How to install a CD/DVD writer | SATA and IDE drives

install optical drive
Whether you are installing a new optical drive into your computer's case or replacing an old device the procedure is fairly straightforward.

This guide will take you through the process of installing a CD recorder or DVD player/recorder into your PC, step by step with the aid of photos. It includes instructions for both SATA and IDE types.
note: Disconnect the power and remove your PC's cover, see our guide.

To install your optical drive you will need:

  • Compatible CD recorder or DVD drive (SATA or IDE).
  • 4 securing screws (supplied with your CD recorder / DVD writer).
  • Cross-point screwdriver suitable for your PC case.
  • SATA cable (if required).
  • IDE cable (if required).
  • Anti-static wrist-strap (if available).

Remove an old IDE drive

After removing the covers the next step is to locate and remove the data and power cables attached to the old device. The recommended sequence is to remove the cables from the device first before removing the fixing screws. If however there is limited space within the case then removing the screws first may be the best option.
To the left is an example of a typical IDE cable along with a molex power connector. Take care not to loosen anything else within the case while removing the cables.

The cables can be very stubborn to unplug. If you have problems try treating them like a loose tooth, gently but firmly pulling while rocking the cable slightly from side-to-side.

After you have removed the cables from the device unscrew the fixing screws and put them to one side. Carefully slide the drive out from the drive bay and put that to one side too.

If you are replacing the IDE drive with a SATA device then you can unplug the IDE cable from the motherboard. If you are replacing it with another IDE device then leave the cable attached to the motherboard ready for the new device.

Install a SATA drive

If you are replacing an existing drive then the new drive will simply go in the same position (drive bay) as the old drive. If you are not replacing a drive then you will need to remove the blank from the computer case at the front of the drive bay where you want the drive.
On the left you can the see the blank outlined. The blanks have plastic clips on either side that hold them in place, use a flat-head screwdriver on the edges of the blank to gently ease it out one side at a time.

You can also push the blank out from the inside of the case with your fingers, but be careful not to loosen anything within the case while you do it.

fig 1.4
The next step is to insert the drive into its new home. Line the new drive up with the opening of the drive bay and gently slide it into position, push it all the way in until the front of the drive is flush with the computer case.

Once the drive is in position insert one of the fixing screws halfway in but do not tighten it yet. Now insert another fixing screw on the other side of the bay, again, do not tighten it completely. Proceed to place the other screws (4 in total) and then fully tighten the screws.

Attaching the SATA cables
The next stage is to connect the SATA power and data cables to the device. If you are upgrading an old SATA drive then you can use the same cables, if not then you will need to install a new cable from the motherboard to the device.
In the image you can see a typical SATA connector on a motherboard. One end of the SATA cable plugs into this and the other end plugs into the device. SATA cables can only be inserted one way but ensure the cable is fully inserted.

The power cable will be running from your power supply, locate it and plug it into the power socket on the device (see below).
To the left is an example of a data cable and a power cable correctly inserted into a device. The data cable is labelled A and the power cable is labelled B.

Once the cables are in place ensure you have not loosened anything during the installation and proceed to put the covers back onto the case.

Finally, insert the mains power cord and turn on the system, the operating system will automatically recognise your new optical drive.

Install an IDE drive

The first step after removing the case covers is to remove the "blank" plastic front from the position in which you want to install the CD/DVD writer (fig 1.1). If you already have an optical drive installed then if possible leave a gap in-between it and the new drive. This will enable a sufficient amount of air to flow between the two drives.

If you have trouble removing the "blank" you can use a flat ended screwdriver to ease it out, taking care not to damage the case. Alternatively, push the blank out from the inside.

CD/DVD writer back panel

Note the section we have pointed out in fig 1.2 above, this is the jumper selection that depicts what the drive will be in the IDE configuration. Some CD/DVD writers work best when they are the master others work fine regardless, always consult the manufacturers instructions that came with your CD/DVD Writer.
What are jumpers?
Jumpers are small black plastic sleeves that slide over the top of metal pins. When the sleeves are placed over the pins they create an electrical connection. Jumpers are used to configure certain devices including optical drives.

There are 3 options, Cable Select, Slave and Master.

Selection is done by means of a jumper, the option you choose will depend on any other IDE devices you have installed and their respective settings.
  • Master should be selected if this will be the only device on a single IDE cable or if it is the second device to be connected and the other device is set to slave.
  • Slave should be selected if this will be the second device on a singe IDE cable, for instance, if you do not already have a CD-ROM drive then you could attach the new device to the same IDE cable as your hard drive (where your hard drive will be the master).
  • Cable Select should be selected only when the devices are to be attached as the cable depicts, ie, the first connector (working away from the motherboard) is the slave and the last connector is the master device.
In fig 1.3 to the right you can see a standard IDE cable. Note there are 3 connections and also notice the difference in distance between the connectors. Connection A plugs into the motherboard and then the slave and master connections are used for IDE devices such as hard drives, CD-ROM drives and CD/DVD writers.

The next step is to gently slide the device into the empty bay (fig 1.4) making sure it is free of any obstruction. Next take the screws that came with your CD/DVD Writer and secure the device so it is flush with the front of your case (fig 1.5). When you are inserting the screws do not tighten them completely until you have all of the screws inserted, this will make it easier to align each screw. When they are all in place tighten them completely.


Connecting the IDE cables
The next step is to attach the IDE and power cables (fig 1.6)

The power cable (fig 1.7) will only fit one way so you won't put it in the wrong way round, but as a guide the red wire should go to 5v.

install-cd-writer-fig-1-6   install-cd-writer-fig-1-7

The IDE cable will be marked down one side with a red or black strip, this denotes Pin 1, match this with the Pin 1 indicator on the back of the device. Further, some IDE cables have a blank in one hole to stop you inserting it incorrectly.
Finishing the IDE installation
Double check all connections and make sure the device is set correctly as master or slave.

You may wish to test the device is correctly installed before replacing the covers but it is advisable to replace the covers before reconnecting the mains.

When you reboot your machine the BIOS should automatically detect the new drive. If you are using the Windows operating system go to My Computer and you should see your new drive there. The letter assigned to the drive will depend on your machine's configuration.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions to install your CD Writer software if applicable.

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