How to See if Your Hard Drive is Dying

How to See if Your Hard Drive is Dying with S.M.A.R.T.

Memory Card Vs. Smart Card

Memory card is only a card that has the cappability to store information. Smart card on the other hand has the necessary hardware and logic to store as well as process information.
If a user has a memory card, he only needs to enter the user id or a PIN and then swipe the memory card against the reader. The memory card contains the user’s password. This combination of the PIN (or user id that the user entered) and the password (read from the memory card) is sent to the authentication server. If this combination is correct, then the user sees a green signal on the card reader and is allowed to access the resource. This is a two-way authentication process as the correct user needs to have the card (what you have) and needs to remember the correct PIN (what you know).
The memory cards are mostly used for entering a company’s building or facility, and are also commonly used in ATM. User enters his PIN and swipes the card against the card reader. The memory cards can also be used with the computers, but are not used often as they require a memory card reader, one for each computer, which adds cost besides complication to the authentication process.
Smart Cards, provide processing power to the information stored inside the card, as it has a microsprocessor and the Integrated Circuits on the card itdelf. The smart card also provides a two-factor authentication as the information stored inside the card can be locked with a PIN. So, in order for correct authentication the user must remember to put in the correct PIN (what you know)  and must have the smart card (what you have).
To get authenticated using a smart card, the user enters a PIN and inserts the smart card into the reader. The reader performs one-way transformation of the PIN and stores the result in the memory of the card reader. It then performs one-way trnasformation of the information stored inside the smart card and compares it to that it had stored in the memory (transformation of PIN entered by the user). If the two match, the user is authenticated and allowed to access the resource.
The information stored inside the smart card is secure as it is not readable until the correct PIN is entered. Also, the information can be stored inside the smart card, in an encrypted form, and can be programmed to detect any tempering to the card. In case any tempering to thecard is detected, the information on the card can automatically be erased.
Smart cards can be used as a method of authentication on computers to provide one-time passwords, or for providing the private key for authentication using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). They are comapritively more resilient to reverse engineering, but have are a more disadvantage than memory cards, as they are more expensive and add extra cost  of the readers for every computer.

VGA to HDMI Cable

  1. Solution No.1: VGA to HDMI Cable + Audio Line
    A HDMI port can transfer the video signal and audio signal at the same time. However, a VGA port can only transfer video signal. That means if you use a VGA to HDMI cable to convey the signal, you still need an audio converter cable to connect computer to TV in order to get the sound. These two cables should look like this:
    vga to hdmi cable
  2. Solution No.2: VGA to HDMI Converter Box
    As a VGA to HDMI box has an audio port and support HDMI output, you don’t need an extra audio cable converter and you can use the TV HDMI line to connect the VGA to HDMI box to your TV. Check the following chart.
    VGA to HDMI explained
    As is shown in the picture, there are three steps to make this work:
    1, Connect PC VGA to the VGA jack of the converter box
    2, Connect PC audio to the audio jack of the Converter box
    3, Connect the converter box to the HDMI jack of the TV
    By the way, the VGA and audio cable is packed with this converter box. Here is the package:
    package contens

Different Types of Hard Drive

Types of HDD :
  1. IDE : Integrated Drive Electronics.IDE drives are also known as PATA drives( Parallel advance technology attachment )
  2. SATA : Serial advance technology attachment 
  3. SCSI : Small Computer System Interface. SCSI is pronounced as scuzzy.
  4. SAS : Serial Attached SCSI

IDE / PATA (Integrated Drive Electronics Drive / Parallel Advance Technology Attachment Drive)

  • IDE/PATA Drives have usually 40 pins.
  • IDE/PATA Drives offer 133 MB/sec transfer rate.
  • It sends 8 bit data at a time.
  • PATA Cables are used to connect PATA HDD. Two drives can be connected in a single pata cable. One as master and other as slave. The configuration of master and slave is done by different combination of jumpers in the hdd.

