What Is the Purpose of Jumpers On an IDE Hard Drive?


IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) hard drives have 6, 8 or 10 pins on the drive, which have may jumpers installed on them to determine how the drive will be accessed by the computer system; these jumpers are typically referred to as "drive select jumpers". Improperly set jumpers can keep the computer from booting up or running the programs installed on it. If these jumpers are not set correctly the computer will not know which drive to look for programs, data or even the operating system.


  • The terms IDE and EIDE (Enhanced IDE) are often used interchangeably. IDE drive technology is an older hard drive technology which came into consumer use in the mid 1980's and was replaced by the newer technology SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) in 2003.


  • IDE drive technology was a very important advancement in hard drives with the drive controller being integrated directly on the drive instead the older controller which was plugged into the computer mother board. This provided for higher data transfer and allowed the jumpers to be placed directly on the drive.

Jumper Description

  • Usually there are 8 pins comprising the drive select jumpers however, sometimes there may be 6 or even 10 pins. These pins are typically arranged in two rows of four pins and are numbered 1 through 6, 8 or 10. These jumpers determine which drive is the "Master" or "Slave" drive or if the drives are to be selected by the computer which is called "Cable Select." The master drive should contain the operating system and this will be where the computer looks for the operating system in computer with 2 drives attached to the IDE cable.

Proper Jumper Setting

  • In the above example picture Pins 1 and 2 are jumped to limit the size of the drive to 40 gigabytes this setting is not usually used. Pins 3 and 4 are used for testing purposes and are not jumped. Pins 5 and 6 are used to set the drive to the master drive. Pins 7 and 8 are used to set the drive to the slave position. Pins 9 and 10 are CS (Cable Select) and when jumped allow the computer to determine which drive will be master and which will be the slave drive.


  • The exact description and layout of the pins will be printed on the back of your drive or silk-screened onto the controller board making it easy for you to determine the settings. If you need to obtain jumpers they are inexpensive and can be bought online or you may be able to get them from a local computer repair shop for little money or even free.


  • If you do not have the jumpers you should not try to jump the pins with a wire as this could cause a short and destroy your drive. The jumpers are insulated and plated with gold to allow proper conductivity and to eliminate the possibility of a short.

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