I certainly understand your desire to reuse your old hard drive. Why waste a perfectly good drive? And I must say that I recommend a second hard drive to almost all my customers. It is a great way to keep Windows and your data separated or perfect for backing up your critical information. But before I get into the details of how you might go about reusing this drive, let me caution you that the average hard drive has an expected life of about 5 years. Now I know that there are some of you out there that will jump in to say that you have a drive that has been working fine for over 10 years now. And yes, I do too. But I also have some that have failed after a year or two. Unfortunately, not all drives will give you any signs of impending failure and can just stop working at any time. So please keep this in mind when deciding what data you plan to store on this drive. Since you did not mention the model of your new computer, I will assume that this computer case has an available drive bay for the drive, available PCI Slot as well as extra drive power connectors, ample power supply and cooling to handle the added card and drive. See notes below.
With that out of the way, lets get to the various ways to recycle your old drive. Please keep in mind that you can occasionally run into problems with multiple drives both containing an operating system, so it is highly recommended that you reformat the drive before using it as a second drive.
Internal PCI PATA Controller (~$30-50)
You can purchase an internal PCI card that will give you two IDE connectors for connecting up to 4 additional Parallel ATA drives. If you want, you can even get one with Raid capabilities. Even though some manufacturers are no longer making parallel ATA cards anymore, the best know manufacturers are Adaptec and Promise but companies such as SIIG and CompUSA have some lower cost generic models. I have used just about every brand out there with no problems but just make sure it supports your current version of Windows. Here is a link to one example:
External USB or Firewire Drive Enclosure (~$20-50)
Probably the easiest and safest way to go is to purchase a 3.5 external drive enclosure (2.5 is for laptop drives). These enclosures come with their own power supplies and can be attached to your computer with either a USB or Firewire connection. You simply drop your old drive into the enclosure and connect. Note: you may have to change the jumper settings on your old drive. Here is a link to some examples:
External Network Attached Storage Enclosure (~$100-150)
Another option is to setup your drive for direct network access. These enclosures allow you to connect your drive directly to your network router so that every computer on your network can share the hard drive and in some cases even access the drive from the internet if you want. Check these out:
Paperweight (Priceless) I couldnt resist!
With the price of hard drives dropping all the time and if you wait for a good sale, you can pick up a new SATA hard drive for about $69. Old drives make terrific paperweights. Your new motherboard should have a second SATA connection. This would eliminate having to install a controller and other possible problems. Note: You may have to change your bios settings to turn on the second SATA drive.
A Few Words of Caution!
When installing any additional hardware into your computer you should be aware of several factors that could affect the overall performance and life of your computer. Issues such as cooling and additional power drain could bring on unexpected problems. Many off the shelve computers (especially low end models) are specifically designed around the internal hardware that they intend to install. Additional Hard drives, cables and expansion cards can upset this design resulting in overheating, power supply failures and other problems. You should evaluate the following before proceeding to install any new hardware:
1. Heat Kills - Hard drives can run very hot and placing drives directly on top of each other without proper cooling can lead to premature failure. Leave an empty bay between your drives if the case has the room to do so. You may want to purchase additional hard drive cooling fans.
2. General Cooling Extra cards and cables can inhibit the much needed air flow within the computer case as well as add to the over heat that need to be expelled from the case. Use caution when routing those wide ribbon cables to avoid blocking air flow. In some cases you may need to install additional fans to help remove the extra heat.
3. Ample Power Supply Too many extras can be taxing on a power supply leading to failure or even intermittent problems. Usually adding one drive should not be a problem but if you have a high-end video card, extra hard drives, fans and lighting, you may need to install a larger power supply.
4. No Extra Power Connectors Depending on the model computer, you may not have any spare power connectors to power your second hard drive. You can purchase a Power Y adapter the give you an extra connector. But keep in mind that the power supply may not be able to handle the additional drain.
