The Active Network

Hardware Tips & Troubleshooting

Hard Drive

Your hard drive, or also called hard disk, is a gigantic diskette in your computer. It is one disk big enough to store you Operating System, games and programs. Without it, your PC is just an empty shell.

Check Your BIOS

Better beware of older systems with large hard drives. If you have an older motherboard, your BIOS might not recognize hard drives larger than 2.1 GB. Hopefully, your BIOS is EPROM which means although read only (noticed the ROM?) it can be edited by authorized editors. Nearly all newer motherboards support that. All you need to do is to go online, go to your motherboard manufacturer's website and try to download a flash BIOS update. Install it and it should be done.

Are You FAT Enough?

If you have a large capacity hard drive with more than 2.1 GB, you might have a problem. Windows 95 itself will only recognize a partition with not more than 2.1 GB. You need FAT32. With FAT32, you can have one large capacity hard drive without partitioning. You will also save some space with FAT32. In short, larger hard drives require FAT32.

Note: If you don't know what FAT32 we are talking about, go to our FAT32 FAQ (frequently asked questions).

Consider Partitioning

Although you can have one big fat hard drive as one partition, you should consider partitioning as well, if you have a big hare drive. Partitioning is the method of dividing an area on a disk into smaller portions of lesser capacities that can be recognized by the operating system. Picture this: your hard drive is a cake. It is easier to eat a cake divided into pieces than to eat it whole.

Partitioning enables you to achieve greater efficiency and functionality from high-capacity disks (2.1GB or greater). You can create partitions by using FDISK on a system running in MS-DOS mode or by using a third-party disk utility. Remember that after partitioning, all data will be loss so be careful.

You can set aside a small partition for backup purposes. In case you should decided to format, just format the partition you use to store Windows. Your data in the backup partition is still there. But be careful! If you format a FAT32 partition with a FAT16 formatting utility, your partitions with data in it will all be loss! So never install DOS after formatting Windows. Because DOS utilizes FAT16, your FAT32 partition will all be gone.

Access Time or Seek Time?

If you want to buy a hard drive but are confused with the specifications of access time and seek time, remember that the key to the speed of a hard drive is the average access time. This is the time taken to access a single sector to the time when the drive's head reaches the sector. But beware, some ads quote seek time that is not the appropriate measurement. Access time is seek time plus latency (the time it takes for the chosen sector to come around to be positioned under the read/write head)

Speed, Not Space

A lot of people are confused between speed and space. If you have a Quantum Fireball with 1.2 GB and a Quantum Bigfoot with 3.5 GB surely you should put the Bigfoot as the master and Fireball as the slave right? Wrong! You should always consider speed as well as space. The Quantum Fireball has a faster access time. A faster hard drive means better performance. Make sure your operating system is store in the faster hard drive. You can use the Bigfoot to store your programs or games which makes not much difference to the speed. With speed hungry programs or games, store them in the faster drive too. You must know what to put where.

The status of the drives is determined by setting small jumpers that are usually located next to the IDE connector on the drive itself. 



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