Backplane Board

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How do I install extra memory?

My computer is approximately 3 years old and running Windows Xp. It is a Dell Dimension desktop I bought new and has served me well. I am not a gamer nor do I download a lot of music. I am using about 50% of the 80 gig hardrive. I scan for spyware and viruses weekly and defrag monthly. Outside of that I am clueless about computers. I just recognize it does not operate as fast as it used to. Friends all seem to suggest adding more memory, as if it is as easy as microwaving a bag of popcorn. How difficult is it?

I live in a pretty remote part of the desert, so running the computer to a shop to have it done is not very practical.

First and foremost, you need to know what kind of memory you need. Some inexperienced users consider disk and RAM as both being kinds of memory. Things like PC2700 or PC3300, SDRAM, DDRAM, etc. are types of memory card you can add to your PC. Disk drives are another form of storage that some folks sometimes call "memory." I'm an old-school purist so that's not memory to me.

So if we are talking "RAM" then get to a web site such as www.PNY.com and find their memory configuration tool. It will ask you the questions needed to identify what kinds of RAM modules your machine takes. It will want a make and model number for your computer. Get the latter from the UL sticker on the back of the unit.

Once you have figured out what part numbers you need, visit the Dell web site and see if they have a diagram of your backplane board or motherboard. (You could also just visit the Dell site and buy their memory, but I hear they tend to be overpriced.)

Usually, memories go in a set of slots on the motherboard. You don't say how much RAM you have now so you MIGHT face having to remove the old memory entirely and replace it with "denser" boards. (That is the term you use when you have more memory on a single board than the board it replaces. DENSER.)

You have to open the chassis, usually by either unscrewing some screws on the back along the rim or by flipping latches to open the case. Either way, the outer shell will slide to a point where you can lift it. If you have a wrist strap in your tool kit, use it. Otherwise, every time you pick up a tool, be prepared to touch that tool's tip to the metal frame of the computer chassis. To save your a$$, never work inside a machine that has power unless you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY know what you are doing. (And you implied you did not.)

You might need to carefully remove other cards on your motherboard in order to expose the memory slots. (Some motherboards require it; others don't. Can't help you there.) If you remove boards, make GOOD NOTES on where they were before you removed them. Including "which way is up." A digital camera with its own little viewing screen often helps here. The worst case is that you would have to unscrew the backside "plates" to which the interface cables attach in order to do that. If so, be very careful to note where everything goes.

OK, the memory boards usually have little levers so that you can flip them up to extract them from memory slots. They are not spring loaded. You just lift up carefully and pull out the cards. Inserting new memory cards involves flipping up the levers, seating the cards carefully, and pressing down. At some point, you will be able to flip DOWN the levers and cause the cards to become firmly seated. If you have to really force it, stop and check that you have the cards aligned correctly. Flipping down the levers is the final step to locking the memory boards in place.

Once the cards are in place, reseat all interfaces you had to move. Reattach the back-plates. Reconnect all cables. Then and only then, apply power. Your system will probably do a scan of the new memory and make comments about having to reconfigure itself. Let it. Eventually it will run out of new things to look at and will go on about its business.

Now, if you really meant DISK memory, this is similar but there are some differences in the way you have to connect things and you probably don't have to move the motherboard. You still have to remove the outer shell.

First, determine what kind of disk you have. It will be something like IDE, ATA, SCSI, etc. On your Windows System Information page, you traverse the tree to see the storage information and that will tell you something about your interface. If you have one IDE disk, you need another IDE disk. If you have one ATA disk, you need another ATA disk, and so on. This is to prevent you from having to buy another disk interface. Most all of the modern interfaces allow at least one more drive as the "slave" or "secondary" device on the primary disk bus.

OK, you got the disk you needed of the size you think you need. Check that you have a way to attach it either with a rail kit (part of the disk) or it has a set of screw holes that let you attach it to the existing chassis area, usually just below your primary disk. You also need a set of red, yellow, black wires with a molded plastic connector coming from your power supply. Finally, there will be a wide ribbon cable.

The disk kit usually comes with instructions including how to snake around the cable to attach a spare plug to the back of the disk. This is a very touchy plug so be extremely careful to align it properly. There might be instructions with the kit telling you to set some kind of jumpers or switches on the back of the new drive to make it a slave drive or secondary drive. That is no biggie to accomplish but it is a real pain if you should, but didn't, do it.

