Combine Optical Drives And IDE Hard Drives On The Same IDE Channel

by on December 12, 2006

Q: I am running Photoshop CS on a Windows XP Service Pack 2 PC with 2 GB RAM and two hard drives on one IDE cable and two optical drives on the other. I have my Windows paging file on one hard drive and the Photoshop “scratch disk” on the other. If I want to get maximum performance, I imagine I ought to have the two hard drives (and their paging/scratch files) on separate IDE cables. My question is, can I have one hard drive and one optical drive on each IDE cable? And if so, how should I set the jumpers on the four drives?

A: You could put them on different IDE cables, however you certainly don’t want to put a slower drive (Optical) on a cable with a higher speed drive (Hard drive).

Your computer will communicate on that cable at the speed that the slowest drive accepts. Effectively slowing down your IDE transfer rate to your hard drives as a result of having your optical drive on the same channel.

If you are experiencing a lot of wait times, and disk accessing is taking longer than normal you may consider the following actions (wallet permitting of course):

1. Make sure to defragment all of your drives on a regular basis. This will help keep files in sequence on your hard drive allowing them to be accessed faster.

2. If you don’t already do this, download a free Spyware scanner like Spybot Search and Destroy or AdAware free and do a scan/immunize. Scumware can tend to clog up your system and slow it down.

3. If you still aren’t satisfied with the speed, look at what type of drives you have now. Can you purchase something faster in the IDE family? Things to look for are RPMs (the higher the number, usually the faster it is for data access) combined with a nice write cache (Drives today are usually 8mb or 16mb in cache memory on board).

4. If there isn’t anything in the IDE family it’s time for you to upgrade! Splurge on the latest motherboard that has SATA-2 ports, and then purchase drives that are in that standard. The speed will make you weep!

Good luck!