ATA cable confusion
January 15, 2008 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Computer question: Last week I posted this question trying to replace a hard drive. Now I have a new problem... the hard drive uses a connector type that I've never seen before and it doesn't agree with what Wikipedia shows.

To summarize, in my last post, my 3.2 GB hard drive died in an ancient laptop and I wanted to replace it. I opted to try replacing it with a compact flash card hooked up to an ATA adapter.

The ATA adapter NewEgg sent me uses a 40-pin connection exactly as this pin diagram shows.

The connector on the laptop and the dead hard drive uses a smaller 44-pin layout with no separate power connector. The pitch of the pins is smaller, so I can't force the parts to mate even if I wanted to.

To add further confusion, all the sites selling a MHD2032AT claim that this is an Ultra ATA/33 drive. Wikipedia's ATA article implies that Ultra ATA/33 uses the 40-pin cable.

What's going on here?
posted by crapmatic to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)

2.5 inch IDE/UATA drives use a 44-pin connector. This is perfectly normal.

Some CF-to-IDE adaptors are available with 44 pins.
posted by toxic at 2:19 PM on January 15, 2008

You would only see the 40-pin connector you link to above if you have ordered a standard internal hard drive (3.5") rather than a laptop specific hard drive (2.5")

Re-reading your question I see that you're trying to replace a hard drive with a compact flash drive.

What you need is an Compact Flash to IDE adapter which is the smaller 2.5" laptop form factor.

Which is a problem, because I'm not sure such an adapter exists.

Further, I'm not 100% convinced that replacing a hard drive (which presumably is going to be home to your operating system) with a compact flash card is such a good idea. In fact the word "harebrained" comes to mind.

I do know that some people use compact flash USB adapters running a stripped down version of Linux to build LCD picture frames out of other wise useless old laptops, but out and out replacing a hard drive?

If I were you I'd send everything back for a refund and opt for a REAL replacement hard drive.
posted by wfrgms at 2:21 PM on January 15, 2008

Oh well, toxic links to the proper 44-pin adapter and the page even has pictures showing a hard drive replacement in a laptop. Still, I would be very worried since CF has limited write cycles before giving up the ghost. If you run a disk intensive OS like Windows (and particularly if you laptop has limited ram) then I think your CF card would be toast pretty quickly.
posted by wfrgms at 2:29 PM on January 15, 2008

Laptops use a different connector. You needed to specify a 44 pin ata adaptor.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 2:57 PM on January 15, 2008

There is a 4 GB solid-state hard drive that should be compatible but you may want to order a conventional replacement.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 3:01 PM on January 15, 2008

How to boot XP on a flash device might be a good read even if you're running 98: many of the suggestions are good, but the bit about turning off virtual memory is really important unless you want to pry your laptop apart again in six-eight months once the flash card starts crapping out.
posted by Orb2069 at 6:59 PM on January 15, 2008

Other posters are right, laptop drives use a different size connector, but the signaling is the same. You don't need a cable in a laptop; in all modern ones the hard drive just plugs in.

If you take the old drive out, you'll see that it's in a carrier of some kind and that it might have an adapter on the 44 pins that converts to some other kind of connector. Carefully pry* that off, unscrew the old drive, put the new one where the old one was. Then hope your computer likes the new drive.

[I started typing this three hours ago, sorry if it's a duplicate now.]

* I mean pry in the most technical way possible. Pull straight out and don't bend the pins.
posted by gjc at 7:10 PM on January 15, 2008

I also wouldn't worry about the wear-leveling once you've turned off virtual memory (aka swap), it's apparently become much less of an issue with newer devices, and the cards seem to be able to do it internally as well, so they don't depend on an OS that's aware of the media type.
posted by wzcx at 12:29 PM on January 16, 2008

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