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I want to upgrade my hard drive, but how do I know if it's compatible?

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September 27, 2009 3:57:52 AM

I have an old Gateway ATX Tower Bro Essential 667C built back in 2000 which I am looking to upgrade. The computer runs just fine, and I just upgraded it to XP (from ME) today, which also works just fine.

I would like to use this computer as a home network storage device, but to do this I will need to add more storage space as it only has about 5 GB free once the operating system is installed.

I opened the computer up and there is only 1 place to install a hard drive rather than there being the existing drive and an empty spot and there are no available power ribbons either, so I will have to replace the existing drive with a new one. I'm kind of on a budget with this project, so I think I'm looking in the range of 80-160 GB of space or so. I'd like to stay under $100 and that much space should cover the back-ups and network file storage for my 2 laptops and additional PC.

I did some looking online to see what I could figure out about how to determine what would be compatible with the rest of my hardware, but I did not get any really clear answers. I also contacted Gateway customer service, but I was told that they could not assist me since my computer was a "legacy model".

What I currently have in the computer is as follows:

Floppy Drives - Mitsumi 3.5-inch Floppy Disk Drive Revision 1 [Part #5501205]

CD Drive - Yamaha RW Drive (Not sure of futher informaton)

Hard Drives - Quantum lct15 7.5-GB 4400-RPM Ultra ATA/66 Hard Disk Drive [Part #5501574]

Memory - 128-MB 133/100/66-MHz 64-Bit 4-Clock SDRAM DIMM [Part #5000528]
AND
64-MB 133/100/66-MHz 72-Bit 4-Clock 8x8 SDRAM DIMM [Part #5000526]

Microsoft Software - XP Home Edition

Motherboards - MSI Motherboard Pentium III - 667-MHz [Part #2511083]

Optical Drives - LG 20X/48X IDE CD-ROM [Part #5501485]

So I understand that I currently have an ATA/66 hard drive (also know as IDE for Western Digital products?) But what I need to know if what I can upgrade to and still have it work with the rest of my hardware.

Also, and this seems wierd as my husband (who the computer originally belonged to) swears that he had this hooked up to an ethernet line in college, in the back there does not seem to be an ethernet port. What I see appears to be a phone port, and my ethernet cable does not fit into it. I'm not sure when ethernet ports became common practice, but assuming this is not an ethernet port, I can install one fairly easily (and inexpensivly) can't ? It would be just the same as putting in a wireless network card (which I have done), correct?

Also, as far as turning this computer in a NAS goes, I have read that a lot of people suggested partitioning off a small section of the hard drive for the OS (min. operating requirment plus 1 GB), and then using the rest for storage. I don't know how this will effect my ability to access the files via my home network. I plan on simply making the computer visible and the files modifiable on my network and putting all shared documents into the "shared" folder. I was also planning on using the Windows Remote Desktop Connection software to eliminate the need for a monitor, keyboard and mouse at the NAS location. Does this sound like it would work?

All of this is moot of course if I can't get a compatable hard drive into this puppy which would give it enough usable storage space to be effective in this function.

Thank you all in advance for your assistance!
September 27, 2009 5:23:53 AM

All computer components are based on a standard. The only likely standard your computer has is IDE. IDE is a flat wide cable. Anything should work as long as its an IDE drive.
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September 27, 2009 5:39:20 AM

Does your computer have a restore option that doesn't require a cd? If so, that is another thing to consider cause most of the time oem manufacturers will put a restore partition on the hard drive and if you don't have a windows disk for reinstall, it could be a pain.

And yeah, an nic card (ethernet) is pretty easy to install if you have the room. Just like most any other addon card you would install.
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September 27, 2009 5:44:13 AM

norrisb said:
All computer components are based on a standard. The only likely standard your computer has is IDE. IDE is a flat wide cable. Anything should work as long as its an IDE drive.


So I should be able to upgrade to a Western Digital Caviar 80GB or 160GB IDE Ultra ATA100 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM without any problems since I know that I have the IDE cables inside.

OEM means that all you get is the hard drive, no cables or discs of any kind, correct? I shouldn't need anything else, should I?

I have heard that some computers have problems where they can't go over a certain max. hard drive space. Do you think that this will be an issue going to 80 or 160 GB?

