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How do I install a CD-ROM?
A CD-ROM, is an easy installation. There are many CD-ROM drives on the market. I would suggest sticking to the well know manufacturers, however. I have had more than one bad high-speed CD-ROM by a less known company. Read all the documentation contained with your CD-ROM.
The first thing you will need to do when installing a CD-ROM is to set the jumpers. If you only have one hard-disk in your computer, and two hard disk controllers, I would suggest setting it as a master on the second hard disk controller, if it is an IDE. If it is a SCSI CD-ROM you will need to set your jumpers differently. If you have two hard-disks, I would suggest putting each hard-disk as the master on the two controllers, and the CD-ROM as a slave on the second controller. Typically there are only three possible jumper settings on a CD-ROM anyway, master, slave, and cable select. Most often, you will not use cable select. After you set the jumpers, remove one of your 5 1/4-inch drive covers, and sometimes the metal in back of it. Plug in the IDE or SCSI interface cable, the audio cable described in Sound Cards, and a 5 1/4-inch power supply cable and slide the drive into the bay. Put some screws to hold the drive in place. Make sure the drive is even (sometimes the drives are not even because of the design of your case).
If you are using a SCSI CD-ROM, you will have to set more jumpers. SCSI drives require that you set IDs for each device. The devices are added via a daisy chain. You will need to look at your card documentation about SCSI.
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How do I configure the software for the CD-ROM drive?
CD-ROM software configuration is very simple. In Windows '95 and later, Windows will auto-detect the CD-ROM most of the time. If it does not, it could mean that you do not have your hard-disk controller configured properly. To use your CD-ROM in DOS, you must copy the system files for you CD-ROM which are typically contained on a floppy disk. I have seen some manufacturers, however, put the CD-ROM drivers on a CD, which is useless if you cannot get the CD-ROM drive to work. Most CD-ROMs work fine with simply a regular set of drivers for IDE CD-ROMs. Many manufacturers also post their drivers online, so if you have access to a modem, you can download the drivers to your computer, and you can always just bring the CD to a friends house and copy the drivers to a floppy disk. After you have the drivers, simply add the driver line to your config.sys, and add a lh mscdex.exe /d: device_name to your autoexec.bat. These two lines should allow your CD-ROM drive to work. If you have a SCSI CD-ROM, you will probably need to add additional or replacement lines to your configuration files.
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How does a CD-ROM work?
A CD-ROM drive is an optical drive that reads pits in a CD-ROM which is just like a music CD. It is basically a thin metal platter which contains microscopic pits, with a coat of plastic over it. CDs are preferred, because they are very durable. CD-Writers literally burn pits into special CDs which are typically green in color. The re-writeable CDs are typical blue in color, because they contain a special dye. A CD-ROM spins the CD around at a high rate, especially in high speed drives, while a low power laser, shines a beam on the CD, which is reflected back, and how it is reflected back determines what the data actually is. Most CD-ROM drives can read the green CD-ROMs, and the regular silver colored ones, but cannot read the blue (re-writeable) CDs. The DVD-Drives, with technology similar to a CD-ROM can read all of the media, however. DVD is basically a two layered CD. There is much more to CDs, but this section should have given you the basics, you can also read about the red book standards and whatnot, which are typically available online.
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