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Upgrading to a DVDRW

Generally people think that adding a new drive to your computer is a job only suited for tech's; this however isn't the case most of the time...

The price of DVDRW drives has drastically dropped in recent years, and it actually costs more in some cases to buy an old CDRom drive than to just buy one that's capable of not only reading DVD's, but can also write to them.

Adding a new DVD to your machine is one of the most simple, and we'll cover that here...

The first step is to figure out what you currently have; most systems will have a standard IDE drive plugged into a cable, some newer and more expensive systems will have SATA drives, but it isn't common yet.

The IDE ribbon cable is a bulky cable, with 40 contacts per housing, and generally has 2 housings (other than the port plugging into your motherboard). If your cable is an IDE cable, and only has one housing (other than the one plugging into your motherboard) you may consider replacing it as well (most new drives come with a new cable, which usually has two housings).

You'll now want to decide on a drive, for the purposes of this article, I've looked up the LITE-ON DH-20A4P-04 (20x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 16x DVD-Rom, 32x CD-RW) drive; featurewise vs price vs reviews, it's the top recommendation on NewEgg.com.

Now that you have your drive, you'll want to power down the system, and remove the power cable. You'll then want to open the computer housing and locate the drive bays. From here we have several routes... If you'll be replacing your IDE cable, you'll want to do so now; unplug it from the motherboard and the current drives (ensuring, in this case, that you only unplug the cable for the channel you'll be upgrading).

Since the drive is still out of the machine, you'll want to set its jumper. You have 3 choices, Master, Slave, and Cable Select. Cable Select means that wherever the drive is in line of the cable it will take that position (longest being master, middle being slave); I however recommend setting them to Master then Slave on the drive itself. I do like how Master/Slave is set on Cable Select, so I recommend going that route, but I only reccommend setting a drive to slave when another is on the cable that is the "master".

Replacing a Current Drive:
Now you'll want to remove your old drive from the computer housing; generally the drives are held in place by 4 screws, on either side of the drive chassy. Simply remove these screws, and slide out the drive. To get to the screws on the other side of the chassy, you may have to take off the other panel on your system.

Adding the New Drive:
From here, you'll want to slide the new drive into the chassy, attach the ribbon cable and power, then secure it with 4 screws. Most chassy's have a lead on the under side of each port in the system. This ensures yoru drive enters the system straight and even. A lot of people only secure two screws on the left side of the drive, or one screw on each side; myself, I recommend doing all 4 of the screws (two in the front, two in the back) on the sides of the drive.

One thing to keep in mind when attaching the drive to the data cable is that the pin1 on the cable (usually signified by a long black or colored line on the cable itself) usually points towards the power adapter; if you plug the cable in upside down, it will not function.

If you have a second drive, you can follow the above directions to add it in as well, you'll want to be sure you set its jumpers as well before inserting it into the system.

After the drives are inserted into the system, you'll want to put it back together and attach the power cable and power on the system. The boot process should show that the new drives are attached and able to be read; additionally, the access light on the drives should power on for a moment.

Once your boot process completes, your devices should be automatically be installed and configured. If you have software that comes with the drive that you'd like to use, you should install it now.
Posted on April 28th, 2008 - Updated on December 31st, 2010
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