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FDISK and FORMAT large HDDs

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#26
rloew

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I ran some tests on the following versions:

98SE FDISK Original
98SE FDISK Q263044 Update
ME FDISK Original
98SE FORMAT original
ME FORMAT Original

FDISK itself is limited to ~512GiB. Above 512GiB it wraps around, so a 600GiB drive would only be partitioned to 88GiB.

FORMAT will work with Partititons up to ~1TB. Above 1TB a divide error occurs.

All versions behaved similarly.

Edited by rloew, 26 February 2010 - 12:15 AM.

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#27
dencorso

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Thanks a lot, RLoew! You rock! :thumbup

I think your tests settle the OP questions.

Yet, as you seem to be the only one of us to have conditions to perform such tests, I'd ask you to perform one more test with FORMAT (let's say just the Win ME version), at your convenience, of course, to settle also the question left open by Marius '95 original thread (link)... Marius '95 used a RAID 0 from two WD5000AAJB, that should have a full capacity of 1,000,215,724,032 bytes = 931.52 GiB, considering the official value of 976,773,168 sectors per drive, found in WD document 2879-001146. He was unable to format it, but it could be ascribed to partitioning probles previous to the actual formatting... So my question is: can FORMAT actually format 1 TB exactly (= 931.32 GiB)?

#28
submix8c

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So... it seems (ref. 48-bit support in BIOS) -

1 - another partitioning method other than FDISK needs used
?or is it NO-Partitioning-Software>~512GiB if NO BIOS SUPPORT?
according to jaclaz, only FDISK is affected (above query...) so...
?No BIOS Support: Max=128 / BIOS Support: Max=512 Only FDISK?...
(...and still need the MBR correctly created?)

2 - FORMAT will format them, up to ~1TB only if BIOS Support (according to both)

Correct? :unsure:

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#29
dencorso

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Well... yes. DOS relies on BIOS. If the BIOS doesn't support 48-bit LBA one can:
(I) update the BIOS from the manufacturer (if available), or using an unofficial modded BIOS (if available),
for free or (II) update the BIOS from eSupport.com (if available) not for free, or (III) use RLoew's DDO (not for free), or (IV) use an add-on HDD controller (say, from Promise), instead of the motherboard's ports, or (V) dump the motherboard and move-on to another one (probably used) that supports 48-bit LBA (this is probably the most work-intensive alternative), or (VI) decide one can live with the 137 GB limit.

#30
rloew

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Thanks a lot, RLoew! You rock! :thumbup

I think your tests settle the OP questions.

Yet, as you seem to be the only one of us to have conditions to perform such tests, I'd ask you to perform one more test with FORMAT (let's say just the Win ME version), at your convenience, of course, to settle also the question left open by Marius '95 original thread (link)... Marius '95 used a RAID 0 from two WD5000AAJB, that should have a full capacity of 1,000,215,724,032 bytes = 931.52 GiB, considering the official value of 976,773,168 sectors per drive, found in WD document 2879-001146. He was unable to format it, but it could be ascribed to partitioning probles previous to the actual formatting... So my question is: can FORMAT actually format 1 TB exactly (= 931.32 GiB)?


I ran the tests using a 2TB Hard Drive so I was not limited to 1TB. I tested the original Windows 98SE FORMAT using 1018.83GiB = 1,093,962,207,744 Bytes which is more than Marius' Raid System.

1 - another partitioning method other than FDISK needs used
?or is it NO-Partitioning-Software>~512GiB if NO BIOS SUPPORT?
according to jaclaz, only FDISK is affected (above query...) so...
?No BIOS Support: Max=128 / BIOS Support: Max=512 Only FDISK?...
(...and still need the MBR correctly created?)


BIOS support, if run from DOS, or Windows support, if run from Windows, is mandatory for any Partitioner using Motherboard INT 13 Calls.
The only exception is if the Partitioner supports raw Disk I/O itself, such as my RFDISK, or if you use a PCI card that has it's own BIOS.

Without 48-Bit LBA support, FDISK and other Partitioners will correctly create the MBR but any Logical Partition or Next Extended Partition Record will be placed in the first 128GiB even if the Partitioner thinks it is placing it above the limit. Reading back the record is affected in the same way, so everything will seem OK. You can reload the Partitioner and it will show you exactly what Partitions you thought you created.

If you use such a Partitioned Disk in the orignal system, everything will seem fine until data written in one 128GiB Block overwrites data in another 128Gib Block.

If you move the Hard Drive to a 48-Bit LBA aware setup, the Partitions starting above 128GiB will disappear.
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#31
submix8c

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@rloew - Gotcha - check (confirmed by above, and thought so...)!

So only alternative is to use a "good" DDO to exceed 128gb on non-48-bit-BIOS which "simulates" 48-bit for want of a better term (please don't argue semantics, I know what DDO's do and how - ARGHH!).

