Hard Drive Sorting

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Hard drive sorting is done in System Evaluation. There should already be a tub for keepers and a bucket for recyclers.


First, check the tub for ones that should be recycled:

Create a temporary place for a recycle pile and put hard drives marked under 8 GB in it.

If the drive is not marked with a capacity, check the drive geometry (cylinders, head, sectors) information. If cylinders and head are 63 and 13, then half the number of sectors is the approximate size.

Next, check the bucker for ones that should be recycled:

Put these into the keeper tub:

  • Regular sized marked 4 GB or bigger
  • Bigfoot drives marked 8 GB or bigger

Use the drive geometry trick if necessary to determine the size.

Put all the recyclers in the bucket and all the keepers in the tub.

Jumpering the Hard Drives

Keepers should be jumpered to "single" or "stand alone" if such a setting is available. Otherwise, they should be jumpered to "master".

Western digital drives (and some others) differentiate between single (or standalone) and master. On most western digitals, no jumpers (or the jumper in the parking position) is the single setting and is what is preferred at Free Geek.

Where to put them

  • Hard drives in the Recycle bucket go straight to Recycling after they are signed off by the Eval instructor. There is no need to receive or label them.
  • Good Hard Drives go into the TARDIS (Build Office).

How to tell a hard drive's capacity

Many hard drives are marked with their capacity. The words might be very small, but they're usually there. Look carefully for them. If that doesn't work:

Look at the disk geometry (IDE drives only)
ID disks might have their disk geometry marked. Disk geometry is identified as
  • Cylinders
  • Heads
  • Sectors
If the heads and sectors are 16 and 63, you can cut the number of cylinders in half to get the approximate size. For example if the drive is labeled like this:
  C    H   S
16383  16  63
...then you can divide 16,383 by 2 to get 8,191 or so. The drive is just over 8 GB.
Look for double labeled drives
Some drives have two labels. One generic label lists several different capacities and/or disk geometry. The other label is model specific and lists the model number. For instance one label might say:
MPC3032AT (3.24GB)
MPC3043AT (4.32GB)
MPC3064AT (6.48GB)
MPC3084AT (8.45GB)
MPC3096AT (9.74GB)
The other label says:
Model MPC3032AT
The drive is a 3.24 GB drive
Look for model number schemes
Some model numbers contain a hint as to the capacity of the drive. For instance, the western digital drives can usually be deduced by dropping the first digit in the model number. In the example above MPC3032AT is approximately a 3.2 GB drive and MPC3043AT is approximately a 4.3. Thus we can determine that the third and fourth digit in the four digit number is the drive size. By comparing similar models, you might be able to determine the probable sizes.

Google is your friend.
Try googling the model number and see if anything turns up.