Sunday, November 29, 2015

How To Identify Hard Drive

Is My Hard Drive IDE, SATA or SCSI?

Ever wonder “what kind of hard drive do I have?” Technology changes in hard drive interfaces do not come too often, thankfully, so there are just a few different types to discuss.

There is a lot of confusion sometimes when people ask whether or not a hard drive is compatible or if they can upgrade a notebook to an SSD because they are not sure how to identify their hard drive as to which interface it uses.

Here is a Video showing the different hard drives

Here are some photos of hard drives on the cable end

SATA hard drives are the most common in netbooks, laptops and workstations today


Laptop/Netbook SATA Hard Drive

SATA hard drives use narrow, compact cables with ends that are “keyed” in an “L” shape. SATA is an acronym for Serial ATA (AT Attachment). SSD’s (Solid State Drive) are only available in SATA interface.

SATA desktop hard drives look very similar, the connectors are the same as for netbooks and laptops.


Desktop SATA Hard Drive

IDE Hard Drives are still found in older machines

Older style hard drives are typically referred to as IDE, but also as PATA (Parallel ATA). While you might think parallel is faster than serial, like it was in the days of old with printers, that does not carry through to this hard drive technology.


IDE Desktop Hard Drive

Laptop IDE hard drives look a bit different. They actually get power through some of the pins, not a standalone power connector.


IDE Laptop Hard Drive

SCSI Hard Drives in Performance Workstations and Servers

Now for older high performance workstations and servers, we have SCSI (pronounced “Scuzzy”) hard drives.

SCSI hard drives are generally capable of higher sustained throughputs of data.

What I am showing here are two “flavors” of SCSI hard drives, 80 pin drives that are designed for hot swap enclosures and 68 pin (with separate power connector) that attache via a ribbon cable, often with a terminator device on the end of the cable.

SCSI buses must be terminated and that’s a whole ‘nother topic that I won’t get into. Let’s just say that in the days of 68 pin SCSI hard drives you had to know what the heck you were doing when configuring.


80 Pin SCSI Hard Drive


68 Pin SCSI Hard Drive

I hope the photos, video and discussion help answer what kind of hard drive you have. Please leave a comment with any questions!

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