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Welcome to the Notebook Hard Drive FAQ!

  1. What is the part number for the Hard Disk Drive Caddy?
  2. What is the part number of the media Hard Disk Drive Media Bay carrier? I want to be able to use two hard drives at the same time.
  3. I ordered a 40 GB hard drive and Windows is telling me that it is only 37.3 GB. Did Dell rip me off?
  4. There is a 32 MB FAT partition on my hard drive. What is this for? Can I recover it?
  5. I have a 32 GB hard drive and it only has one partition. How can I create a second partition to save my files to?
  6. I am using Win9x and I want to set up multiple partitions on my hard drive. How do I do this?
  7. Why does a primary hard disk drive failure affect the CDROM? I'm getting this error: Primary Hard Drive not found. Optical Drive not found.
  8. What is the part number for the plastic filler for an empty media bay?
  9. Can I boot from an external USB hard disk drive?
  10. How can I hook up my notebook HDD to my desktop?
  11. What does a hard drive's access time mean?
  12. How long will my hard drive last?
  13. How can I extend the life of my hard drive?
  14. I recently fdisk and reformatted the hard drive on an older Latitude CP. The drive was a 4.3 GB and now it is only 2.0 GB. What happened?
  15. My hard drive switched from UDMA 5 to PIO and is stuck in PIO Mode. How do I switch it back to UDMA 5? I'm using Win XP.
  16. In my IBM Travelstar 40GNX, I noticed that there is a "loose part noise/rattle" noise when I move the hard drive around in my hand. Is this normal?
  17. I just converted my hard drive from FAT32 to NTFS using Win XP's convert program. My hard drive is a lot slower. Why?
  18. I try to boot my computer and I get a Blue Screen of Death with the following error message: Stop: 0xc0000218 {Registry File Failure}How can I fix this?
  19. What is the difference between PIO and DMA Mode?
  20. Will erasing my hard drive good enough to get rid of the data? I want to sell my hard drive and I do not want anyone to access my files.
  21. I've an ATA66 Hard Drive in my Inspiron 8000 and would like to know if I can install an ATA100 hard drive.
  22. When I purchased my notebook, I ordered a 7200 RPM drive from Dell. How can I check to make sure that is what I got? New
  23. I just purchase a new notebook computer from Dell and I noticed that there are extra partitions on the hard drive. One is 3GB FAT32 "Unknown Partition", a 47MB FAT "EISA Configuration" and an NTFS partion. What are these?


1 Q: What is the part number for the Hard Disk Drive Caddy?
 

A: The following drive caddy's will handle both the 9.5mm and 12.5 mm disk drives. The Hard Drive Pin Adapter's part number is 8267R (Dell description: Connector,Header,2X22,Female,2,S,Gold,35K,Third Height,Chip Set). To see how to remove a hard drive from the 48CVX caddy, visit here.


 
Inspiron Notebook
Latitude Notebook
Dell's Part Number
 
2650
 ---
4J294
 
4000
C600
480WV
 
4100
C610
480WV
 
8000
C800
48CVX
 
8100
C810
48CVX
 
8200
C840
48CVX

2 Q: What is the part number of the media Hard Disk Drive Media Bay carrier? I want to be able to use two hard drives at the same time.
 

A:Media Bay carrier for the I8x00, I4x00 and the I3800 series is 4169D for the 12.5mm drives and 29MFN for the 9.5mm drives. NOTE: This is no longer available on Dell's web site. You must order the 4 screws that hold the media bay carrier together. For some reason, Dell does not include these when the media bay is ordered. The part number for the screws is 53965. NOTE: Some people are having problems getting these screws. Here is Dell's description for the screws: SCR,M2.6X5PHH,LP,BC5. These screws are 2.6mm x 5mm phillips head screws. You could try a hobby shop or your local hardware store to see if they have them.

The Media Bay carrier for the I7500 series is 4124T. You must also order the 11 screws, part number 3771U.

The Media Bay carrier for the I600m, I8500 and the Latitude "D" series notebooks is 4P124. This part number does not include the screws and it appears that Dell is not going to sell the screws for this module. The required screws are 2.5mm.

To order these parts, you must call Dell Spare Parts USA at 1-800-357-3355 ext. 69937 or 1-800-449-3355 ext. 69937 or 1-800-624-9896, select option 2, then 2, then 4. One of these numbers should work for you. Typically, you can not order these parts on the Internet. For Dell Spare Parts Canada, call 1-866-440-3355.