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#32
rloew

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@rloew - Gotcha - check (confirmed by above, and thought so...)!

So only alternative is to use a "good" DDO to exceed 128gb on non-48-bit-BIOS which "simulates" 48-bit for want of a better term (please don't argue semantics, I know what DDO's do and how - ARGHH!).


I would use "provide support for" rather than "simulate".
I think DDO's got such a bad reputation because some early versions protected their own code by shifting the sectors on the entire Hard Drive. This made the Hard Drive unreadable if the DDO wasn't active, and all data was lost if the DDO was damaged.

My BOOTMAN DDO and other DDO's I have written for other purposes, do not alter the Disk Layout, so they are safe.
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#33
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Just for the record, let me post this:

I purchased a Seagate 7200.12 series 750 gb drive specifically to do a few tests. I'm not finished yet, but when it comes to Microsoft fdisk and format, here are my results.

This 750 gb SATA drive was connected to my win-98se system via a Silicon Image SIL 3512 SATARaid PCI controller card. I tested 3 versions of fdisk:

1) May 18, 2000 (this was the fdisk update for win-98 from Microsoft)
2) June 8, 2000 (this is from windows Me)
3) Oct 30, 2006 (this is from BHDD31)

To test fdisk (2), I booted from a win-ME "emergency" boot floppy disk.

All 3 versions reported that my new drive had a capacity of 5773 mb, and all 3 of them did indeed create a single-partition volume with that size. Format.com (doesn't matter which version) created a volume with a size of 5,761.55 (5,899,832 kb) after fdisk.

During boot-up, the PCI bios reports that the drive has a capacity of 698 gb. There are 1,073,741,824 bytes in a classic Gb, so the capacity of this drive must be somewhere around 749,471,793,152 bytes. I'm not exactly sure of the math that fdisk is using (or misusing) to arrive at 5.77 gb for a 698 gb drive.

I downloaded DiscWizardSetup.en.exe from Seagate's website, and it does initially run on my win-98 system, but it just hangs when I try one of the 3 install choices from the main menu (maybe a conflict with kernelex?). So at this point it looks like Microsoft's DOS tools really are limited to ~500 gb when it comes to partitioning hard drives.

#34
dencorso

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OK. Good. Now, please, if I may suggest something, do partition it to a single primary partiton with the free Ranish Partition Manager (use v. 240), and use your single > 650 GiB patition to test FORMAT.COM and SCANDISK.EXE...
from all we know they should both work OK.

BTW, a 750 GB Barracuda 7200.12, according to Seagate, has 750,156,374,016 bytes (= 698.6 GiB) , at least (from converting the published number of Guaranteed Sectors), so your BIOS is seeing the full HDD.

#35
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This 750 gb SATA drive was connected to my win-98se system via a Silicon Image SIL 3512 SATARaid PCI controller card.

The name is not SIL. It is SiI as Silicon Image

I tested 3 versions of fdisk:
(...)
All 3 versions reported that my new drive had a capacity of 5773 mb.
(...)
I'm not exactly sure of the math that fdisk is using (or misusing) to arrive at 5.77 gb for a 698 gb drive.

The size reported by fdisk is in MiB (use UPPER case when needed) and depends on CHS/LBA settings reported by the controller BIOS. Show your numbers and we can do the math.
Andrzej P. Wozniak

#36
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OK. Good. Now, please, if I may suggest something, do partition it to a single primary partiton with the free Ranish Partition Manager (use v. 240), and use your single > 650 GiB patition to test FORMAT.COM and SCANDISK.EXE...
from all we know they should both work OK.

BTW, a 750 GB Barracuda 7200.12, according to Seagate, has 750,156,374,016 bytes (= 698.6 GiB) , at least (from converting the published number of Guaranteed Sectors), so your BIOS is seeing the full HDD.

I ran Ranish partition manager v.240 after booting the system into DOS. It reported that the drive size was 715,404 MBytes. I experienced some system instability while running Ranish (it reported several times that it couldn't write the MBR) but finally I was able to get it to create a single partition on the drive using the entire drive space. I selected it's fast-format option to format the drive. After re-booting back into DOS, DOS reported the drive to have 715,055.48 MB free. Chkdsk reported 732,216,832 kb total disk space, 16 kb cluster size (?!), and 45,763,552 total clusters. Windows ME fdisk reported that the total drive size was 5773 MB (same as before) but that the formatted partition had a size of 715,405 Mbytes with usage of 100%.

After several attempts to boot completely into Windows, I was finally able to bring the system up, and Windows reported that my D: drive has a size of 698 GB. Windows scandisk failed to run (reported insufficient memory - I have 512 mb on this system). Norton Disk Doctor failed with a blue-screen fatal exception (I have the NOLBACHECK registry entry set for Norton Utilities, but it didn't help).

