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New HDD, Few Questions

Last response: in Storage
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August 8, 2006 1:36:04 PM

Hey All-

These are probably pretty simple questions but I haven't bought storage in 4 years so my brain is a bit dusty. I have been running a 7200 RPM 160 GB IDE Western Digital for 4 years, I believe probably with 2 GB of cache. I recently purchased a WD 250 GB SataII with 16 MB of Cache and had a few questions.

First, I plugged the drive in fine but when i booted into windows and tried to load the WD "Data Lifeguard" to partition it the DLG would not load because I have GRUB installed in the MBR of my other, also western digital disk. Should I be fine partitioning the new drive with fdisk or partition magic? I wasn't sure because I remember in the past with drives greater than a certain size (127GB?) you needed to load the manufactures software at the start of the drive so you could use it all. I figure this is fixed by now, but, who knows. My motherboard is about a year old with the newest BIOS (ASRock 939Dual-SATAII...)

Secondly I noticed in the BIOS that the mode for the drive is listed as "IDE" and "normal" with the option of changing it from IDE to SATA and from normal to Strong. Is there any performance / benefit either way?

Finally, would there be any performance benefit in having windows installed on the new 16 MB SataII drive as opposed to the old 2MB IDE Drive (both at 7200 RPM)? What about other applications (games mostly)? I had planned to wait for vista to install windows clean on the new drive, but XP is giving me trouble showing both CPUs in my new dual core so was thinking maybe i'll just install it fresh on the new drive.

Thanks a lot.

More about : hdd questions

August 8, 2006 2:54:49 PM

You do not need to load the WD Data Lifeguard on your motherboard.

That software (if I interpret it correctly) is drive overlay software to allow you to use >137GB on motherboards that don't support 48-bit LBA. This isn't applicable to your motherboard, so you don't need to load it.

Selecting "SATA" in your BIOS instead of "IDE" means that the SATA controller will operate in native SATA (AHCI) mode instead of IDE emulation mode. If you set it to SATA, this means two things:

1. You will have to have a floppy disk with the SATA driver on it to load Windows XP during setup using F6. SATA/AHCI controllers are treated like alternate storage controllers, like RAID or SCSI.
2. Enabling SATA/AHCI mode enables native SATA features like native command queueing (NCQ) and hot-swap capability. Most people don't need hot-swap, but NCQ can speed up access times vs. IDE emulation mode.

There is always a performance benefit by having Windows installed on your fastest drive. The 16MB 250GB drive, operating in SATA/AHCI mode will outperform your other drive.

Be aware that to format a NTFS partition >137GB on an IDE drive or a SATA drive operating in IDE emulation mode during Windows XP setup, the Windows XP CD-ROM must have SP1 or SP2 already installed on it. (This does not apply if you use SATA/AHCI mode and load the driver using F6).
August 8, 2006 3:13:39 PM

Ok that about answers all the questions thanks a lot.
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August 8, 2006 6:05:59 PM

My apologizes for the double post, i just realized i don't even have the old floppy drive in the box anymore. Is there any alternative to a floppy for XP to query? I am guessing that if I install XP with my SATA disk in IDE mode and then switch it to native / SATA mode XP will freak and not boot?
August 8, 2006 6:52:55 PM

Quote:
Is there any alternative to a floppy for XP to query? I am guessing that if I install XP with my SATA disk in IDE mode and then switch it to native / SATA mode XP will freak and not boot?


The only possible alternative to the floppy is to build another Windows XP CD-ROM that has the proper drivers already on it, like OEMs do for their custom systems. This article tells you how to do it (along with slipstreaming Service Pack 2 into the CD-ROM as well), but be aware it's not trivial. It requires getting the correct driver files on the CD-ROM, and editing the txtsetup.inf file in several places to make Windows aware of the new drivers.

Yes, you're correct, if you install Windows in IDE emulation mode and then switch the BIOS to native SATA mode, Windows will not boot.
August 9, 2006 12:26:16 AM

Quote:
That article is crap.

nLite does it all


nLite appears to have several options that could help.

However, the article is not "crap". The techniques presented are correct, and do work. They're just more manual.
October 19, 2008 8:30:24 AM

Quote:
Yes, you're correct, if you install Windows in IDE emulation mode and then switch the BIOS to native SATA mode, Windows will not boot.


What if its done the other way? I have a computer I just purchased: XP installed on a single SATA drive, BIOS in AHCI mode. I've just discovered that my disaster backup software can't find the SATA drive with the BIOS in AHCI mode, but it seems to work fine (???) with the BIOS in IDE mode. I just tried a boot to windows with IDE mode, and aside from Windows claiming it found new hardware (standard dual channel PCI IDE controller), it also seems to be working fine. Can I switch back and forth between AHCI and IDE without ill effects?

I've also read that most current drives can't take advantage of the faster SATA speeds yet. I understand NCQ will also add speed, but how much am I really losing by just leaving the BIOS in IDE mode?

(And yes, I see that the last post is over two years old, but this still seems the most pertinent thread in which to ask this question).

Thanks!
October 21, 2008 2:09:22 AM

Yes, since you originally installed in AHCI mode, your Windows installation has both AHCI and IDE drivers installed. You can switch back and forth if you need to.
!