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Using big USB HDDs with Win 9x/ME

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#1
oc_dt

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There are some messages regarding USB and 137GB limit. However, I'm still not sure about the limitation.

I have this USB driver (Maximus-Decim Native USB driver) installed, are there any disk size limit? After plugging in a USB storage, should that be FAT32 by default?

My concept is still not quite clear.

Edited by oc_dt, 28 September 2009 - 01:11 AM.

OC


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#2
dencorso

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There are some messages regarding USB and 137GB limit.

There is no 137GB limit for NUSB. There is no 137GB limit for USB. Period. I'm positive about this.

I have this USB driver installed, are there any disk size limit?

The only limits are those due to the FAT filesystem and to VFAT.VxD (see next answer).

After plugging in a USB storage, should that be FAT32 by default?

It can be FAT-12 (up to 32 MiB, due to the maximum number of sectors allowed in the boot record), FAT-16 (up to 2 GiB due to the FAT having 16 bits) or FAT-32 (up to 1 TiB, due to limitations in VFAT.VxD). It cannot be NTFS or any other FS, unless you add the corresponding third party FS driver.

HTH

Edited by dencorso, 26 September 2009 - 10:14 AM.
Corrected a horrible GiB for TiB typo. Thanks a lot for the heads up BenoitRen!


#3
oc_dt

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There are some messages regarding USB and 137GB limit.

There is no 137GB limit for NUSB. There is no 137GB limit for USB. Period. I'm positive about this.

I have this USB driver installed, are there any disk size limit?

The only limits are those due to the FAT filesystem and to VFAT.VxD (see next answer).

After plugging in a USB storage, should that be FAT32 by default?

It can be FAT-12 (up to 32 MiB, due to the maximum number of sectors allowed in the boot record), FAT-16 (up to 2GiB due to the FAT having 16 bits) or FAT-32 (up to 1 TiB 1GiB, due to limitations in VFAT.VxD). It cannot be NTFS or any other FS, unless you add the corresponding third party FS driver.

HTH

Thanks for your prompt response. However, I'm still confused:

For NUSB, are you referring to Maximus-Decim Native USB?

Isn't FAT-32 supporting storage of 8 terabytes?

Filesize limitation doesn't bother me yet. I just want to recognize a USB harddisk of 500 GB. I have Maximus-Decim Native USB driver installed under Win98SE, what should I do? Please kindly redirect me to the appropriate thread, if this topic were discussed before.

Thanks once again.
OC

#4
dencorso

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For NUSB, are you referring to Maximus-Decim Native USB?

Yes. Findable in Maximus-Decim Native USB Drivers, post #1, and also here: Windows 98 USB Mass Storage Device Drivers.

Isn't FAT-32 supporting storage of 8 terabytes?

It's complicated... FAT-32 uses 28 bits (not 32, mind you), so, yes, that allows for a maximum of 8 TiB... but the system is not just the FAT, there is, at least, also the volume boot record (= VBR a.k.a. partition boot record = PBR), and that structure has a 32-bit field for storing the total number of sectors of the partition, which results in a limit of 2 TiB. Now, that's the true limit of the FAT-32 filesystem, as you can check in the File Allocation Table entry in the Wikipedia, for more details. But, last year, RLoew found out that the VFAT.VxD (which is Win 9x/ME's protected mode filesystem driver) has a flaw that efectively prevents it from working correctly above 1 TiB (and developed a patch to resolve this issue, see the section "PRERELEASE AND BETA SOFTWARE" of RLoew's Homepage). So, to make short a long story, the effective limit of FAT-32, when used under Win 9x/ME is 1 TiB, unless you patch VFAT.VxD. Incidentally, RLoew has other patches relevant here, that permit one to go up to the 8 TiB, but then one will be using a non-standard FAT-32.

Filesize limitation doesn't bother me yet.

We're *not* talking about that! We're here talking about FileSystemSize, mind you. The Filesize limit for FAT is 4 GiB - 1 byte or the maximum FileSystemSize, whichever is less. That amouts to 32 MiB for FAT-12, 2 GiB for FAT-16 and, for FAT-32, 4 GiB - 1 byte. That is so because the directory entries in FAT store the Filesize as a 32-bit number.

I just want to recognize a USB harddisk of 500 GB. I have Maximus-Decim Native USB driver installed under Win98SE, what should I do?

