Jim's Self-Help

IDE Hard Drive Installation Procedures

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These instructions apply to DOS/Windows 3.1 systems.
If using Windows 95, we suggest a professional hard drive installation.

NOTE: Record the number of cylinders, tracks, and heads for each hard drive in the system before physically installing them.

Cable Attachments

A standard IDE hard drive has two cable connectors. The power connector is trapezoidal in shape and consists of four pins. Connect a cable from the power supply to it.The 40 pin IDE data cable connector consists of two rows of 20 pins each (one pin may be missing). The data cable should be inserted with the red stripe toward the power connector, or toward pin 1 if pin numbers are indicated on the drive connector. No video when booting may indicate the cable is installed backwards. As jumpers on each hard drive determine whether the drive is master or slave, it is not necessary to connect the drives in any particular order. See CD ROM installation procedures for more detail concerning multiple device IDE cabling arrangements.

Master/Slave Jumpers

Most newer drives have indications on the drive for master/slave jumper settings. While there is no standardization, MA frequently indicates master and SL indicates slave. There may also be two master options, master no slave and master with slave. If you have only one drive, it must be master. If you have two drives, one must be designated master and the other slave. If a drive is to be the primary drive in the system, it may not be necessary to change any jumpers. Many new drives will automatically recognize they are master and also recognize whether a slave is present.

The master drive will report as drive C: and the slave will report as drive D:. Boot files must be located on drive C:.


After physical installation, the drive(s) must be set up in CMOS. CMOS is a small bit of volatile memory maintained by the computer battery, where various hardware settings and other BIOS options.are retained.

The method for entering CMOS varies with different systems.Most commonly it is accessed by depressing the 'Delete' key while memory is counting up. Your computer may display how to enter CMOS during the bootup process. Watch carefully, it usually appears for only a second.

Find the selection in CMOS called "IDE Auto Detect" or "Hard Drive Auto Detect". These features should automatically find your hard drive(s) and record the proper parameters. If your CMOS does not have an auto detect feature, it will be necessary to set the drive(s) up manually. Enter "Standard CMOS Setup".and key in the values for heads, cylinders, and tracks as printed on top of the drive(s). Once these parameters are detected or entered, CMOS should report the number of available megabytes for the drive. This may be slightly less than the drive size due to various overhead requirements. If hard drive parameters are set incorrectly, you may receive "Missing Operating System" or "HDD Controller Failure" errors during booting.

Exit CMOS with the "Save" option.

Hard Drives Larger Than 528mb

Check documentation to see if your motherboard supports LBA mode. This allows recognition of hard drive sizes greater than 528mb. If LBA mode is not supported, the system will only recognize a maximum 528mb, regardless of how large the hard drive is.

Non-LBA systems require a driver to be loaded to overcome the 528mb barrier. Most large hard drives come with a driver disk and instructions for loading it, or have the driver already installed on the drive. Driver procedures vary, but generally the driver will load before DOS or Windows, enabling the system to see more than a 528mb drive.


Use extreme caution with these commands. They will destroy any existing data on a hard drive. When installing a new hard drive with an existing hard drive, be sure you FDISK and FORMAT the new drive, not the old one. If installing a new master drive, installation of DOS 6.0 or later versions will automatically perform the below FDISK and FORMAT functions. If installing a new slave drive, follow the below procedures for D drive.


The DOS FDISK program must be run to partition a new hard drive. The program is on disk #1 of DOS installation disks, and may be run by booting from this floppy and typing FDISK. If installing a new secondary drive, the program should be executed from the DOS directory of the master drive.

Select the drive you wish to FDISK. The lower number will be drive C and the higher number drive D.

If the drive already has a partition and you have two drives in the system, you may be on the wrong drive. If so, press '5' to change drives. If the drive still appears to have a partition then it probably came with a pre-installed driver for non-LBA systems. Check to be sure the partition is only a few megabytes. If so, copy the contents of the partition onto a floppy (in case you need it later) and then delete the partition.

Press '1' to create a DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive. Then press '1' to create a Primary DOS partition. Use the maximum size available.


After partitioning, the new drive must be formatted.

DRIVE C: - Boot from drive A using DOS disk #1. Type FORMAT C: /S <enter>. The /S transfers system files to drive C and makes it bootable. Should drive C fail to boot after formatting, boot from drive A and type SYS C: <enter>. This is an alternate procedure to transfer system files.

DRIVE D: - Boot from drive C, change to the DOS directory, and type FORMAT D: <enter>. (It is not necessary to transfer system files to drive D.)

And if everything went OK, you should now have Liftoff!

[CPU Installation] [Hard Drive Installation] [Memory Installation]
[CD-Rom Installation] [Floppy Drive Installation]

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This page last updated 09/28/11

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