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Can i place 3 hard drives on one cable or only two

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February 17, 2011 8:04:36 PM

Hello, I have a PC that is a few years aged and would like to place a third hard drive in the system. The hard drive is the older style that uses the gray ribbon. I have plenty of room and extra power cords, but all the ribbons are used between the current hard drives and dvd drives. Is there a way to add a third slave drive to the grey ribbons?
a c 143 G Storage
February 17, 2011 11:38:02 PM

Welcome to Tom's Hardware...

The most devices I've seen on an IDE grey ribbon is 2 devices. I have not come across one with 3 connectors for devices and 1 for the motherboard.
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a c 116 G Storage
February 17, 2011 11:54:24 PM

Look for a SATA connector on the motherboard and connect a SATA HDD to the system.
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a c 342 G Storage
February 19, 2011 3:41:26 AM

Older IDE HDD's use the wide ribbon cable for data. Its connectors are set up as 2 x 20 pins with one pin blanked off, but the wires in the cable (if you count across) number 80. An IDE port can have up to TWO devices, and no more. That's why the cables come with connectors for two devices plus the mobo end (blue). With IDE devices you MUST set a jumper on each device to identify it as either the Master (Black connector on the end of the ribbon cable) or the Slave unit (gray connector in the middle) of THIS PORT ONLY. Master and Slave refer to the one port the device is connected to, not to the whole machine.

Some mobos, especially older ones, have TWO IDE ports, and hence you could install up to 4 IDE devices that way, but that is the limit. If you need to attach more devices, you have three options:

1. Look for SATA ports also on the mobo. You can connect ONE SATA device to each of these with a much smaller ribbon cable (7 wires, not 80), but the HDD has to be a SATA unit, not IDE. Since SATA ports only accommodate one device, there is NO jumper to be set for Master or Slave.
2. No SATA ports? You can buy a SATA controller card to mount in a PCI slot, giving you several of those ports to use. May need to install a device driver from a disk in your Windows OS.
3. If you prefer to stick to IDE devices, you could buy an IDE controller card to mount in a PCI slot, probably giving you two more IDE ports with a possible 2 IDE devices per port. Remember the jumpers on these, too. Again, may need a device driver to be installed.
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