Hard Disk Drives
Hard drives are STORAGE space NOT MEMORY.
Think of them as filing cabinets, holding (storing) your programs and data, your letters, accounting information, and graphics.
The new Hard disk drives are fairly easy to configure, and doesn't require an "expert." You must be sure to purchase a drive with the same interface type as you are using on your controller. 99% of the drives being sold today are EIDE - and if you have a motherboard manufactured within the last year that has an integrated controller, odds are it is also EIDE, which means that you shouldn't have any problem with NEW systems.
The older systems and SCSI drives are a different story, and may still require a "expert" to completely set-up correctly. Before you take apart your computer system to put in the new drive (actually you should have done this BEFORE buying a new drive - but sometimes impulse gets the best of us)... go into the BIOS on your computer. If you don't know how to get there, then you should really ask yourself if your data on your original drive is important to you?!?!?
Anyhow, assuming you chose to continue, and you are now in the BIOS of your computer, how you got there is unknown and remember... YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN! Data Recovery is VERY EXPENSIVE! So backup your data first, before you even think about working on your computer, especially when you plan to mess with your hard drive. Back to what I was saying. From the BIOS you can easily tell whether your BIOS is Enhanced (or Extended - the "E" in the EIDE, depending on what part of the world you are from).
The first screen in most BIOS programs (which are written on an EPROM chip attached to your motherboard) is generally a warning screen. It basically says that if you aren't comfortable being here leave and DON'T SAVE or you could really screw something up!!! So Be careful! The second screen should be a menu of choices. Generally the first choice is "System Settings" - which lists the time and date, and basics regarding YOUR computer and the parts INSIDE the case. If you see a section listing HARD DRIVES - with TYPE defined, you are in the right spot. If you don't see that, then consult a smart friend or local consultant. Now, if there is only room for two rows (whether there is anything in them or they are empty doesn't matter) your system is probably IDE - and that fancy new 2.1 gig hard drive you bought in the proceeding paragraph will not EASILY or automatically work. If you see four slots for drives - Primary Master & Slave, as well as the Secondary Master & Slave then your system is EIDE and will most likely work fine with THAT drive.
Can your system handle the logical sector settings the larger drives will require? And will your operating system? The sector problem is very rare, and is virtually untraceable until you try to install the drive. The operating system... it needs to be Windows 95 - OSR2b or newer (at least an 8/24/96 date on the files), Windows 98, Windows NT, OS/2, or something that is specifically designed to access the areas on hard disk which will eventually contain data... otherwise you will have problems or be required to jump through some fairly advanced "hoops.".
MFM and RLL are old formats, steer clear of these types, they are worthless and slow and based on 20 year old technology.
IDE has become a standard and seems to be getting less expensive and faster as time passes; however, are not made any more and darn hard to find for sale. These drives are small, usually 540 MB or less. Only two of these types of drives can exist on one controller.
EIDE is an IDE hard drive that is larger than 528 MB (times 1024 = 540 MB), it is EIDE (an Enhanced or Extended IDE) drive. Up to four EIDE and/or IDE drives can be intermixed on one of these controllers. Transfer rates of 10 to 15 MB per second are common place with today's good equipment, 12 to 20 MB is possible with the great equipment.
SCSI is also very old, and limited to an 8 bit transfer rate. Many old hard drives, scanners, and external tape drives. These are generally work-horses, and though slow in a single system compared to today's EIDE drives, they are capable to effectively multi-tasking on a network server with ease, allowing multiple people to access them at virtually the same time. Transfer rates of 5 MB per second are the high-end speeds of this architecture.
SCSI-2 is getting more cost effective, faster, and more readily available. You can have up to seven SCSI/SCSI-2 devices on one controller. Transfer rates can be as much as 20 MB per second.
SCSI-3, the latest and greatest... fastest drive... and most expensive. Rumored to have 100 MB per second plus transfer rates on "fire-wire" and fiber optics.
Double check the warranty, repair and replacement policies and deal with established manufacturers.
Western Digital is one of my personal favorites. There have been very few problems with them, and when problems has arisen, they have dealt with it fairly and effectively.
Maxtor is now sold in many retail chains. I know of very few problems with these drives, and like the Trident video card have set many standards in today's hard drive world. Other manufacturers that I have had good luck with over the years, but make more costly drives are: Quantum, Fujitsu, and Micropolis.
Quantum - exception, I don't like the "Big Foot" line, have tried four of them and two failed. One DOA (Dead on Arrival) and the other within 30 days. The up side, they took care of them immediately! So that keeps Quantum on my personal "greats" list.
Seagate drives - I don't know how much has changed over the years, and if their warranties have been improved, but Seagate's drives either work great for a really long time or fail within the first couple years - and other than their high-end SCSI-2 Barracuda line I haven't used Seagate for nearly five years. Things change, and maybe they have worked things out since then.
Toshiba and Fujitsu make the best 2.5" mini drives for note book computers, and have never yet had a problem with either of these manufacturers (in over 10 years) .
IBM, these drives are never "standard" in size, and have only seen a handful of them (out side of a "true" IBM PC). I can honestly say that I have never, yet, heard of many of these drives failing. I have no idea how IBM deals with the warranty policies. Sorry.
Kaloc and other such "off-brand" drives are NOT recommended.
Copyright 1998 T.E. Mercer, all rights reserved. This page was last updated16 April 2000
Copyright © 1993 through 2000 T.E. Mercer and PBG, All rights reserved.