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Computer with three hard drives

By stugra65 ·
I need to build a computer with three hard drives.
As far as i am aware, only two will fit in a normal computer.
The first is to contain the system and programs, on separate partitions.
The second and third are for data.
I want the machine to be quite fast.
Is it possible?
Is there a type of hard drive i should use?
Is there a motherboard which'll take three hard drives internally or do i have to get a server type computer?
How can i change the default setting for the program loading location from the C: partition to the second partition?
Thanks, Stu.

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by davej100 In reply to Computer with three hard ...

You are misinformed. Normal computers have two IDE channels (Primary and Secondary). Each channel will take two drives (Master and Slave - defined by jumpers set on the drive). These can be Hard Drives or CD/DVD drives.
You cannot entirely separate the system and the programs onto two separate partitions as most programs need to install files into system directories. All data can be kept separate though.

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by jkaras In reply to Computer with three hard ...

Lately the new generation mother boards are coming out for 64 bit processors. These mother boards support multiple SATA drives. This is serial drives that have their own port on the mother board. Many of these boards support up to 10 drives!!! Most are raid setups, but still handle more drives with less wires, being quite thinner. A good site for basic how tos is www.pcstats.comA bit over kill mind you but you could dedicate your cd or dvd drives to the ide and leave the hard drives to SATA. They claim that these drives are alot faster, but so far I havent built a new pc to test the claims.

Currently Segate hard rives are offering 5 year warrantees!! That is a no brainer, the prices are getting cheaper and OEM can save you a couple of bucks. A great site for buying parts is They have a really good reputation and decent fair reviews from users who have tried the product out. Speed costs, and you need to declare how much and what you want it to be capable of. Do you want intel or amd processor? Currently the better mobo companies are ASUS, ABIT, MSI, and it appears CHAINTECH. Look for a motherboard that meets your minimum requirements and offers adaptability, like faster processor in the future that will be cheaper. My opinion Western Digital and Maxtor are putting out sub standard quality drives and support. No matter what you take your chance anyway, every manufacturer sells lemons from time to time.

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by In reply to Computer with three hard ...

Q: As far as i am aware, only two will fit in a normal computer.
Q: Is there a motherboard which'll take three hard drives internally or do i have to get a server type computer?
A: Most motherboards today can accomodate 4 PATA IDE devices. Some models offer SATA on top of that (PATA = parallel ATA, SATA = serial ATA).

Q: I want the machine to be quite fast. Is it possible?
A: Yes. :-)

Q: Is there a type of hard drive i should use?
A: For speed, you want high spin rate (7200 RPM) and high recording density. These two factors combined produce the highest data transfer rate. Choose at least 8MB cache buffer as well. There is no reason to settle for less than PC133 IDE.

Q: How can i change the default setting for the program loading location from the C: partition to the second partition?
A: I presume you mean in Windows, how to relocate C:\Program Files to \Program Files. You cannot relocate it (although some 3rd party apps claim to be able to do this). But, you can install your apps into \Program Files at installation time with no problem at all. Note that applications typically install some DLLs in the C:\Windows directory. You cannot and should not try to stop that.

Finally: If you're looking for speed, get a reasonably fast CPU. 2GHz (or equivalent) is a good price point right now. But, the most important thing is the amount of RAM. My desktop has 1.5 GB of RAM and it is not wasted. A large amount of RAM enables your PC to avoid disk memory paging. This dramatically increases its speed, much more than a faster CPU ever would.

-----Steve Jackson

Software Corporation (Softcorp)
Advanced pro bono tools and utilities free for personal use

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by CG IT In reply to Computer with three hard ...

wow! lots of different advice. Current day motherboards normally come with 2 IDE channels[older ones did to but...]. You can connect 4 IDE drives to these 2 Channels in a master slave configuration. SATA is in addition to these 2 IDE channels and have their own controllers. Typically current day non SCSI non server motherboards have 2 SATA channels which will accept 1 SATA drive per channel and those 2 drives are combined into a SATA RAID array. You can stripe the array or mirror the array.

How you partition out your drives and how you install the O/S and applications is another matter all together.

Many techs create 2 partitons. 1 for the operating system and 1 for applications. on older machines such as 5 years ago, techs created a seperate partition for the swap file alone to increase computer performance. The reason techs seperate out the O/S from applications goes back to the days of W9X and W2k and registry bloat. Usually one had to wipe and reinstall the O/S after 8 months to 2 years because of registry problems and to clean out unwanted or unused registry entries that caused problems. It was far easier to just reinstall the O/S which resided on the boot partition, apply service packs and hot fixes and recreate shortcuts on the desktop to the .exe file for an application that resided in another partition.

If you want to run more drives like I dunno get maybe have a 1/2 terbyte or more of space and make it fast, you ought to opt for SCSI drives.

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by TheChas In reply to Computer with three hard ...

I have my present computer set up with 3 hard drives and 3 IDE CD/DVD drives.

