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Tech 34

Tech #9802

The hard drive that came with your PC finally died. Now what are you going to do? Plug in a new one! It’s not that simple. If your computer was manufactured before mid-1994 and you buy any of the big hard drives out now, you could have a problem with your BIOS. I know – what the heck is BIOS?

BIOS is a program permanently burned into a chip on your mother board. It stands for Basic Input Output System, and tells the computer what to do with itself when you first power up. Part of what the BIOS does is let your operating system(i.e. Windows 95, DOS, etc.) know where to place information and how much room there is on the hard drive. All older BIOS programs have a relatively small upper limit on the size hard drive it can read. Bottom line, if you have an old computer you have a problem installing a big hard drive. Unfortunately for your wallet, the best answer is a new motherboard – with appropriate new BIOS.

In my case (yes this is a true story . . .) there was no problem. I just removed the four screws holding in the bad old hard drive, and unplugged two cables. Then I put the new hard drive in the same space, plugged in the cables, replaced the four screws and put the cover back on. Next I put in a floppy with the program that can read my CD-ROM, slapped a Windows 95 program disk in,  and turned the thing on. A few minutes later I was up and running. That’s it! Now I’m beginning to think of myself as the Bob Villa of the computer world. . . you know . . . “Welcome to This Old Computer” Let’s see. . . where did I put the e-mail address for the PBS programming department?