SATA (Serial Advance Technology Attachment Drive)

  • SATA Drives have usually 7 pins, 4 pins in pair of two for sending and receiving data and rest 3 pins are grounded.
  • SATA Drives offers generally 300MB/sec transfer rate.
  • It sends data bit by bit.
  • SATA Cables are used to connect SATA HDD. Only one drive can be connected in a single sata cable.

SCSI (Small Computer System Interface Drive)

  • SCSI Drives have usually 50 to 68 pins.
  • SCSI Drive offers generally 640MB/sec transfer rate.
  • This drives are hot swappable.
  • SCSI cables are used to connect SCSI HDD. Maximum of 16 drives can be connected in a single scsi cable. Each hdd have a 8 bytes hexadecimal code known as WWN (world wide name) for its identification in the cable.

SAS(Serial Attached SCSI Drive) 

  • SAS Drives generally offers 805 MB/sec transfer rate.
  • This drives are hot swappable.
  • SAS Cables are used to connect SAS Drives. Maximum of 128 drives can be connected in a single sas cable.

what’s difference between low level format and regular format

[a]Low-Level Formatting:

Low-level formatting is the process of outlining the positions of the tracks and sectors on the hard disk, and writing the control structures that define where the tracks and sectors are. This is often called a “true” formatting operation, because it really creates the physical format that defines where the data is stored on the disk. The first time that a low-level format (“LLF”) is performed on a hard disk, the disk’s platters start out empty. That’s the last time the platters will be empty for the life of the drive. If an LLF is done on a disk with data on it already, the data is permanently erased (save heroic data recovery measures which are sometimes possible).

If you’ve explored other areas of this material describing hard disks, you have learned that modern hard disks are much more precisely designed and built, and much more complicated than older disks. Older disks had the same number of sectors per track, and did not use dedicated controllers. It was necessary for the external controller to do the low-level format, and quite easy to describe the geometry of the drive to the controller so it could do the LLF. Newer disks use many complex internal structures, including zoned bit recording to put more sectors on the outer tracks than the inner ones, and embedded servo data to control the head actuator. They also transparently map out bad sectors. Due to this complexity, all modern hard disks are low-level formatted at the factory for the life of the drive. There’s no way for the PC to do an LLF on a modern IDE/ATA or SCSI hard disk, and there’s no reason to try to do so.

[b]High-Level Formatting:

After low-level formatting is complete, we have a disk with tracks and sectors–but nothing written on them. High-level formatting is the process of writing the file system structures on the disk that let the disk be used for storing programs and data. If you are using DOS, for example, the DOS FORMAT command performs this work, writing such structures as the master boot record and file allocation tables to the disk. High-level formatting is done after the hard disk has been partitioned, even if only one partition is to be used. See here for a full description of DOS structures, also used for Windows 3.x and Windows 9x systems.

The distinction between high-level formatting and low-level formatting is important. It is not necessary to low-level format a disk to erase it: a high-level format will suffice for most purposes; by wiping out the control structures and writing new ones, the old information is lost and the disk appears as new. (Much of the old data is still on the disk, but the access paths to it have been wiped out.) Under some circumstances a high-level format won’t fix problems with the hard disk and a zero-fill utility may be necessary.

Different operating systems use different high-level format programs, because they use different file systems. However, the low-level format, which is the real place where tracks and sectors are recorded, is the same.

How to run Two Hard Drives on One Connector Jumper Setting

Some content on this page was disabled on 19/05/2016 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from Ali Khan. You can learn more about the DMCA here:

How To Install and Troubleshoot IDE Hard Drives

This guide is for installing an IDE drive. If you’re opening up something an OEM machine you could be voiding your warranty so check first.

When you try to install a really big hard drive into a lot of older systems, you’ll find that the BIOS is only capable of seeing 137 GB. On even older mainboards you’ll find a 32 GB limit. To get around this you’ll want to use that install disk that came with the hard drive or if you’re a relatively advanced user a BIOS update should be available. The install disk comes on a floppy so if you don’t have one then you’d better be able to do a BIOS update.

Before you start

  • Do not drop or bump the drive.
  • Keep the drive in the protective anti-static container until ready to install.
  • Protect the drive from static discharge by wearing a grounded wrist strap. Attach the wrist strap to the metal chassis of your computer.
  • Handle the drive by the edges of the frame.
  • Do not apply pressure or attach labels to the circuit board or the top cover of the drive.
  • Turn off the power to the host system before installation.

What you need

  • Phillips screwdriver and four 6-32 UNC drive mounting screws.
  • Standard 40-pin ATA interface cable, or an 80-conductor cable if running UATA66/100 (max length: 18 inches).
  • An unused drive power cable for your new drive.
  • Needle-nose pliers for removing or adding jumpers.

DO NOT put a CD Drive on the same channel as your hard drive! Most modern CD drives are ATA33 while the modern hard drives are ATA133. A drive can only transfer as fast as the slowest device on the channel.

Let’s Begin

Unpack everything. Drives come defaulted to be ready to be installed in a single drive environment.

First of all Master, Slave? What is this? They had to be called something. The master can also be referred to as the “primary” drive with the slave being the “secondary”. A lot of people like to use what is called Cable Select. If you want to do that you’ll just have to make sure that it’s plugged into the right part of the cable.

Wonder what connects to where on the cable?

If you want to make it the master or the slave, you will have to look around the drive to find where the instructions are. You’ll see some kind of diagram that looks like this:

It’s not currently set, but you can fairly easily tell from the diagram what you’ll need to set it for. There is a sample about Seagate hard drvie jumper setting.

Setting the Jumpers

  • Master or Single Drive – Use this setting if the drive is the only drive on the ATA interface cable.
  • Drive is Slave – Use this setting if the drive is an additional drive on the cable and the original drive is set as Master.
  • Master with non-ATA compatible drive – Use this if the drive is Master to a CD-ROM, tape drive or other non-ATA drive.Note: It is preferred to have the CD-ROM and other non-hard drive products on the secondary ATA channel.
  • Cable-Select Option (Default) – Use with Ultra ATA cables. This allow the cable to select if the drive is master or slave based on the position on the cable. The Master drive goes on the black connector at the end of the cable, the slave drive connects to the gray connector in the middle and the host adapter connects to the blue connector at the other end of the cable.
  • Limit Capacity Option – This option may be required if the system the drive is being installing into does not support the full capacity of the drive. If the limit capacity jumper is installed you will need to use a drive overlay program such as the one installed by Disc Wizard Starter Edition.

The figure below depicts the jumper settings for the U-Series and Barracuda ATA drive families (most Seagate ATA drives above 20 GBytes). If you have an older drive please visit our Technical Library and find your model number for details on jumper configuration.

Install hard drive

Before you install the new drive make sure you unplug the power connector from the computer. Anytime you mess with anything inside your computer it is a good idea to unplug it. It’s also a good idea to touch the power supply before you go sticking your hands in there! Static discharge can jump and do some bad things. Just touch the power supply for a precaution OK?

Open up your computer case.

Now you should be able to find an open 3.5″ slot somewhere.

Slide the drive into an available slot and find 2 or 4 case screws. Two if you’re lazy and only screw things in on the side. Four if you never touch anything in your system. For that you will have to pull off both side panels to your case. The case screws are bigger than the ones used to screw in your CD drives.

After the drive is secured then go ahead and connect the power and IDE cables. On the edge of one of the cables you will see a line. Normally it’s red on the grey cables and white on black cables etc there will be some kind of colored line to indicate pin 1. This pin always goes on the same side as the power connector.

To connect the IDE cable to the motherboard you’ll have to find something that looks like this:

Each connector represents 1 IDE channel. Most boards have 2 channels while 4 is becoming more and more common at least on the higher end boards.

Each channel can have 2 devices on it.

When you first start your machine enter into the BIOS and make sure the drive was identified properly. Generally it’s the [del] button that gets you into the BIOS but sometimes it’s F1 or F2. You should be able to see some kind of message on the screen when it first posts indicating what you need to push.

Once you’re in the BIOS you’ll want to go into standard CMOS where you should see something like this:

Run the system setup program.
Enable LBA mode and UDMA mode, if applicable.
Select the auto-detect option.
Save and exit the system setup program.

