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Beginners Guides: Formatting and Partitioning a Hard Drive

Beginners Guides: Formatting and Partitioning a Hard Drive - PCSTATS
Abstract: Installing a hard drive for the first time? Need to partition a current drive into smaller disks? You can do it, and we can show you how.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Jan 22 2008   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

SATA and IDE Hard Drives

The next item of information you'll need to know in order to use this guide is what kind of hard drive you are dealing with. Is it a traditional parallel ATA drive (also referred to as IDE) or a newer Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive? As far as Windows is concerned, both types of hard drive are identical, but their physical installation needs differ. If you are planning on installing an additional hard drive, you need to know which type you have before continuing; if you already know this, feel free to skip forward.

The simplest and most reliable way to determine whether a hard drive is a Serial ATA or Parallel ATA device is look at the back of the unit where the connections are. A parallel ATA, or IDE drive (still the most common variety) will look like the drive immediately below. Note the 40-pin parallel ATA connector, jumpers, and 4-pin molex power socket. The drive is 3.5" wide, and a little less than 1" thick.

Serial ATA hard drives are physically the same shape and size, and differ only in the type of electrical connectors they require to interface with the motherboard. A Serial ATA drive is pictured directly above. Note the small, flat, keyed power and Serial ATA connectors. Some serial ATA drives also have a 4-pin molex power socket as IDE drive pictured above, so yours may look slightly different from the Seagate SATA drive pictured here.

Recently purchased computer motherboards should have both serial ATA and IDE connectors on board, but older boards will have only IDE connectors. Once you've verified which type of hard disk you are using, the next step is to power off your computer and open it up to ensure that you have the necessary connectors free for the new hard drive.

Each SATA port can support a single SATA drive, while each IDE connector can support two IDE hard drives or optical drives (technically, this means a total of two IDE devices per channel). IDE data cables have three connectors; one connects to the motherboard and the other two attaching to the drives.

Now that you've figured out which type of hard disk you are installing, we're going to start with the procedure for installing an IDE hard disk first, then move onto installing a SATA drive.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Formatting and Partitioning a Hard Drive
 Pg 2.  — SATA and IDE Hard Drives
 Pg 3.  Physically Installing an IDE Hard Drive
 Pg 4.  Preparing an IDE Hard Drive For Installation
 Pg 5.  Physical Installation of a IDE Hard Drive
 Pg 6.  Physically Installing a Serial ATA Hard Drive
 Pg 7.  Physical Installation of the SATA Hard Drive
 Pg 8.  Confirming the Installation of a Hard Drive
 Pg 9.  Partitioning and Formatting a Second drive in Windows 2000/XP
 Pg 10.  Partitioning and formatting for the Installation of Windows 2000/XP
 Pg 11.  Partitioning and formatting a Second Drive in Windows 9x/ME
 Pg 12.  FDISK Commands continued
 Pg 13.  Partitioning and Formatting a hard drive for Win9x/ME Installation
 Pg 14.  Troubleshooting hard drive installation

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