Hard drive question

I have a PC that’s about six years old, and it has a 4G hard drive right now. I am looking to get a new (bigger) hard drive. Is there an easy way to find out how big of a hard drive the motherboard can handle? I don’t want to buy a drive that’s bigger than I can use.

If the drive is larger than what the BIOS can handle, you can use a utility from the drive manufacturer instead of accessing it through the BIOS. There’s no real limit on what you can use.

I hate those overlay programs, though. But they do work. Don’t expect full speed from the drive though, the overlay will slow things down some. Probably not enough to notice, unless you do a benchmark.

DO NOT use overlay software. It can work OK, but if it all goes downhill, it’s VERY difficult to recover from.

The better thing to do would be to buy a PCI controller card, like the Promise ATA100 (or ATA133 - whichever they sell now). You should be able to buy the Best Buy or CompUSA “house brand” (usually a repackaged Promise) for around $30.

You need a space PCI slot for this. Simply boot into your OS, install the driver, then shutdown your PC and install the card. Plug your hard drive into the new card (use the cable in the box, not the one you’re using now) and power on. In the “Boot Selection” page of your system BIOS, select the boot device as “SCSI” (or “External”, depending on your motherboard). Save the changes and reboot and you’re done.

It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to do this and it will allow you to use <137GB (ATA100) or >137GB (ATA133) drives with your PC, regardless of the motherboard’s limitations. It also offloads DMA issues to the card from the OS, so you should see a noticible speed increase as well.


batsto, give us the make & model of computer & we can look it up on the net. Those are written on the front of the pc usually.

unfortunately, the PC was put together for me by a friend several years ago. The only thing I could find written on the motherboard was “Award”, with a number ( I think it was something like 686?). I can get the number of the BIOS version if that might be helpful though.

Yes, the BIOS string is enough. If it’s an award BIOS, it will look something like this: 2A59IZ1DC-00.

The AMI or Award BIOS ID will be displayed at the bottom of the screen after POST, during the memory count. Hit the <PAUSE> key at this point, so you can write down the BIOS string, date, and version.

I think this is it:

searching for that has only so far led me to places to upgrade my BIOS