One of the older computers I have around is from before the SATA era – it only supports IDE. Unfortunately, most new hard-drives are SATA, especially those of reasonable sizes (250GB, 500GB, etc). This machine previously had only about 60GB, which was insufficient for its purposes.
I find external hard-drives to be impractical for day-to-day usage, so that discounted that option. The other two options I came across, were a PCI card, and an IDE-SATA adapter. Since both were relatively inexpensive, online, I decided to try them both out.
The IDE-SATA adapter is a little card that plugs directly into the IDE connector on the motherboard, and provides a SATA plug on the other end. It is powered via a floppy drive power plug. The apparent advantage of this is that no drivers are needed, but, from what I have read, this card has a rather short lifespan. Unfortunately, the card I received was not fully functional, and so I am still waiting for another of these.
The PCI-card, has a few disadvantages – firstly, it takes up a PCI slot – on an older computer, this can prove to be quite a disadvantage, however, with more and more things coming in ‘USB’ versions, it is not insurmountable. The second disadvantage is that most PCI devices are not recognized by the BIOS, and thus do not support booting. While, perhaps, uEFI will resolve this, at the present time, no reasonable solution comes to mind (it might be possible to boot Linux through GRUB and also Windows, but I haven’t looked into that yet). Without running any quantitative speed tests on the drive, there does seem to be a noticeable, but not significant speed decrease (as compared to a typical SATA drive connected directly to the motherboard it appears to run at about 50% speed).
The PCI card was quite easy to setup – simply plug in, attach the power and data cables to the drive, boot into Windows, install the driver, reboot, and good to go. Acronis Disk Director was able to recognize the drive without any additional drivers, and partitioned it without any difficulties. The BIOS, Windows, and Acronis all recognized the full capacity (500GB) without any trouble. Overall, a fairly good experience – leaves the computer with some additional storage which will not suffer from less than stellar performance (keeping in mind that it is an older machine, I am not sure if the hard drive performance decrease is due to the machine or the use of the PCI card). Easy to use, and while not presently usable as a boot drive, it serves its purpose admirably.
Continued at: Using a SATA hard drive through IDE – Part 2