Drives connect to the motherboard using data cables. The type of drive determines the type of data cable to use.

PATA Data Cables

The PATA cable is sometimes called a ribbon cable because it is wide and flat. The PATA cable can have either 40 or 80 conductors. A PATA cable usually has three 40-pin connectors. The end connector connects to the motherboard. The other two connectors connect to drives. If multiple hard drives are installed, the master drive connects to the end connector. The slave drive connects to the middle connector.

A stripe on the data cable indicates the location of pin 1. Plug the PATA cable into the drive with the pin 1 indicator on the cable aligned to the pin 1 indicator on the drive connector. The pin 1 indicator on the drive connector is usually closest to the power connector on the drive. Many older motherboards have two PATA drive controllers, providing support for a maximum of four PATA drives.

SATA Data Cables

The SATA data cable has a 7-pin connector. One end of the cable is connected to the motherboard. The other end is connected to any drive that has a SATA data connector. Many motherboards have four or more SATA drive controllers.

Floppy Data Cables

The floppy data cable usually has three 34-pin connectors. A stripe on the cable indicates the location of pin 1. The end connector connects to the motherboard. The other two connectors connect to drives. If multiple floppy drives are installed, the A: drive connects to the end connector. The B: drive connects to the middle connector. There is a twist in many floppy drive ribbon cables which allows the drive connected to the end of the cable to be identified as the A: drive by the computer when two floppy drives are installed.

Plug the floppy data cable into the drive with the pin 1 indicator on the cable aligned to the pin 1 indicator on the drive connector. Motherboards have one floppy drive controller, providing support for a maximum of two floppy drives.

NOTE: If pin 1 on the floppy data cable is not aligned with pin 1 on the drive connector, the floppy drive does not function. This misalignment does not damage the drive, but the drive activity light displays continuously. To fix this problem, turn off the computer and reconnect the data cable so that pin 1 on the cable and pin 1 on the connector are aligned. Reboot the computer.

To install a PATA, SATA, or FDD data cable, follow these steps:

Step 1. Plug the motherboard end of the PATA cable into the motherboard socket (see Figure 1).

Step 2. Plug the connector at the far end of the PATA cable into the optical drive (see Figure 2).

Step 3. Plug one end of the SATA cable into the motherboard socket (see Figure 3).

Step 4. Plug the other end of the SATA cable into the HDD (see Figure 4).

Step 5. Plug the motherboard end of the FDD cable into the motherboard socket (see Figure 5).

Step 6. Plug the connector at the far end of the FDD cable into the floppy drive (see Figure 6).