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Community Newsletter: Q&A forum: 5/12/06 Adding old hard drive to new PC with only SATA connections

by: Lee Koo (ADMIN) May 11, 2006 10:38 AM PDT

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5/12/06 Adding old hard drive to new PC with only SATA connections

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) ModeratorCNET staff - 5/11/06 10:38 AM


My name is Trevor and I'm a subscriber to CNET. I have a question regarding internal hard drives. I recently bought a new PC that came with an internal Serial ATA hard drive. I still have a Parallel ATA hard drive from my old PC that is in fine condition that I would like to use as a second internal hard drive. However, the motherboard on the new PC doesn't have an extra parallel slot to which I can hook up my old hard drive. Are there any products out there that can help me hook up my parallel drive to my new PC (such as an external adapter or some kind of PCI slot card)? If there is, can you please recommend a reliable brand and also let me know if there is anything I should be aware of before proceeding with whatever I need to do? Thanks!

Submitted by: Trevor Y.



Hey Trevor, the way I see it, there are four possible ways to skin your cat:

1) If your PC has an optical drive (CD-ROM, CD, or DVD burner) then it is likely hooked to the one PATA (parallel ATA or old-style 40-pin) connector on your motherboard. If the cable has only the one connector on it for the optical drive, then you could get a two-drive cable and hook your HD on there. If you want to be able to boot from your optical drive on occasion, it may be necessary to set it to master and set the HD to slave depending on the flexibility of your PC's BIOS. This is the cheapest method but may require a nonstandard-length cable depending how the drives are laid out in your case. Get the shortest cable that will do the job.

2) Use an IDE/ATA to SATA converter. This will work if you have a free SATA connector left on your motherboard. It will change your PATA drive into a SATA drive. I like this converter, as it tucks neatly out of the way, is inexpensive and is based on SIL (SiliconImage logic) which I find to be very reliable and flexible. These usually sell for less than $20. shipped. The converter requires a floppy size power connector while your drive will need a regular Molex drive power connector, so it might be wise to purchase a power Y that will split a single drive power connector into one for each. Last I knew, the converter comes with no power adapters or other cables, so you'll also need a SATA signal cable unless a spare came with your computer. Once again, the shortest cable that will do the job is the one to get, or a standard 18 incher which will likely be the least expensive ($2.00 and up).

3) The next option is a PCI controller for PATA drives. This requires an open PCI card slot on your motherboard. I use and recommend this controller, as it is reliable, inexpensive and based on a SIL chipset. It is a very flexible card that can control just about any PATA device from the slowest old LS-120 drive to the fastest PATA HD and can even do RAID 0,1,0+1 if needed in the future. Simple to install and use and usually less than $20 shipped. Download the latest drivers from the Syba or SiliconImage sites. This controller comes with one standard, flat cable (80-wire to work with all drives).

4) The final option is to use your IDE drive as an external USB drive. The cheapest way to achieve that is to use a converter cable kit like this, which is also SIL based and sold under the Syba and Bytecc names at the least. Needs no enclosure or any other accessory as it comes with its own power supply. If you want an enclosure, you can choose anything from a mobile drive rack like this, (which could also be used internally), up to the more expensive integrated external enclosures like this one, . The integrated enclosures have their own USB converter and power supply so the converter cable mentioned above won't be needed.

None of these options are difficult to set up and use as long as you have a reasonable knowledge of your own computer and can read and follow instructions (of course the poorly translated and often minimalist instructions that come with many of these products may leave a lot to be desired). Good luck.

Submitted by: Bill H. Groton, NY (AKA: Zepper)

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