I'm surprised that Ranish used a 16 kb cluster size to format the drive. If it used 32 kb then potentially Windows scandisk might run, and almost certainly NDD would also run.

I performed a simple file-copy test (I copied a directory containing 10 wav files - about 540 mb - to the new drive) and it took about 12 seconds to perform the copy. I was able to play the files from the new drive without any problems.

What I think I'll do next is see if DOS will format the drive, and I'll check to see if the drive is operating in SATA mode or legacy IDE mode (I'm not sure). Is there a way to know from within Windows if the drive is being accessed using the SATA driver, or ESDI_506.pdr? In device manager, drive properties, driver, it says "Provider: (Standard disk drives), Date: 4-23-1999. No driver files are required or have been loaded for this device."

#37
dencorso

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What I think I'll do next is see if DOS will format the drive, and I'll check to see if the drive is operating in SATA mode or legacy IDE mode (I'm not sure). Is there a way to know from within Windows if the drive is being accessed using the SATA driver, or ESDI_506.pdr? In device manager, drive properties, driver, it says "Provider: (Standard disk drives), Date: 4-23-1999. No driver files are required or have been loaded for this device."

Great! And yes, the Ranish PM has this strange behaviour of defaulting to 16 kiB clusters... But perhaps FORMAT.COM will change the cluster size, on reformatting. And if it doesn't, do give a try to the famous /Z switch.
Well, look unser SCSI, on the device manager. You probably have an entry for yor HDD there, and in its properties you'll see the SATA driver listed.
Please do run the Win ME DOS SCANDISK before and after using FORMAT.COM.

#38
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Great! And yes, the Ranish PM has this strange behaviour of defaulting to 16 kiB clusters... But perhaps FORMAT.COM will change the cluster size, on reformatting. And if it doesn't, do give a try to the famous /Z switch.
Well, look unser SCSI, on the device manager. You probably have an entry for yor HDD there, and in its properties you'll see the SATA driver listed.
Please do run the Win ME DOS SCANDISK before and after using FORMAT.COM.

I booted into DOS and used format.com (04/23/1999) to format the 750gb drive. Format puts up a message saying "Formatting 60,04.83 MB" as it's doing the format. Not sure why or how it came up with the string "60,04.83". It takes pretty close to 1 minute per percent completion (so it takes close to 100 minutes to format this drive). When it's done, it says the drive has a capacity of 715,055.50 MB. And get this -> it used 16kb cluster size (!?).

So from this it appears that format.com (win-98 version) can format drives larger than 500 gb (in this case 750 gb) but like Ranish it uses an inappropriate cluster size (16kb in this case). Trying the format command again, this time experimenting with the /z switch, results in the same behavior: /z:64 is rejected with the message "you have specified a cluster size that's too small". /z:64 would have resulted in 32kb cluster size. However, format did accept the /z:32 parameter (16 kb cluster size). My complaint about the /z switch is that it's completely useless because it doesn't give the user any additional ability to specify a cluster size other than what format's own internal rules would have used. In this case, format thinks the appropriate cluster size is 16kb. Why it thinks that is unknown. But it's also what Ranish uses in this case too.

Trying to run Windows scandisk (using Win-ME versions of scandskw.exe and dskmaint.dll) by invoking "properties, tools, Error-Checking Check-now" still results in the "insufficient memory" error (Scandisk could not continue because your computer does not have enough available memory). So the win-ME versions of scandskw/dskmaint can't handle a volume with 45 million clusters, but (from previous experience) they can handle 31 million clusters.

Running the SATA adapter's bios setup doesn't give any hint or option at all regarding what mode the drive is being used in (SATA or legacy IDE). The bios on this card simply doesn't give me any options in that regard. The card is listed in device manager (under SCSI controllers) but the hard drive is not listed under the card (it's listed with my primary C drive under Disk Drives).

Are there any other tests worth doing at this point?

#39
rloew

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FORMAT.COM may be relying on the existing Cluster size when it reformats. 16KiB Clusters is not the recommended Cluster size.
Another possibility is that it is using the truncated value of 60GB to decide the Cluster size.
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#40
dencorso

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Yes, there are. I'd like to know how the DOS programs SCANDISK.EXE (from Win ME or from BHDD31E) and, in case you have it, NDD.EXE (from Norton 2002) behave with your 45 million cluster 750 GB partition. After testing this, you could change the cluster size manually in the BPB of the partition boot record and try FORMAT.COM again: if RLoew is right and FORMAT.COM uses the value present in the BPB, when it finds one, this should cause it to use 32 kiB sectors.

