OK, so one of my computers is an old machine with an Elitegroup 865G-M motherboard, which has a PATA interface but also two plugs for SATA devices. The original system came with a 160GB PATA-100 hard drive, which is now approaching capacity.
I'm definitely interested in adding a second HDD, nothing special, just a regular drive of 500GB or so. I don't want to lose what I have on the original drive. I have never tried to run two hard drives using different interfaces on the same system, and although I've read it's technically possible, any pointers are appreciated. Questions include:
- I don't think RAID is an option, nor would it help anything. Just standard two-drive master/slave setup is probably all I want or need. Or am I missing something?
- Am I stuck having the existing HDD be the master and the new one be the slave? Or can I do it the other way around as well?
- The old HDD is slowly being overcome by "Windows Rot" causing slow bootup and shutdown, plus a number of minor annoyances that standard defragging, removal of unnecessary processes, registry cleaning, etc. don't help with very much. Can making the new HDD the master drive and installing a clean OS on it help that problem while still letting me access/run things off the old drive? Or is something blocking that.
- I cannot possibly conceive of trying this without running into some unforeseen problem that makes the system not work. What am I missing?
You are wise to ask and plan, and fortunately the answers are not hard. What you want is straightforward.
1. RAID is NOT an option and you are wise to avoid unless you understand it and need it.
2. UNLIKE previous systems you're become familiar with, there is NO such thing as a Master of the whole machine and all its Slaves. EVERY IDE (PATA) port can have up to two devices on it and its data ribbon cable; because of this it is necessary to define a way to identify the two devices uniquely, and that system was Master and Slave. Those two terms have meaning ONLY in the context of ONE IDE port. An IDE Master is NOT necessarily the boot drive called C:, although that is one popular (often default) option.
3. No doubt your existing 160 GB IDE drive has its jumpers set to Master, and it should be on the END connector of the ribbon cable. IF you have another IDE device (like an optical drive) also on the same cable, it should be set to Slave. Alternatively, BOTH devices may be set to "Cable Select" and the END device WILL be the Master. Or, you might even have those two devices on two separate IDE ports and cables, each as its own port's Master. None of this will have to be changed if you're simply adding a SATA drive.
4. Your mobo has the original 1.5 Gb/s SATA controllers, not the new faster SATA II ones. But no doubt you will be buying a SATA II drive. The drive is supposed to take care of this automatically, but sometimes that does not work. For that reason most drive makers have a way to force a newer SATA II drive to conform to the slower original SATA interface specs. Seagate and some others do this usually with jumpers on the drive's back edge (no, these are NOT used for Master or Slave). Some makers use other methods. Check on this detail as you decide what disk to buy - how do you force older SATA (1.5 Gb/s) mode - so you know how to do this before installing.
5. When you get your new SATA drive (you'll need a SATA data cable and a power connector for it, too), mount it in your case and connect. I suggest the first SATA connector on the mobo, SATA_0. When you boot, go directly into the BIOS Setup area (by holding down the "Del" key). You're going to look for and adjust a few things.
6. Go to Integrated Peripherals (page 36-37 of the mobo manual) and down to the SATA Mode line. The manual seems to imply that your board simply uses the SATA ports as if they were additional IDE ports with slight differences. In fact, I suspect on the SATA Mode line it is greyed out and you cannot change it. That actually makes things a little easier in a few cases, so leave it as IDE Mode. Go down one line and Enable the on-board SATA ports. Now go down another line and set the SATA_0 port to Master (assuming you connected your new drive to the SATA_0 port). It seems your board enables its two SATA ports as if they were Master and Slave on an IDE port, and this is where that difference is set. It is NOT set on the drive itself - there are no ways to set that on a SATA drive.
7. Go back out to Advanced BIOS Features and the first item on the list is Hard Disk Boot Priority. I would assume this is already set and will not change, but just check. It will say to boot from the old 160 GB HDD unit that is the Primary IDE Master. It may (if you have it) be set to do this second, and to try the optical drive first, or a floppy drive. All that is fine if it makes sense to you. Just do NOT set it to try to boot from your new SATA drive, which MAY be listed as a "Master" on "IDE_3" or something like that.
8. Save and Exit to boot into Windows normally. Everything should look normal, and your new drive will NOT show up in My Computer because it has not been prepared yet for Windows' use.
9. Time to decide how you plan to use this new drive. You indicated that you MIGHT want to install a new Windows OS on it and use it as your boot drive called C:. The alternative is to use it simply as a data storage unit. Part of this decision rests on what you saw back in Step 7 above when you examined the Boot Priority. I would expect that, once a SATA drive is actually installed, you had the option to set that drive as a boot source. If not, I don't see how you could install an OS on it to boot from. But if the choice was available there, you are free to choose.
10. IF your choice is to continue using your old 160 GB unit as C: and use the new SATA drive only for data, your next step is to Partition that drive and Format it. Partitioning a drive establishes one or more parts of the physical HDD unit to be used as a separate "drive" with its own letter name - it could be the whole HDD in one Volume, or you could make smaller separate volumes. The first Partition must be a Primary Partition, and this will create a hidden record on the drive of how its space is allocated. A disk can have up to four Primary Partitions. If you need to make more Partitions than that for some reason, there are Extended Partition systems, but I expect you don't. Then for each Partition you create, it must be Formatted to establish within that Partition only the File System hidden files - for any large drive I strongly recommend using the NTFS system rather than FAT32 unless you know you need the latter. Now, to actually do this work the easiest way is to go to the website of your disk maker (Seagate, WD, or whomever) and find and download their utility for setting up a brand new empty hard disk for Windows. It makes the whole task simple. In fact, it will help you make more than one Partition if that's your choice. If you cannot find those tools, Windows has some built-in in Disk Manager - they just take a little more work on your part. Either way, once you have created and Formatted one (or more) Partitions on your new SATA HDD, you reboot and they will show up in My Computer as disk(s) with letter name(s).