If your drives are showing up properly then you did it right. If they aren’t then you’ve got some troubleshooting to do. First of all look go back to the front page in your BIOS and select integrated peripherals. Make sure that both IDE channels are enabled. Most likely you set your jumper wrong.

Partitioning the drive in Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows server 2000/2003/2008

If you install a new drive and want to use it in Windows, you must partition the hard drive first! Note: If you want to recover data from the “OLD” drive, Don’t do this!
And there are some ways to partition the hard drive actually, say, partition the hard drive under Disk Management or use the third party partition manager tool like EaseUS artition Master to manage the hard disk directly, etc.

EaseUS Partition Master, comprehensive hard disk partition tool and system optimization software for Windows-based administration, enables you to easily partition the hard disk or change/extend partition without data loss under Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows server 2000/2003/2008. It also offers some basic and advanced features like create, delete, resize/move, format, copy partition for better Windows hard disk management. More features…

Certainly, retail packaged hard drives will have an install disk for you. You also can partition hard disk with it. If this new drive is going to be your main drive then use the partition application that is built into Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows server 2000/2003/2008. If your using Windows 9x (why?) then you’ll want to check out and find something that’ll cover your needs. You’ll need to fdisk this. Since most of people are using Windows 2000 or XP, so overleap all the steps in fdisk. The basal step is:

  • Boot into Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows server 2000/2003/2008.
  • Open Computer Management and select Disk Management.
  • Initialize the drive.
  • Partition the drive.
  • Format the drive.
  • Assign the drive letter.
  • Initiate changes.

If this is being installed as a secondary storage drive for Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows server 2000/2003/2008, then you can go into the built in utility called “Disk Management”. Go into the Control Panel -> go under Administrative Tools -> Computer Management -> Storage -> Disk Management.

Look on the bottom right and you’ll see something that looks like this picture. The disk with all of the unallocated space is what you’re after. Right click on it. Select New Partition.

A wizard will pop up and walk you through this process. Choose a partition size. If this is a secondary drive then you’re obviously after pure storage space so just make it a primary partition and allocate 100% of your space to it.

The followed screen looks like this. Just clicking next until you get here.

If you’re only using Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows server 2000/2003/2008, we would suggest using NTFS. If you’re dual booting then Fat32 would probably be a good idea if the other OS can’t read NTFS.

For NTFS the default cluster size is 4K which is pretty much the best tradeoff between speed and storage space.

Volume label is nothing other than the name you want it to be called.

Make sure you select quick format or else it’ll be a while before you can use the disk.

Click next it’s just a summary of what you told it to do.

Click next and soon the new drive is available.


No hard drives show up:
Do you have two drives on the cable? Make sure both of the drives aren’t set for the same setting (master or slave).
Make sure the power is plugged in and everything is connected securely.
Verify the drive is enabled in system BIOS. If not, select the auto-detect option.

The hard drive doesn’t even power up:

Check to make sure the IDE cable is connected correctly. You will see some kind of stripe running down the side of the cable that will indicate pin 1. Pin 1 is almost always the closest to the power connector. If you have this backwards the drive will normally either be silent or fail to power up.

Is the full capacity of the hard drive being seen:
Verify the BIOS has auto-detected and LBA mode is enabled.

My hard drive is slow:
Make sure you have your CD/DVD drives plugged into a different channel/cable. Most modern CD drives are ATA33 while the modern hard drives are ATA133. A drive can only transfer as fast as the slowest device on the channel.

My hard drive doesn’t have the jumper settings on the label:
Find the model number and visit the manufacturers website. The should have some instructions posted. If not, email their support.

My 40 GB hard drive only show up as 38.2 GB:
The formatted space will always be a bit less than the advertised storage capacity. This is supposed to happen, don’t worry. It is a difference in the way the OS and the manufacturers measure drive size. Hard drive manufacturers use round figures for sizing (1000MB = 1GB instead of 2^40 bytes = 1GB) whereas operating systems show the exact version.

RAID Configurations

RAID 0 (stripe)
Raid level 0 splits data across drives, resulting in higher data throughput. The performance of this RAID is great, but a loss of any drive in the array will result in data loss. This level is commonly referred to as striping.

