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What are the differences between slave and master hard drives?

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closed as not a real question by random Aug 22 '11 at 5:11

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2 Answers 2

Its mainly for drive ordering. Because you can have 2 drives on the same cable, the motherboard needs to know which one is first and which one is second. If you use Cable Select, the outer drive is Master and the inner drive is slave. In Windows land, that means the outer drive is C: and the inner drive is D:.

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Master is "first" and slave is "second", meaning that normally the boot drive is master. –  harrymc Aug 1 '10 at 18:40
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Please excuse if this is obvious but a PATA (not SATA or SCSI) drive can be set either master or slave using jumpers which attach to pins on the drive. The jumpers are usually found on the end where data cable attaches and often have a picture of the settings on the face of the drive. Most motherboards nowadays can boot from either master or slave so that might not be an issue unless you're putting together an antique. Though they're called master and slave there is no physical (and very little logical) relationship between the drives, it's just a name. Since they share one data cable only one can put data on the wire at a time, but the master does not have precedence.

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