Here's How: Installing a CD-RW drive

Adding a new internal CD-RW drive to your system is a relatively simple task that can be completed in a few minutes - as long as you know where the cables go, where the jumpers need to go, and how to place it into your computer case. If you haven't performed this type of upgrade before and are willing to give it a go, just follow the information outlined in this article and you should have no problems getting a new drive into your system.

  1. First and foremost, make sure your PC case can accommodate your new drive. Most mid-tower ATX cases come with at least three 5.25in drive bays (the size of a CD-RW device), although some smaller cases may have fewer. Unplug your computer and take off the side and front panels of your case. Usually, a metal plate is attached to spare drive bays that must be removed. You can do this either by unclipping it or twisting it off, depending on the design of your case. In addition, the corresponding plastic cover on the front panel will also need to be removed. Your new CD-RW will now easily slide into this bay, but before you install it, you will need to set the jumpers and attach the cables.

  2. Familiarise yourself with the cables and interfaces involved. On the back of your CD-RW drive you will see three distinct areas of pins (as in FIGURE 1). On the far right side is the power port (1), immediately to the left of that is the IDE interface (2), and immediately to the left of that are the device jumpers (3). The IDE cable that is used to connect your drive to the motherboard is a flat ribbon cable with three plugs on it (as in FIGURE 2). The end farthest from the middle connector is the end that plugs into your motherboard, while the middle connector and the other end connector are used to plug into drives. You may already have two of these cables connected from your motherboard if you have a CD-ROM or a DVD-ROM drive installed in your system.

    For power, four-pin power connectors are usually in good supply in most computer systems. If you don't have any spare ones, you can purchase a Y-adapter, which turns one plug into two. These are edged and can be inserted into the CD-RW drive only one way.

  3. Identify your current drive configuration. Motherboards have two channels for internal drives, Primary and Secondary, and each channel can accept two drives, which must be configured as Master and Slave devices on that channel (two devices on the same cable must have different jumper settings or they won't work). Usually, your hard disk drive will occupy the Primary Master spot in your configuration, while your current CD-ROM or DVD-ROM device may be slotted into either the Secondary Master or Secondary Slave position. As CD-RW and other CD-ROM devices are much slower than your hard disk, it is best to keep your hard drives on one channel and your CD-ROM devices on the other.

    If you have an existing CD-ROM device in your system that you will be keeping, you will need to determine on which channel it resides. Just follow the cable back to the motherboard to see if it's plugged into the Primary IDE channel or the Secondary IDE channel, and then check the jumpers on the drive to find its setting.

  4. Set the jumpers. Once you have established how your new CD-RW drive will need to be connected to your system, it is a matter of correctly manipulating the jumper settings before you physically insert the drive into your case and plug in the cables. A sticker atop the drive (see FIGURE 3) will indicate which jumpers need to be closed for Master or Slave operation. To move the jumper, use a pair of long-nose pliers or a set of tweezers.

  5. Install it and connect it. Place the CD-RW drive into its drive bay and firmly secure it with screws on either side. On the IDE cable, you will notice that each plug has a notch in it; this means that it can only be plugged in one way. If your cable does not have a notch, the red coloured edge of the cable should be aligned to pin one of the IDE interface on the CD-RW drive. (Pin one is located closest to the power port.) Make sure the other end of the IDE cable is correctly plugged into the motherboard and, finally, plug in the power cable.

    Upon turning on your computer, enter the BIOS. From the Standard Setup (or main) menu you should see the settings for your Primary and Secondary IDE channels. Make sure that your BIOS is correctly picking up your CD-RW drive; if it isn't, you will need to undertake an Autodetect operation for it. Boot to Windows and open Windows Explorer to view your drive. You won't need to install any driver files for the drive, only the burning software that shipped with it, such as Nero Burning ROM.

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Elias Plastiras
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