Replacing Hard Drives in “vector”

The hard drive that I bought a few days ago has arrived today. I decided that I needed a new hard drive because two hard drives in “vector”, my second computer that I use as web and media server, have shown problems recently: One hard drive, the one containing all my web server content, suddenly disappeared, and then reappeared again a few hours later after I’d gone through a lot of trouble of restoring the latest backup and getting as many files that had been changed or added after that back as possible. The other drive often reverts to PIO instead of DMA transfer. I think that hard drive actually was in “scalar” before I bought the new Dell, and I had noticed problems there already.

So now I’m copying a few files, and then I’m going to put the new 250 GB Seagate drive in to replace the 120 GB Maxtor C:\ drive and the 80 GB Maxtor D:\ drive. I think I’ll partition it about 170 GB/80 GB and then use Ghost to clone the old hard drive contents into the new partitions. The slightly funny thing about this is the easiest way to accomplish that is to actually remove the 160 GB Seagate E:\ drive, the only drive of the three current drives that will stay in the system, and put the new 250 GB Seagate drive in its place for a while. The E:\ drive is in a mobile rack and therefore the easiest to replace.

The question that I still have to answer is this: What do I do with the 80 GB and the 120 GB Maxtor drives that I’ll take out of the system? I replaced them because I doubt their reliability. But they still kind of work… So I’m tempted to get mobile racks for them so I can use them somehow, perhaps as backup media. But if I doubt their reliability, then what good are they as backup media, something where reliability is really important? But having a 120 GB backup drive instead of the 20 GB drive that I currently use in the mobile rack would be nice… So should I buy two more trays (which are strangely enough more expensive than the racks that include a tray, but the racks are out of stock right now)?


Well, this was supposed to be really simple. I cloned the hard drives using Ghost, removed the old ones, like planned, and rebooted. But Windows wouldn’t start because the drive letters were still wrong. Now I’ve been trying to change the letter of the boot drive three times, I’ve cloned the drives three times, and I still haven’t been able to successfully boot from the new drive. Somehow my BIOS doesn’t recognize it as 250 GB, but as 128 GB, so it looks like it’s the 28-bit LBA limitation, but I’m pretty sure my BIOS can handle 48-bit LBA, because it does recognize the 160 GB Seagate as 160 GB.

On the other hand I’ve noticed that sometimes the new drive isn’t recognized, mostly when it’s connected to the far end of the PATA cable. I don’t know if that went to the 120 GB or the 80 GB drive, but I’m getting a feeling that I might have had cable issues, even though this was a really new rounded PATA cable, about a year old. I think the 120 GB drive might still be good after all.

Just for my own reference, three important websites:

  1. How to restore the system/boot drive letter in Windows
  2. Unable to log on if the boot partition drive letter has changed
  3. Hard Drive Size Limitations and Barriers


I’ve given up making the new 250 GB drive the boot drive. I kept the 120 GB drive and just added the new 250 GB drive in place of the 80 GB drive. For some reason I can access the new drive, but not boot from it.


About Mathias

Software development engineer. Principal developer of DrJava. Recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Computer Science at Rice University.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply