Need Help Hooking Up Writer



I have a old Micron 90 mhz Pentium and trying to hook up an Acer CD Writer. There are 2 hard drives in the machine, 2GB and 840 MB. I gave the machine out to a tech to hookup the CD Writer and in place of the existing CD Rom.

When I got the machine back, it fails to recognize the CD Writer, only the two hard drives. The 2 hard drives are on one cable and the CD Writer on another cable. I try numerous scenarios but cannot get the CD Writer to work with second cable. Seems to be some form of interrupt conflict and one of the controller card does not install. I try manually changing the interrupt from 14 to another value but system would not accept it. This is funny as the motherboard shows the interrupts to be 14 and 15 for the IDE controllers.

I decided to give up one of the hard drive and just hookup the CD Writer with the 2 GB drive.

Question #1 - on the disk drive cable, does it matter if I plug in the first cable socket to the hard drive or the CD Writer? Currently, cable comes from the mother board to the hard drive and than to the CD Writer - which is configure as a slave.

Question #2 - The Acer manual recommends that the CD Writer be on its own controller and recommend the use of the second IDE. What I am losing by hooking up the CD Writer to the primary cable as a slave to the hard drive?

Thanks in advance for all help.


I am assuming you only have 2 IDE ports which means you can have up to 4 IDE devices. If you only have one then you will need to have one free PCI slot and put in an IDE controller card. Buy an ATA66 or 100 and a new ATA66 or 100 HD as this will speed up overall performance.
Dumb as this may sound make sure your CD drive has power. You should have both of your Hard Drives on you primary channel, your 2GB should be master and the other one slave. Your CD drive should be either master or slave on the secondary IDE port depending on what the manual recommends.
#1 For ATA66 or 100 yes it matters, but your computer came out long before that so No, it doesn't matter. One drive has to be slave, the other master - if you have them both the same they will conflict. As I said above your HD's should be on the same cable. There is a jumper on the back of your drives that configures if your drive is master or slave. Also make sure you didn't accidentaly set it to Cable Select (CS).
#2 The manual is correct. You will lose some performance when burning CDs especially on an older machine such as yours. IDE can't share bandwidth as effectively as SCSI can.

Primary IDE uses IRQ 14, Secondary uses IRQ 15. Not seeing your drive at all probably means you don't have power, it's not setup correctly or it's broken. You should still see it listed if there is a conflict.
Hope this helps.


Dec 31, 2007
Hm... a 90mhz computer seems a little weak for a CD Writer.

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For future reference, it's usually better that you reply on here rather than by email in case anyone should have the same or a similar question in the future.
For pre-ATA66/100 devices (which yours is) it doesn't matter where you plug your drive in on the cable.
Check your BIOS to see if your secondary IDE port is disabled. When you turn your computer on it should say something like "press <F1> to enter settings" (might be <Esc>, <Delete> or something else). I can't tell you exactly where to look since I don't know what BIOS you have.
The reason for hooking your CDR on the secondary channel is to help avoid buffer underrun (in plain English this means your hard drive can't send enough info to your CD drive fast enough). To prevent errors, on a computer as old as yours you should avoid doing anything while burning a CD. Don't surf the net, play an MP3 or game while burning a CD otherwise you will make a coaster. You may also have to set your CD Burner to a slower speed if it's on the same port as your HD. For best compatiblity use CDRs instead of CDRWs as only CDR/RW drives and newer multiread CD drives will be able to read CDRWs. How often you get errors depends on the quality of your drive and media. I've had a Plextor 12/10/32A (IDE) for almost 2 months and haven't made a coaster yet. I did manage to make a mix CD (audio) with some jitter in one song, but that was my fault as I was surfing the net while burning the CD.
If you still can't get everything to work post your computers model number and specs.


Dec 31, 2007
I have a feeling you have an driver problem with your hdd controller. look under control panel, system, device manager and see if there is an ! with a yellow triangle anywhere. I would recommend downloading the current drivers for whatever ide controller is build in to your mobo.

yes 90mhz is weak but it should work for 2X- 4x burning if that is ****ALL**** you are doing on it.

I have seen alot of similar problems. write back with mobo model or computer and i can try to find a driver if you need help.

Bored Certified tech.