What's an IDE drive? How do I know if I have one? Keeping it simple here, IDE drives are an alternative to SCSI drives. IDE drives have long been used on PC machines. The Mac traditionally has used SCSI drives. However, recent Mac models have shifted more and more to IDE drives - especially on PowerBooks, Performas and entry level Power Macs (such as the 4400). You should be able to tell if your drive is an IDE drive by selecting Get Info for the drive icon: if it is an IDE drive, the letters ATA should appear in the Where line (ATA means IDE; I know, these acronyms can get confusing, but that's show biz).
UMAX advice on Drive Setup and IDE drives Jordan P. Ruderman (of UMAX Computer Corporation) informs me that UMAX has posted an item that contains "MacOS 8 and Drive Setup 1.2.3 procedures for UMAX C500 and C600 computers. It is recommended at this time that users with C series computers do not use the Drive Setup 1.3 update option within MacOS 8 until this problem has been rectified."
Motorola Starmax advice on Drive Setup, HDT and IDE drives Rob (from Motorola Starmax tech support) chimes in with the following: "I can confirm that Starmax IDE drives have serious problems when customers update the drivers when upgrading to 7.6 or OS 8. Problems range from the disk not mounting to blinking question mark to severe crash problems. The first thing we always ask is if the hard disk drivers were updated. If so we immediately tell them to initialize and reload. FWB Hard Disk Toolkit problems can be more severe. Problems arise here when someone partitions the drive with FWB. After partitioning they will crash on bootup, even with extensions off. They also crash when booting from the CD ROM, just as the hard drive is about to mount on the desktop. In most cases we must dispatch a new hard drive; so this problem is very serious. We have discovered a fix for the problem that only seems to work sometimes. The user must pull the IDE ribbon cable from the hard drive and boot from the CD. Then, plug the ribbon cable back in and run drive setup and initialize the drive. This fix has only worked on maybe 1 or 2 of my calls. I think that the high failure rate of this fix may be due to the user's inability to follow the instructions properly...maybe.
Anyway, I hope this info is useful. I just wish Apple had included a sign for clone users to not update the hard disk drivers. In 7.6 there is a message that you may not need to update if you don't have an Apple hard disk. This helps some people; a lot just do it anyway. On OS 8 updating the drivers is selected by default. This is more of a problem.
So in a nutshell the good word for clone users w/ IDE drives is to never update hard disk drivers and never partition with FWB (you can initialize and create a single volume though)."
And from readers... Several readers noted that almost all of the reports of blinking question mark and related problems posted to Apple's Performa Discussion Board involve computers with a 2.3 Gb Quantum Fireball _TM2550A drive. However, as one reader noted: "This, of course may just be a measure of the frequency of installation of this drive in these computers." Meanwhile, Daniel Knight has started a page on Drive Setup 1.3 compatibility.