Instructions on how to install hard drive in the Media Bay Carrier


3 Q: I ordered a 40 GB hard drive and Windows is telling me that it is only 37.3 GB. Did Dell rip me off?
A: What you are seeing is not really a problem at all, but actually a discrepancy in the way drive sizes are reported. Hard disk manufacturers use decimal megabytes (1,000,000 bytes) in their advertising, and BIOS auto-detect routines use the same measure. Other software, especially most disk setup and partitioning utilities like FDISK, use binary megabytes (1,048,576) in their reporting. A Decimal GB is reported as 1,000,000,000 bytes and a binary GB is reported as 1,073,741,824 bytes. The difference of about 7% is what you are seeing.

According to the disk manufacturer, your 40 decimal GB hard drive has 40,000,000,000 bytes. Your software uses the binary system to measure with so 1 GB in the binary system is 2^30 bytes or 1,073,741,824 bytes. If you take the 40,000,000,000 that the manufacturer says the drive has and divide it by how your software measures GB (1,073,741,824 bytes), you end up with 37.2529 GB using the binary system.

So you are not missing anything and you were not ripped off.

Go Here to learn all about the difference.


4 Q: There is a 32 MB FAT partition on my hard drive. What is this for? Can I recover it?
A: Yes the partition is suppose to be there. The FAT partition that exist on the drive contains diagnostic software that is installed at the factory when the system is built. The reason for this being setup on a FAT partition is so that it can be accessed through a boot disk in case the NTFS partition is not bootable.

You do not have to have this diagnostic partition on a system for normal operation, but I would not advise that anyone but more advance users remove this as it may be helpful for some types of technical problems if you have to call into Dell Technical Support.
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5 Q: I have a 32 GB hard drive and it only has one partition. How can I create a second partition to save my files to?
A: You basically have two choices. The first is to wipe out your hard drive, delete the C:\ partition., repartition the hard drive and then format the drives. Then reinstall your operating system and programs.

The second option is to use a program such as Partition Magic to create the second partition. This would allow you to create the partition on the fly without destroying your data and OS setup. I strongly suggest that if you use this method, back up your data files first.
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6 Q: I am using Win9x and I just bought a larger hard drive. I want to set up multiple partitions on my hard drive. How do I do this?
A: You will have to use a program called FDISK to create your partitions. Create a startup disk using Win9x. FDISK will be on that disk. To learn how to use it visit here.
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7 Q: Why does a primary hard disk drive failure affect the CDROM? I'm getting this error: Primary Hard Drive not found. Optical Drive not found.
A: The configuration is the internal HDD is the Master on the Primary IDE bus, the fixed optical drive is the Slave on the Primary IDE bus, the Media Bay device is the Master on the Secondary IDE Bus. Pull the HDD and nothing will work.

The error occurs when either the HDD or optical drive becomes half connected to its connector. That locks up the bus and the BIOS reports both failed. Reseat one or both of the drives. The Inspiron cases flex too much because of the loose palm rest "feature".
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8 Q: What is the part number for the plastic filler for an empty media bay?
A: Part Number: 0849D Description: FILLER,PLSTC,AIRBAY or 53950 Dell Latitude CP Travel Module (an empty module; not a battery). These modules will fit the following systems. Click on the part number to view the parts.

Latitude CP, CPi, CPi A, CPi R, CPt C, CPx H, CPx J, CSx H, CSx R, C600, C610, C640, C800, C810, C840
Inspiron 2500, 2600, 2650, 3700, 3800, 4000, 4100, 4150, 8000, 8100, 8200
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9 Q: Can I boot from an external USB hard disk drive?
A: Unfortunately, most of the Dell notebooks do not have this ability. The Inspiron 600m and 8500 have the ability to boot from a USB external floppy drive, USB CD, USB hard drive or a USB memory key.
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10 Q: How can I hook up my notebook HDD to my desktop?
A: You can purchase a Laptop To IDE Hard Drive Adapter. They sell for approximately $10USD. Click Here for more detailed information.
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11 Q: What does a hard drive's access time mean?
A: This number basically refers to the time it takes from the time the drive is asked for data until it can retrieve it. Since a hard disk recorder doesn't write in linear tracks, this specification is fairly significant. The lower the number, the faster the hard drive is.
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12 Q: How long will my hard drive last?
A: Hard drives will typically last anywhere from 3 to 5 years. The latest hard drives are more reliable and last longer. Hard drives will and do fail. Some hard drives might fail in a day, a month or a year, this is why having an up to date hard drive backup is so crucial!
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13 Q: How can I extend the life of my hard drive?
A: One easy way to extend the life of any hard drive, especially a notebook hard drive, is to not bounce it. The head floats on a minute cushion of air over the magnetic coating on the platter. When you bounce the notebook onto a hard surface, or jostle it as you carry it, the head hits the platter and scrapes it. Too many bounces and you will loose data. Head damage can also result. So always be gentle in moving a notebook.
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14 Q: I recently fdisk and reformatted the hard drive on an older Latitude CP. The drive was a 4.3 GB and now it is only 2.0 GB. What happened?
A: When using FDISK, you probably answered the question about large disk support and FAT32 with N, and if you did that, DOS will make a partition at 2GB and format it FAT16. If you had put in the partitions and logical drives yourself beforehand at 2gb and the rest of the drive, you would have had 2 drives of approximately 2GB each to be formatted FAT16. 2GB is the biggest drive/partition possible with FAT16. If you look at the drive in FDISK OPTIONS, select #4 and see if it shows FAT16 on the line for the drive. If it does, that's what you did. If it shows FAT32, then you have a "hangover" from a previous installation but you will need to wipe the drive back to a bare state and start over in either case.
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15 Q: My hard drive switched from UDMA 5 to PIO and is stuck in PIO Mode. How do I switch it back to UDMA 5? I'm using Win XP.
A: Windows XP will turn off DMA mode for a device after encountering certain errors during data transfer operations. If more than six DMA transfer timeouts occur, Windows will turn off DMA and use only PIO mode on that device.

