The Hardware Guide
Tips, tricks and tweaks for getting the most out of your hardware.
IDE Cables

Pictured below are the two cables, the 80-wire and the older 40-wire ATA IDE cables. As you may be able to see, the newer 80-wire cable has very small wires running from connector to connector, conversely, the 40-wire cable has thicker wires. The reason for this is that the newer standard requires the addition and separation of the wires for better signals to achieve the faster speeds.

80-wire Ultra DMA IDE/ATA
Fig.1: A standard 80-conductor Ultra DMA IDE/ATA interface cable. Note the blue, grey and black connectors, and the 80 thin wires.
Blue to the Motherboard, Black to Primary and Grey to Secondary drive.

40-wire IDE/ATA cable
Fig.2: A standard, 40-wire IDE/ATA cable.
Note the presence of three black connectors, and the 40 individual wires in the ribbon cable.
Also note the red wire that marks wire #1 and hence pin #1 on each connector.

The Older Master & Slave Relationship
For the longest time, hard drives have always had a setting for a Master (or Primary) setting and Slave. The Master was always the boot drive, the drive that contained the operating system. The other drive or Slave drive was for data storage. In rare cases, using this configuration you could boot from a Slave device but we're not going to get into that here and now. The way technicians have always done it in the past with the 40-wire cable was to use the Master in the middle connection and Slave on the end. It really didn't matter much until the hard drive makers started making drives with the Cable Select option.

Install the 80-Conductor IDE Cable
The 40-pin 80-conductor cable is orientation specific. The cable connectors are colour-coded: blue or red for the host connector, black and grey for the primary and secondary disk drives.

In single drive configurations the coloured connector is connected to the motherboard and the primary drive to the opposite end connector (Black) on the 40-pin 80-conductor cable.

The three connectors on the 80-wire cable are typically different colours and attach to specific items: