Installing SATA-2 or SATA-3 HDD on Older Motherboards

My niece wanted a larger hard disk, as the old 250 GB hard disk of her desktop computer had started to show the signs of old age. So I ended up buying a cheap 750 GB hard disk for her from ebay. The Western Digital hard disk supports SATA interface and I thought it would be a breeze to have it installed in the old computer. But after installing the hard disk, it started to show sporadic disk failures in the middle of using the Windows OS. After checking and re-checking everything over and over again, I found out that the motherboard supported only SATA-1 interface while the hard disk was offering SATA-2.

The SATA-1 interface can handle data transfer speeds of upto 150 MB/s, while the SATA-2 and SATA-3 can handle the speeds of upto 300 MB/s and 600 MB/s respectively. This difference in speed can result in hard disk drive unable to send the data at the expected transfer rates to the motherboard and as such resulting in disk failures. In order to work around this problem, you have to use a micro jumper in the hard disk to make it work in the SATA-1 mode.

Install SATA-3 HDD on SATA-2 Motherboard

Western Digital has made a PDF document available online that explains everything about the various jumper settings in their SATA or EIDE hard disks. For the hard disks from other manufacturers, you can visit their websites to google about the jumper settings. So all you need is a micro jumper and you are good to go. You can get a single micro jumper from older motherboards, CD-ROM drives, hard disk drives etc. You can also buy a pack of micro jumpers from ebay (they are very cheap – 100 micro jumpers for less than $5).

Install SATA-3 HDD on SATA-2 Motherboard

Identify the jumper pins 5 and 6 in your WD hard disk. If the hard disk has been in use then you may have to clean the dust off these pins using a cotton swab dabbed in alcohol (rubbing alcohol works great). Then slide the micro jumper across these pins 5 and 6 in order to connect them both via the small copper strip inside the jumper.

Install SATA-3 HDD on SATA-2 Motherboard

Now you can install the hard disk in your computer, connect the data and power cables and you will not face any more problems related to data transfer rate mismatching between the hard disk and the motherboard.

Conclusion: Installing a newer SATA-3 or SATA-2 hard disk in a little bit older motherboards requires the data transfer rates to be matched on both the hard disk and the motherboard. You can do this using a simple micro jumper on the hard disk.