Plug in the USB HDD. It'll just work! :thumbup Mind you that it takes about 30 sec or a little more to detect and mount so big a HDD. It's not a bug, though. And Win XP Pro SP3 takes just as long. Yet, a single 500 GiB partition works, but is not a good idea, because many of the usual maintenance tools cannot cope well with that. I have one such USB HDD for some years, now, and decided to divide it in two 250 GiB partitions (note that it'll take somewhat less than 1 min. for both partitions to be mounted, after you connect it via USB), which work OK with all usual tools. That's my experience. YMMV, though. But I do believe you're not going to have any troubles with your big USB HDD, as I don't have with mine.

Please kindly redirect me to the appropriate thread, if this topic were discussed before.

The link to using HDDs larger than 137 GB (128 GiB) with Win 9x/ME is at the right side of my signature for a reason: to be easily findable for every member needing it. :whistle:
I strongly recommend that you read it (and all the threads pointed in it) at lenght, after following all the links I provided in this and also in my previous answers to you. :yes:
You'll say: " :blink: but... but... that's *a lot* to read!!!"
The answer is: "of course! But when you have digested all that, you'll know about all that we here collectively found out about this matter, along the years!". ;)
So brace yourself and start reading!
But do remember: your USB HDD will just work with NUSB, no matter whether you have already read or not!
So you can start using it *now*, and do all your reading as time permits, OK?

#5
rloew

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There are some messages regarding USB and 137GB limit.

There is no 137GB limit for NUSB. There is no 137GB limit for USB. Period. I'm positive about this.


USB itself has no limit, but some old Hard Drive enclosures might be limited to 137GB if they do not support 48-Bit LBA.
This should not be a problem if you buy an already packaged Hard drive, but could be if you add or replace the drive in an enclosure not rated for the new size.

I have an experimental package to break the 2TB limit but it is currently does not support USB.
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#6
dencorso

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Hi, RLoew! :hello:
Well, since you're reading this, would you be so kind as to tell us a little more about the nature of the VFAT.VxD and about your 1 TiB patch. As I understand, differently from your 2 TiB patch, your 1 TiB patch should work with NUSB, as it just modifies VFAT.VxD... am I right? What happens in a system having an unpatched VFAT.VxD when one writes beyond 1 TiB? Does the system crash, or, worse, VFAT fails silently and renders the FS inconsistent? :ph34r:

Edited by dencorso, 26 September 2009 - 10:17 AM.
Corrected the horrible GiB for TiB typo here too (twice). Thanks a lot for the heads up RLoew!


#7
BenoitRen

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dencorso, you use both 1 GiB and 1 TiB as the VFAT.VXD limitation in your posts...
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#8
oc_dt

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Filesize limitation doesn't bother me yet.

We're *not* talking about that! We're here talking about FileSystemSize, mind you. The Filesize limit for FAT is 4 GiB - 1 byte or the maximum FileSystemSize, whichever is less. That amouts to 32 MiB for FAT-12, 2 GiB for FAT-16 and, for FAT-32, 4 GiB - 1 byte. That is so because the directory entries in FAT store the Filesize as a 32-bit number.

I was checking whether filesize limit is being referred due to the typo. 1TB limit will be fine for a while.

Thanks for your help.
OC

#9
dencorso

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I was checking whether filesize limit is being referred due to the typo. 1TB limit will be fine for a while.

Thanks to BenoitRen, :thumbup I finally understood why you remained confused. Yes, that was a most unfortunate one letter typo, because it fostered confusion. Sorry! :blushing: While I'm usually double-careful to revise what I write, there are some typos it takes another pair of eyes to find, because (due to some psycological mechanism I don't even begin to understand) who wrote it will always read what was intended to be written, instead of what actually is set to text.

Thanks for your help.

You're most welcome, oc_dt! :yes:

#10
rloew

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Hi, RLoew! :hello:
Well, since you're reading this, would you be so kind as to tell us a little more about the nature of the VFAT.VxD and about your 1 TiB patch. As I understand, differently from your 2 TiB GiB patch, your 1 TiB GiB patch should work with NUSB, as it just modifies VFAT.VxD... am I right? What happens in a system having an unpatched VFAT.VxD when one writes beyond 1 TiB? Does the system crash, or, worse, VFAT fails silently and renders the FS inconsistent? :ph34r:

Watch those typos! 2GiB and 1GiB should be 2TiB and 1TiB respectively.

The 2 versions of the 2TiB Patch both modify ESDI_506.PDR so they will not work with USB.

