Help me format my new hard drive.
November 1, 2004 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I've just install a new 120 gig hard disk as a slave on my Windows 98 PC, replacing an old 2 gig disk. The BIOS recognises the real size, but when I format the disk it only recognises 8 gigs of it. What happened to the rest of it?
posted by feelinglistless to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
See the links here for info on it. This has some good information. Basically, you need some kind of workaround to have windows recognize the larger space. Does the bios really recognize the entire space? Or does it only show the model number (which may contain "120G" or something)?
posted by mrgavins at 10:35 AM on November 1, 2004

I had this problem with a pair of 60GB drives a few years back. The BIOS can recognize the size accurately, but may not be able to address it; basically, if your mainboard is c. '98 or older, you need to either get a new controller card or a new mainboard. I tried the former route, and it gave me nothing but headaches. And I don't recommend mainboard swaps for casual hobbyists -- they've gotten both much more fragile and much more complex over the past 10 years.
posted by lodurr at 10:46 AM on November 1, 2004

I've had this problem with Win98. Upgrading to Win2K solved it.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:25 AM on November 1, 2004

Did the drive come with any software? In the past I've seen hard disks ship with an application that will allow older PCs to see the entire disk.

You might want to check the manufacturer's website for a download.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:30 AM on November 1, 2004

Is this a problem a function of the OS or the hardware? Because somebody just gave me an old Win98 machine with a 2GB HD. I was going to swap it out for a 60GB drive with XP on it, i was hoping it would just boot up nicely so I could put it to use it as a media server.

It was a task I was kind of looking forward to. Do I need to dread it now?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:36 AM on November 1, 2004

If you can find out the make and model of your motherboard, you might be able to get an update from the manufacturer's website. The BIOS updates sometimes address the HD limit problem. If you can't find an update, you can try getting a new motherboard, but if it's an old Win98 PC, I'm guessing it's an old Celeron or AMD 1.4 or something, in which case you might as well just get a new computer. A hundred bucks can get you a MB/Processor combo with built-in 5.1 sound, video, USB 2.0, and will still be at least twice as fast as your current system. And your HD will work fine on it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:36 PM on November 1, 2004

Dude, buy a new motherboard, RAM, CPU, case. It hasn't gotten harder to do in the last 10 years. In fact, most devices today are very resiliant to static electricity (be careful with the CPU and RAM).

You aren't using this machine to play games, right? If not, get this:

AMD Athlon XP 2500+ (anywhere around this is fine)
512MB DDR333 RAM
There are many motherboards to choose from... let me pull something out my butt....
Abit Nforce 2 Ultra motherboard
Basic computer case with at least a 350 watt power supply.

CPU: $115.00
RAM: $79.99
Abit Motherboard: $89.99
Case: $40 to $90 ($40 is fine if you just want it to work)

There you go. Installing a computer is very simple if you are attentive and focus on one thing at a time. Here is what I do:

Pop the metal bracket holding the computer ports off the back of the case. Take the new port holder that comes with your motherboard, line it up, and pop it in. Won't require a screw. Look for those brass screws that have a male on the bottom and a female port on the top. Take your motherboard and align it inside your case, make the ports fit into the bracket (simple! Youll see this right away!) and make a note of where the holes are for the mounting screws on the motherboard. Take the board out and put those male/female brass screws in those specific holes. Insert RAM into mobo. Insert CPU into mobo read the instructions. After that Read the instructions for everything else you are doing. As far as hardware is concerned, congratulations you just did the hardest part. See, I told you it was pretty damn easy.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:33 PM on November 1, 2004

Would upgrading to XP solve the problem?
posted by feelinglistless at 1:37 PM on November 1, 2004

Get a copy of fdisk (disk partitioning program) from a friend's XP install and run that (get them to build a boot-floppy). Whatever size it can address is the most your PC can address. If it says 120Gig, Windows98 is the problem. If it says 8Gig, your BIOS is the problem.

If you can't upgrade the BIOS, you'll need a new hard drive controller card -- which can be as expensive as a new motherboard. So, basically, if you can't upgrade the BIOS to cope with the new drive, put the 2Gig back and buy a new PC.
posted by krisjohn at 4:32 PM on November 1, 2004

As stated/alluded to above, the BIOS on some older models, like my HP Vectra VL5 233 MHz, may need to be upgraded. For that you need to know the motherboard manufacturer & make - for which you can then go to the maker's website & see if a BIOS upgrade is available to flash your BIOS.

On mine, HP is not offering further upgrades so the BIOS flash route is out. In that case, go to the website of the HDD manufacturer & look under the disk support section and see if they have disk installation software avialable - at Seagate, for example, it's called "DiskWizard." If they offer a Windows version, I'd use this versus the DOS, which requires that you set up the new drive as SLAVE, keeping your existing one with the WIN98 operating system already installed as PRIMARY (at least for the initial setup).

Once you've downloaded and installed the maker's software, run it - it should have a Dynamic Drive Overlay (DDO) patch that will override the BIOS limitation & allow your system to recognize and access the larger drive. This worked for me - I just installed a 28.5 GB Seagate on my old system. Don't know if other system limitations would keep you from loading a 120 GB drive, though.
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:24 PM on November 1, 2004

This technically shouldn't be there, but what the hell. That's the FDISK that does bigger than 64 GB. Remember that FAT-32 is limited to either 32 GB or 64 GB partitions (can't remember which), so partition your drive into 4 equal parts.
posted by shepd at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2004

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