Installing CD Drive

Dear Computer Lady,

Can you help explain to me how to tell on a CD-ROM drive where to locate the switch to switch between slave and master.? Also what is the difference in Slave and Master.

Just explain to me the best you can. I’ve looked on the CD-ROM drive that I have and can’t see a thing saving slave or master. I have 2 drives and have just put a different CD-ROM in, but now neither will work… , so I feel like it has something to do with the slave and master deal.”

Thanks for any help you can be… Sharon


Hi Sharon,

This question is a little more technical than I usually put in the newsletter, but it is a good question that I think I can give you a good explanation for.

First, you are installing a new CD-ROM drive, that is great! It is something that is fairly easy to do, but many people don’t dare to try on their own.

When you put in that CD-ROM drive, it needs several connections set up inside the computer. The simplest connection is the power. It comes out of the power supply near the back of the tower, and plugs into the back of the CD-ROM drive. There are no settings needed for the power.

The second connection is a sound cable that goes from the back of the CD-ROM drive to either your sound card, or a socket on the motherboard if the sound is built in. Again, that connection is quite simple.

Finally, you need to plug in the IDE or data cable. This is keyed so that it only goes in one way (usually the red stripe on the cable will be on the same side as the power connector) and the other end of the data cable plugs into a socket on the motherboard. If there is only one drive connected to that cable, you are done setting it up.

If, however, you are connecting two drives to the same IDE cable, you will need to set them up so that they can both communicate on that cable without interfering with each other. This is where the Master and Slave settings come in. One drive needs to be set as the master drive, and the other needs to be set as the slave drive. These settings are made using pins and a jumper on the back of the drive. You will see 6 to 8 extra pins on the back end of the drive that are not part of the data cable connection. These pins usually have a little black cap that goes over two pins. This cap is called a jumper, and you can move it from one set of pins to another to change the settings of the drive to “Master”, “Slave” or another setting called “Cable Select”.

The hardest part for you is to examine the outside of the drive and find the markings that tell you how to set the pins. Most of the drives that I have worked with, have some letters on the top, just above the pins. They have a pair of letters over each set of pins. MA for the master, SL for slave and CS for cable select. What you need to do is set one of your CD drives to Master, and the other to slave. Then both the drives will work together on the same IDE cable.

I hope this helps you get your drives working correctly.


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