Harddrives in the last few years have taken a huge step forward, with the better medium now available it is possable to save larger amounts of data in the same amount of space as in previous models.
The medium being a piece of highly refined material that holds the magnetic field imposed on it similar to the way a cassette tape records music. With the advances of the last couple of years they have gone from a harddrive size of 20 meg and now with the new mediums available can now accomplish sizes as big as 6.0gig and larger.
The larger drives having more read and write heads and with muliple platters have created a drive that has fast data recovery time and with almost no loss of information. With the larger drives more problems developed because of the older motherboards not supporting the larger capacities they came up with drive overlay programs, these are programs that act as buffers between the motherboard and the drive.
With the newer motherboards installing the larger drives is no longer a problem. Dos up to version 6.0 only supported drives up to 528 meg, to install a larger drive you had to run fdisk and break the drive down into partions of no larger then 528meg. another route to go was to use a drive overlay program which is supplied by the drive vendor to install larger drives on older systems. If you are having problems getting your computer to accept a large drive make sure the motherboard supports it, if it doesn't contact the drive vendor and they should supply you with an overlay program to install the drive with.
On the newer motherboards the larger drives are no problem. Most of the new harddrives need not be hard formated, they only need to be initilized and then they are ready to use. Some come initilized all ready, check you doc's for the proper installation.
If you cannot boot from drive c: check that the harddrive paramaters are set up in the cmos correctly, cylinders, heads and sectors. If you do not know them for sure contact the maker for the specs. Make sure the jumpers are set correctly, if you are running multiple harddrives they need one to be set to a master and the other to a slave setting.
Make sure the data cable is connected properly to each drive, pin1 on the cable is red traced which always goes to pin1 on the drive. Make sure the power connector is good. If you have problems of read and write faults increase the wait states in the cmos, if you are running a cdrom on the same data cable as a harddrive make sure the cdrom is set to the slave by changing the jumper on the cdrom.
If need be boot from a floppy and try to go to a c: prompt, if you can then the boot sector is missing or corupt, to fix this make a system boot disk and copy sys.com to it. Boot from the floppy and then after at the a: prompt type sys c: this will reinstall the boot information onto the harddrive.
Check the doc's for your motherboard and your harddrive to make sure they are compatable, if not you will have to use a drive overlay program, most harddrive vendors have there own versions. Newer series of harddrives should never be hard formatted and doing so can even damage the drive. Never start up a computer if it has been out in the cold until it warms up to room temp.
Defragment the drive regularly, this saves space and makes for faster data recovery also, make sure in the cmos the external cache is enabled, all the newer drives have an amount of cache memory built into them, this speeds up data reads and writes. If you start getting read and write faults or sectors not found run scandisk or a disk utility to verify that the suface of the disk itself is good, usually if it finds a bad sector it will mark it and will no longer write data to that area.
Virus check regularly, Virus's attack programm files and can cause major damage to a harddrive if not completly destroy it. Use one that checks the boot sector on startup.
**** NEVER REMOVE THE COVER OF A HARD DRIVE, IT IS A FACTORY HERMITACLY VACUUM SEALED UNIT, ANY DUST WILL DESTROY THE PLATTERS INTEGRITY ****
Never drop a drive, there are fragile components inside and out that can be damaged very easily.
Always double check the data cable and jumpers.