Most people don't know about the vagaries of IDE design, so I thought I'd share.

First off, if you only have one or two IDE devices, place them on separate channels. For example, you'd put a hard drive on the primary channel, and a CD-ROM on the secondary.

If you have a CD burner, you want it on the OPPOSITE channel from your regular CD-ROM. This lets you get maximum throughput from one drive to the other, reducing your risk of burning a coaster.

If you have a second hard drive, you probably bought it so you could expand your storage space, so you probably bought a bigger. I recommend putting it on the same channel as your first hard drive, both for reasons of cable length, and to make your installs from CD-ROM go faster.

If you have both an extra hard drive and a CD-burner, you've maxed out your IDE setup. I recommend, at this point, putting your CD-ROM and the larger hard drive on one channel, and your CD burner and the smaller hard drive on the other. This lets you burn CDs from your larger drive and the CD-ROM with the highest degree of confidence.

If you have a Zip drive, it really doesn't make much difference where you put it, as the bus is definitely NOT your bottleneck. The same goes for LS-120 drives, and similar removable devices.

If you've got multiple, different speed controllers, it goes without saying that you need to put the faster drives on the faster controller.

If you're running Windows 95, make sure you enable DMA! The performance difference can be substantial, and it's so quick to do. Just go to Device Manager (either hold the windows key and hit break, or go to start/settings/control panel/system, or right click on my computer and hit properties, or any of a number of other shortcuts). Then double-click on the drive, and hit the little DMA checkbox.