week we're going to try and save you some money and breathe new life into your ageing desktop PC by installing a new hard disc drive.


If you have been following this short series you should have your new replacement drive in front of you. Familiarise yourself with the layout of the sockets for the data and power cables and the mounting holes on the side but try and keep it in its protective anti-static bag or packing and avoid handing it until it is actually needed - more on that in a moment. If it is an IDE type hard drive (see part 2) and you are going to be carrying out a fresh installation of Windows check that it is set to 'Master' mode. There should be a small diagram on the drive, or stamped into the metalwork, showing the position of the 'jumpers' for Slave, Master and Cable Select modes.


There are no Master/Slave settings to worry about on SATA drives. Drive status is determined by the socket it is plugged into on the motherboard. The Primary drive normally connects to Channel 1, so if you are cloning your current drive, you will connect the new one to Channel 2 and when you want to use it as your primary drive connect it to Channel 1.


If you are starting from scratch and installing Windows on a new drive you can leave the old drive in situ but you should temporarily disconnect the power and data cables. Afterwards you can reconnect it so you can transfer your data and files to the new drive and if it is an IDE type drive make sure the jumpers are set to Slave mode. Alternatively, remove the old drive and fit it in an external USB drive housing; these cost from £10 - £25 from online sellers, depending whether your drive is an IDE or SATA type.


If you are going to clone or mirror your old drive then you should leave the old drive in place, and make sure that you have a second data cable so that both drives can be connected to the motherboard. (One is normally supplied with a new drive).


We are now ready to begin so start by making sure you have plenty of room to work in, and the area is well lit, so you'll be able to see inside the dark recesses of the case. Disconnect the PC from the mains. Some experts suggest leaving it plugged in but switched off at the socket, so that the case remains earthed. This is supposed to minimise the risk of damaging delicate electronic components through static discharge from your body or clothes. However, if your wall sockets have been wired incorrectly - and it's not that unusual, apparently -- there is a small chance you could get a shock if you are very careless or unlucky. It's up to you but I say better safe than sorry so unplug the PC from the mains - see also this week's Top Tip.


You can now remove the lid, put it to one side and locate the empty 'bay' for your new drive. You should also find a spare power cable dangling or tied back inside the case and note the position of the IDE or SATA sockets on the motherboard that you will be using. If you can't make out the marking or numbers use a torch, or refer to the layout diagram in the motherboard manual. To gain access to the bay you might have to move some cables out of the way to get at it, if so try not to accidentally unplug anything.


If there is plenty of room behind the drive you can plug in the power and data cables before you slide it into the bay, it's usually easier than trying to do it when the drive is in place. There's no chance of mixing up the cables and both IDE and SATA power and data cables different sizes and are 'keyed' so they cannot be mixed up or connected the wrong way around. Plugs should fit easily into sockets, never, ever force them or you will break something.


Once the drive is in place line up the holes on the side with the slots in the bay, there should be two per side, and screw it in place. Don't over-tighten them as the threads are easily stripped. You can now connect the data cable from the rear of the drive to the relevant socket on the motherboard. If you haven't already done so, insert the power plug. One last thing, if you are installing Windows on a new drive make sure any other hard drives are disconnected and if you have a memory card reader or front-mounted USB socket bay unplug that as well for the duration. This avoids any problems with Windows assigning the new drive an awkward drive letter, like G: of F:. Do a final check to make sure everything is where it should be, refit the lid and you are ready to clone your drive or install Windows.


Next Week - Make-do and Mend. Part 4





Automated Master/Slave drive select system, requiring compatible data cable and motherboard BIOS support



Small connector or shorting link, used to configure setup parameters on disc drives and motherboards



The Master hard disc drive in a PC is normally the one that contains the boot files and operating system (i.e. Windows). Slave drives are usually just used to store data




In over 30 years of handing static-sensitive devices, and despite several deliberate attempts, I have never managed to zap anything. Modern electronic devices are very well protected, nevertheless it can happen, so be careful. Always touch a radiator or earthed metal object before you start and avoid touching any connecting pins or exposed components and all should be well.


If you are worried, or you have an electric personality and sparks fly from your fingers whenever you touch metal objects then you should buy an anti-static wrist strap. These cost from around £5 and can be purchased from PC components suppliers and shops like Maplin.


Don't forget, there's a full archive of previous Boot Camp Top Tips at



(c) R. Maybury 2008, 2210


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