What Is CS on a Hard Drive?


CS stands for 'cable select.' It is the jumper setting on the hard drive that tells the hard drive to identify different hard drives as primary and secondary, depending on their position along a certain cable, usually an IDE cable. Primary and secondary hard drives are often assigned different functions according to their role.

Single/Master Jumper Setting

  • Primary hard drives, commonly referred to as 'master' drives, are usually used to store the operating system and other critical information. Master hard drives are usually assigned the middle position on the cable.

Slave Jumper Setting

  • Secondary hard drives, also known as slave drives, can serve various purposes. It can be a simple secondary hard drive used for storage, or used as a CD-ROM. The slave hard drive is usually found at the end of the connecting cable.
    As the secondary drive, the slave drive will be given lesser priority than the master drive. Access to this drive will be slower and wait times may be increased.

Cable Select

  • The main function of cable select is to eliminate the need to set jumpers. This enables a simpler configuration when establishing master and slave drives.
    When using cable select, it is the cable configuration that determines which hard drive is master and which is slave. Therefore, it is important to note the placement of the hard drives inside the computer and make sure that the master and slave ends of the cable can reach and plug into the correct device.
    It is important to note that not all computers support cable select.

IDE Cables

  • Although other cables can be used, 40-pin connector IDE cables with a CSEL signal are typically used to connect hard drives, floppy drives or CD-ROM drives. These cables typically have three connections, respectively labeled computer, Drive 0 and Drive 1. Drive 0 refers to the master drive and Drive 1 refers to the slave.
    Although 80 pin-connector cables may be compatible with 40-pin connector cables, it is not so when using cable select. If you use an 80-pin cable, the master drive is located at the end and the slave in the middle. Cable select will not work in these instances.

New Technology

  • Because cable select failed to become a universal standard, cable select lost much of its appeal. Since regular 40-pin IDE cables do not contain the CSEL signal, a special cable select cable was required.
    IDE Cables are being replaced by serial ATA (SATA) cables, which do not allow master-slave settings. This is because a SATA cable is only one channel, and only one hard drive can be attached to each channel.

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