Squeezing a little more out of a Dual IDE bus

More from our “Squeezing a little more performance out of your system” pages!

Whether you have a recent powerhouse computer or one that’s two or three years old, in all probability it has a dual-channel IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) bus (channel). Without elaborating, each bus is normally capable of handling two IDE (Atapi) qualified drives, regardless of whether they are hard drives, CD-Rom drives etcetera.

If you computer has only one hard drive and it is on the first IDE channel (bus), then this will not apply to you. On the other hand, if you have two hard drives, one on IDE Channel (bus) #1 and another on IDE Channel (bus) #2, or you have a hard drive on IDE #1 and a CD-Rom drive on IDE #2, this may improve the speed of your system slightly.

When Windows 95 or Windows 98 is installed, drivers are installed as part of this installation that take advantage of the IDE Bus Master chipset on the motherboard (main board) that controls how data moves to an from the hard drive. By default, windows sets certain defaults for these IDE Channels, which is a form of “fits all” for most computers.

You can generally squeeze a little more IDE Channel and hard drive performance out of your computer by changing these “default” settings to something more appropriate to the actual hardware installed. Here are some steps to see if you can obtain a small performance boost.

  1. Right click on My Computer.
  2. Choose Properties. This will bring up the Device Manager.
  3. Now choose the Device Manager tab.
  4. Scroll down to the Hard Disk Controllers entry and click the + to the left to expand it.
  5. The first listed item should be your Bus Master IDE Controller.
  6. Click once on the Bus Master entry and then click the Properties button at the lower left of the window.
  7. Now click the Settings tab at the top.
  8. You will now see “Dual IDE Settings” window.
  9. Click the down arrow and select “Both IDE Channels Enabled”.
  10. Click OK and then OK again. Your system will restart.

Note: During the restart, Windows 9x will take its time and check this new setting against the Bus Mastering Drivers that were installed originally. If the changed setting matches the hardware installed AND is an improvement over the default setting, Windows will accept the change as the new setting. If the change is not supported by your hardware OR will decrease performance, Windows will return to the original default setting.

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