I'd only had my PC for around 9 months, and I was starting to run out of space on the 40GB Western Digital hard drive that came along with it. I found myself having to delete and uninstall things frequently so that I had enough space to feel comfortable with, instead of being able to leave those seldom used pieces of software to fester on my hard drive. I knew that as soon as I uninstalled them, Sods Law would set in and I'd instantly have a use for one of them. So, I set out to find an extra HD. I wanted it to have plenty of room, be nice and fast, and good value for money. Being somewhat greedy, I looked at the biggest drives out there, looking at 120GB-160GB drives. The Maxtor was the biggest of the lot, and was bundled with a free Ultra ATA-133 controller - the latter was a definite bonus, as I'm already using three devices in my current PC, and I would have had to put the new drive on an IDE channel which was already being used by another drive. What's in the box? You get the drive itself, the funky Ultra ATA-133 controller card, a 5.25" converter kit for mounting the drive in a 5.25" bay instead of a normal 3.5" bay, and an ATA-133 ribbon. Both controller and drive have their own multi-language instruction book, and there was a sheet of amendments to the drive instructions now that they make drives which are this big. A floppy disk and a CD with partition, format and prep software rounded off the bundle. Make sure you've got some spare fitting screws, as the drive doesn't come with any - you might have got some spare with your PC case, otherwise you'll have to shell out for some at your local PC store. Fitting the drive was easy, but it all depends on how accessible your tower/desktop is, and how brave you are. I've never fitted a new hard drive in my life, but I had previously moved the contents of my PC into a nice new case, so I more or less knew my way around. If you've got a sp
are 3.5" bay, then the drive will quite happily sit in there. If not, then fit the supplied brackets, and it'll fit into one of your 5.25" bays. Not got any spare? Time to look for a new case! Go treat yourself to a Chieftec Scorpio like I did! The controller card simply fits into a spare PCI slot, and the supplied cable connects the two drives. Make sure you've got a spare power connector for the drive, too! Depending on your operating system, you will have varying degrees of success in getting the drive recognised by your system, and partitioned and formatted. As I'm a Windows XP user, I had to install the card first, then power up and install the drivers, then fit the drive, then power up again. NT4/2000 users have to do the same as I did, but 95/98/ME users can simply throw it all in their machine at once and then install the drivers. The documentation is good in this respect, showing screenshots of what everything will look like for the complete amateur. I would have liked some XP specific shots, as it just said 'refer to step 6 on page blah' when XP device installation is quite different from that under 98, as I've experienced! The supplied floppy and CD are there for you to boot into, from which you can partition and format the drive as per your requirements. Make sure you decide on how you want the drive set up in advance, otherwise changing partitions is going to be a little difficult once you've got stuff on the drive! I decided to split the drive into 4 equal partitions. Unfortunately, the software supplied appeared a bit flakey - so much so that I couldn't boot with it! I had to run a program off the CD to create a standalone floppy version, and boot with this. Next, I was attempting to set up my partitions, and the display for amount of space left on the drive was going crazy, so I wasn't able to set it up correctly. Once I did manage to get any sense out of it, it created some partitions,
but didn't make any attempt to partition the drive. I visited the Maxtor website to see if there were any software updates, only to find that the software didn't work properly under NT/XP! Would have been nice to see this in my instruction manual, wouldn't it! In the end, I did everything under Disk Management on Windows XP - deleted the partitions, set up my own, and then set it off formatting. Once it was all out of the way, everything was fine and dandy. I did some benchmarks, and I was getting some impressive results - if it means anything to you, I saw a drive index of 23420 with SiSoft Sandra, compared to 17000 for my current hard drive. The drive is whisper quiet - I can only notice the noise of the drive if I get down on the floor and put my ear to the vents at the front of my case! Overall, I'm very happy with the drive. I just wish that if the software supplied with the drive didn't work for all operating systems, then this would be pointed out by the documentation and an alternative approach given. If I didn't have a little bit of PC-know-how, I would have been stuck. Definitely not for the novice!