Do I need a new hard drive?
April 9, 2004 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Continuing with my stupid computer.... I bought a new Gateway since they're closing their stores. I then put the old hard drive in the new computer. Then the computer wouldn't start. Is this a function of a bad hard drive? It didn't fit in the drive bay, so did I ground it out (I sat it to rest on the case.. is that a bad thing?)? When I took the old hard drive out of the computer, it booted up fine, which leads me to think that it's the hard drive that's causing both systems to lock up. Do I just need a new hard drive for my old computer? Thoughts?
posted by ajpresto to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
I'm guessing based on your description that you *added* the old hard drive to the new computer - in addition to the hard drive it already contains. Correct?

There's your problem. Hard drives have a "master/slave" relationship thing going on. There was a hooha about the terminology in LA about a year ago. Anyway, if both drives think they are masters, then many motherboards will simply refuse to boot. There should be jumpers on the drive near the IDE cable. There should also (hopefully) be a little sticker on the drive indicating which jumper positions are master, slave, and cable select.

Cable select is supposed to let the drives figure it out for themselves, but never seems to work. So you'll want to arrange the jumpers on your older drive so that it's the slave.

If there is no label, you might have to go online looking for the drive's model number to find docs that will tell you how to set it for slave mode.

As far as your placing it on the case: that shouldn't be a huge deal.
posted by jaded at 6:53 AM on April 9, 2004

As long as the circuit board didn't touch the case you should be fine. I used to fire up PCs with the hard drives on the case all the time.

In future though, it's always a good idea to put it on something non-conductive, like a book, just in case.

Sounds like you have a dead hard drive.
posted by bondcliff at 6:58 AM on April 9, 2004

Response by poster: Oh yeah, I did check the jumper. I think I set it correctly, based on Maxtor's website. (I don't know the model number off the top of my head or I'd link it for you, but I'm pretty sure that I set the jumper right.)
posted by ajpresto at 7:02 AM on April 9, 2004

So now the old hard drive won't work in the old computer either? I'm a little confused about what configurations you've tried.

Does the old hard drive spin up when you boot the machine? You should be able to hear it.

Have you checked the bios to make sure that its set up to autodetect the second hard drive?

As for installing the hard drive itself:
1. The hard drive cable should have a red stripe running down its length. Plug the cable into the hard drive so the side with the red stripe is closest to the power connector on the hard drive.
2. Jumpers. Most hard drive manufacturers put some type of jumper markings on the hard drive itself. You can double check to see if you set the jumper right by looking for a MA or MS for master and a SA or S for slave. Keep in mind that each cable you use must have its own master and that no more than one master is allowed per cable.
posted by yangwar at 7:37 AM on April 9, 2004

if you have two drives in please check master/slave settings, try reversing the two. some brands of HD do not at all like being set as slave to other brands - sounds weird but i've seen it happen. also could try dropping the new HD in on secondary IDE channel to see if the system recognizes it there.

jumpers can be problematic, as well - check the primary IDE drive and make sure it doesn't have separate settings for Master (single) and Master (slave present). IBM hdds do this quite a bit, seen them in lots of older gateways so might be a contributing factor (moving old gateway HD into my generic machine proved to be a sonofabitch, thanks to this arcane setting...)
posted by caution live frogs at 8:49 AM on April 9, 2004

You could check whether the drive itself is the problem by trying to boot the machine with only the old drive in place. Otherwise, it certainly sounds like a master/slave issue.
posted by dg at 5:41 PM on April 9, 2004

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