5. General Safety Anytime you are working inside of your computer, it should be turned off and UNPLUGGED.
6. Static Electricity Static Electricity can lead to permanent or latent damage. Use a grounded wrist strap or at the very least, touch something metal before attempting any repairs or handling static sensitive devices. This is especially true during the dry winter months. Avoid working on or around carpeted floors.
Submitted by: Dana H. of Wayland Computer
The lack of EIDE (Parallel ATA) ports on your new computer's motherboard seems a bit odd - most modern motherboards have 2 EIDE channels that support up to 4 devices. There are a few, rare motherboards out there these days that don't sport any. Those are high end gaming boards that have had the EIDE ports removed from the design to speed up the function of the motherboard by a few nanoseconds. If this is the type of motherboard you've got, then there are a couple of options (see below).
Given you didn't give us much in the way of configuration, motherboard model number, etc..., the first thing to do is to examine the way they've got things set up inside your computer. Odds are that you DO have at least one EIDE port available. Most modern computers generally come with one hard drive, and one or two optical (CD/DVD) drives. Now then, given your computer boots to the SATA drive, that still leaves 2 or 3 EIDE ports available. There IS the extreme option of having 4 EIDE devices (optical drives, internal ZIP drives (or other Iomega removable devices), tape drives, etc...) however, most computers these days don't come so overloaded with devices.
Now then, the first thing on the checklist is to see how the optical
drive(s) are connected to the motherboard. There are 3 possibilities.
1.) the optical drive(s) are connected by way of an EIDE (flat, wide, 40 or 80 pin EIDE ribbon cable)
2.) the optical drive(s) are natively SATA and are connected thusly.
3.) the optical drive(s) are EIDE, but are connected by way of SATA using an adapter.
If the optical drive(s) are connected using the EIDE flat ribbon (or one of the newer, air flow friendly round cables), check to see how many drives are linked to each cable. It is entirely possible that the system vendor decided to cut corners and give you cable(s) that only had the one port. If there's only one - and there's no second port available towards the middle of the cable, you can simply buy a replacement for the cable that has two ports. Be sure to make sure that one drive is set to Master, the other is set to Slave. Problem solved. Plug in the new drive and you should be able to get up and running from there.
Now then, if the optical drives are connected using option 2 or 3 above, things are going to be a bit more complicated. In these two cases, you've got 3 options:
1.) You can purchase a PCI card that supports a pair of EIDE channels - up to 4 internal drives. That's the good news. The not so good news - they start around $40 US. There are numerous brands available. Promise Technology and SIIG are two brands that I've had decent enough luck with in the past.
2.) You can purchase an adapter that converts an EIDE drive to a SATA drive. These are "dangle boards" - a small circuit board that fits between the SATA cable and a standard EIDE cable. It translates the commands coming through the SATA cable into ones understood by EIDE devices. They can go for approximately $15 US. Keep in mind that these will only allow a maximum thruput of first generation SATA. Of course, this IS a tiny bit faster (150 Mbit/s instead of 133 Mbit/s). An example can be found at http://www.xpcgear.com/ide2sata.html Also, keep in mind that these "dangle boards" only support ONE EIDE device per SATA port.
3.) The final option would be to purchase an external enclosure that supports USB 2.0 and/or Firewire and mount the hard drive in there. Going this route has it's pros and cons. On the pro side, the drive can be used on other systems - making it a good means to move files from one machine to another. On the con side, it's not nearly as fast as having the drive plugged into a SATA or EIDE port.
Submitted by: Pete Z.
Hi Trevor there are two options for you.
External USB 2.0 or firewire (IEEE 1394) enclosures or cases this option is the easiest and cheapest way to do what you want to do. It will cost you around $80 to $100 Us dollars to do and can be purchased at a local best buy or CompUSA or at a local computer store with this option not only can you add your old hard drive but it becomes portable so you can connect it to any system with USB 2.0 ports or Firewire ports. And since most computers have USB ports on them get one of those then the rest is easy as putting the hard drive in your computer case without ever even opening your computer and brand does not matter here I do not believe. Assemble should be easy and quick at around 20 min.
