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Hard drive bios settings

  1. #1
    Anyone have the formula or chart for hard drive settings you put in the bios of an older PC?

    I'm trying to get a 4 and 10gb HD installed in an old Pentium 200 PC but I keep getting an HD error on the drive settings, auto doesn't work, Type 47, 41 and 45 don't work...user settings wont go in due to there being more cylinders than the bios will take) I know I'm not going to get the size of those drives, I've even partitioned one down to 512mb and formatted it in another computer but it still wont accept any of the settings I put in.

    Again it WILL work just errors out on bootup and then I have to press F1 to continue which I suppose I could do but it's not pleasant.

    I don't expect any of the millenials to have a clue about this but maybe there is another old twat in here who knows what I'm taking about.

    Strangely the bios has a 1988 date but the PC is 1997 (A Dell optiplex motherfinger).

    EDIT: Oh I've also tried a 1gb CFcard but still get the same problem...maybe the HD controller is fucked?
  2. #2
    Grylls motherfucker [abrade this vocal tread-softly]
    have you tried turning it off and on
  3. #3
    Originally posted by Grylls have you tried turning it off and on

    I'll try it tonight, thanks.
  4. #4
    Erekshun African Astronaut
    What do you plan on doing with that ancient technology?
  5. #5
    Originally posted by Erekshun What do you plan on doing with that ancient technology?

    I usually end up selling them. The fun for me is in fixing them up and getting them in tiptop shape rather than actually using them myself.

    I tend to focus mostly on pre-PC stuff though, Amgias, Atari STs, C64s, ZX spectrums, Timex Sinclairs etc...I'm just finishing up an Amiga 2000 this weekend and figured I'd start working on the pile of 20+ old PCs I've had laying around and get them out of the way.

    Fix them up, load them up...sell them "ready to go" to nostalgia nerds.
  6. #6
    aldra JIDF Controlled Opposition
    lol, I was like 8 last time I had to worry about this shit


    what's the actual error it reports?
  7. #7
    Originally posted by aldra lol, I was like 8 last time I had to worry about this shit


    what's the actual error it reports?

    Erm not 100% sure I remember.

    Something like

    Hard drive 0 failure, press f1 to continue or f2 to enter setup.

    ..if I F1 it works fine...F2 takes me into bios to correct the HD settings...I tried multiple settings configurations with the same results. 2 drives, 1 cfcard...same thing. I'm leaning towards the Motherboard HD controller being fucked or something. The CFcard should work fine being under 2gb at least.

    The wierd part is it booted up fine when I first used it (it's been in an outside lockup for about 10yrs). I changed out the bios battery as it was dead...which I guess still had enough power to save the HD settings and then that's when the error started...so from that I also assume there WERE working settings in there before I change the battery out.

    Years since I fucked with this bios stuff too, I should have checked the settings before changing the battery.
  8. #8
    Oh googling around I found a post that alluded to being able to figure out the hard drive settings (cylinders, heads, landing zone, sectors etc) using a formula but not actually giving the formula, hence my initial request.

    Could be the bios is just so old it doesn't accept such large drives, even if they are partitioned down...but then again it was working...1988 bios date seems very odd in a 1997 computer. Maybe I'll see if there is a bios update for it.

    ETA: for example the cylinders on the 4gb drive is listed as 7762 or something like that..that number is higher than the bios will accept. The 10gb drive is even higher like 16,xxx.

    I figured there is a combination that should/will work (obviously making the drive much smaller which it would have to be anyway).
  9. #9
    -SpectraL coward [the spuriously bluish-lilac bushman]
    Did you try formatting them to FAT32 instead of NTFS?
  10. #10
    Grylls motherfucker [abrade this vocal tread-softly]
    Originally posted by -SpectraL Did you try formatting them to FAT32 instead of NTFS?

    who you calling fat
  11. #11
    aldra JIDF Controlled Opposition
    Originally posted by -SpectraL Did you try formatting them to FAT32 instead of NTFS?

    looks like it's an issue with the bios calculating the physical limits of the drive; you used to have to enter them manually for some drives but I haven't heard of that being done since the 90s
  12. #12
    Originally posted by -SpectraL Did you try formatting them to FAT32 instead of NTFS?