The 1 TiB limit is due to a flaw in VFAT.VXD that may or may not appear depending upon the alignment of clusters and the page sized blocks (4KiB) used for I/O. The problem generally appears as a system freeze when trying to read directories located above the 1TiB boundary. Fortunately, corruption does not appear to occur. The Patch corrects the code in VFAT.VXD. No other files are modified.

Note: The 1TiB limit applies to the size of a Partition, not the total size of a Drive.

I haven't tested my 1TiB Patch with an USB Drive yet, but it should work. It better, I already started using a 2TB USB Drive for Archiving.
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#11
dencorso

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Watch those typos! 2GiB and 1GiB should be 2TiB and 1TiB respectively.

:blushing: :blushing: They're now corrected, thanks a lot! :thumbup You do rock!
And thanks for the enlightening info!

@all: BTW, perhaps we should open a "Using big USB HDDs thread", as >= 0.5 TiB USB HDDs are becoming affordable. And maybe use these latest posts, from the original oc_dt post as the thread start... If you all find the idea worthwhile I can make it happen. What do you all think?

#12
oc_dt

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Watch those typos! 2GiB and 1GiB should be 2TiB and 1TiB respectively.

:blushing: :blushing: They're now corrected, thanks a lot! :thumbup You do rock!
And thanks for the enlightening info!

@all: BTW, perhaps we should open a "Using big USB HDDs thread", as >= 0.5 TiB USB HDDs are becoming affordable. And maybe use these latest posts, from the original oc_dt post as the thread start... If you all find the idea worthwhile I can make it happen. What do you all think?

It's fine, as it's quite self-contained. Some people including myself will be happy to see that NUSB will function without worry. :hello:
OC

#13
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The 2 versions of the 2TiB Patch both modify ESDI_506.PDR so they will not work with USB.

Could you tell something more about 2 TiB patch?
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#14
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Can I ask - why was this thread started in the "Windows 9X member projects" section?

Shouldn't it have been started in the general win9x section?

#15
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Can I ask - why was this thread started in the "Windows 9X member projects" section?

Shouldn't it have been started in the general win9x section?

Ummm, NUSB... and other "patches"...

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#16
dencorso

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1) I think now is the appropriate time to reread the thread "Problems with 1 TB RAID, Format (DOS, Windows) doesn't work properly!" and ponder about it some more. I invite you all to do so.
2) I've just added a link to this thread to my using HDDs larger than 137 GB (128 GiB) with Win 9x/ME thread, for easier reference.

#17
rloew

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The 2 versions of the 2TiB Patch both modify ESDI_506.PDR so they will not work with USB.

Could you tell something more about 2 TiB patch?


The 2 TiB Patches are designed to allow the use of Hard Drives larger than 2TiB with Windows 9X.

Since no such drives are available yet, I had to simulate a drive to test them, so they are both still in Alpha.

The first approach remaps a Hard Drive into smaller Pseudo Drives that are individually Partitioned and Formatted.

The second approach extends the MBR Partition format and modifies VFAT.VXD to process it.

Edited by rloew, 26 September 2009 - 04:37 PM.

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#18
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The second approach extends the MBR Partition format and modifies VFAT.VXD to process it.

:blink: But... but... but it isn't enough to fix the MBR partition table format (in which the last two entries, "Sectors Preceding Partition a.k.a. LBA of 1st Sector" and "Number of Sectors in Partition" are both 32-bit numbers, and hence limited to 2 TiB)! You'd have to first fix the PBR (= Boot Record) format, because the last entry in the BPB ("Sector Number", for large volumes) is also a 32-bit number. And while you can have a working disk without a MBR (= "super-floppy"), you cannot have a working disk without a PBR. Posted Image In any case, your first approach seems safer. But both, to be generally usable for those who multiboot, like me, would require also a Win 2k/XP counterpart, to avoid problems, isn't it so?

#19
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The second approach extends the MBR Partition format and modifies VFAT.VXD to process it.

:blink: But... but... but it isn't enough to fix the MBR partition table format (in which the last two entries, "Sectors Preceding Partition a.k.a. LBA of 1st Sector" and "Number of Sectors in Partition" are both 32-bit numbers, and hence limited to 2 TiB)! You'd have to first fix the PBR (= Boot Record) format, because the last entry in the BPB ("Sector Number", for large volumes) is also a 32-bit number. And while you can have a working disk without a MBR (= "super-floppy"), you cannot have a working disk without a PBR. Posted Image In any case, your first approach seems safer. But both, to be generally usable for those who multiboot, like me, would require also a Win 2k/XP counterpart, to avoid problems, isn't it so?


