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How do I install a hard drive?
Installing a hard drive is slightly more difficult to install than a CD-ROM. I haven't run across any "bad" hard disks, so I believe the manufacturer doesn't matter much. One caution, however, the hard drive is the most fragile part of you computer. If you drop it, you will damage it, explained later in how does it work. As with all computer hardware, read your documentation first.
As with CD-ROMs, there are two types, IDE and SCSI. I will deal with the IDE devices first. You have four IDE channels to deal with, Primary (master, slave) and Secondary (master, slave). I suggest setting your bootable hard disk as the primary master and work from there. If you are planning to have two hard disks in your computer, set the bootable as primary master and the second one as the secondary master. You should then set your CD-ROMs as the secondary slave first, then the secondary master. Unlike the CD-ROMs, there are usually four settings, Master, Slave, Cable Select, and Single Drive. The single drive is used only if it is the only device on the specific IDE channel, therefore if you have only a hard drive on a primary channel, you use single drive. When you have set the jumpers, slide the hard drive into a free 3 1/2" drive bay, plug in the power connector and IDE cable, and put in the mounting screws. If you do not have a 3 1/2" drive bay free, you can use drive rails to mount it into a 5 1/4 drive bay. NOTE: when putting mounting screws on a hard disk, make sure you use the screws it came with, using longer screws may damage the drive.
With SCSI Drives, you will need to set jumpers to determine the SCSI ID, and you will need to add it to your SCSI daisy chain. With SCSI drives, you will also have to put a terminator on the drive if it is the last drive on your chain. Make sure you read the manuals that come with your SCSI card.
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How do I configure the software for the hard disk drive?
Configuring a hard drive is probably one of the most challenging matter in computer hardware. In order to use a newly installed hard drive, you must FDISK and FORMAT it. If you have Windows '95 version A or earlier, it is even more difficult. The first matter in configuring the drive is to set the CMOS settings. Most CMOSes have an IDE-auto detection feature. Use this if you have it. Otherwise follow the instructions in the manual for installing it. After that, if you already have a hard disk, boot from it, otherwise boot from a bootable floppy disk with a copy of FDISK.EXE and FORMAT.COM. Once in a DOS prompt type FDISK. If you have '95 B or better, it will ask you if you want to install large hard disk support. You can answer yes. If you have '95 A, select Create New Primary Partition, and create your partition. You will also have to create an extended partition, and set logical drives to it. Depending on the size of the disk, you may have to make quite a few partitions. One thing to remember is that the bigger the partition you make, the bigger the cluster size and the more wasted space. On a two gigabyte drive, even, it makes more sense to make two 1 GB partitions, you will cut your wasted space down a lot. On a 5 GB drive, you will have about half of your drive space wasted if you don't make 5 1GB partitions. If you even have the patients to, I would suggest making 500 MB partitions, you will save even more space. If you don't want to bother making smaller partitions, you can make large partitions and use a compression utility like DriveSpace to decrease the cluster size.
After you have finished FDISKing, you may now format your drives. You should format your primary partition as a system disk. You simply type FORMAT X: (where x is the drive) /S. You have to format all of your new partitions before you can use them. That is all you need to do.
With a SCSI drive, you may have to load drivers to use your hard-disk, and you might have to low-level format your disk, but this should be in your documentation somewhere.
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How does a hard drive work?
A hard-disk drive is a series of metal floppy disks with read/write heads that "fly" over the platters' surfaces reading and writing when necessary. The hard drive is one of the most fragile parts of your computer system. Dropping a hard disk while it is reading or writing will most likely corrupt some of your data. Like I said, the read/write heads fly over the hard-disk's surface. When you power off your system, there are typically springs that pull the read-write heads back to a safe position on the disk to "land". I keep using the flight analogy, because the heads actually do "fly". The disk spins around very quickly, causing the air pressure to give the heads significant lift. The heads only "fly" a fraction of an inch above the disk, meaning even a small bump will cause the heads to hit the disk. The platters of a hard disk contain magnetic particles, just like a floppy disk. When you format a disk, the read/write heads turn all of the magnetic data off, and create a file allocation table that is used to find places to put files. The file allocation table is a major part of the disk, and without it, you could not read or write data. Back to the layout of hard disks, they contain parts called cylinders, tracks and sectors. The number of each of these determines your hard-disk space. When you write data to a hard disk the read/write head turns on or off the magnetic particles. If you remember in the software configuration section, I spoke of wasted space. Wasted space is caused because DOS specifies the number clusters that a hard disk can have. A cluster is the minimum size that data can be written, therefore if you had a cluster size of 1KB, and you saved a file 1 byte long, it would take up a 1KB of space on the disk. Since the number of clusters is a fixed number, the bigger the hard disk you install, the bigger the cluster size will be. Therefore, if you intend to store many small files, it is better to store them on a disk with smaller clusters.
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