In my earlier article “Teach your end users CD basics,” I showed you how to select the type of CD drive that’s right for you. Now that you’ve picked out your CD drive, it’s time to install it. In this article, I’ll walk you through the installation procedure. Since IDE is the more common type of CD drive, I’ll be using an IDE drive in my example.

Open the box and choose a connection
The first step in the installation process is to verify that your computer has an empty drive bay into which you can install the new CD drive. (A quick look at the front of the PC will tell you what you need to know.) Once you’ve done so, shut down the computer, unplug it, and then carefully remove the cover. At this point, you’ll have to make some decisions about the way you’ll be connecting the CD drive.

Figure A
This is what an IDE controller looks like.

Your CD drive plugs into an IDE controller like the ones shown in Figure A. Note that although the number of pins will always be the same, the controller’s markings and location will differ among various brands of computers.

Most newer computers contain two IDE controllers, although some only contain one. Ideally, you’ll want your CD drive to be the only device on an IDE controller, but you can have up to two devices per controller. Therefore, if you don’t have a controller free, you can daisy chain the new CD drive to another IDE device such as a hard drive or another CD drive.

If your computer contains two IDE controllers and both are already in use, you’ll want to connect your CD drive to the controller that contains the less frequently used device. For example, if one controller contains a hard drive and the other contains a Zip drive, you’ll want the CD drive to share the controller that’s connected to the Zip drive. The reason is that when two IDE devices share a controller, they must also share the controller’s resources. If the computer needs to access both devices simultaneously, both devices will slow down dramatically because they must compete for a limited amount of bandwidth. For that reason, it’s a bad idea to daisy chain a CD drive to your system’s primary hard drive unless absolutely necessary.

If your system contains only one IDE controller, you don’t have much choice—you have to daisy chain the CD drive to the hard drive. Doing so isn’t an ideal configuration, but some well-known brands of computers actually use this configuration on lower-end models. Of course, if you don’t want to risk losing performance, you can always buy an expansion card with an additional IDE controller. In fact, the IDE controllers shown in Figure A are part of an expansion card.

Making the connection
Now that you know what an IDE controller looks like, let’s look at the process of connecting the CD drive to the IDE controller. To make the connection, you’ll use an IDE cable.

Figure B
An IDE cable will connect the CD drive to the system’s IDE controller.

There are only two types of IDE cables: single-device cables and daisy-chain cables. You can use a daisy-chain cable even if you’re working with a single device. You can see an example of such a cable in Figure B. Notice that the cable contains a red stripe. The stripe corresponds to Pin 1 on the IDE controller. (Pin 1 is usually labeled.) Match the red stripe on the IDE cable with Pin 1 on the IDE controller and connect the cable to the controller.

Figure C
A CD drive contains a number of ports and jumpers.

Now you’re ready to plug the IDE cable into the CD drive. The CD drive contains three ports for connecting cables: the IDE port, the power port, and the audio port. You can see all of these ports in Figure C. When you plug the IDE cable into the CD drive, the red stripe on the cable should be pointed toward the power port.

Slave or master
The next step is to set the CD drive’s jumpers. Doing so tells the drive about the system’s IDE configuration. As you may recall, earlier I stated that CD drives can be daisy chained together. If the drive is the only device running off the present IDE controller or if it is the first in a series of two devices, you’ll set the jumper to the Master position. If the CD drive is the second device in the daisy chain, on the other hand, then you’ll set the jumper to the Slave position. The physical jumper position that denotes Master or Slave differs from drive to drive, but there’s usually a marking somewhere on the CD drive that tells you what position to use.

Now that you’ve set your jumpers, mount the drive in the case and connect the power cable to the CD drive’s power port. If your computer has a sound card, you can connect an audio cable between the sound card and the CD drive. Doing so allows you to play music CDs through your computer’s speakers.

Final setup
At this point, you’re finished installing your CD drive. Normally, Windows will automatically detect the new drive and install the necessary software to make it function. If it doesn’t, be sure to check out part three in this series, in which I’ll discuss some troubleshooting techniques you can use to get your CD drive working.

Is the basic CD-ROM drive dead?

With the significant decline in cost of CD-RW drives and the rise in read speeds, are CD-ROMs still necessary? Unless you plan on burning directly from the CD-ROM to the CD-RW, do you need both drives? Why not just install a single CD-RW? Post a comment and let us know what you think.