This option a little trickier depending on your computer there are indeed PCI slot Hard drive controllers I have used Adaptec and promise fast track brands both are good brands and you can also find them in a best buy or CompUSA for around $130 to $150 us dollars but here is where things can get tough depending on your computer case and who made your computer for example dell, gateway or Compaq these companys use micro mini towers today and you may have a hard time finding space for you hard drive and controller in your computer plus if you are not very knowledgeable on how to use or get into you computers BIOS (basic input output system) setup or know how to manage IRQ (interrupt request) number assignments or manage other resources on your computer this option can give you some trouble and grief some systems also may need a bios update to handle your new controller my recommendation is to stay with option 1 unless you are really computer savvy and or a tech geek like me.
Well Trevor I hope my answer has been informative and has helped you decide what you want to do thank you for your time in reading it and good luck..
Submitted by: Paul M.
Well there are a couple of approaches we can use. However why install a second drive? Have you thought about an external drive? For anywhere from $60.00 to $90.00 you buy an enclosure pop in your old hard drive. These enclosure are complete, meaning they have their own power supply, their own electronics to run the hard drive. More often then not they are also USB equipped, this also means that it can be used on just about any USB equipped computer (being as it has its own power supply because most hard drives are 12volt). At this moment I can not specifically suggest a particular brand of enclosure. But this is one way you could use your old hard drive to carry huge amounts of data or use it to store back up data. The best thing is that it is not permanently affixed to any one computer.
Then if you insist that you still want to put your old hard drive into your present computer, there are PCI disk controller boards to use. One that comes to mind is Promise Technology, Inc.. The PCI Promise Board that you want is Ultra133TX2. Now it does not matter that maybe your old drive is 66mbs, 100mbs or 133mbs, what this means is that your drive will dictate the speed, so my advice is get any disk controller that is rated at 133mbs transfer rate. And by the way Promise also has external enclosures as well. So you might want peruse the site and specs on the different boards and equipment at the site.
Submitted by: Rick B.
Good to see another recycler! There are a couple of options, those you allude to in your question, add an internal Parallel ATA card inside your PC or use a USB external enclosure. Before you do either of these, are you sure you don't have connectivity already? There isn't a free EIDE port on the motherboard, true enough but how many optical drives do you have installed? If you've only one, that is almost certainly running off a Parallel IDE port and it may even have a free connector on the cable. You will need a PATA 4 pin Molex power cable, of course. If you don't have a spare one, you could use a splitter off the optical drive. If you have two optical drives (HP/Compaq machines seem to have them) then both ports will be used, so read on...
The easiest, and possibly more useful if you have more than one PC, is probably the external enclosure. I just did this with a laptop drive that I upgraded to a bigger model. External was the only option since there is no room in the laptop for a second drive! I picked up a generic self powered enclosure at a local computer fair for UK 5 (about $9 US) brand new. The name on the box is Imprime Blueghost, for what that is worth, and it came with the enclosure, a twin head USB cable, Driver CD for Win98 (not needed for later Windows versions), an installation manual and even a small screwdriver to put it together! Installation time, 5 minutes, result perfect! It was designed for USB 2.0 but will run slower on USB 1.1. USB 1.1 is slow, but I assume a new PC would have USB 2.0 ports anyway. The twin head USB cable is also to handle USB 1.1.
On most USB 2.0 ports, there is sufficient power to drive the disk but USB 1.1 ports may not have enough power, in which case you simply plug the second head into another USB port and they are power additive. The same computer fair also had external 3.5 disk enclosures, most of which came with an external power supply, since desktop drives pull more power. I'm using my drive as both a backup and a data transfer device to my other machines.
I've one concern about using desktop drives in an external enclosure.
Unlike laptop drives, they aren't intended to be moved around on a daily basis, so they may not be quite so robust. So be gentle with it - obviously, don't move it around powered on and if you can get a shockproof enclosure, I'd go for that.
