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Hard Drive Buying Guide

Types
Connection Types
IDE
SCSI
Other Connections
Features
Glossary


IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics)
IDE is by far the most common of all connection methods, available in about 98% of all computers. One of the biggest differences between IDE and most of the other interface types is the integration of the controller on the drive itself instead of on the motherboard. This will mean little to the average user accept that it helps to keep costs down.

When purchasing an IDE drive keep in mind that there are a number of different varieties available. The general rule is that you want to purchase the fastest possible standard that your computer can support. In fact, you can even buy a faster standard than your computer will presently support and your computer will work with it. This is great for someone who needs an immediate upgrade but plans on buying a faster computer at a latter date. If cost is an issue, you can always purchase a lower and less expensive standard, which will still work in your system.

The various IDE standards, in order from most basic to fastest, are:

ATA
- Also known as basic IDE. This supports up to two hard drives and features a 16-bit interface. It can handle transfer speeds up to 8.3 MB per second.

ATA-2
- Also known as Fast ATA or EIDE (Enhanced IDE). These drives include a number of advancements and support transfer speeds up to 13.3 MB per second.

ATA-3
- This is a minor upgrade to ATA-2 and offers transfer speeds up to 16.6 MB per second.

Ultra-ATA
- Also called Ultra-DMA, ATA-33 or DMA-33. These drives offer dramatic speed improvements, with transfer rates up to 33 MB per second.

ATA-66
- A version of ATA proposed by the Quantum Corporation and supported by Intel that doubles transfer rates up to 66 MB per second.

ATA-100
- An upgrade to the ATA standard that supports transfer rates up to 100 MB per second.

ATA-133 - The latest version of the ATA standard. Found mostly in AMD-based systems, it supports transfer rates up to 133 MB per second.
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