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SATA & IDE At The Same Time?

Monday, February 18th, 2013 by | Filed Under: System Tune-Up Help

Bill from LA. writes:

Can you mix hard drives (SATA and IDE) one for the OS and the other for your backup if you have the proper connections? Or is it better to have two of the same kind in your desktop computer?


For many years the standard for hard drives was IDE, which uses a P-ATA connector and ribbon cable to connect the hard drive. In 2003, the SATA standard was created, and by 2008 a vast majority of computer drives were connected by SATA instead of IDE. The SATA interface offers faster hard drive support, thinner easier-to-route cables and native hot-plug support.

Your question on mixing and matching these styles of drives is a complex one. The simple answer is, yes you can. Both styles of drives can be used in a system at the same time. However, you don’t want to do that unless you absolutely have to. Keep in mind that the older the drive, the more likely it is to fail. Using an old drive as your primary backup may seem like a cost-saving measure, but it can turn around and bite you if the drive fails.

It’s is a good idea to plug the device into the highest-speed  available SATA ports it supports. Priority should be given to your primary hard drive or solid-state drive if you have one.  Consult your motherboard reference manual to find out if you have SATA1, 2 and/or 3 ports. My motherboard contains both SATA 3 ports, which can transmit and receive up to 6 gigabits per second of data, and SATA 2 ports capable of 3 gigabits per second of data. Using a SSD drive on a SATA 2 port limits the drive to a theoretical 375 MB/second of transfer. The same drive plugged into a SATA 3 port can run up to 750 MB/second.


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