In this case, the user cannot turn on DMA for this device. The only option for the user who wants to enable DMA mode is to uninstall and reinstall the device.

Windows XP downgrades the Ultra DMA transfer mode after receiving more than six CRC errors. Whenever possible, the operating system will step down one UDMA mode at a time (from UDMA mode 4 to UDMA mode 3, and so on).

To correct the problem, you have to uninstall the Primary IDE channel and reboot. Windows XP will reinstall the IDE drivers and redetected the hard drive. To uninstall the Primary IDE channel, go to Control Panel > System > Hardware > Device Manager > IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers and select "Primary IDE Channel". Right click on it and select uninstall. Reboot one more time with 'Use DMA if Available'. The hard drive access will once again use the correct DMA mode.


16 Q: In my IBM Travelstar 40GNX, I noticed that there is a "loose part noise/rattle" noise when I move the hard drive around in my hand. Is this normal?
 

A: Yes, it is normal.

The IBM Hitachi tech support's response is "It is normal for all drives that incorporate load/unload technology to make a rattling sound. There is no need to be concerned. The drive will function as designed."

Tohisba's response to this question is to put "Rattle is Normal" on the label.


17 Q: I just converted my hard drive from FAT32 to NTFS using Win XP's convert program. My hard drive is a lot slower. Why?
 

A: When converting FAT32 to NTFS, the Win XP conversion sets up the 512 byte clusters, not the more desirable 4K clusters. These systems have shown a massive slow down in disk I/O performance. These systems need to have the cluster size increased to 4K. Unfortunately, to do this you need a third party software application since there is no conversion available from Microsoft. One application that has been recommended, but that I haven't tested, is Paragon Partition Manager. It is available at a cost of $39.95.

Or you can reformat your hard drive and set the cluster size correctly resulting in a faster computer.


18 Q: I try to boot my computer and I get a Blue Screen of Death with the following error message: Stop: 0xc0000218 {Registry File Failure}How can I fix this?
 

A: On your Windows-based computer with Win2000 or Win XP, you may receive one of the following messages about a Stop error:

 

Stop 0xc0000218 (0xe11a30e8, 0x00000000, 0x000000000, 0x00000000)
UNKNOWN_HARD_ERROR


-or-

Stop: 0xc0000218 {Registry File Failure}
The registry cannot load the hive (file):
\SystemRoot\System32\Config\SYSTEM or its log or alternate.
It is corrupt, absent, or not writable.
The parameters in parentheses are specific to the system configuration and may vary.

CAUSE

This behavior can occur if a necessary registry hive file cannot be loaded because the file is corrupted or missing. Registry files can be damaged because of hard disk corruption or some other hardware problem.

This behavior can also occur if the driver has damaged the registry data while loading into memory, or if the memory where the registry is loading has a parity error. In the latter case, turn off the external cache and check the memory chips.

To help troubleshoot this problem, read Microsoft's Knowledge Base Article - 314874. If it is a corrupt registry, Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 307545 describes how to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting.


19 Q: What is the difference between PIO and DMA Mode?
 

A: PIO and DMA refer to the method used to transfer data between the hard drive and RAM.

PIO (Programmable Input/Output) data transfers use the CPU to control data transfers between the hard drive and RAM. DMA (Direct Memory Access) transfers do not involve the CPU, transferring data directly between the hard drive and RAM. DMA modes are thus better for use with preemptive multitasking operating systems such as Windows NT, 2000, XP and Windows 95, 98, 98SE and ME.

