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How to choose and install an EIDE hard drive

Nowadays, the ruling interface for hard drives is serial ATA (or SATA). However, it is still possible to buy EIDE (or parallel ATA, PATA) drives, to extend the life of "old" computers for a couple of years more. This article will help you to choose and install an EIDE hard drive.

How to choose

There are two main topics to check when choosing an EIDE drive: interface and capacity. - Interface Depending on the size of the drive, we will have a different outside connection. Drives for desktop computers (3.5in wide) use a "big" 40-pin ribbon connector, plus a 4-pin power supply. Drives for laptops (typically, 2.5in wide) include a "smalL" integrated 44-pin connector. - Capacity Not a wide range to choose from any more, maximum capacity for EIDE drives was about 500 - 750Gb (development of higher capacities stopped after the appearance of SATA). Price difference is not so high, so recommendation is to go for the bigger capacity, except for special offers.


Computer should be powered off during installation! Ideally, the power cord will be disconnected from the wall plug. Both data and power (in case of 3.5in drives) have to be connected properly. Those connectors include typically some kind of poka-yoke, so that they cannot be mounted in the wrong position.
Computer housing After connection of the power and EIDE cables, the hard drive has to be fixed to the computer housing. This is for drive protection, which might not be needed at all in desktops that will not be moved, or laptops, where the drive slides in a tight position. However, this won't hurt, so it is better to use a couple of screws. Some drives still allow for the selection of "role" as master or slave drive.
In modern OS, this is not important any more.


Mounting the drives With most modern operating systems, the drive will be automatically recognised upon booting. All windows (from XP on), MacOS and Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Fedora, RedHat...) will "mount" the drives and let them available for storing files or installing applications. BIOS configuration menu
However, in old computers, it may be necessary to perform a manual installation, by entering the BIOS configuration menu before OS start-up. Typically, a message is prompted in the screen, and the "right" key is advised. Depending on the BIOS manufacturer, you may need to press "Supr", F2, F8, F12. In the BIOS menu, there is one section for hard drive installation, usually with an automated detection that has to be run. Upon drive detection, the user has to confirm that the detected parameters are right (mainly, disk size).
After saving changes and resuming of the OS start-up, the drive will be available now.

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