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Hard drive: How do I know what to get?


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#1
totianni

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I've been looking for a new hard drive for a commercial grade computer. Is there a limit on what size I can get? I was running Windows ME and also had Win98. Do I need to run WinXP for a larger hard drive? What is the difference in SCSI and IDE? Are Maxtor, Seagate or Western Digital a good brand? What about newer brands like Pioneer and Hitachi? Is there anything else I should check or need to know? Sorry for all the questions. Just want to be prepared. Also, where would the best place be to get it . . . I live in Delaware in the US.

Thanks so much. :tazz:
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#2
SRX660

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I have tried running old servers as home computers and it doesnt work very well. Most servers are not in any way meant to run multimedia programs and do not usually have the necessary hardware to do it.

SCSI use 50 pin connectors while IDE uses 40 pin( or double cable 80 wire but still 40 pin)connectors so they are not compatable.

Depending on the bios you may have limits on how big a hard drive you can run. A good choice here would be a 120 Gig drive as they are under the limit of 127 gigs for most bios of motherboards from up to 4 to 5 years ago.

I am partial to WD right now but this changes from year to year. Seagate seem to be coming on strong lately. Maxtor has lost some quality lately to me.

I would hate to go back to running Win 98 or ME after using Win XP. It is a much better OS if your hardware will support it.

SRX660
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#3
Samm

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SRX660 is right about the IDE drive size - it would be advisable to stick to a drive under 127GB because the chances are your bios won't recognise anything larger than that.
If you do get a drive larger than this, and your bios recognises it ok, then you will need to run XP SP1 or higher, or Windows 2000 SP4 (I think).

To be honest, if you are going to upgrade from windows ME (which I strongly recommend as ME sucks), then I suggest you go for Windows 2000 Pro. 2000 is generally faster & more stable than XP, especially on server type systems of this age.

As for SCSI, you can get 50 pin SCSI drives, 68 pin & 80 pin (SCA) drives. Obviously this depends on the type if SCSI controller you have. 68pin & 80pin will be faster than 50 pin. Be warned though that these drives tend to be much more expensive than IDE but they are more reliable & generally faster.
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#4
totianni

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Thank you for the quick responses.

I must have worded something wrong, though. I only meant that my desktop computer was of a commercial grade and not a brand name . . . it's not a server. It's just my home desktop computer. I had 2 hard drives go up on me nearly simultaneously and I'm finally in a position to get a new one.

I was looking at a Seagate 250 gig and remembered something about the size. How do I know if my motherboard can handle a bigger hard drive? I did have all the information on my system, but it's now lost on the dead hard drives. I'm not sure if it is still listed in my previous topic or even how to find it in the 30+ pages of the topic.

It was suggested that I check here for more information on hard drives and where to get them in the US. I've been using my son's computer ever since mine went down, but I really need to get it back up and running. Taxes are coming due and I need a working computer.

Thanks, again. :tazz:
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#5
totianni

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Well, I'll be . . . I actually found the info on my computer in my previous post . . .

Here's the info from my computer's Belarc Report:

Board: ABIT 694X-686B (VP6) v1.0 ~
Bus Clock: 133 megahertz
BIOS: Award Software International, Inc. 6.00 PG 11/06/2000

Is this enough information to determine whether I can install a bigger hard drive?

In searching for more information, I found this about my BIOS on the manufacturers website. Can it be used to determine whether I can run a larger hard drive?

The following options are selectable only if the ‘IDE Primary Master’ item is set to ‘Manual’
Cylinder
Min = 0
Max = 65535
Set the number of cylinders for this hard disk.
Head
Min = 0
Max = 255
Set the number of read/write heads
Precomp
Min = 0
Max = 65535
**** Warning: Setting a value of 65535 means no hard disk
Landing zone
Min = 0
Max = 65535
****
Sector
Min = 0
Max = 255
Number of sectors per track

I also submitted to get more information about an upgrade for my BIOS. It noted an approximation of 12-24 hour response time.

I'm not sure if any of this information is helpful. I do appreciate your help and assistance. Thank you.

Edited by totianni, 05 March 2006 - 10:07 PM.

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#6
SRX660

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I still think you will be limited to a 127 Gig HD. I usually wait until the local circuit city, bestbuy, or office depot has sales on HD's to get them. I just bought a seagate 200 Gig sata drive on sale at compusa for $39.95 because someone had opened the package to steal the data cable out of it. Otherwise i usually buy from NewEgg when i buy parts because they usually have the best prices. I look weekly at NewEgg, Tiger Direct, and a few other websites for their specials.

