12 Differences Between IDE and SATA

You will get different kinds of interfaces to connect a storage device to the system bus of a computer. Two such popular interfaces are IDE and SATA.

Now, which of the two you should use and get a better performance depends on how well you are acquainted with the differences between them.


  • While the SATA interface is relatively new compared to IDE, it is also a more expensive one.
  • The larger size of the IDE makes it easily distinguishable from the smaller SATA interface.
  • The large size of the IDE comes with as many as 40 holes arranged in two rows of twenty each to hold the 40-pin connector while the SATA interface has only seven pins arranged in a single row.
  • The IDE interface can transfer data at a much slower speed than a SATA interface ranging between 5 MB and 133 MB per second as opposed to 150 MB per second and higher transfer speed of SATA.
  • The IDE interface does not support adding or removing a device while the system is running but the SATA interface supports such hot plugging.

The 12 Differences Between IDE and SATA


1. Full Form

While IDE is the short for Integrated Drive Electronics, SATA is the acronym for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment.

2. Basic Difference

IDE actually refers to the interface standard for connecting storage devices such as Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives, and CD/DVD drives to a computer.

On the other hand, SATA refers to the computer bus or standard hardware interface for connecting the same devices to the computer systems.

3. Age Factor

IDE is a much older technology having been introduced in 1986. In comparison, the SATA technology is much more modern having been introduced in 2003.

4. Hot Plugging Support

IDE does not support hot plugging. This means that this technology does not allow adding or removing any storage device while the computer system is running.

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On the other hand, you can add or remove a device from the SATA interface when the system is on due to the hot plugging support provided by the interface.

5. Data Transfer Speed

The data transfer speed supported by IDE technology ranges between 100 megabytes per second to 133 megabytes per second.

On the other hand, the data transfer speed offered by SATA ranges between 150 megabytes per second if you use SATA I and 300 megabytes per second if you use SATA II and up to 6 Gigabytes per second if you use the latest version.

6. Cables

The IDE cables are much wider as compared to the SATA cables and can be up to 18 inches in length.

On the other hand, the SATA cables are much narrower in comparison to the IDE cables and can be up to 39 inches long.

7. Connection Types

IDE connectors offer a parallel connection but, in comparison, the SATA connectors offer a serial connection to the devices attached to the computer bus.

8. Jumpers

IDE drives have jumpers to chain the ribbon cable in order to connect different drives to the computer which does not have any idea about which is the main drive.

SATA drives do not need any such jumpers because every drive is connected to the motherboard directly. The primary drive can be set easily by directly accessing the settings from the BIOS or Basic Input Output System of the computer.

9. Installation

The IDE cables are quite difficult to install since there are jumpers in them. In comparison, the SATA cables are much easier to install due to the absence of jumpers in them.

10. Cable Design

There is only one IDE cable for both data and power but, in comparison, the SATA cables are designed as separate parts on different sides, one as a data cable and the other is the power cable, which makes it easy to figure out.

11. Free Air Flow

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Since IDE is wide, it may allow free air flow but, in comparison, SATA is quite narrow and therefore there is little or no chance for free air flow.

12. Lineage

IDE is superseded by SATA and SATA has superseded Parallel ATA, also known as IDE.

Which is More Useful – IDE or SATA?

Differences Between IDE and SATA

It is needless to say that both IDE and SATA perform the same function but in a different way which may make it quite difficult for you to decide which one between them is better and more useful.

You will surely need some additional information apart from knowing the differences between these two interfaces for that.

Typically, in most cases, it is the SATA interface that will offer more benefits in comparison to the IDE. It is for this reason SATA is taking over and replacing IDE. In that sense, SATA is more useful than an IDE.

However, it is safe to say that though IDE may not be used in the future devices, it will continue being used in the older systems that do not support SATA.

Technically, IDE or Integrated Drive Electronics is simply a connector that allows connecting a storage device to the computer directly but the SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment is an interface that helps in transferring data between the computer bus and the storage device.

The IDE interface offers a parallel connection but SATA provides a serial connection while connecting the storage drive to the system bus.

Also, both these use different connectors and therefore are not interchangeable without using an adapter. Therefore, making the right choice is vital.

At this point, it is good to know the pros and cons of the two interfaces which will help you further in making a distinction between them.

Based on the above mentioned list of differences between the two, the merits of SATA can be summarized as follows:

  • It is less complicated to figure out
  • It is easier and more convenient to use
  • It has a much higher data transfer speed than IDE
  • It supports connecting multiple drives to the motherboard
  • It supports hot plugging
  • It is inexpensive
  • It needs thinner and longer wires making it much more flexible
  • It needs less space in the computer systems being smaller in size and
  • It is long-lasting.
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On the flipside, the demerits of SATA include its lower bandwidth, its inability to support older devices and its needs for more ports and cables to connect with other devices.

It is also not suitable for the servers due to its Lower MTBF or Mean Time Between Failures than SAS or Serial Attached Small Computer System Interface.

On the other hand, the advantages of using IDE are:

  • The devices need less cable
  • It has jumpers for devices to share a specific cable
  • It is compatible with almost all older devices and
  • The IDE cables support two IDE hard drives in each.

However, the downsides of IDE are its slower speed in transferring data and the fact that most of the newly released motherboards do not support IDE.

It also does not support newer technologies such as Native Command Queuing or NCQ.

With all that said and explained now it is all up to you to decide whether you would want to follow the future of computing or stick to the old school.


So, as you can see after reading this article and gaining the knowledge about the differences between IDA and SATA, making a choice between the two is not as difficult as you thought before you started to read this article.

About Taylor Swift

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift, a UOPEOPLE graduate is a freelance technology writer with in-depth knowledge about computers. She has an understanding of hardware and technology gained through over 10 years of experience. Follow Her at Linkedin