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How to add a second optical drive to a HTPC

Discussion in 'Computers' started by archp2008, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. archp2008

    archp2008 Member

    Oct 14, 2008
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    I recently discovered that the BD reader in my HTPC was painfully slow for installing software. I knew before I purchased it that it could not burn disks. It seems that I may have made a mistake in purchasing a case that did not have room for more than a single optical drive. Alternatively, I could have spent more money on the BD drive so that it had write capabilities as well. I was trying to build an HTPC for around $500, which I more or less succeeded in doing. Now I have some regrets for not having bought a case that was a couple of inches higher for that second optical drive. At the moment I have a second optical drive - a DVD burner - sitting on top of the case. I have routed the IDE ribbon cable through the back of the case where it slides on over the top and have a molar power connector extension though an opening in the back of the case to the DVD burner. It works and looks ok to a casual observer, but is certainly a crude installation. Also it restricts airflow and may prevent the installation of a discrete graphics card. I wanted this DVD drive to be usable for installing operating systems as well, as I am into multiple operating systems and repairs are regular necessities. My question is this. What is the cheapest solution that will get rid of all these external cables and still enable booting from the DVD, burning, etc? Are there any things you can't do with a DVD burner attached via external connectors already on the back of the case. Can USB drives be used to boot from? I don't have a good understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of USB/eSata, etc.
  2. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Joseph DeMartino

    I've taken the liberty of moving your thread to the correct forum - this is mostly an HTPC issue and secondarily a BD issue and you had it in the forum for standard-def stand-alone players and the like. And since we have a forum devoted to computers and HTPC...

    There is a link in the other forum to redirect interested parties to this thread.

    Anyway, I don't think you'll really need the experts here for your current problem. The cheapest and easiest solution is to buy an external enclosure for your DVD burner. This page at Amazon has several models ranging from under $10 to a bit over $30 depending on the size and type of drive you have, and the external and internal connections. Most have an external power supply, but some USB 2.0 devices may draw power from the PC via USB. Inside the case there is a connector for power and the ribbon cable, and then the back of the case has a firewire, USB or other interface and, in most cases, a connector for the AC adapter. I've converted a couple of optical drives recycled from old computers into externals using similar enclosures. Cheaper than buying a new drive, and less wasteful.


  3. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast

    Jun 28, 1999
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    Central Arkansas
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    And yes, Arch, USB drives are bootable. You just have to go into BIOS during boot-up (usually by pressing Del, Esc, or F12 depending on the type of computer you are using when the Windows logo flashes on screen). From there you can find boot options and select the sequence in which the mobo looks for bootable drives. Usually this is set for (1)optical, (2)HD and (3)floppy. From here, you can change the settings of the first boot device to USB.
  4. mattCR

    mattCR Well-Known Member
    HW Reviewer

    Oct 5, 2005
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    Overland Park, KS
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    Agreed. Most newer BIOS will boot to USB. I would make an alternate advice though: get an ESATA enclosure, and a SATA DVD (or whatever). Basically same costs. But the advatage is as an ESATA advice, you lose nothing for speed and there isn't any USB slowdown involved. You'll find that no matter how good, a USB DVD/etc. is slower then the drive on it's own. What BD drive are you using that you find slow?

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