The alternative solution is to put the put the old drive inside the new PC. You don't say what brand the PC is, so before you embark on this course, check with the manufacturer or motherboard manufacturer and BIOS specifications that there won't be a conflict if you install an interface card. If that's OK, then you will need an available PCI slot, spare drive bay and 4 pin Molex power cable or splitter. There are a number of manufacturers of PCI Parallel ATA cards, Google them for a selection, I've never used one personally but a colleague has. He has six physical disks in a desktop, three off the motherboard headers and three off the add in card. His card is a Promise Technology (http://www.promise.com) Ultra 133 TX2. He said he just plugged it in and it worked straight off. It came with a driver disk for systems that need it, Win98, Linux, etc. It supports Ultra ATA 133 and older Ultra ATA
100/66/33 drives and self adjusts to the speed of the drive. But as I said, I've never used one.
I don't know what they cost retail but it would be worth checking against the cost of a new SATA drive to add to your system which, depending on controller, may give you more options, such as RAID, etc. I know you said you just wanted to use the old drive but do check the economics.
Submitted by: Sav. M. of the United Kingdom
Trevor, you are in luck!
Though parallel ATA (PATA) is still hanging on as the favored interface for optical drives, 20 years after its inception it is in the later stages of being phased out as the interface of choice for internal IDE hard drives. Now, consumers are cracking open their newer systems looking to add drives (as you did, Trevor) only to find the standard dual PATA channels present on the motherboards of yore have been reduced to a single channel. In lieu of the second PATA channel are a plethora of serial ATA (SATA) connectors (it seems that the industry minimum these days is 4).
To answer your question, I believe you have 3 options. The first is to, as you suggested, pick up a PATA PCI controller card. This, of course, plugs directly into a vacant PCI slot and serves as a fully functional IDE controller. The second is to buy a PATA to SATA adapter. This ingenious little device plugs directly into the back of your PATA hard drive and allows you to attach it to an extra SATA port which you probably have in excess if you have a recent motherboard and dont run any large RAID arrays. The third option is to mount your PATA drive in an external enclosure and plug it into your PC via USB 2.0. All three options have their pros and cons:
Option 1: The PCI controller card may be the way to go if you think you may want to install a subsequent PATA drive down the line as most single channel controller cards have 2 ports. The downside to this option is that you are taking up a PCI slot. Additionally, users have reported slower drive detection at startup using IDE controller cards. Single channel, dual port cards can be had at online retailers such as Newegg.com and Tigerdirect.com for under $20. There are more expensive multi channel RAID versions, but this seems beyond your needs.
Option 2: If you are only planning to add a single IDE drive, want to mount it internally, and have extra SATA ports, then this is the most elegant solution. PATA to SATA adapters plug right into the back of your older PATA drive and, essentially, converts it into a SATA device with absolutely no performance penalty that may result from going through a standard PCI slot. Be aware, however, that the device will likely require power from your PCs power supply in the form of a standard molex connector (your power supply should have unused power leads so this shouldnt be an issue). Also, you may have to go into your BIOS and enable the SATA channel you plugged the drive into. I have personally installed and used such a device and it has worked flawlessly. One particular product I can recommend is made by Sabrent, sold at Tigerdirect.com (product number: M501-1088) and will cost you less than $20.
Option 3: Though this is the most expensive option (a good enclosure will likely cost you at least $30) and offers the poorest performance (due to USB bus speed), it is advantageous if you want to be able to quickly and easily plug the drive into different PCs (eg, your desktop and your notebook). Also, you will need an external AC source to power such enclosures. One brand I have had good success with is the Vantec Nexstar 3, which can be purchased at a number of different retailers.
All three options will get the job done. However if, as it seems from your letter, you simply want to add a single internal PATA drive to your system and have extra SATA ports kicking around, the most parsimonious solution is, in my opinion, option 2 (the PATA to SATA adapter).
Hope this helps!
Submitted by: Dave S. of Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Trevor, there are at least 3 ways to do this.