While SATA is one good way to go, you can also install PCI IDE, SATA or SCSI controller cards to add more drives to any style of system.

Another option for your data drive would be to use an external SATA or USB drive.

As to multi-booting, or booting off of other than the "C:" drive, there are several options.

If you connect the drive you wish to boot off of to an alternate controller or card, you can set that as the first boot device.

Or, when you install Windows, you can set the installation path to the drive you desire. The boot files will still be on the C: drive. But everything else will be on the target drive.

For multi-booting, one option is a boot manager.

Another is a drive switch such as the Trios drive selector.


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by TheChas In reply to

Got your message.

If you are happy with the answers you have, please rate them accordingly and close the question.

If you need some more information, please post a comment as to what further information you need.

I think I did answer one of your questions incorrectly. Or answered a different question.

The default program installation path is built into the code of most programs you are installing.

While there are user paths you can set in the registry, I don't believe that all installers look at the registry before suggesting their default path.

I have run into several programs that will not run if installed on other than the C: drive.

I have even seen updates and patches that only install if the program is in the default drive and folder.

Basically, you will need to manually change the install path every time you install a new program if you wish to install it on the drive.


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by glyall In reply to Computer with three hard ...

SCSI can connect up to 7 devices on one ribbon
you can also have to SCSI card in a machine and have up to 15
your a case that can handle all the drives

all the above are a good place to start for ATA and IDE drives

Good Luck

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by willcomp In reply to Computer with three hard ...

You've gotten some good advice in previous responses. Just a few points to add.

Case needs to accomodate all drives with a couple of bays remaining for future addtions. One very good case is the Antec Sonata. It comes with an excellent 380 watt power supply and will accomodate 4 hard drives. Another good selection would be a CoolerMaster Cavalier case. Large and roomy, with plety of drive bays and well designed.

A quality power supply of about 400 watts or better is needed. Some good ones are Antec, Enermax, ThermalTake, CoolerMaster, and PC Power and Cooling (the best, but pricey).

Select a motherboard with at least 2 IDE channels and 4 SATA connectors. They are readily available and more common for Socket 754 and Socket 939 AMD 64 CPUs.

A moderately priced motherboard with a plethora of drive connections is the Gigabyte K8NS Pro. Will handle 4 SATA drives and 8 PATA (IDE) drives using on-board controllers and connectors. It is a Socket 754 board, and paired with an Athlon 64 3200+ (or better) and 1 GB (or more) of RAM provides excellent performance.

I use Western Digital and Seagate drives. Haven't seen any real difference in reliability, but Seagate SATA NCQ drives offer somewhat better performance and a longer warranty (5 yrs vs. 3 yrs).

For the absolute top SATA drive performance, use a Western Digital 74 GB Raptor drive as boot disk with primary applications. The Raptors are expensive but extremely fast.

Above all, don't scrimp on memory or power supply. Both need to be high quality to support your components. Crucial, Kingston, Corsair, and Mushkin all supply quality memory modules.


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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Computer with three hard ...

It all depends on your needs.

What are they reliability or speed?

Any current day m"Board will fit your needs of being able to install 3 HDD's and most will be capable of handling more although I've seen no real speed difference between IDE and SATA drives both being Seagate 7,200 RPM with 8 MEG of Cache they where both fairly fast and could only be beat by going all SCSI which the current drives are somewhere around the 15,00 RPM mark and extremely fast data transfer rates but you are going to pay for these little beauties they are currently about 3 times the cost of an equivalent size SATA drive.

Your only limitation will be that you are going to have to build this and you will not be able to buy one off the shelf as the major makers don't offer cases with enough room inside them to fit the required drives or a decent power supply to feed them either.

The only reason to even consider looking at one of the "Server Boards" would be one with a built in SCSI adapter allowing you to fit 15 devices per channel which mostly works out to 30 SCSI devices as these M'Boards work out cheaper than buying a top end M'Board and High End SCSI Adapter Card.

While Chas is right about the case that he recommended I tend to buy Antec Cases without Power Supplies and then fit my own size Antec Power Supply generally as big as I can get in the True Power Series but be warned the 550 W Antec Power Supply has a 24 Pin Connector instead of the standard 20 Pin Connector so unless you are considering one of the High End M'Boards any power supply over 500 W will not be of any use to you.

Instead of going for major storage space which can be important it is far more important to have not only processing power but available memory if you plan to install XP then at least 1 GIG and most likely more would be good. If you are planning on installing 2003 then at least 4 GIG of RAM would be considered as a minimum and more would be better.

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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to

Remember not to sacrifice drive space for processing power as even the best computer will be slow if your only direction is HDD Space. Personally I prefer ASUS, Gigabyte or Soltech M'Boards and if reliability is required for any mission critical needs then only go with Intel CPU's I've had some abysmal AMD installations in mission critical areas. But if you are only interested in storage space and not speed or reliability and stability then any CPU will work great for your needs.

I hope that is of some help. Lets know how you get on or if you require any other information.


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