Frequently Asked Questions
USB and Firewire Firewire Cards
One of the best attributes of desktop PCs is that they are very adaptable and upgradeable. FireWire is a data transfer interface similar to USB that is often not included on a PC. For those who want FireWire capability, such as to transfer video files off of a high-end mini DV camera, a separate PCI FireWire card can be installed to give the PC FireWire functionality.
- Turn off your PC and unplug the power cable.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the left side cover of the tower case. Each tower will vary on number of screws and exact positioning, but there are normally three screws along the back of the case that can be removed, allowing the panel to slide back and come loose.
- Locate a free PCI slot on the motherboard. The PCI slots are aligned along the bottom left-hand corner of almost all motherboards, near the back of the case. They are usually colored white or some other light color. (Compare the size of the FireWire card's gold plugs to the slots to find the proper one if you are confused.)
- Remove the PCI slot cover. Each PCI slot will have a small metal slat covering the back of the slot where the card's inputs and outputs will be accessible from the back of the computer. There should be a single screw just inside the case, which can be removed to take out the slot cover.
- Install the FireWire card. Position the card over the PCI slot and push it in firmly, straight down until it pops into place. You can screw the screw from the slot cover back in to secure it in place.
- Close the case and power on the PC.
- Use the driver CD to install software drivers for the card if necessary. Some cards will be recognized and be operable automatically, while others will require you to insert a driver CD and run an installation file first. If you have to install drivers from a CD, restart the computer.
Tips & Warnings
If you do not have a free PCI slot, you may need to take out an unused device before installing the FireWire card. Chances are your computer has an old modem or other PCI device taking up a slot that you do not use much, if at all. FireWire data transfers require a special FireWire cable.
- Shut off the computer, disconnect all attached devices and unplug the power supply. Before proceeding, wait a few moments to dissipate any electricity that may remain in the circuits.
- Locate the holding screws, four to eight of them, on the rear of the computer and remove them with the Philips-head screwdriver. Lift or slide off the top part of the computer case. Some computers have side panels that slide off while others have cases where the top and two sides lift off in one piece.
- Look inside and locate an available PCI Express slot. These slots, white or yellow with small metal lines inside them, may have other slots around them. Look for the smaller slots.
- Remove the metal cover from the back opening that lines up with the PCI slot you will be using. Unscrew the holding screw and slide the cover out. An opening at the back of the computer allows access to the Firewire card's ports during use.
- Hold the Firewire card so that the small, gold-colored tips on one side are facing the inside of the computer. Line these tips up to the slot inside the computer and firmly push the card into place. You may need to apply force to achieve a secure fit.
- Replace the one holding screw that keeps the Firewire card in place. Check the back of the computer; the port section of the card should be clearly visible and accessible through the back of the computer case. Replace the computer casing and reconnect all power and devices.
- Turn on the computer. The computer may indicate that new hardware has been found. Allow the computer to install updated drivers for the card automatically by clicking "Find Drivers" on the popup window that appears. If you are prompted for a driver CD, insert the CD that came with the Firewire card. Restart the computer if prompted after the drivers are installed.
Tips & Warnings
The computer may need to go online to get the latest drivers, so connect to the Internet before searching for hardware drivers.
Purchase a combination Firewire/USB card to add both types of ports to your computer.
Always discharge static-electric energy from your hands before touching the inside of the computer and while handling the Firewire card. Do so by making contact with a metal item like the screwdriver or the computer's external casing.
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