Thank you for your comments!
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September 27, 2009 5:45:59 AM

inglburt said:
Does your computer have a restore option that doesn't require a cd? If so, that is another thing to consider cause most of the time oem manufacturers will put a restore partition on the hard drive and if you don't have a windows disk for reinstall, it could be a pain.

And yeah, an nic card (ethernet) is pretty easy to install if you have the room. Just like most any other addon card you would install.


I have an original XP CD which I have been prepared to use to install the OS once I put in the new Hard Drive.
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a b G Storage
September 27, 2009 2:05:17 PM

Original XP did not support drives over 137gig, for that you have to XP SP1.
Before you tear things down, make sure your version of XP is SP1 or later. If it is not, you can make an install disk by "slipstreaming" the lastest Service Pack into an install disk, so XP can detect the full size of your new drive when you install it.
If you need to do this, go here it is easy, and saves a ton of time!
http://www.howtohaven.com/system/slipstream-xp-service-...
Also, yes any new drive will work fine, just make sure it is IDE.

Make sure you set the jumper on the drive to MASTER. Most usually, they are already set this way, but be sure to check it. On an IDE cable sharing a CD/DVD, /the CD/DVD is should be set to SLAVE, and the Hard drive to MASTER.
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September 27, 2009 7:01:21 PM

jitpublisher said:
Original XP did not support drives over 137gig, for that you have to XP SP1.
Before you tear things down, make sure your version of XP is SP1 or later. If it is not, you can make an install disk by "slipstreaming" the lastest Service Pack into an install disk, so XP can detect the full size of your new drive when you install it.
If you need to do this, go here it is easy, and saves a ton of time!
http://www.howtohaven.com/system/slipstream-xp-service-...
Also, yes any new drive will work fine, just make sure it is IDE.

Make sure you set the jumper on the drive to MASTER. Most usually, they are already set this way, but be sure to check it. On an IDE cable sharing a CD/DVD, /the CD/DVD is should be set to SLAVE, and the Hard drive to MASTER.


Thanks for clearing that up for me! My XP CD includes SP1, so I'm in the clear on that, thankfully. Makes things a little simpler.
The CD drive is on an entirely seperate IDE cable, and the cable for the hard drive only has one plug in on it, and it says master clearly.
Now I can purchase a new drive with confidence. That was really what I was most nervous about. I didn't want to buy something incompatible and waste my money.

Thank you for your comments!
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Best solution

a c 357 G Storage
September 28, 2009 4:37:01 PM

More detail to check on drive size limits.

The original LBA system for disk access used a 28-bit address which allowed up to 137 GB (Microsoft calls this 128 GB) to be used in a drive. The newer system, called "48-bit LBA Support", came into use around 2000, so your machine is in the borderline area. Older systems typically said they had "LBA Support" but did not specify the "48-bit" part.

48-bit LBA support is needed in three places - the hardware BIOS that runs the hard drive controller, the hard drive itself (in its own on-board controller) and the Operating System. Any hard drive made over 137 GB obviously will have it, so you need to check the other two.

On the OS side, Windows XP original did NOT have 48-bit LBA Support, but it was added in SP1, which you say you have in the Install disk you plan to use, so that's OK.

So, does you machine already have 48-bit LBA Support in its BIOS? I could not tell from scanning their website, but there is a reasonable chance it does. If it does not, it also is possible that Gateway may have released for it an updated BIOS you can download and burn into your BIOS chip to add this functionality.

If it turns out you cannot get your hardware to support disks over 137 GB, there is still a route for you. I've done this in your situation. Seagate has a feature in some of its drives that allows you to use their free software utility, Seagate Seatools for DOS, to force the drive to limit itself to that so no error can occur. So, for example, I bought a Seagate IDE drive of 160 GB capacity, then used the tool to tell it to behave as if it really were only a 137 GB drive. No disk controller or OS will ever know otherwise. The way it's done is that, using one part of Seatools for DOS, you must set the maximum number of disk Allocation Units or Sectors allowed. The number you enter is just 2^28, or 268,435,456. At 512 bytes per sector, this gives the limit of 137,438,953,472 bytes. With this hardware adjustment made on the drive, you are guaranteed safe using it in a system with only 28-bit LBA support.

