STEP 12 : Configure the Hard Drive & CD-ROM

Before physically installing your hard drive or CD-ROM, it is easier to configure them outside of the case. Configuring them involves changing jumpers, and doing this within the confines of the case can be quite difficult sometimes.

How to configure these drives depends on how many drives you intend to install and of what type.

Your motherboard has two built-in IDE channels, each supporting two devices. If two devices are on one channel, one must be the “master” and the other the “slave”. Usually, your primary hard drive (the one which contains the operating system) is the master and the other drive is the slave. If you only intend to install one hard drive and having nothing else on that IDE channel, then you can select the “cable select” setting for the drive, which tells the drive it is alone on the channel.

You can attach any IDE device onto your IDE channels in any order. But, it is recommend you use IDE1 for your hard drives and IDE2 for your CD drives. It is always best to keep the CD drives on a separate channel from the hard drives.

Configuring these drives is very easy. Often the jumper settings are printed on the top of the drive itself. On CD drives, the settings are described right above the jumper pins. On hard drives, the information is printed on the top of the hard drive, if it is printed at all. If not, then consult the manual for it or go online to try finding the specs. The manuals will also outline any special jumper settings such as use of the limiter jumper on Maxtor hard drives.

If a particular drive does not need to be jumpered at all, it is best to hang the jumper over one pin. This is the same as being unjumpered, but makes sure the jumper is there for future use if needed.

If you are using SATA Hard drives, you are in luck. Because each SATA drive uses its own channel, there is no need for jumpers or worrying about master/slave relationships.

18 responses to STEP 12 : Configure the Hard Drive & CD-ROM

  1. xo September 11th, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    If you want your PC to be fast, besides getting a motherboard with a faster FSB (front side bus) or installing multi-cpu’s, consider configuring it with multiple physical hard drives (like 3 or more). Get a RAID controller board that will allow you to configure your hard drives at DOS level (that is, before Windows boots up) so that the system see’s all your hard drives as if they all are only 1 physical drive. More drives = faster DATA throughput; faster data throughput = faster read/write operations. Duh?! Since all drives are reading/writing at the same time, it increases the amount of data that is read/written which in turn gives you faster data access. Needless to say, this can pretty much eliminate the bottleneck at the data read/write stage. Also a plus, when Windows reads/writes to its virtual memory file, it is much faster too! :) You’ll notice that your system doesn’t seem like it’s grinding at your hard drive endlessly. Trust me, you’ll notice a difference (and your boot up stage will literally take only a few seconds). Enjoy!


    • Ollie October 12th, 2008 at 7:44 am

      That will only affect read/write speed of your HDD, not actual speed of operations.


      • nunya October 17th, 2008 at 4:58 am

        But it can read multiple drives simultaneously, so operations that are waiting for data do not have to wait as long, so that makes them faster!


  2. Ian December 31st, 2008 at 4:26 am

    So, I am building my first PC and I was very excited through the whole process, however, after I connected all the cables went to turn the PC on, I got almost nothing. The system did not boot, there is a slight click coming from the power supply and the fans try to work, but never really get moving.

    I have checked all the connections and everything seems right, but as I said this is my first build. Any thoughts on what could be making the computer not turn over, for lack of a better term.


    • Robert January 1st, 2009 at 3:45 pm


      I would check that your 12V and 5V leads are not hooked up backwards. usually 12V is yellow and the 5V is red. I say that you might have these backwards due to you saying the fans try to work but never really get moving, this is what happens when you hook the 5V where the 12V needs to be.


      • mowahhed February 15th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

        HI Rob,

        I have the same problem, the only differenceisthe fan wire has a leadwhich direct you to the right dircton of connection, but still the same problem, cooling fan is trying to work, but stop..I did check the power switch, and it seemsto beok too


  3. Howard January 4th, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I also built a computer. I placed two hard drives each having 40GB. I set BIOS to auto detect and it is detecting both hard drives. However when I open “My Computer”, it only shows one drive, Drive C:\ that is. I cannot see nor can I use the other drive as it is not being shown. When u install two drives there is supposed to be another local disk ryt?? Can anyone help me on this one. Thanks.


    • Me January 12th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

      Is there a Drive D:\?
      Usually that is the secondary/backup drive. Sometimes it’s F:\ too.


    • Gord March 29th, 2009 at 12:00 am

      Howard, as it says above, “If two devices are on one channel, one must be the “master” and the other the “slave”.” You need to set the jumpers on the drives.


    • GreatEmerald August 7th, 2009 at 4:29 am

      It’s also possible that the drive is hidden (if you have Vista or Win7). They get hidden if there is nothing on the drive or the drive isn’t formatted. It’s best to use a tool like GPartEd to format the second drive, and then it should show up.


  4. Len Hale August 31st, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I put a new hard drive in my computer and I tried to load the operating system only to find out that I did not have the product key numbe so I erased the hard drive with Drive Washer. Now every time I try to power up the computer all I get is the A>: How can I correct this issue?


    • GreatEmerald September 2nd, 2009 at 3:23 pm

      A>:? Where do you get that? In a black DOS/BIOS screen? If so, your partition table is probably corrupt, you should use tools like GPartEd for erasing partitions. Write it on a CD/USB, delete all the partitions you see listed and then try installing again.


  5. seneca September 19th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    After putting it all together and connecting it to the monitor… it all seemed to be working fine. When I turned it on the LED light flashed for a second and that was it. The fans didn’t start and no noises came…. just the one blink. anyone know what could be the problem? This is my first computer build and I feel like i got it all right…


  6. Randy March 28th, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    I recentley replaced the hard drive in my desktop. Windows has been reinstalled and seems to be working just fine…How do I get my internet to work again?


  7. jim March 29th, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    i built a new computer but used two old hard drives but the computer now says im low on hard disk memory but when i look the drives are there and is low one has 2 gb memery spare how can this be shouldent it add them together and transfer to second drive


  8. Hinadholakia September 18th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    I connect the hard drive but screen is not readind


  9. Wb5aty September 21st, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    I did that one time.The best thing is to go and buy a new hard drive.They are real cheap now.1TB $55.00 here in houston Texas .At Frys Elec,And Computer Also micro center is cheap to.Just look on the net.
    Robert Stringer [email protected]


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