This Year I am Thankful for My CD-RW Drive

By Kenny Williams

Another turkey has bit the dust. With its passing we should give thanks for all we have been blessed with. I decided to show my thanks for all of the wonderful creations that I have safely stored on my hard drive by making a complete back up of it. After all, I know that I will give many thanks for my CD-RW drive, and the back up I made with it, if the worst were to happen to my beloved computer system.

This column is to give thanks for the ever-useful and inexpensive CD-RW drive. I also am keeping in line with my promise from last week to discuss installation of a CD-RW drive to your computer.

Along with removing the top or side of the case, installing an optical drive requires a spot on the front of your system, as well. If you are replacing an existing CD-ROM drive, you can use the existing drive bay. When you add a new drive, you will have to pop off one of the drive bay covers. Oftentimes it is easiest to do this from the inside of the case. Push out on the middle of the cover with your finger or a screwdriver.

Be sure to read through the instructions that came with your CD-RW drive. The new CD-RW drive will need to be designated as a slave or master drive. The CD-RW should come with instructions that will help you decode the jumper settings (Jumpers are tiny plastic pieces that connect small pins on the back of the drive). The orientation of the jumpers determines whether the drive is set to master or slave. Your computer likely has two IDE ports. Generally two devices can connect to each port if one device is set as master and the other as slave. If you already have a CD drive connected to the primary IDE port, just add the new drive as the slave on the secondary plug on the ribbon cable.

Next, slide the drive into a free bay. You'll probably see your existing hard drive in a standard 3.5-inch bay with a CD-ROM drive or some other device taking up one of the larger bays. Use the screws that came with your new drive to fasten it into place.

Look for an existing IDE cable connected to the appropriate port or use the new cable that came with the drive to connect the drive to the motherboard. When connecting IDE cables, look for the notched opening in the middle of the plug.  The red line on the ribbon cable usually lines up with pin number 1 on the drive.  Next, plug in a power cable from the power supply.

You may have one more cable left to connect. Many sound cards can accept audio feeds directly from the CD/DVD drive. Your sound card or optical drive may have come with a shorter cable that has small connectors on either end. One end fits into a port on the optical drive, the other fits into a tiny connector on the sound card.

When you have the part in place, carefully reconnect your cables and try turning the machine on. You might want to leave the case open at first while you make sure everything works. Make sure no cables are brushing against any fans and no loose screws or other metal parts are rattling around.

As your PC boots up, watch for any odd errors. You may want to enter the BIOS utility to make sure the system knows you've switched processors. If something looks amiss, you've probably set some jumpers wrong.

If all is well your computer should recognize the new drive and assign it a drive letter. Your final steps will involve installing the CD-recording software of your choice (such as Roxio's easy CD-DVD creator).  I am not going to get into the software aspect, as it is a whole column in and of itself.

If you have any questions or comments or would like computer lessons I can be reached at

The WebServer is a weekly computer column with a circulation of over 120,000 readers in three different publications. Look for your weekly dose of WebServer in The Caribbean Connection in Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami and in The Observer News in SouthShore.

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