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OK, I'm rebuilding a "vintage" PC. I have 2 * IDE HDDs and 1 * IDE DVD-ROM. I can't remember if I should put the 2 HDDs on the same cable and the DVD-ROM alone or if I should put one HD with the DVD-ROM on the same cable (in this case which one is master and which one is slave)?

And if you can tell me why one setup it's better than another it would be great as this knowledge is long lost for me!

This is my setup:

  • 1st HDD used for OS (DOS only) and system tools
  • 2nd HDD used for games
  • DVD-ROM used to play games and play music CDs


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up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you only use one HD at a time it won't matter. If you tend to copy from one to the other a lot then put one HD and CD as Master and Slave on one string. Use the second string for second hard drive, doesn't matter if master or slave.

The reason this is the best setup is that the assumption is you're not using CD very much (installs only in most cases) and this way the HD on the HD/CD cable gets MOST of the time on the disk controller associated with the cable. HD and CD will share, but HD will typically get 90% or more of the activity (so you get 90% of first HD + 100% on the second HD). If you had HD and HD on same string then each will only get 50% of the throughput since they will have to share the cable and controller.

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Actually, it does matter how you configure an IDE/PATA HDD if it is the only one on the cable. 1) Slave as only device: Does not work. 2) Master as only device: Does not work, will wait forever until it detects the slave. 3) "Single" (which is neither master nor slave) will work. The jumper settings for "master" and "single" are often the same, but if you have legacy devices with all three on them then selecting master will simply not work. – Hennes Oct 2 '13 at 21:22

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