SRX660
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#7
Samm

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Hi

I've trawled through Abits website & eventually found what I was looking for! Their hard drive capacity compatibility lists...

According to these, your motherboard (Abit VP6) will support hard drives of 75GB in size as long as the bios revision is version UR or higher - so your board may require a bios update in order to do this.

However, your motherboard is NOT listed in the 80GB, 137GB or 160GB listings, so I would assume that 75GB is the max.

This does not mean that you cannot install a drive larger than 75GB though. What it does mean is that 75GB is the max the bios will recognise. To use a drive larger than this, you would need to install overlay software on the drive. This would then allow the system to access a drive larger than 75GB.

To be honest with you though, I would recommend that you stick to drives that are 75GB or smaller but if you want more space, then just install 2 or more of them. Your board also supports IDE RAID so you can in fact have upto 8 hard drives installed in total if you use the raid controller as well as the standard IDE controllers.
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#8
totianni

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Thanks SRX660 for the store information. I was actually looking at a Seagate 250 gig at TigerDirect for about $80. I thought that was a good price.

Thanks Samm, especially for the time you spent sifting through that website. I had an awful time locating anything about any of my motherboard info. I looked at several sites before finding the BIOS upgrade info at eSupport. I don't understand what you meant by the raid controller and the software overlay. I had a computer sometime ago that required me to install software in order to partition the drive and access its full capacity. Is this what you mean? Can I partition a larger drive to access its full capacity? Is partitioning even still done? Can you tell I haven't kept up with the times?

I had another power outage for most of today, so I didn't have a chance to call about upgrading my BIOS, but I did get a return email requesting me to call. I will try this tomorrow.

Thanks so much for your input and suggestions. I really appreciate the information and assistance.

Edited by totianni, 06 March 2006 - 09:50 PM.

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#9
Samm

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OK - drive overlay software & partitioning...

Partitioning is still done, yes. Overlay software is generally provided free to download by the drive manufacturer but 3rd party ones are also available. Personally, I would stick to the one provided by the drive manufacturer, if there is one.
Basically, the overlay utility (also known as DDO), creates a bootable floppy disk. When you install the new drive (and the bios won't recognise it's full capacity), you boot from the floppy disk & this launches the utility needed to install the overlay software.
What the overlay software actually does, is override in software some of the bios code in the motherboard. This allows a drive larger than the bios can recognise to be fully accessible. The overlay software is installed to the drive itself & must be loaded on boot up. This happens automatically of course, unless something goes horribly wrong in (such as the master boot record corrupting), which case you're in trouble. That said, if the MBR corrupts, then you're in trouble anyway, regardless of any DDO interface.

After installing the DDO software, you still need to partition the drive (although some utilities will let you do this at the same time). Because of the DDO, you will be able to partition & access the drives full capacity. If you intend to install XP or 2000 then the partitioning & formatting can be done during the OS install.

Re. the raid controller :
Your motherboard has an IDE raid controller, in other words, it has two additonal IDE controllers as well as the normal two. This means you can connect another 2 or 4 hard drives (but not optical drives) to the raid ports. However, as it is raid, the drives must be configured in pairs & setup as a striped pair or a mirrored pair. Striping allows two (or more) drives to be treated as one large drive for increased performance. Mirroring allows two (or more drives) to be set up in duplicate. i.e the contents of one drive is replicated exactly on the other drive. This allows for extra data protection (backup). I'm not going to go into more detail than this because it is quite a complex subject & you probably won't have any use for it anyway.

Re. the bios update
The link you need for downloading the bios update is below :
http://www.abit-usa....ies=1&model=111

As well as the update itself, the page contains a link for instructions on updating & a link for downloading the actual update (flash) utility.

Let us know how you get on & please don't hesitate to ask if you have any more questions.

Samm
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#10
totianni

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I'm so sorry, I didn't say "Thank you!"

I was just looking for hard drives and came back to check on the info you gave me. I realized I didn't say "Thank You" for all the information you found for me. I didn't mean to be so rude.

"Thank You!!!"

Of course, I now have another question: How do I know what interface type of hard drive to get?

IDE EIDE Serial ATA ATA-100 DMA/ATA-100

And what is an UDMA IDE ATA/100?

Does any of this even matter?

I'm having quite a difficult time trying to find a 75GB hard drive, and most of the smaller drives (40-60GB) seem to be refurbished. Should I consider a refurbished drive or keep looking for a new drive?

Thanks again for everything.
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#11
peterm

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Why not use an external drive
You should not have a problem of bios and size?
Cheers
Peterm
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