Help! Stupid HDD question

December 10, 2010 at 14:32:20
Specs: WinXP SP3, 2.4Ghz/1Gb

Running a self built PC that has gone without upgrade for years. The time has come when I need more internal storage, but budget is tight and I don't want to get drawn into also upgrading motherboard/CPU/ram etc etc.
The problem I have is that my motherboard has only IDE ports, and HDDs these days appear to be SATA. This itself isn't a problem, as I have found loads of converters, but I really want to run two HDDs and I only have one IDE port free. Can I run multiple SATA devices from one IDE? If so, how?
Sorry for numpty question - bit out of touch these days!

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December 10, 2010 at 14:46:22
"I only have one IDE port free." Are you saying there is one IDE controller slot on the motherboard free or is there already a cable connected with one IDE device and the second connector on that cable is free? An IDE Controller can handle maximum 2 devices.

You can still buy IDE drives new. They are slightly more expensive than SATA but that's a result of supply/demand market forces.

You can look at a PCI SATA controller card if you want to install more than one SATA drive as long as your system has an available PCI slot. Does your powersupply have SATA connectors or will you also need adaptors?

Goin' Fishin' (Some day)

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December 10, 2010 at 14:56:34
If you look on eBay there are many reputable sellers selling IDE hard drives from corporate disposal PCs.

There are still some available new from retailers for the spares market.

One IDE port can be used to run two IDE hard drives.

You can also buy add on PCI cards which will allow you to run IDE or SATA hard drives. These cards are not very expensive either.

Here is an example:

You can also buy external USB based hard drives if it is just storage you want.

This is feasible if you have USB ports. If you dont have USB ports then you can also buy PCI add-on cards to give you some USB2.0 ports.

These external drives can be quite high capacity too.
Example below £35 for a 500 GB drive:

You can buy these from other retail and direct outlets such as well in addition to eBay.

When everything else fails, read the instructions.

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December 10, 2010 at 15:14:24
Cheers guys - in answer to your questions:
I have two IDE ports on the motherboard - one is running my DVD drives, the other is currently running a primary and a slave HDD. Both drives need replacing.
I've seen a couple of IDE drives, but they are a lot dearer, and much less choice. I haven't seen any in the 1Tb+ range either, but maybe that's because I stop looking as the price goes up...

Is it possible to run two SATA drives off the same IDE port? Can I just use the existing dual IDE cable with a converter at each HDD, or will that not work?

I think the PSU will be okay, as this is the most recent upgrade. If nor, power converter / multipliers seem pretty easy to find.

I will have to check what is in my PCI ports - I know that the sound and graphics cards are in there, but I can't remember what the third one is at the mo.

I do have external storage, but it's a bit vunerable as I have a two year old and the PC is her favourite target when she gets the chance - putting it away every time is getting to be a pain.

Cheers for all the answers so far - very helpful bunch!

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Related Solutions

December 10, 2010 at 15:29:29
I think it should work. Here is a card that works 2 SATA hard drives of 1 IDE port:

When everything else fails, read the instructions.

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December 10, 2010 at 15:42:40
Ah ha - that looks like the sort of thing.

Cheers - I'll give it a go.

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December 10, 2010 at 20:40:55
"Cheers - I'll give it a go"

No, No, NO! Do NOT run SATA drives using an IDE adapter! You'll have nothing but problems if you do. You should do as suggested by Richard59 in response #1 - get a PCI SATA controller card. Also as he mentioned, you'll need SATA power connectors.

Here's an example of a controller card:

But no matter what you do, you will never get full performance out of an SATA HDD when using an adapter or controller card because of the bandwidth limitations of the PCI/IDE bus.

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December 11, 2010 at 01:42:12
Okay. That might be a better option anyway, as I can replace one at a time.

I see a lot of devices mention PCI Express, or PCI-E - what's the compatibility between PCI-E and regular PCI?

I will upgrade to a new motherboard (with SATA ports) at some point, just not yet.

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December 11, 2010 at 04:14:07
PCI is the older interface, PCI-E / PCI-Express is the newer connector standard for connecting devices to the motherboard.

Your system is most likely PCI.

Furthermore as I said in post #2 and richard mentioned in post #1, an add on PCI controller card to give you multiple SATA ports is the most recommended way to go. This way you still retain your current IDE port and you add extra capability.

Moreover you can use the add on card on your new system (or other systems) when you upgrade to add extra capability if you so desire. This does assume that your new system has a PCI connector. Some newer motherboards may not have them.

Some information links for you on PCI and PCI-Express:

When everything else fails, read the instructions.

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