How do I rearrange my data to make the best use of a new hard drive?
May 2, 2006 9:42 AM   Subscribe

So, I got a new 320GB internal ATA hard drive, hooked it up as a slave to my 80GB hard drive, and put all my video, music, and photos on the new 320GB drive. Then, problems arise: when I'm downloading things onto the new drive (via BitTorrent), the computer stutters and is generally slow. Also, when opening and saving photos (~300MB TIFFs) in Photoshop, it takes an eternity. Is there a better way to configure my system on the hard drives?

Right now I have the OS, games, and program files (including Photoshop and the bittorrent client) on the 80GB drive that came with my Dell. I don't know much about hard drive speeds and such, but the old drive is a Hitachi Deskstar, the new one is a Western Digital Caviar SE .

Should I make the new drive the master and put my OS and programs on there, as well as using it to store my photos, etc.? Would that solve the problem? It'll be a little troublesome to rearrange all my data, but I think I PartitionMagic it into being.

FYI: I've got a 2.66GHz Pentium 4, and 1.5 Gigs of RAM. Computer people: bestow your wisdom!
posted by monsterhero to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
First, are all the jumpers set correctly on both drives?

Second, does your motherboard have a second IDE channel? Try leaving the 80GB as master where it is, and putting the new drive as master on the second channel.
posted by Capn at 9:46 AM on May 2, 2006

Response by poster: If I understand your question, the drive are set to cable select, and pretty sure they're positioned the way I described.

Secondly, I don't think I have a second IDE channel, but don't know for sure. Is there any way to find out without opening the case? It's a Dell Dimension 4600 motherboard.
posted by monsterhero at 9:53 AM on May 2, 2006

You might see if Direct Memory Access (DMA) is enabled for your drives. This is a Windows setting. Your description makes me suspect the drive is running in a slower programmed I/O (PIO) mode.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 9:55 AM on May 2, 2006

The easiest way to see if you have a second channel is to just open up the case and see if there's another socket next to where the drive cable currently plugs in. I really suggest trying that configuration (each drive set as master on it's own cable). I don't know much about Dells, but most motherboards have two channels.

But if you don't want to do that, try changing the jumbers on the drives from cable select to master and slave.

Sorry, but this is really an "opening the case" problem.
posted by Capn at 9:58 AM on May 2, 2006

Best answer: Go to My Computer -> Properties, then the Hardware tab and click "Device Manager". You'll see an entry for IDE controllers, Primary Channel (and, if you have two) Secondary Channel.

There is almost no way you don't have two IDE channels. Pop the case, look at where the existing IDE cable goes into the motherboard, and right next to it should be another socket the same size. Just plug your new drive into that one.
posted by ny_scotsman at 9:58 AM on May 2, 2006

Best answer: Yes, what everyone else said about putting the drive on its own channel; that will help a lot. In fact that's probably the only thing that will help.

To assess whether you have another IDE channel: the mainboard IDE connectors look like this (big image). The flash there makes them look funny, but they're the little black plastic things with 2 rows of 20 metal pins. Your current ribbon cable is plugged into one of them; there should be another right next to it.

If for some reason there's not another one onboard, you can install something like this in one of your expansion slots (link for illustration only; I have no connection with that vendor), but it really shouldn't be necessary.

(Hopefully this is helpful and not insulting; it sounds from your question like you could use this level of detail.)
posted by rkent at 10:23 AM on May 2, 2006

Response by poster: According to the Device Manager, I do have a second IDE channel. I guess I'll just have to grab myself a new ATA ribbon and plug 'er in. Hopefully that will clear things up. Thanks.
posted by monsterhero at 10:24 AM on May 2, 2006

Best answer: You'll most likely have a DVD drive already connected to the second channel, assuming you have one. The default configuration on most PCs shipped that I've seen is to connect the single hard drive on one channel, the single DVD drive on the other. I'd also highly recommend checking the DMA/PIO setting since it's an order of magnitude slower (and more CPU intensive) to use PIO.
posted by mikeh at 10:50 AM on May 2, 2006

Response by poster: You're right. I don't have an extra IDE channel free unless I unplug my CD and DVD drives. So, I guess my question still stands: should I flop my OS onto the new hard drive and make it the master? Or would I be better off just buying a PCI Hard Drive Controller card?
posted by monsterhero at 11:24 AM on May 2, 2006

i've got a dell 4600. i had similar probs, and never really got it resolved - but i set it up like this, which is good enough for me..

i have two 80gb drives on one channel - one slave, one master. i use the master as a boot drive, and the slave as a drive for storing large files i don't need that often.

i have a 300GB serial ata drive - these connect via a different interface on the motherboard, bypassing the master/slave problem. though i have one problem with this drive - it's a very, very fast drive, but i can't burn dvds from files stored on it for some reason - the discs always have errors.

then i have my dvd+/-rw drive connected to the secondary ide channel.

i also have a 160gb firewire drive for backups.

sorry for detail, but it works for me
posted by ascullion at 11:36 AM on May 2, 2006

What Mikeh said about the DMA/PIO settings is critical. I found that when my DVD drive was the master my slave hard drive would default to PIO. It was ridiculously slow. Switching the two made a world of difference.
posted by exhilaration at 11:58 AM on May 2, 2006

though i have one problem with this drive - it's a very, very fast drive, but i can't burn dvds from files stored on it for some reason - the discs always have errors.

I had a SATA drive with a similar though more intermittant problem. Died after about 9 months without any other sign of impending doom (no grinding noises, etc.). It was a refurb too, so I don't know what I expected, but you may want to make sure you've got good backups.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:45 PM on May 2, 2006

I will reiterate the DMA check. Also, though unlikely it's not (woo double negative!), check if your cable is ATA66 compliant. I don't know how to describe the difference, other than one has 40 wires, the other 80. This is a picture of an ATA66 cable You want an ATA66 cable, if that wasn't clear.
You can try playing the master/slave game, putting both optical drives on slave for each channel.
You don't have to worry about mixing an old ATA33 w/ a newer device, since ATA66+ will allow async signalling. Umm...
post updates!
posted by defcom1 at 12:55 PM on May 2, 2006

Thanks Pink, mine's been otherwise very reliable for 18 months. slightly worried though, as it's the only drive i don't backup - it's mostly used for tv recordings, which i'd rather not lose, but aren't irreplacable.

anyway, back to the topic..
posted by ascullion at 1:52 PM on May 2, 2006

Response by poster: Update: So I have each drive on its own channel now. I unplugged the cable connecting the CD- and DVD drives and plugged it into the new hard drive. The drives are running on Ultra DMA mode 2 and 5.

This seems to have solved my problem, but now I'm out of a CD-ROM drive. The cables won't reach from the hard drive to the optical drives. I don't use the CD-ROM drive very often (burning CDs occasionaly) and the DVD drive almost never, so it's not a big loss. I can always add a PCI controller, I suppose.

Anyway, thanks for the help.
posted by monsterhero at 1:54 PM on May 2, 2006

Cable Select is an invention of the Devil designed to lead hard drive owners into the Pit. It's one of those theoretically nice ideas that should have been standard since Day 0 but wasn't. If you always use drive jumpers to sort out which is master and which is slave, you will never be burnt by any of the assorted ways in which Cable Select can go wrong.
posted by flabdablet at 6:46 PM on May 2, 2006

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