  • Minimum number of drives required: 2
Raid 0 Diagram

  • High performance
  • Easy to implement
  • No parity overhead
  • No fault tolerance
RAID 1 (mirror)
RAID Level 1 writes all data to two or more drives. The performance of a level 1 array tends to be faster on reads and slower on writes compared to a single drive, but if either drive fails, no data is lost. This is a good entry-level redundant system, since only two drives are required; however, since one drive is used to store a duplicate of the data, the cost per megabyte is high. This level is commonly referred to as mirroring.

  • Minimum number of drives required: 2
Raid 1 Diagram

  • Fault tolerant
  • Easy to recover data in case of drive failure
  • Easy to implement
  • 100% parity overhead
  • Becomes very costly as number of disks increase
  • Inefficient
RAID Level 5 stripes data at a block level across several drives, with parity equality distributed among the drives. The parity information allows recovery from the failure of any single drive. Write performance is rather quick, but because parity data must be skipped on each drive during reads, the performance for reads tends to suffer. The low ratio of parity to data results in low redundancy overhead.

  • Minimum number of drives required: 3
Raid 5 Diagram

  • High efficiency
  • Fault tolerant
  • The best choice in multi-user environments which are not write performance sensitive.
  • Disk failure has a medium impact on throughput
  • Most complex controller design
RAID 0+1 (Stripe+Mirror)
RAID Level 0+1 is a mirror (RAID 1) array whose segments are striped (RAID 0) arrays. It is a great alternative for users that like the security of RAID 1 but need some additional performance boost.

  • Minimum number of drives required: 4
Raid 0+1 (Stripe + Mirror) Diagram

  • Fault tolerant
  • Very High I/O rates
  • Very expensive
  • High overhead
  • Very limited scalability
RAID 10 (Mirror+Stripe)
RAID Level 10 is a striped (RAID 0) array whose segments are mirrored (RAID 1). It is similar in performance to RAID 0+1, but with better fault tolerance and rebuild performance.

  • Minimum number of drives required: 4
Raid 10 (Mirror+Stripe) Diagram

  • High fault tolerance
  • High I/O rates
  • Faster rebuild performance than RAID 0+1
  • Under certain circumstances, RAID 10 array can sustain multiple simultaneous drive failures
  • Very expensive
  • High overhead
  • Very limited scalability
RAID 50 (Raid 5 + Stripe)
RAID Level 50 is a striped (RAID 0) array which is striped across a RAID 5 array. Performance is improved compared to RAID 5 because of the addition of the striped array. Fault tolerance is also improved.

  • Minimum number of drives required: 6
Raid 50 (Raid 5 + Stripe) Diagram

  • Higher fault tolerance than RAID 5
  • Higher efficiency than RAID 10
  • Higher I/O rates
  • Very complex and expensive to implement

USB 3.0

USB 2.0 has been the ubiquitous external data connection standard for all types of computers since its release in 2000. However with the phenomenal increase in casual users storing large files such as video, audio, and programs, demand for larger capacity hard drives has also increased drastically. The limited maximum transfer rate of USB 2.0 at about 30MB/s (megabytes per second) has become inadequate for the general user. Many computer users are now relying on other types of data interfaces, such as Firewire 800, eSATA / SATA, or Gigabit networks, to transfer large amounts of data between their mass storage devices.

USB 3.0, also known as the SuperSpeed bus, was designed to address the limitation of slow transfer rate. USB 3.0 introduces a fourth transfer mode of 5Gbps (gigabits per second). This new transfer mode upgrades the USB technology to support a maximum throughput of about 600MB/s while still maintaining backwards compatibility with the older signaling rates.

USB Signaling Rate Chart
Low Speed USB 1.0 1.5 Mbps
Full Speed USB 1.1 12 Mbps
Hi-Speed USB 2.0 480 Mbps
SuperSpeed USB 3.0 5 Gbps

This allows a USB 3.0 mass storage device to be connected onto a legacy USB 2.0/1.1 port, and likewise. It is important to note that there are now two types of connector and plug combinations in USB 3.0 specification, SuperSpeed standard A and SuperSpeed standard B. SuperSpeed standard A plugs will fit legacy A receptacles but SuperSpeed standard B plugs will not fit into legacy standard B receptacles. Below are charts comparing the pinouts of the SuperSpeed standard A plug and the SuperSpeed standard B plug.