Finally, once the new disk is physically connected to the main disk bus and to power (and to the chassis), you should get a diskette or CD-ROM or something that includes a utility to help you format the new disk. Again, the kit should have all the instructions you'll need to configure your disk.

About the only options you will have are what kind of file system to use (I recommend NTFS) and whether or not to partition the new disk. I can only say that I partitioned my second drive into equal sections of about 100 Gb each. That gives me a reasonable cluster factor and yet still allows me to have pretty big files. But that is your call, not mine. I would avoid making the partition bigger than 100 Gb only because of what it does to your storage allocation factor. (Other computers call this the disk cluster factor.)

Find Backplane Board On eBay Below:

IBM X3350 SYSTEM X3550 POWER BACKPLANE BOARD L81077J FRU 44W4899
IBM X3350 SYSTEM X3550 POWER BACKPLANE BOARD L81077J FRU 44W4899
$43.19
Dell PN610 PowerEdge 2950 Server 6 Slot SAS Backplane Board
Dell PN610 PowerEdge 2950 Server 6 Slot SAS Backplane Board
$85.00
HP A9834 60204 A9834 69001 A9834 69101 HP Superdome Backplane SDBP sx2000
HP A9834 60204 A9834 69001 A9834 69101 HP Superdome Backplane SDBP sx2000
$2,900.00
HP Proliant DL360 G3 SCSI Backplane Board 305443 001
HP Proliant DL360 G3 SCSI Backplane Board 305443 001
$7.00
INTEL FXX4SCSIBRD SC5300 4 DRIVE SCSI BACKPLANE BOARD
INTEL FXX4SCSIBRD SC5300 4 DRIVE SCSI BACKPLANE BOARD
$15.00
Lot 2 HP Proliant DL160 G6 Server Barebones +LGA1366 Board 570079 001 Backplane
Lot 2 HP Proliant DL160 G6 Server Barebones +LGA1366 Board 570079 001 Backplane
$99.99
HP Proliant DL160 G6 Server Barebones +LGA1366 Server Board 511812 001 Backplane
HP Proliant DL160 G6 Server Barebones +LGA1366 Server Board 511812 001 Backplane
$49.99
HP A9834 60204 A9834 69001 A9834 69101 HP Superdome Backplane SDBP sx2000
HP A9834 60204 A9834 69001 A9834 69101 HP Superdome Backplane SDBP sx2000
$599.99
HP 780968 001 ML350 Gen9 2 slot Power Backplane Board 743999 001
HP 780968 001 ML350 Gen9 2 slot Power Backplane Board 743999 001
$194.00
Hp 531225 001 SAS Backplane Board with Tray Blade Server BL460c G6 466596 001
Hp 531225 001 SAS Backplane Board with Tray Blade Server BL460c G6 466596 001
$20.17
IBM 03N6004 Media Backplane Board Card Card Pseries Server i5 RS6000 as 400
IBM 03N6004 Media Backplane Board Card Card Pseries Server i5 RS6000 as 400
$46.13
1Port 1x Sata Hard Drive HDD Server Hot Plug Backplane Board 1U Unit SFF Chenbro
1Port 1x Sata Hard Drive HDD Server Hot Plug Backplane Board 1U Unit SFF Chenbro
$3.31
New 1 Port 35  Inch HDD Sata Hot Plug Backplane Board Hard Disk Drive 1u
New 1 Port 35 Inch HDD Sata Hot Plug Backplane Board Hard Disk Drive 1u
$3.84
BACKPLANE BOARD PCA 6113P4R REV B1 1902611330
BACKPLANE BOARD PCA 6113P4R REV B1 1902611330
$95.00
IBM 19K1038 Backplane Board For Xseries Hard Drive
IBM 19K1038 Backplane Board For Xseries Hard Drive
$16.99
HP 449420 001 DL580 G5 SAS SATA 8 SLOT HARD DRIVE BACKPLANE BOARD CARD ADAPTER
HP 449420 001 DL580 G5 SAS SATA 8 SLOT HARD DRIVE BACKPLANE BOARD CARD ADAPTER
$42.49


Recently Purchased Backplane Board:


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