11. If your choice, instead, is to make the new SATA HDD your boot disk called C: with an OS installed on it, you do not have to Partition it first - the Install routines will do that job for you. Before starting on this path, I suggest you plan to re-install all your application software on the new disk under the new OS, rather than trying to run them from the old disk. That means you really should have all your installation disks available with license keys.
12. For the Installation, I suggest you shut down the machine and DISCONNECT your old 160 GB drive so there's no possibility of confusion. Boot into BIOS Setup and change the Boot Priority so it boots from the CD drive first, then the new SATA drive second (even though it is not quite ready for that yet), and nothing else. Place the Install disk in the optical drive and Save and Exit. It should boot from the Install Disk and offer you the SATA drive to install to. You will want to set the Partition size to use (full disk if you choose to) and the File System to install, then go ahead and do it all.
13. When done, shut down and re-connect the old 160 GB unit. Reboot and you should find you are booting from the new drive as C:, and your old drive now shows up in My Computer with a new letter name and all its files completely accessible.
14. Now with all your hardware running under the new OS, go ahead an install all your application software, probably on the new C: drive. You can make your own decisions on whether to copy all the old data files to the new C: drive's folders, and how best to use the 160 GB unit after you have preserved all its old data.
Now THAT is a helpful walkthrough. I honestly haven't had to deal with a full hard drive since the 1990s; found the best policy was just to build the system with way more space than I thought I'd ever need. So this is an interesting re-education for me.
I've looked around in the BIOS on this machine a number of times before, and I seem to remember it does NOT explicitly have an option to boot from SATA devices -- just "Hard Drive", "CD-ROM" and "Floppy Disk." So the issue will be whether it recognizes a HDD plugged into the SATA ports as a "Hard Drive" or simply a "SATA device," which I will need to research.
I definitely would prefer to boot from the new drive, since as I mentioned, the old one is gummed up with some difficult-to-fix Windows slowness. Basically, this was just a problem I was hoping I might be able to fix as a side effect of adding more storage, which would've been nice. But I definitely don't want to lose the programs on the old drive, some of which I don't even have the discs for anymore. Sounds like my only option there is to try and fix the Windows issues on the old drive if I want to keep running things from it.
If making a SATA drive a boot drive isn't an option, I wonder if it'd be easier to just get a second IDE drive (like this one) and use it and the 160GB as master/slave on that cable. I actually have one IDE slot free on that cable -- there are two IDE cables with a pair of DVD-RW drives as master/slave on the second set.
Don't give up yet on booting from the SATA drive, because I bet it will work. Right now if you go into BIOS Setup and the Boot Priority screen, you will NOT find any option to use a SATA drive as a boot device because it does not exist! But once you install a SATA drive and enable its port, I am pretty sure it WILL suddenly become an option in Boot Priority. If you want to be sure of this, see if a friend can loan you any SATA drive. Just hook it up, Enable in BIOS, and see what the Boot Priority screens show. You don't even have to boot up the whole system and use the drive for anything. BUT beware of that SATA vs SATA II issue. IF your mobo's SATA controller can't "talk to" a borrowed SATA II drive, the BIOS might not "recognize" that unit and make it available as a boot device choice.
For the cases of app software that you can't re-install for lack of disks etc., look for other options. There MAY be ways to simply copy an entire folder of the app and all its parts from old to new drive, and then have the new Windows recognize and "install" that app without the installation disks. Or there may be other ways to do that job, perhaps with software utilities.
I forgot one step - this one actually caused me a problem once, so I should NOT have forgotten. Right after the new Windows is installed, you will need to install a bunch of Windows drivers for all the devices built into your mobo. I fully expect that you got a CD of stuff with your mobo years ago and, among other things, it had drivers and an installation utility for the OS of that day. At a minimum this procedure might work in Win 7, but I'm skeptical. Even better, IF it is possible, you should go the the Elitegroup website and download all the most up-to-date drivers for your mobo, especially if they have ones designed for Win 7 (maybe not for an older board) or at least Vista, 7's nearest cousin.
Early in building my machine I decided to wipe my C: drive and re-install Win XP. Right away I could not get internet access via cable modem and I spent over an hour (including time with the ISP Tech Support people) until I finally realized I had not re-installed the CD of mobo drivers in the re-install of XP! So none of my mobo's "devices" (including the LAN ports) was functioning. Easy fix once I realized my big mistake!
I'll definitely try a test with a SATA2 hard drive before I go buying anything new -- I have one in a newer machine that I can plug in temporarily. I thought SATA2 was backwards compatible with SATA 1.5gb? But yeah, it's probably always best to test it out first instead of assuming new technology is going to work with an old machine and getting a nasty surprise.
I doubt they came out with Windows 7 drivers for this board ... I updated them not too long ago when I was trying to get an HD4650 video card to work, and the last drivers for the board came out in like 2004 and 2005. But I am probably going to just install XP anyway, since 1) That's the OS used on the current drive, and 2) I've already got an install disc. I think I still have the motherboard CD, but if not, the site had pretty much everything.
I'll definitely have to look around some for ways to "copy" program files to a new drive, because that's really the determining factor here. My understanding is that the key hangup has to do with registry entries, so maybe there's something out there that can work backwards and figure out which entries need to be copied over for which program. That might also be a big help if it eliminates the need to re-install my graphics card, which has been a real pain in the ass every time with this motherboard because it is really picky about recognizing new cards in the AGP slot. I think it'll definitely be worth looking into software tools that can help with that.