    FAT32 and FAT16...that shouldn't matter though at the bios stage.
  13. #13
    Originally posted by aldra looks like it's an issue with the bios calculating the physical limits of the drive; you used to have to enter them manually for some drives but I haven't heard of that being done since the 90s

    Right...that's why I was looking for a forumula/table as the ones I've tried so far don't work.

    The choices are

    Auto, User1, User2 (where you manually enter the info) and then type 1 through 47. It's fairly common that some of those presets work (and they do but give the error)...the critical numbers seem to be the number of heads and the sectors...not so much the other numbers as far as functionality goes.

    Both drives have 16 heads and 63 sectors (the CF card I believe is 128 (fake) heads.

    So if I set to 41, 45 which has the 16/63 combo the drives work in that they boot and you can access them BUT they give the error because the rest of the settings are wrong.

    I'd immediately suspect it's just the bios is so old it doesn't even come close to accepting such (relatively) big drive settings) BUT the fact it WAS working tells me there is ultimately a setting that works...Now I'm the one who set this thing up 10-15yrs ago whenever it was so presumably I figured it out back then...dumbo me for not writing it down on a sticker back then and dumbo me for not writing them down this time before swapping out the bios battery.

    I'll probably fuck with it some more tonight and then after being up till 3am throw it out of the window and go to bed knowing I was beaten by long obsolete equipment.
  14. #14
    -SpectraL coward [the spuriously bluish-lilac bushman]
    I would put the drive into another machine with a different BIOS and try get it recognized and try and format it in FAT32 and partition to 4GB each partition, then put it back in this machine. Could also try the other way and format it to NTFS in the other machine and format to 4GB partitions and then swap back. Also, there are jumpers on the drive which need to be correct. Autodetect mode on the jumpers may not be good enough. It might need to be jumpered for a master. Also, the ribbon needs to be in the right channel on the motherboard. If it's jumpered for autodetect and the ribbon is in the slave channel, that might fuck things up.
  15. #15
    Originally posted by Jiggaboo_Johnson Right…that's why I was looking for a forumula/table as the ones I've tried so far don't work.

    The choices are

    Auto, User1, User2 (where you manually enter the info) and then type 1 through 47. It's fairly common that some of those presets work (and they do but give the error)…the critical numbers seem to be the number of heads and the sectors…not so much the other numbers as far as functionality goes.

    Both drives have 16 heads and 63 sectors (the CF card I believe is 128 (fake) heads.

    So if I set to 41, 45 which has the 16/63 combo the drives work in that they boot and you can access them BUT they give the error because the rest of the settings are wrong.

    I'd immediately suspect it's just the bios is so old it doesn't even come close to accepting such (relatively) big drive settings) BUT the fact it WAS working tells me there is ultimately a setting that works…Now I'm the one who set this thing up 10-15yrs ago whenever it was so presumably I figured it out back then…dumbo me for not writing it down on a sticker back then and dumbo me for not writing them down this time before swapping out the bios battery.

    I'll probably fuck with it some more tonight and then after being up till 3am throw it out of the window and go to bed knowing I was beaten by long obsolete equipment.

    they used to write everything you needed to key in into the bios on the HDD itself, cluster, head, cylinder etc etc.

    how about jumper settings.
  16. #16
    or check first boot device.
  17. #17
    Originally posted by vindicktive vinny they used to write everything you needed to key in into the bios on the HDD itself, cluster, head, cylinder etc etc.

    how about jumper settings.

    Yep it's on the drive but as mentioned the settings on the drive exceed what the bios will take.

    The cylinders in particular...I can't enter 16,xxx because it only takes 4 digits (that's the 10gb one), the 4gb one is something like 7752 cylinders but it wont take that either and resets it to 1680 or something...but again it was the 10gb drive that WAS previously working so there must be some magic number that worked.
  18. #18
    Originally posted by vindicktive vinny or check first boot device.

    floppy or hd, those are the only options (It predates anything else), I've disabled floppy and no difference.
  19. #19
    Originally posted by Jiggaboo_Johnson Yep it's on the drive but as mentioned the settings on the drive exceed what the bios will take.

    The cylinders in particular…I can't enter 16,xxx because it only takes 4 digits (that's the 10gb one), the 4gb one is something like 7752 cylinders but it wont take that either and resets it to 1680 or something…but again it was the 10gb drive that WAS previously working so there must be some magic number that worked.

    try 4096.
  20. #20
    I'll do it!
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