First, you can get a small adapter that goes on the back of each drive and converts that drive from a parallel ATA (IDE) drive to SATA. Something like this:
As a second alternative, you can get a PCI IDE controller card that plugs into a PCI card slot on the motherboard and has some (typically two) IDE ports on it (each port supporting a master and a slave drive). Something like this:
Many of these PCI controllers will support using multiple IDE drives as RAID arrays. If you go this route, be certain that the model that you get supports standard [non-RAID] use as well. For this category, there is one highly recognized name brand, which is Promise Technology (www.promise.com). In fact many of the cards made by firms other than Promise will use a Promise controller chip on them.
A 3rd way you could go would be to get an IDE to USB 2 adapter and convert the drive into USB and use a USB interface. This is most commonly done externally but can also be internally although its less common. As an external solution, you will normally buy an entire case for the drive, complete with not only the IDE to USB adapter, but also with housing and power supply. These can also be found on E-Bay or at any computer parts supplier. For example:
and many similar products.
[The E-Bay items that I cited above may have ended before this is published, but are only intended as examples and can still be seen as closed auctions for reference; in most cases the same sellers will list additional auctions with more of the same items. An E-Bay search finds hundreds of items of each type being offered, and all of these items are commonly stocked by computer parts distributors as well.]
Submitted by: Barry W. of North Canton, Ohio
Trevor has several options for using his old PATA (often called just "IDE") drive:
1. Yes, there is an adapter that plugs into the IDE connector at the back of your old drive and converts the data stream to SATA. So you can still install your drive and it will act like a SATA drive. I have not measured the i/o data rate with this scheme, and it may be the old IDE drive will not be quite as fast as it is in "native" mode, but it will work fine. This method will NOT magically turn your drive into a SATA II drive, but this is probably not important to you.
2. You also have the choice to install an additional parallel IDE (PATA) adapter in a PCI slot internally. In this case, you get two new IDE device interfaces and you can use one for your old PATA drive. These adapters are quite inexpensive, and the box usually has the additional cable that you may need.
3. A third option is to get an IDE-to-USB adapter. These adapters, also quite inexpensive, make your old IDE drive able to connect to a USB port. Generally, people use this type of adapter to convert an older internal IDE drive to become a new "external USB" drive, so this adapter often comes with a small power supply for the drive itself. You can also find this type of adapter available along with a pretty, external enclosure if you want to connect that way. Be forewarned that the USB 2.0 data rate is slower than you used to get with the drive natively connected to an IDE port, but this is probably not an issue unless you are copying large amounts of data to this drive (as in a backup operation).
In method #3, it is still possible to mount your old drive internally, and use the internal power plug that is likely available (or a Y-adapter with an existing plug). In this case, you need to route the USB cable to any available USB port. If that port is at the back of the machine, you can just run the cable out through one of the removable adapter slot holes at the back, and around into a USB port. This looks a little funny, but it works.
Submitted by: Dion J.
There are three ways you could go about this Trevor - One involves purchasing a SATA-PATA adaptor and using a spare SATA channel, the second requires you to purchase a new ATA cable if this method is applicable, and the third involves a PCI ATA Card and ATA Cable - probably the most expensive of the three options. All three will require drive jumpers to be checked and set if needed - the jumper settings for each drive are located on the label or in the case of CD/DVD drives sometimes embossed into the top of the drive casing. Also, be sure to earth yourself before delving into your PC's case, wouldn't want to accidentally fry something expensive.
The first option means getting an adaptor - you should be able to get a SATA cable and the adaptor for around $25. Except for the adaptors bundled with motherboards, I don't really know of any Brand Name products - most of the adaptors available are based on a Silicon Image chipset any way regardless of their branding. First you will need to set the hard drive's jumper to Master, then attach the adaptor. The adaptor module plugs into the ATA port and should come with a Y-power cable to power the unit and the drive. The SATA cable will then connect a spare motherboard port to the adaptor's SATA port. When the PC boots, the SATA controller will detect the settings for each drive attached to it, then XP will install drivers, ask for a reboot and your drive is ready to use.
