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Installing Your New SATA Drive

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  1. Installing a Host Adapter
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Take a short walk through the installation process of your new SATA drive. You'll see just how simple it is.

Before you start the installation process, be sure to take the ESD precautions described in Chapter 5, "Preparing for Your Upgrade," of TechTV's Upgrading Your PC, Second Edition. The process of installing your SATA hard drive includes the following steps:

  1. Installing an SATA host adapter if your computer doesn't have onboard SATA.

  2. Placing the drive into the drive bay.

  3. Connecting the drive to the data cable.

  4. Connecting the drive to the power cable.

  5. Adding a drive bay adapter and rails (if required).

  6. Verifying the drive has been detected by the SATA host adapter BIOS or setting up the drive in the system BIOS (depending upon how the drive is connected to your system).

Each step is discussed in detail in the following sections.

Installing a Host Adapter

Because the first SATA hard disks didn't hit the market until the spring of 2003, it's likely that you need to install an SATA host adapter before you can install a SATA drive. Make sure you have an open PCI expansion slot you can use.


Make the Most of a Single PCI Slot

If you're concerned about running out of expansion slots, consider a multi-function host adapter card. SIIG ( offers a wide variety of multi-function cards that combine ATA/IDE or SATA ports with USB 2.0, IEEE-1394a, and other port types.

To install an SATA host adapter with recent versions of Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Shut down your system.

  2. Disconnect the power cable from the outlet to cut all power to the system.

  3. Use ESD protection equipment, such as a wrist strap and work mat, if available (see Chapter 5 for details).

  4. Open your computer and locate an unused PCI slot.

  5. Remove the slot cover; save the screw for use in reattaching the new card.

  6. Insert the SATA card into the slot.

  7. Secure the card into place with the screw removed from the slot cover.

  8. Reconnect the power cord and restart the computer.

  9. Install drivers when prompted.

  10. Restart your computer if prompted.

  11. Open the Windows Device Manager to verify that the SATA host adapter is working. It should be listed under the category SCSI Controllers, SCSI Adapters, or SCSI and RAID Controllers. See Figure 1.

Figure 01Figure 1 The Windows XP Device Manager view of a typical SATA host adapter after a successful installation.

Use a similar procedure to install an ATA RAID or ATA/IDE host adapter card with an onboard BIOS.

Connecting SATA Power and Data Cables

The data cable used for SATA drives is a thin cable that is keyed to connect only one way. Because SATA drives also use a new type of keyed power connector, they are usually shipped with an adapter that converts the standard four-wire Molex connector used on ATA/IDE drives to the smaller size used by SATA. Figure 2 shows the rear of a typical SATA drive before and after data and power cables are connected.

Figure 02

Figure 2 Connecting power and data cables to a typical SATA drive.

  1. Power connector
  2. Data cable connector
  3. SATA power cable
  4. SATA data cable

Mounting the SATA Drive in Your System

Because SATA drives are built in the same 3.5-inch form factor used by ATA/IDE drives, they are mounted in the same way. See the sections "Using an Adapter Kit to Install the Drive " and "Into the Case You Go" in this chapter for details.

Connecting SATA Power and Data Cables to the System

After you have secured the drive, connect the power cable adapter to a four-wire Molex power connector and connect the SATA data cable to the SATA host adapter card (see Figure 3) or motherboard-based SATA connector (see Figure 4).

Figure 03

Figure 3 Connecting the SATA data cable to a typical SATA host adapter card.

  1. SATA data cable
  2. Connector for additional SATA drive
  3. PCI slot used by SATA host adapter card
  4. Empty PCI slots
Figure 04

Figure 4 Connecting the SATA data cable to a motherboard with on-board SATA and ATA/IDE host adapters.

  1. SATA data cable
  2. SATA host adapter chip
  3. Connector for additional SATA drive
  4. ATA/IDE connector

Detecting Your New SATA Drive

After the drive and host adapter card are physically installed and properly cabled, restart the system. If the SATA drive is connected to a SATA card, the card should display a message at startup indicating the drive has been detected.

If the SATA drive is connected to the motherboard, verify that the SATA host adapters on the motherboard are enabled in the system BIOS. Then, use the BIOS auto-detect feature, as described in the "It's Showtime! Boot Up and Detect Your New ATA/IDE Drive" section earlier in this chapter.

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