Transfer Mode
Max Transfer Rate
Standard
PIO Mode 0
3.33 MB/s
ATA
PIO Mode 1
5.22 MB/s
ATA
PIO Mode 2
8.33 MB/s
ATA
PIO Mode 3
11.1 MB/s
ATA-2
PIO Mode 4
16.7 MB/s
ATA-3

DMA Single Word Mode

2.11 MB/s
ATA
DMA Single Word Mode 1
4.22 MB/s
ATA
DMA Single Word Mode 2
8.33 MB/s
ATA
DMA Multiple Word Mode 0
4.17 MB/s
ATA
DMA Multiple Word Mode 1
13.3 MB/s
ATA-2
DMA Multiple Word Mode 2
16.7 MB/s
ATA-3
Ultra DMA Mode 0
16.7 MB/s
ATA-4
Ultra DMA Mode 1
25 MB/s
ATA-4
Ultra DMA Mode 2
33.3 MB/s
ATA-4, Ultra AT
Ultra DMA Mode 3
44.4 MB/s
ATA-5
Ultra DMA Mode 4
66.6 MB/s 
ATA-5, Ultra ATA/66
Ultra DMA Mode 5
100 MB/s
ATA-6, Ultra ATA/100
Ultra DMA Mode 6*
133 MB/s
ATA-7, Ultra ATA/133*

* This standard may never be officially adopted since the Serial ATA specification is almost ready.


20 Q: Will erasing my hard drive good enough to get rid of the data? I want to sell my hard drive and I do not want anyone to access my files.
A: Erasing the hard drive does not get rid of the files forever. As a matter of fact, with the proper software it is relatively easy to recover the files. To make sure that the drive is actually wiped out, you will have to get some software that will over write the data that is on your hard drive.

The FORMAT utility actually creates new FAT and ROOT tables, leaving all previous data on the disk untouched. Moreover, an image of the replaced FAT and ROOT tables are stored, so that the UNFORMAT command can be used to restore them. FDISK merely cleans the Partition Table (located in the drive's first sector) and does not touch anything else.

I would suggest Active@ KILLDISK for DOS. The pro version of Active@ KILLDISK has several methods for data destruction that conform to US Department of Defense clearing and sanitizing standard DoD 5220.22-M, German VSITR, Russian GOST p50739-95. More sophisticated methods like Gutmann's or User Defined methods are available as well. There is a free version available also.


21 Q: I've an ATA66 Hard Drive in my Inspiron 8000 and would like to know if I can install an ATA100 hard drive.
A: The simple answer is YES. The HDD connector in Dell Notebooks is the same for ATA33, ATA66 & ATA100 HDD and the Inspiron 8000 supports ATA100. If you were using a desktop then you'd need a 80 strand IDE cable for ATA66 and ATA100 HDD to get the full drive potential.
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22 Q: When I purchased my notebook, I ordered a 7200 RPM drive from Dell. How can I check to make sure that is what I got?
 

A: There are a few ways that you can make this determination:

  1. You can physically remove the hard drive from the computer and look at the label. If you do this, follow the instructions in your User's Guide.
  2. You can go to Dell's Premier Site and set up an account. It's free. Once you have your account set up, you can use Dell's System Profiler to scan your notebook to see what is installed. This will give you the part number of the hard drive. Then use Google to search out the hard drive specifications.
  3. Use Windows built in System Information Utility. The System Information Utility is provided in all versions of Windows and is located at START - PROGRAMS - ACCESSORIES - SYSTEM TOOLS. This will give you the model number of the hard drive and you can now use Google to search out the hard drive specifications.
  4. Look in Windows Device Manager and get the model number of the hard drive and use Google to search out the hard drive specifications.
  5. Download AIDA32 and run it. This program will give you the details of your hard drive.

For additional information on this topic, refer to How To Determine Your Computer Specifications.


23 Q: I just purchase a new notebook computer from Dell and I noticed that there are extra partitions on the hard drive. One is 3GB FAT32 "Unknown Partition", a 47MB FAT "EISA Configuration" and an NTFS partion. What are these? The partitions look THIS.
 

A: Dell began shipping systems in mid-July 2004 with a PC Restore Image by Symantec on the hard drive, which takes 3 to 6 GB of space. Dell PC Restore is a compressed copy of all the software on your computer when it is first sent to you. The copy is placed on a hidden partition on your hard drive. That's your "Unknown Partition".

To access it: Boot your computer. When the Dell BIOS splash screen appears press and hold the <Ctrl> key on the keyboard, press the <F11> key, then release them both at the same time. The Dell PC Restore by Symantec window appears. Go HERE for full details on it and how to use it.

The ESIA Configuration partition is the Dell Diagnostic programs. You access them by booting to them. When you see the Dell BIOS splash screen, hit <F2> multiple times and then choose to boot to the Diagnostics.

The NTFS partition is where your programs and operating system are installed.

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