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Crossing Platforms A Macintosh/Windows Phrasebook by David Pogue, Adam Engst

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Chapter 32. H

Hard Disks

On the Macintosh: Hard Disks

Although hard disk technology is essentially the same on both PCs and Macs, there are a number of differences.

Hard disk icon positioning. The first time you use a Macintosh, you may be alarmed to discover that no My Computer appears in the upper-left corner of your screen. On the Macintosh, there’s no equivalent to the My Computer icon; instead, your disk icons appear individually at the right side of the screen—and only when disks (CD, Zip, floppy, and so on) are actually inserted into the machine. In other words, the absence of a CD icon doesn’t mean that your Macintosh doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive—only that no disc is inserted at the moment.

IDE versus SCSI. Most PC hard disks are IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) drives, which merely means that the hard disk controller is integrated with the drive. The better term is ATA (AT Attachment), which is a specific type of IDE drive. ATA-IDE hard disks are popular because they’re fast and cheap. Until the early 1990s, they were also limited to the PC world, since Macs had always come with SCSI-based hard disks instead. As Apple sought to lower prices, however, ATA-IDE became the standard internal hard disk format for all Macintosh models.

SCSI hard disks are less common in the PC world than on Macs. (Until 1998, every Macintosh model included a SCSI connector on the back panel, suitable for attaching external SCSI hard disks.)

ATA-IDE drives are generally cheaper and slightly faster than ...

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