Oh, by the way, sometimes there is an unrecognized space for another hard drive in a case. The slots used for 3½" floppy drive mounting are the same size as the ones for 3½" hard drives; the difference is simply that the floppy drive bays are located up near the top and have a removable cover so you have direct front access. Although you have one floppy drive installed, is there an empty floppy drive bay under it? If so you can leave its front cover in place and mount a new hard drive in the space.
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September 29, 2009 5:43:50 PM

asampino said:
So I should be able to upgrade to a Western Digital Caviar 80GB or 160GB IDE Ultra ATA100 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM without any problems since I know that I have the IDE cables inside.

OEM means that all you get is the hard drive, no cables or discs of any kind, correct? I shouldn't need anything else, should I?

I have heard that some computers have problems where they can't go over a certain max. hard drive space. Do you think that this will be an issue going to 80 or 160 GB?

Thank you for your comments!

As long as you format the drive using nfts the size isnt an issue. You can partition up to 2 TB. Also make sure your HDD is 3.5 as 2.5 is laptop
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a b G Storage
September 29, 2009 11:11:04 PM

I doubt anything over 128gb will work in that..

That computer is very out of date.

You could use a pci-sata card and that might work better since you arent booting off that drive.

the new add in card would have the bios needed for the newer bigger drives.

these cards are as cheap as 20$.. you could also use a modern 1TB sata drive or whatever.

that computer probably has usb 1.1 so you will have to also go for a pci network card.
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a b G Storage
October 2, 2009 1:52:08 PM

If you have a problem with your board supporting the drive, which you might, most likely not, but you may, come back and let us know, I'll let you know how to make it work if you do run into that problem, it is easy, and you don't need to buy anything.
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November 11, 2009 12:33:14 AM

Paperdoc said:
More detail to check on drive size limits.

The original LBA system for disk access used a 28-bit address which allowed up to 137 GB (Microsoft calls this 128 GB) to be used in a drive. The newer system, called "48-bit LBA Support", came into use around 2000, so your machine is in the borderline area. Older systems typically said they had "LBA Support" but did not specify the "48-bit" part.

48-bit LBA support is needed in three places - the hardware BIOS that runs the hard drive controller, the hard drive itself (in its own on-board controller) and the Operating System. Any hard drive made over 137 GB obviously will have it, so you need to check the other two.

On the OS side, Windows XP original did NOT have 48-bit LBA Support, but it was added in SP1, which you say you have in the Install disk you plan to use, so that's OK.

So, does you machine already have 48-bit LBA Support in its BIOS? I could not tell from scanning their website, but there is a reasonable chance it does. If it does not, it also is possible that Gateway may have released for it an updated BIOS you can download and burn into your BIOS chip to add this functionality.

If it turns out you cannot get your hardware to support disks over 137 GB, there is still a route for you. I've done this in your situation. Seagate has a feature in some of its drives that allows you to use their free software utility, Seagate Seatools for DOS, to force the drive to limit itself to that so no error can occur. So, for example, I bought a Seagate IDE drive of 160 GB capacity, then used the tool to tell it to behave as if it really were only a 137 GB drive. No disk controller or OS will ever know otherwise. The way it's done is that, using one part of Seatools for DOS, you must set the maximum number of disk Allocation Units or Sectors allowed. The number you enter is just 2^28, or 268,435,456. At 512 bytes per sector, this gives the limit of 137,438,953,472 bytes. With this hardware adjustment made on the drive, you are guaranteed safe using it in a system with only 28-bit LBA support.

Oh, by the way, sometimes there is an unrecognized space for another hard drive in a case. The slots used for 3½" floppy drive mounting are the same size as the ones for 3½" hard drives; the difference is simply that the floppy drive bays are located up near the top and have a removable cover so you have direct front access. Although you have one floppy drive installed, is there an empty floppy drive bay under it? If so you can leave its front cover in place and mount a new hard drive in the space.


Great tip about the floppy drive bay fitting another hard drive! Since this was going to be sitting in my basement it didn't much matter if it looked pretty. I was able to pop out the floppy drive and put the original HD with the OS on it in the floppy drive and install my nice new HD into the machine in the HD bay. Everything runs great.
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November 11, 2009 12:33:47 AM

Thanks everyone for your generous assistance! You made this an easy upgrade for me!
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