Optical Drive Install: Master vs Slave

by on May 22, 2007

Q: I am installing a CD/DVD-R drive and a CD/DVD-ROM drive on my Windows XP system. Does it matter which drive is the master and which drive is the slave?

A: For many people who build and upgrade their own PCs, the answer to this question would be simply that it is a matter of preference. The key to your upgrade is to install the devices so that they run efficiently in your system. The most efficient setup for your system depends on its age, how many hard drives you have installed, and the quality of the optical drives you are installing. You have to find a setup that enables your hard drive(s) and your optical drives to work in harmony within your system.

Providing that you have one internal hard drive with Windows XP on it, this is how I would personally set up the hardware:

  1. Make the hard drive the master on the primary IDE interface
  2. Attach the DVD-ROM to the primary IDE interface as a slave
  3. Place the DVD-R on the secondary IDE interface as the master

I am partial to placing the DVD-R on its own interface as the master because it has worked best for me. I have experienced problems burning DVDs and copying DVDs from my DVD-R if it was not either the master or the only device on an interface. Some DVD-R drives will come with warnings stating that the drive may not perform to its potential if it is a slave, and there is a lot of troubleshooting information and tips on the internet that reiterate the same sentiment. This does not mean that every DVD-R will react the same way, especially in newer systems. Essentially you will need to set the system up and test it to make sure that it works to your liking.