Can I do it?

How to do it

Appendix 1 - Types of hard disks

Appendix 1 - Types of hard disks

Appendix 2 - Configurations of Jumpers

Appendix 3 - Methods to use hard disks of more than 528 MB

Appendix 4 - external Hard disks

Appendix 5 - more common Problems

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Juan Herrerías Rey

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To install a hard disk


This is one of the most typical operations that appear at the time of updating a computer. It does already much of that epoch in which the operating systems were fitting on a diskette; nowadays, a normal installation of Windows 98 or it does not lower ME of "gentle" 150, for not speaking about the immense "suites" crammed with functions that at the time of the truth are ever used.

Nevertheless, it is not precisely one of the tasks easiest of realizing; he is necessary a certain knowledge grade, as well as of true talent of patience and, why not to say it, some luck. If despite this you want to save 5.000 ó 10.000 pesetas that will charge from him for it, or simply feel unhealthy curiosity: there we go!

The instructions are quite exhaustive, therefore, for his serviceability, I recommend to him to print these pages or to keep them on his hard disk. Also, in numerous occasions one alludes to concepts and processes that he should read on the page on the BIOS and in the paragraph on discs IDE of the section of Storage.


Can I do it?

When one considers to install a hard disk, the first thing that must do it is to obtain information about the current configuration of the computer. Before buying nothing, the inexcusable steps are:

1.-Is there space for the hard disk inside the casing of the computer? (The called "bays", already be accessible from the exterior, like the one that occupies the disk drive, or interiors). make sure of it (with the disconnected computer and unburdening itself of static electricity, of the way that is explained in Essentials of the Update).

2.-What format do the bays have? They can be of approximately 15 centimeters for 5,25 inches devices, of 10 centimeters for those 3.5 inches, of sizes not standard, with screws, with rails... the hard disks usually come in 3.5 inches format. In case of ancient computers or mark sometimes adapters will need, because of size or subjection, which can be difficult to find.

3.-Is the hard disk a type IDE (the habitual thing from the epoch of 386)? It might be SCSI (if an expensive computer or a Mac does not have, insurance that not), or slightly even rarer (MFM, ESDI... in general, in "ancient" computers, 286 or previous).

4.-What is the configuration of his current hard disk (or discs, if it possesses more of one)?

5.-What hard disk size is the maximum that admits his computer?

Come to this point, there is imposed a "technological" chat (I waited, still do not flee, it is almost sure that he will support it). On the type of hard disk, at first only we are going to explain in depth the hard disks type IDE, for being the most common; if he wants more information with regard to the identification and other types, especially the SCSI, 1 goes to the Appendix.

To know the current configuration of a hard disk (from now on, of the type IDE exclusively) there are 2 methods:

  • The first one consists of looking in a sticker that almost all (almost all) the hard disks have adherent to his surface, from the style at the one that appears in the image.
    The above mentioned sticker indicates the physical-logical parameters that they define to his hard disk: Cylinders (cylinders), Heads (heads), (sectors) Sectors, Area of Parked of the heads (LandZone, usually zero) and writing Precompensation (PreComp, in general also zero).
  • The second method consists of gaining access to the BIOS (or SETUP) of the computer, which will indicate us the configuration that is used at present for this hard disk of between the possible ones (yes, there is no usually the only one). For detailed information on how gaining access to the BIOS, what demons it is "the BIOS" and the others, I recommend to him to puncture in this hypertie. I will suppose that, for example, I have done it pulsating "Of" "The" ("Supr") on having started, going to Standard Cmos Setup and obtaining the following pantallazo, who explains himself for himself:
Pantallazo of the BIOS showing the parameters of the hard disk

As soon as there was gathered the information of this point 4, aim at it in a role (or for triplicate, if he wants) and DO NOT LOSE IT, especially if they do not coincide the information of the sticker and that of the BIOS, or if the above mentioned sticker does not exist. On having gone out of the BIOS, do not record the made changes (especially because it should not have changed anything, but sometimes the fingers betray us).

Well, already we have done the first part. If he has answered satisfactorily to the previous questions, and he even knows what hard disk size is the maximum that admits his computer, be congratulated, a coffee and pass be drunk to the section on the installation; if not, it is possible that his problem is in this list:

  • I do not have available bays: good, since it will have to sacrifice that of his ancient hard disk (but I did not throw it, according to the Law of Murphy some day will need it), or that of an ancient disk drive type 5,25 inches, or to go to the Appendix 4 and to read how he installs a hard disk to himself in an external box.
  • I do not have the information of my current hard disk: read carefully the previous paragraphs again and go to the section on BIOS, as well as to the Appendix 1, do not be that his hard disk is not IDE. If you are sure that it is IDE, check the papers that they gave him with his computer (if they did not give him nothing at all, complain, that you have paid for it).
  • I do not know what hard disk size is the maximum that admits my computer: good, this is very normal, do not worry. The core of the question is in that the ancient BIOS (that is to say, almost all up to the epoch of the Pentium) was not recognizing the hard disks of any more than 1.024 cylinders, what was limiting the size of the hard disks to approximately 528 MBytes (528 "gentle ones"). The "fault" has the MS TWO of Bill Gates, as well as the improvidence that in general had IBM with his first PC (anyway, an atrocity was 528 MB in 1.981, and nobody was hoping that the PC was a such success... not even IBM).

As the 500 MB hard disks are a recent museum piece, he already will suppose that something was invented to overcome this barrier; this was the method LBA (Logical Block Address). Therefore, to know if it can use a disc of more than 528 MB in his computer (for example, of 2 GB = 2.048 MB), he needs to know if the BIOS (again the BIOS!) he supports the above mentioned way. In the previous pantallazo, the way of the disc was "NORMAL" (logician, because the disc was 420 MB), and in the same column "LBA" would have been selected; for more details, go to the page on BIOS.

Anyway, if there should happen the case of that could not use the way LBA, in the Appendix 3 indicate themselves alternative methods, apart from the simplest: to use the disc as if it did not have any more than 528 MB (true, it is a waste, but it works like last resource).


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