High-Speed USB 2.0 A plug pinout SuperSpeed standard A plug pinout
1 VBUS Red
2 D- White
3 D+ Green
4 GND Black
Shell Shield Connector Shell
1 VBUS Red
2 D- White
3 D+ Green
4 GND Black
5 StdA_SSRX- Blue
6 StdA_SSRX+ Yellow
8 StdA_SSTX- Purple
9 StdA_SSTX+ Orange
Shell Shield Connector Shell
SuperSpeed standard B plug pinout
1 VBUS Red
2 D- White
3 D+ Green
4 GND Black
5 StdA_SSTX- Blue
6 StdA_SSTX+ Yellow
8 StdA_SSRX- Purple
9 StdA_SSRX+ Orange
Shell Shield Connector Shell


The USB 3.0 specification also includes new power management features including support for idle, sleep, and suspend states, as well as Link-, Device-, and Function-level power management. The bus power spec has also been increased to 900mA, an 80% increase over USB 2.0 (500mA).

With the USB 3.0 specification completed and released in 2008, many desktop and notebook motherboard manufacturers such as Gigabyte and Intel either have plans to or have already integrated the latest SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports into their hardware. It is expected that by the year 2012, over 4 billion USB 3.0 devices will have been shipped.

Transfer rate comparison of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0

Below is a comparison showing the difference in transfer rate between a USB 2.0 port and USB 3.0 port. Taking a look at the sequential Read / Write performance of the SATA drives connected to the USB 2.0 port, we find that even a single 3.5″ SATA hard drive will saturate the bandwidth of the USB 2.0 port. On the other hand, there is a significant improvement in performance when comparing a single 3.5″ SATA hard drive and a three SATA drive RAID 0 set. In fact, even the three SATA drive RAID 0 set has not yet saturated the USB 3.0 bus.

1TB 3.5” Seagate SATA HDD connected to
USB 2.0 port on Gigabyte motherboard
1TB 3.5” Seagate SATA HDD connected to
Addonics 2-Port USB 3.0 PCI-Express 1X Controller
3 Drive RAID 0 set connected to
USB 2.0 port on Gigabyte motherboard
3 Drive RAID 0 set connected to
Addonics 2-Port USB 3.0 PCI-Express 1X Controller


Addonics USB 3.0 Controllers

Addonics has realized the needs of consumers interested in incorporating the latest USB 3.0 technology into their desktops and notebooks which do not have built in USB 3.0 ports. Below are host controllers and adapters designed to upgrade systems which have either a PCI-Express or ExpressCard slot with two USB 3.0 ports.



The configuration data for a PC is stored by the BIOS in what is called CMOS (Complementary Metal  Oxide Semiconductor). COMS is also known as NVRAM. CMOS is  a type of memory that requires very little power to retain any data stored on it. CMOS can store a PC’S configuration data for many years with power from low voltage dry cell or lithium  batteries. Actually, CMOS is the technology that is used to manufacture the transistors used in memory and IC chips. However, the name CMOS, because it was used early on for storing the system configuration, has become synonymous with the bios configuration data.

      The BIOS CMOS memory stores the system configuration,including any modifications made to the system, its hard drives, peripheral settings, or other settings. The system and RTC (real time clock) settings are also stored in the CMOS.

      The information on the computer’s hardware is strored in the computer’s CMOS memory. Originally, CMOS technology was used only for storing the system setup information. Although most circuits on the computer are now made using this technology, the name CMOS usually refers to the storage of the computer’s hardware configuration data.

      When the computer is started up, the CMOS data is read and used as a checklist to verify that the devices indicated are in fact present and operating. Once the hardware check is completed,. The BIOS loads the operating system and passes control of the computer to it. From that point on, the BIOS  is available to accept requests from device drivers and application programs for hardware assistance.

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