The second option is considerably cheaper, but will mean replacing the existing ATA cable connected to your CD/DVD drive with a two port ATA cable - if your PC doesn't have a two port cable installed already. Chances are your CD/DVD drive has an ATA channel all to itself which it can share if it has this replacement cable. Installation is fairly straightforward, the only fiddly part is setting the jumper on the hard drive you are installing so it uses the Cable Select (CS) mode - this being as your new PC's CD/DVD drive will most likely be set to use this mode to, so the two drives will let the replacement ATA cable determine which is the Master/Slave Device. If your PC seems to hang for a while whilst booting before XP starts loading, then you will need to change the jumpers on the hard drive and your CD/DVD drive - one will need to be set as Master, the other Slave. When your PC boots, your hard drive should be detected, allowing XP to install drivers and ask for a reboot, then your drive is ready to use.
The third option involves installing a third party ATA controller card, attaching the second hard drive to this card - with the jumper set to Cable Select (CS) to make installing any other drives easier later - installing the card's drivers and then allowing XP to install drivers for your hard drive, rebooting and your set to go.
Unless you plan to add to this PC later, the second option is my recommendation - It's easy and gives your hard drive a dedicated data channel to communicate over, avoiding the potential performance hits two ATA drives on the same cable can experience.
Submitted by: Daniel
This is my proposed answer for the next question of the week:
There are indeed good options for using an older parallel IDE/ATA hard drive on your new PC that lacks such an interface. One really stands out for low cost and simplicity. Your new PC undoubtedly comes with several USB 2.0 Hi-Speed ports, and these are perfect for this purpose. You may have seen external hard drives for sale with varying capacities that connect to a USB port. You can turn your own older drive into one of these external-type drives by purchasing the appropriate case and cable for it, for $30 - $40 total cost. I just did this for one of my drives a couple weeks ago. When you get it all connected to your PC, Windows XP will recognize the drive and all the partitions on it, and treat it just about the same as if it was an internal drive.
You'll need to be sure you purchase a case kit that is for a USB connection (some are for Firewire/IEEE-1394), and be sure you pick one for the appropriate physical size of your drive (likely a 3.5 inch drive). They are readily available from stores on the Internet; I don't recommend any specific one here, but be sure to look at the total price including shipping. These are such simple devices compared to the drives that I doubt if there's any significant difference in performance or reliability to be discerned between them up front. You should select one that includes an external power adapter for the case, because the 3.5 inch drives need more power than the USB port supplies to operate properly.
You can install your drive in the case in just a few minutes, probably with only a small screwdriver of the appropriate type to open and re-close the case. The case will have two connector cables for the two connectors on your drive, the IDE/ATA parallel interface ribbon cable and the four-wire power cable. Be sure to secure the drive to the case's mounting brackets. Follow the directions from the case manufacturer for the sequence of connecting the power and the USB cables, and turning it on, and you'll be all set to use it just like always before. If you get a message from Windows that you should connect your drive to a different USB port, try that as it might run much faster (your initial USB port selection may not be running as a USB 2.0 port). Happy driving.
Submitted by: Roy G. of Bellevue, Washington
If your PC has a CD or DVD drive then it is probably hooked to an EIDE/IDE slot (which is what P-ATA is and how they are usually marked on the motherboard).
Unless you have 2 drives, the E/IDE cable should still have one interface connection available (they support 2 devices per cable). So long as the jumpers are set to Cable Select on both devices - or alternatively one as a Master and one as a Slave, then you should be able to hook that drive up to the E/IDE cable.
Alternatively, if there is no way to connect the drive to an E/IDE interface internally, and you have USB 2.0 connections, you can buy an external E/IDE drive enclosure from pretty much any store that sells computer components.
Install your drive inside the enclosure per the manufacturers directions and plug it into the USB port. Your computer should pick up the new storage device automatically and voila... instant external HDD.
Submitted by: Glen P. of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada