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Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby gries818 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:37 pm

Now I know it is an old computer, but I'd like to put a larger hard drive in to my old Dell Dimension 4100. I've been using the computer (with it's original 40 GB hard drive) as a server, but would like to install a secondary hard drive to use as a backup space for other computers on my network. I've configured Ubuntu and my Mac to allow me to use the server as a Time Machine backup site.

I've added hard drives and made tiny adjustments to hardware before, but I'm not very well versed with hardware in general and have a few questions about how to perform these tasks.

Most importantly, I believe that this computer uses the older style hard drive connecters. Are there specific drives I need to look at or is it possible to buy some sort of converter to make the newer style work in the computer?

Secondly, do I need to be concerned with HD size incompatibilities before I buy the drive? I'm running Ubuntu Server, and according to the information I can find, the OS can handle very large drives... I was thinking on buying a 500 GB or 1 TB drive, which should be fine... according to the OS at least. Would anything in my hardware reject this?

Here is a list of the hardware on the 4100:

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Thanks for the help!
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Re: Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby mnemonicj » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:26 pm

The "older style hard drives" are IDE or sometimes referred to as PATA (Parallel ATA) of which you can still find a 500GB on Newegg. The old drive in your computer is a 40GB 7200 RPM, which is up-to-date compared to the old 5400 RPM.

What Operating System are you using? Windows XP should recognize the 500GB hard drive, but I am wondering if your motherboard will support anything larger than 137GB, especially since the hard drive cable is only an ATA66. I would replace the ATA66 cable (probably a 40 wire cable) with an ATA100 or an ATA133 (an 80 pin cable). Even with the cable replacement though, you may not be able to run a 500GB hard drive on the motherboard.
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Re: Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby gries818 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:33 pm

mnemonicj wrote:The "older style hard drives" are IDE or sometimes referred to as PATA (Parallel ATA) of which you can still find a 500GB on Newegg. The old drive in your computer is a 40GB 7200 RPM, which is up-to-date compared to the old 5400 RPM.

What Operating System are you using? Windows XP should recognize the 500GB hard drive, but I am wondering if your motherboard will support anything larger than 137GB, especially since the hard drive cable is only an ATA66. I would replace the ATA66 cable (probably a 40 wire cable) with an ATA100 or an ATA133 (an 80 pin cable). Even with the cable replacement though, you may not be able to run a 500GB hard drive on the motherboard.


I'm running Ubuntu Server 9.04.

Is there a way I can find out if the motherboard will support a hard drive over 137 GB?
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Re: Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby gries818 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:37 pm

Ok this is interesting... I was browsing the Newegg link you made in your last post and somebody posted this:

Went from a 40GB internal drive to this drive. Had a problem with one 500GB partition as well as two 250GB partitions under Windows XP SP3. Ended up setting up four partitions each under 137GB and all is well. My Dell Dimension 4400 is good for another few years.


Is that a way to get around the [potential] hardware incompatibility? Though I would prefer a single partition, I don't care if I have to do multiple partitions because this is a drive I'm only going to be using for backup.
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Re: Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby mnemonicj » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:49 pm

You need to find out if your motherboard supports 48-bit LBA. If not, the maximum space it can allocate on a hard drive is 137GB.

A second option, if your motherboard does not support 48-bit LBA, would be to purchase an IDE controller PCI card. You plug it into a PCI slot, on your computer and it gives you 2 or more IDE ports (depending on the card).

I am not sure if Ubuntu has the drivers for this card, but the drivers will need to be loaded previous to the Operating System if you are going to boot off of the large hard drive. If you are just going to use the larger hard drive as a second drive and boot off of your 40GB drive, Ubuntu may have the drivers for this card and you will just need to install the card drivers to be able to recognize the larger hard drive.
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Re: Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby gries818 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:06 pm

I'm at a loss about how to go about figuring out if my motherboard supports it. The part number is 2336v, but all of the spec information I get doesn't tell me if my hard drive is compatible.
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Re: Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby shreader » Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:33 pm

Dont know if this will help you but I am using for my Windows Home Server this setup w/o any problem.
Both Hdds aree EIDE, plugged into the motherboard.

Dell 4100 Series, P3 CPU @ 1 GHz.
512 MB SDRAM
64MB GeForce 2 MX AGP
320GB WD Hdd
400GB WD Hdd (Storage)
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Re: Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby gries818 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:53 pm

shreader wrote:Dont know if this will help you but I am using for my Windows Home Server this setup w/o any problem.
Both Hdds aree EIDE, plugged into the motherboard.

Dell 4100 Series, P3 CPU @ 1 GHz.
512 MB SDRAM
64MB GeForce 2 MX AGP
320GB WD Hdd
400GB WD Hdd (Storage)


Hmm... well that is roughly the same computer. I think will probably work... anyway I can know for sure before I buy the drive? :lol:
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Re: Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby mnemonicj » Tue Jul 07, 2009 12:59 am

gries818 wrote:Hmm... well that is roughly the same computer. I think will probably work... anyway I can know for sure before I buy the drive? :lol:


I would just buy the drive and test it out. If it doesn't work, pay the extra $17 for a IDE controller card and you will get to keep your low cost server, but still be able to upgrade the hard drive.
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Re: Hard drive upgrade on a Dell Dimension 4100

Postby gries818 » Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:30 am

mnemonicj wrote:
gries818 wrote:Hmm... well that is roughly the same computer. I think will probably work... anyway I can know for sure before I buy the drive? :lol:


I would just buy the drive and test it out. If it doesn't work, pay the extra $17 for a IDE controller card and you will get to keep your low cost server, but still be able to upgrade the hard drive.


Good idea! Thanks for the help... I'll write back when I get it setup.
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