Making Hard Drive Installation Easy

Making Hard Drive Installation Easy

M. David Stone

Hard drives are getting cheaper, but most users never upgrade what came with their system, fearing the hassle and headache involved. Hard drive giant Seagate is hoping to change that with the Seagate 80GB Barracuda ATA IV Hard Drive ($110 street). The drive itself isn’t new, but the out-of-box experience is, thanks to the bundled DiscWizard CD and user-friendly installation guide. Indeed, we were impressed with how easy Seagate has made installation, though there are still some pitfalls.

The documentation does a good job of explaining basics—like the need to set one drive to master and one to slave—but it assumes a lot. For example, it assumes you’ll want to keep the old drive as the master. Only when you get to the last step do you find instructions for making the new drive the boot drive, or what to do if you don’t have a working drive. It would be more helpful to have such a reference in the first step. The guide also failed to mention that you may have tell your system BIOS to look for the new hard disk. And it omitted mentioning that you can get drive-specific instructions from the DiscWizard program.

With the hardware set up, we ran DiscWizard, which found the drive, asked whether we wanted to set it up, and offered the choice of a typical or custom setup. Both options let you choose whether to install the new drive as the boot drive. Custom setup lets you create and delete partitions.

Keeping the intended user (someone trying to eke more life out of an aging PC) in mind, we tried throwing the installation routine a curve by testing on an older PC whose BIOS doesn’t recognize hard disks larger than 8.4GB. Sure enough, DiscWizard informed us that the computer would use only 8.4GB of the drive and asked whether we should install software to take advantage of the full capacity.

Seagate has certainly improved upon the generic instructions and utilities that come with many hard drive upgrades. The minor issues we mention leave room for improvement, but the key word here is minor.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in PC Magazine.