How to Install a DVD Burner or Other Optical Drive

Whether you want to install a DVD burner, upgrade to a Blu-ray drive or replace any other optical drive on your computer, the procedure is the same. Here's how to install an optical drive.

1. Check the specs

Before you buy a new drive, check the specifications of your computer and compare them to the system requirements of the new drive. Save money by buying a slower drive if your system doesn't meet the specifications.

2. Open the PC safely

Print these instructions, and then switch your computer off. Turn off the power switch on the back of the tower unit, and unplug the power cable. Open the case using a screwdriver. Wear a grounding wrist strap and ground the case by attaching the metal prong to the unpainted metal inside of the case so you don't get a shock or shock the components and damage them. Set the screws aside where you can find them later; they're easily lost.

Remove the drive slot in the front of the tower if you're adding a new drive. It may be fixed with screws or push-out plastic tabs.

3. Check the jumpers

Check the configuration of any existing hard drives or optical drives in your computer. You have two IDE cables (wide, flat, gray strips of plastic cable), one primary and one secondary, and each cable can take two devices, one master and one slave. Your hard drive should be connected as the master drive on the primary cable. If you have one optical drive, this may be connected either as the secondary master or primary slave. You can tell this by looking at whether they are connected to the motherboard by the same cable or each by separate ones. You can also look at the jumpers (two rows of three pins on the back of the drive) on the existing drives to see whether they are set to M for master, S for slave or CS for cable select.

Set the jumpers on the new drive. If a drive is on its own cable, set it to master; if there is already a drive on it, check the setting of the existing drive and set the new one to the opposite, or set both to cable select. You can only use cable select if both drives are set to this and your motherboard supports the feature.

4. Fit the optical drive

Fix the drive into the drive bay. This may be done using drive rails, in which case you will place the rails on either side of the drive, slide into the bay and fix with screws. Or the drive might fix directly to the cage with screws. You may find it easier to move an old drive up or down a slot to accommodate the IDE cable connections. You may find you have to remove the other side panel of the tower unit to fix drives to the drive bay.

5. Connect the wires

Optionally, connect the drive to the motherboard or sound card using a small, two-wire connector. Most modern drives don't require this analog sound connection.

Connect the IDE cable to the drive and the other end to the motherboard. Most IDE cables have a red stripe down one side of the cable, and this has to align with pin 1. The cables are designed so they will only fit one way, so don't try to force the connection.

Connect the drive to the power supply using a 4-pin Molex connector. These are bunches of multicolored wires with small white plastic plugs on the end.

6. Put the tower back together

Replace the cover on the tower unit and put the screws back in. Plug the power lead back in, switch the power on at the back of the tower unit and boot up the computer.

7. Install software

Install drivers for your optical drive if your system doesn't recognize it right away. To check, go to My Computer on a Windows 7 operating system and look for a new drive letter with the disk drive symbol under Devices with Removable Storage. Also, install any software that came with the drive for editing sound, burning CDs/DVDs and so forth.

There you have it: seven easy steps to fitting an optical drive in your computer.

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