In the second design:

I redefined starting sector entries, in both the MBR and VBR/PBR, in the last 8GiB of the 2TiB range as mappings into 64-Bit Sector space.
When encountering one of these starting offsets, my modifications to VFAT.VXD remap the starting offset before adding the partition relative sector number to it. There would be problems mixing OSes since the others would see overlapped partiitons starting near the end of the 2TiB range wrappnig around back over the start of the drive.

The first design avoids problems with multiboot since any unmodified OS would not be aware of the additional Partitions in the area above 2TiB.
The other OSes would not have access of course. They would have full access to Partitions in the first 2TiB.

The disadvantages of this approach are as follows.

1. Problems begin to appear when there are more than 8 physical drives. The Pseudo Drives are treated as physical Drives. This would limit Interrupt 13 compatable Disk Drives to a total of 16TiB. The second approach is only limited by the number of Drive Letters, which is 48TiB (52Tib if A: and B: are repurposed). Increasing the size of a Partition above 2TiB is more complicated and is yet unsolved.
2. Drive letter issues may appear, depending how the Pseudo Drives are setup, as each one's first Primary Partition will be scanned before any extended Partitions.

Neither design currently supports booting from Partitions above 2TiB.
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#20
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JFYI:

New, large (>500Gb) USB Hard Disk Drives can work on w98, with the big HDD fix and NUSB installed...
and if they are formated in FAT32.

Reformatting USB Hard Disk Drives from NTSF to Fat32.

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#21
rloew

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JFYI:

New, large (>500Gb) USB Hard Disk Drives can work on w98, with the big HDD fix and NUSB installed...
and if they are formated in FAT32.

Reformatting USB Hard Disk Drives from NTSF to Fat32.

The Big HDD Fix is not required with large USB Drives as the ESDI_506.PDR Driver is not used.
If you put a large Hard Drive in an old USB Enclosure, you may be limited to 137GB, but no fix will help as the problem would be in the Enclosure's controller.

If the Drive is larger than 1TiB, you will need to split it into more than one Partition, as there is a bug in Windows 9x that affects Partitions larger than 1TiB. To use larger Partitions, you will need a Patch that I have written.
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#22
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Thanks for the informations, rloew.

Do we also need this or does this applies only when no driver is being installed for the device?
When I plugged the USB drive a driver was installed. I had MD's NUSB installed before and I guess the driver come from that.

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Generic, Lexar based, USB Mass Storage Driver for Windows 98 SE.
Windows 98 RTM has a flaw causing occasional corruption of IDE as well as USB
Drives, when transferring data, so use of USB Drives in Windows 98 RTM is not
recommended.
Unzip files and point the Hardware Installer to them when prompted for a
driver during installation.


I may be interrested in the 1TB patch.

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#23
rloew

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Thanks for the informations, rloew.

Do we also need this or does this applies only when no driver is being installed for the device?
When I plugged the USB drive a driver was installed. I had MD's NUSB installed before and I guess the driver come from that.

USB FREE
Generic, Lexar based, USB Mass Storage Driver for Windows 98 SE.
Windows 98 RTM has a flaw causing occasional corruption of IDE as well as USB
Drives, when transferring data, so use of USB Drives in Windows 98 RTM is not
recommended.
Unzip files and point the Hardware Installer to them when prompted for a
driver during installation.


I may be interrested in the 1TB patch.

The free Generic USB Driver I distribute does the same thing as NUSB (not the USB2.0 portion) but in a smaller package. If you are using NUSB you probably do not need my package. I have been using my Package along with the USB2.0 drivers from NUSB.
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#24
Fredledingue

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I have tested writing, reading and deleting on USB HDD full beyond the 1 Tib barrier and I didn't see any error. Moreover I'm sure the datas I tested are written "after the first Tib" because the drive was filled to 1 Tib at once and I added datas to it later.

Now I'm not saying that every w98 users wil be as lucky as I'm!

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#25
rloew

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I have tested writing, reading and deleting on USB HDD full beyond the 1 Tib barrier and I didn't see any error. Moreover I'm sure the datas I tested are written "after the first Tib" because the drive was filled to 1 Tib at once and I added datas to it later.

Now I'm not saying that every w98 users wil be as lucky as I'm!

The 1TiB Problem occurs only with certain alignments of data so there is a 1 in 4 chance that a given Partition will have the problem.
The problem appears when trying to read a Directory where the Directory itself is above the 1TiB limit.
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