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Hard Drive FAQ

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Hard Drive FAQ

#1 Post by AlphaKilo470 » Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:53 pm

Due to the number of hard drive related questions posted on this messageboard recently, this new thread has been created. Please read the following information thoroughly before asking anything hard drive related, thanks. Moderator note: Please ask in a new thread, not this one.

Hard Drive Basic FAQ
Last updated on the 5th of June, 2006 at 12:26AM...

What are the comon speeds for modern hard drives?
The common hard drive speeds (which are measured in RPMs) are:

What is the highest hard drive capacity I can have in my computer?
This depends on the age of your computer and the chipset it's built around. If you have a computer built before 1998, it's likely that you'll have a 6gb or less limit. The earliest chipset to support higher than 6gb was the 430TX chipset found in the ThinkPad 380XD, 560X and 770. If your computer has a 440BX or newer chipset, then just about any off the shelf hard drive should run fine in your computer.

We have two mainstream types of hard drives in this time of transition in the marketplace: Serial ATA (SATA) and the older style Paralell ATA (PATA). Many argue that there is negligible speed difference between the two though that argument is disappearing at a fast rate. SATA supposedly provides faster data transfer speeds along with a more efficient architecture and as we move into the future, we are no seeing more drives use SATA and the PATA drives are slowly declining though they are still in high production. At the current moment, for normal use, SATA vs. PATA might not be a real deal maker or breaker but in the future it will be as almost all new laptops now use SATA and if you are looking for a notebook that will last well into the future, SATA may be the way to go. It is also notable that with SATA, you can also find in places across the internet small boards that will convert an older PATA drive to a SATA drive though the hard drive speed is unlikely to be affected.

Note About Vintage Apples...
There is such a thing as 2.5" laptop SCSI hard drives; I found this out when taking apart my recently acquired PowerBook Duo 250. To my knowledge, SCSI hard drives are present in every PowerBook before the 150 (145b and below) as well as every Duo excluding the 2300c which has option for IDE or SCSI. The PowerBook 150 is the first PowerBook to use IDE hard drives.

My hard drive won't fit all the way into my computer...
Are you sure that you have the right physical size? If not, consult the question below. If you are sure that the physical size is correct, check the connector. There are two major types of hard drives: the age old Parallel ATA style (PATA) and the newer Serial ATA style. The SATA hard drives have a smaller connector on them than do the PATA hard drives. You can find our which type of hard drive your computer uses by consulting your computers documentation.

What physical size can my computer hold?
Almost all laptop hard drives have a standardized width of 2.5" compared to the 3.5" wide desktop drives, but there are several different drive heights. The latest drives have a height of 9mm, but earlier drives were manufactured in 12mm and 17mm heights. A 9mm drive will physically fit in a laptop that was designed for a 12mm or 17mm height drive, but you cannot put a 17mm drive into a ThinkPad that was designed for a 9mm drive. There are also special drives such as those found in the ThinkPad X40. For details of your model, consult the hardware maintenance manual which can be found here: http://www-3.ibm.com/pc/support/site.ws ... 39298.html

I just installed a new hard drive and now whenever I boot my computer I get a 2010 error code...
If you have a ThinkPad T43 or a later T42, your computer has code in the BIOS that will cause the computer to dislike any hard drive without the IBM/Lenovo firmware. There is some discussion about this issue here: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?t=11059

What kind of hard drive should I get?
When buying a hard drive, the main factors are price and how well it will suit your needs. You also need to factor in the company that makes it and research to see how other people have liked their products. You will also want to consult your computer's documentation to determine if you ned a Parallel ATA (PATA) or a Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive. Hard drive speed and cache are also very important. If a hard drive has a cache size smaller than 8mb, then you probably want to pass it up. You will also probably want to pass up anything that's slower than 5400rpm.

How can I transfer my files to another comptuer?
There are several ways to go about this. If the computer in question is functional, then networking might be the most convenient way. You can also use a 2.5" IDE to USB or 2.5" to 3.5" IDE converter to hook the drive to your desktop. If you plan to copy the entire hard drive so you can avoid OS installation onto a newer hard drive, then you will want to find a good drive imaging software such as Norton Ghost or Acronis TrueImage.

You can get a trial version of Acronis here:

What can I do about a bad sector?
Replace the drive or learn to live with the sector. You can also run a scandisk surface scan (or chckdsk under XP and 2k) and get the software to mark off the bad sectors so your computer doesn't try to use them.
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#2 Post by WPWoodJr » Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:42 pm

Here's how to move an old XP installation on a P-ATA drive with one processor to an S-ATA drive with more than one processor:

http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.ph ... highlight=
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#3 Post by RealBlackStuff » Sat May 05, 2007 12:59 pm

On a Russian website I found some interesting HD-testing/formatting software:

There is a separate webpage for a LowLevelFormat, but it won't display, so I'll give you the addie:
http://hddguru.com/download/software/HD ... 1.1108.exe
HDD Low Level Format Tool is a freeware utility for low-level hard disk drive formatting.

* Supported interfaces: S-ATA (SATA), IDE (E-IDE), SCSI, USB, FIREWIRE. Big drives (LBA-4Cool are supported.
* Supported Manufacturers: Maxtor, Hitachi, Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba, Fujitsu, IBM, Quantum, Western Digital.
* The program also supports low-level formatting of FLASH cards using a card-reader.

This freeware Low Level Format utility will erase, Low-Level Format and re-certify a SATA, IDE or SCSI hard disk drive with any size of up to 281 474 976 710 655 bytes. Will work with USB and FIREWIRE external drive enclosures. Low-level formatting of Flash Cards is supported too. Low Level Format Tool will clear partitions, MBR, and every bit of user data. The data cannot be recovered after using this utility. The program utilizes Ultra-DMA transfers when possible.
I repaired a rotten Toshiba 40GB disk with it to perfection!
See also this post: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?t=41612
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#4 Post by leoblob » Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:38 pm

In my experience, a free tool like Western Digital's E-Z Drive will let you run any size hard drive with a BIOS of any vintage (and an OS of any vintage).
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