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New hard drive in old computer -- problems?

Posted on 2003-12-07
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I've just made a server out of an old Compaq Deskpro PII. The hard drive in it is only 4GB, which isn't enough even for the smallest of home-servers. So, I'm thinking of buying a new hard drive (160GB) and install it in my old server. In the computer specs section "Enhanced IDE" I read:

"Two 40-pin keyed IDE data connectors (one for each controller) are provided on the system board. Each connector can support two devices and can be configured independently for PIO modes 1-4, DMA modes 1-2, or Ultra DMA modes 0-2."

The specs for Maxtor DIAMONDMAX +9 160GB DMA133 7200RPM 8MB says:

- Fast ATA/Enhanced IDE Compatible
- Ultra ATA/133 Data Transfer Speed
- Serial ATA version enables transfer speeds up to 150 MB/sec

Further, the Maxtor installation manual says:

"Support of all standard ATA data transfer modes with PIO mode 4 and multiword DMA mode 2, and Ultra DMA modes 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6"

Now, I'm not too familiar with the compatibility of the different ATA and IDE modes/speeds. Will I encounter problems installing the Maxtor 6Y160L0 hard drive in backwards compatibility? If I will, what other solutions should I consider? I wouldn't want to upgrade the whole system, since my "closet-server" is just a hobby, but still get more storage capacity. However, I might want to upgrade my system later, so if I buy a new hard drive now, I wouldn't want to buy another one when upgrading.

Thanks for your help!
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Question by:fredrikbostrom
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chicagoan earned 125 total points
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You didn't state the exact - model but you shouldn't have a problem with the speed of the drive on you controller.
You MAY have an issue with addressing the full capacity of the drive. If the current BIOS doesn't support the drive, there may be a ROMPAQ upgrade available from HP that will - or you may have to purchase a controller with an onboard BIOS. The latter option would allow you to use the full speed of the drive in addition to addressing it's full capacity and would cost 20 or 30 USD
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by:MobileOakAI
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I am less sure on speed. For backward compatibility, usually it be OK, where the pinouts are the same. So I defer to chicagoan on that, where it'll ptobably be ok.  For size, that is another matter entirely. And there you have problems both with the BIOS (mobo) and the OS.  Not even initial XP OS will see it correctly. Where 4GB was very sufficient for servers, no one wants that for their desktop these days. Odds are the unit will not adapt well to size at all. But if you configure for large disk (if it is option), you just may get to access enough of the disk - and consistently, to make it worth while, so you can have something worth keeping when you upgrade the whole thing. "I wouldn't want to buy another one when upgrading" -I recommend you do buy another anyway. Think: Backup plan. Contingency plan.

Maxtor is not a bad drive, if it were me, I'd probably go for it. Also consider the source, if you can get it from local dealer you can actually meet, for a deal that can include a swap to smaller drive if it does not work, (as well as for help, advise, and dealer interest in selling you addons later).
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If nothing else, you can partition the 160gig into several section for whatever size the BIOS will see. If it is less than 32gig, I would either get the ide card or a smaller HD.
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by:fredrikbostrom
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Thanks for your comments! I was looking at the hard drive data on one of the local dealer's web-site. They recommended using the Promise Ultra/133 TX2 Serial / Ata Controller (http://www.promise.com/product/product_detail_eng.asp?productId=87&familyId=3) with the drive to assure maximum transfer speed and size. I don't know what my bios supports (the computer is a Compaq Deskpro 6000 6266MMX), but I suppose it wouldn't understand a drive of this size. The Ultra/133 TX2 card, however, seems to be supporting motherboard bus speeds down to 66MHz. It'll cost me a bit extra, but it seems to be the safest way of getting the 160GB drive to work properly. Regarding the OS, I'm using Debian Linux. I'm not seeing that as a obsticle.

Please comment!
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by:chicagoan
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I think that's the optimal way to go. That controller isn't serial though (nor is your drive).
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by:ghaselbe
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I did the same thing with an old Compaq that had a 2 gig hard drive about two years ago.  I put in a 30 gig Maxtor HD and a Promise card.  I knew that the BIOS wouldn't support it, and Compaq didn't have an upgrade, but Maxtor has a software program workaround that was called MaxBlaster.  It worked great, allowed me to partition the new drive into 3 separtate drives, and didn't seem to affect the speed in any way I noticed.
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by:fredrikbostrom
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Thank you for your comment! I have a few questions though. Did you still have to use the Promise card or did the software do the trick? I'm still a bit suspicious to wether the drive would work without the card. If the software allows me to partition the drive into smaller pieces, how big a piece would my bios be able to handle? Is there any way to find out? It would be ridiculous to partition a 160GB drive into, say, 16 10GB partitions. Furthermore, a Linux version of the software would probably not be available. I'm still thinking that the ATA-card is my best deal.

Please comment!
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by:fredrikbostrom
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The Compaq Deskpro 6000 Technical reference can be viewed at
ftp://ftp.compaq.com/pub/supportinformation/techpubs/user_reference_guides/270844-002.pdf

If anyone would care to have a look.
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by:chicagoan
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It wouldn't work that way anyway.
You need the card.
You want the card.
Get the card.
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by:ghaselbe
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fredrik-
  I chose to partition the hard drive into three 10 gig drives.  As I recall, the software let you do any partioning you wanted to do...even leave it as one drive.  I did use the card, because I wanted to take full advantage of the new drive's data transfer speed.  I think you could use the software  without the card, though...I just can't recall since it's been two years.  I downloaded the software for free from their web site, and I don't know if it works with Linux or not.  I was using Win98 at the time.  I will say that the tech support guys at Maxtor were really helpful, and I would suggest you give them a call or send an e-mail, and get their advice on the best approach.  Good luck.
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