Installing An Old Hard Drive On A New Computer

Art Tries Installing a New Hard Drive
I'm trying to install a hard drive from my older computer onto a Dell. It seems that Dell only accepts hard drives that have been configured fro their brand. Is this the case or may I be doing something wrong? I am experienced and believe all connections are correct. I've never used Dell before however. Thank you for your time. Art

The brand of computer you have is not relevant. There are a few types of hard drives in general use right now. One is called ATA, one is called PATA and the other is called SATA. Of these, ATA and SATA are the most popular. They're not interchangeable. If your new Dell is set up for SATA hard drives, you cannot install an ATA hard drive in it (well you can, but it's not easy and it requires adapters, etc. which we won't get into here). We're assuming this is not your problem though because you've told us you've got all the connections correct and this would be impossible because SATA drives don't use the same connectors that ATA drives use, they're not even close. We're also ruling out PATA drives for the same reason.

When you take a hard drive out of an old computer, most often it's the main drive which is set to "primary". On the backend of the hard drive there are little pins - these are called "jumper settings". If you have a primary drive from your old computer and install it in your new computer as a secondary (slave) hard drive and the jumpers are still set to primary it will not work at all.

Since the drive from your old computer probably came with the computer, the jumpers would have been set to primary at the factory by default. This is obvious since it was (probably) the only hard drive in your old computer. You probably don't have any instructions or information for your old hard drive either, since it came with the computer. So you don't have any jumper settings information and you don't know how to re-set the jumpers to "secondary" drive or "slave" drive.

Here's what you can do in that case:

First, make sure your old hard drive is connected to the cable connecting the primary hard drive (the one that was already installed in your new computer) to the motherboard. If it's an ATA hard drive (which we are assuming it is) it will have a ribbon cable with a three connectors on it: one on each end and one in the middle. Your old hard drive should be connected to the middle connector and the jumpers should be set to secondary or slave. You can get the correct jumper settings from the hard drive manufacturer's Web site. The manufacturer and model number of your old hard drive should be clearly indicated on the top of the hard drive. Once you get the correct jumper settings for your old drive your hard drive should work.

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