How to Build a Computer – Installing Your Drives

The most difficult parts of building a computer actually all in the planning, and as you’re no doubt experiencing – the task of putting everything together whilst a bit fiddly and time consuming, isn’t actually all that complicated! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful however, as with any piece of technology, most of it is sensitive to one thing or another.

Did you know that the most likely cause of system failure isn’t ESD (electro-static discharge)? The main reason things ‘break’ is due to clumsy installations, dropping things and rushing the job.

Installing Hard Disks

Nowadays, installing disk drives is a lot easier than before. With the advent of SATA, (serial advanced technology attachment) it’s just a case of putting the drives in the right slot, plugging them in and going on to the next step. When you install drives however, there are some important things to bear in mind so that they’re protected from vibration and possible damage:

  1. Hard disks are generally easy to install, it’s just a case of installing the disk label side up in the drive bay and securing both sides with screws, however some cases utilize screw less installation to make it easier to change things later.
  2. To install the hard disk you should slot it in to the bay from the back i.e. motherboard side.  Make sure to put the disk label side up.
  3. Sometimes your case might have a removable front panel. If it does, take a look for some plastic tabs at the front, as it might need to come off to slide the disk drives in to place. Normally DVD drives are installed from the front and slide back to meet the mainboard, not the other way round as it is with hard disks.
  4. If you have any screws that have rubber washers – these are for your disk drives to try and reduce vibration. Use these to secure the disk drives.

Cabling things up

  1. These days 90% of all hard disks and DVD writers are all SATA. The two main types are SATA and IDE with the main difference is that SATA utilizes thin cables and IDE utilizes wide ribbon cables. SATA is newer and faster, whilst IDE is the precursor to this new technology.
  2. While it’s easy to physically install the disk drives, it’s important to use the right disk channels on the mainboard. If you’re using SATA, your main hard disk (the biggest or fastest) should be in the lowest numbered SATA port. The lower the number, the more important the drive.
  3. If you are using an IDE CD/DVD drive, then make sure you plug the ribbon cable into the blue port.
  4. When installing the cables, make sure that they are routed in an efficient manner, so that airflow is maximized. Spaghetti might be nice to eat, but it’s a horrible thing inside a computer case! Try to ensure everything is tangle free and secure.
  5. Finally, it’s time to install the power connectors.  When installing them, make sure to connect them the proper way and don’t force too hard. This is especially important with the grey MOLEX connectors because it’s easy to bend the copper pins out of place.

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