#41
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Yes, there are. I'd like to know how the DOS programs SCANDISK.EXE (from Win ME or from BHDD31E) and, in case you have it, NDD.EXE (from Norton 2002) behave with your 45 million cluster 750 GB partition. After testing this, you could change the cluster size manually in the BPB of the partition boot record and try FORMAT.COM again: if RLoew is right and FORMAT.COM uses the value present in the BPB, when it finds one, this should cause it to use 32 kiB sectors.

When scanning the drive in question -> 750 gb, partitioned using ranish, formatted with format.com (04/23/99), with 16kb cluster size and 45.76 million clusters:

Dos scandisk from win-98 (04/23/99) ran all tests in about 2 or 3 minutes, but put up the message that it couldn't perform a surface scan because there was not enough conventional memory (this was while booted directly into DOS). Free memory was 604,xxx bytes. After modifying config.sys and autoexec.bat to get memory up to 633,xxx bytes, scandisk did not display that message. It estimated it would take 3.5 hours to perform a full surface scan. I told it to start the scan, and after about 1 minute of inactivity, it brought up the screen showing the drive map and began the scan. I stopped the scan after a few minutes.

When scanned by Norton Disk Doctor (from NSW 2002), NDD ran through the first test (partition table) and got partially into the second test (boot record) before throwing up a blue-screen error from which the computer could not recover from, requiring a cold re-start. I have the NOLBACHECK registry entry set for Norton Utilities, but it didn't help.

I was under the impression that after a drive is partitioned (using fdisk or other programs) that the cluster-size is not set during the partition process but that format.com has complete control or freedom to choose the cluster size. I will perform a re-partitioning of the drive and try to set the sectors-per-cluster (as described here: DOS Boot Sector) before attempting a re-format.

#42
rloew

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I was under the impression that after a drive is partitioned (using fdisk or other programs) that the cluster-size is not set during the partition process but that format.com has complete control or freedom to choose the cluster size. I will perform a re-partitioning of the drive and try to set the sectors-per-cluster (as described here: DOS Boot Sector) before attempting a re-format.

Cluster size is not defined by Partitioning a Hard Drive. It is set during Formatting.
I have never used Ranish, so it may be doing both.
If possible, have Ranish blank the Partition rather than formatting it, then try FORMAT.COM.
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#43
dencorso

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It seems 45 million clusters chokes NDD.EXE. Did you have HIMEM.SYS loaded when you ran it and SCANDISK.EXE?

#44
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It seems 45 million clusters chokes NDD.EXE. Did you have HIMEM.SYS loaded when you ran it and SCANDISK.EXE?

Yes, himem.sys was in my config.sys.

Cluster size is not defined by Partitioning a Hard Drive. It is set during Formatting.
I have never used Ranish, so it may be doing both.
If possible, have Ranish blank the Partition rather than formatting it, then try FORMAT.COM.

I downloaded something called "Free Fdisk" (Author: Brian E. Reifsnyder) version 1.2.1. I could only find it on archive.org: http://web.archive.o...de/fdisk121.zip

It correctly identified the 750 gb drive and printed it's size correctly on the screen (no funny math or misplaced numbers). I used it to delete and then re-create a single primary FAT32 partition on the 750 gb drive using the max-drive-space option. After re-booting back into DOS, I ran format.com (win-98 version) and this time format used 32kb cluster size and the drive ended up with 22.9 million clusters.

Norton Disk Doctor (NDD32.exe) still crashes with a blue-screen error (Fatal Exception 0E) even when invoked with /NOLBA command-line switch. I'm pretty sure I've seen NDD run on drives with more than 22.9 million clusters, so this result was not expected.

However, Windows-ME version of scandisk (scandskw.exe / dskmaint.dll v4.90.3000) did perform a standard drive test without any issues or error messages (there were no files on the drive - not sure if this makes any difference or not).

It seems that format.com will use and give priority to any cluster-size setting that already exists in the FAT boot sector, perhaps even expecting this value to already be set at runtime (perhaps format.com does not actually set the sectors-per-cluster value in the FAT boot sector).

So I think this shows that format.com will work with drives at least up to 700/750 gb (depending how you define gb) and that Win-me scandisk is also compatible with a single volume of that size (22.9 million clusters). Any or all versions of Microsoft-supplied fdisk.exe are definitely limited to a max drive size of somewhere between 500 to 750 gb (most likely 512gb). Free Fdisk version 1.2.1 is a suggested alternative for drives larger than 512 gb.

#45
rloew

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It seems 45 million clusters chokes NDD.EXE. Did you have HIMEM.SYS loaded when you ran it and SCANDISK.EXE?

Yes, himem.sys was in my config.sys.

Cluster size is not defined by Partitioning a Hard Drive. It is set during Formatting.
I have never used Ranish, so it may be doing both.
If possible, have Ranish blank the Partition rather than formatting it, then try FORMAT.COM.

I downloaded something called "Free Fdisk" (Author: Brian E. Reifsnyder) version 1.2.1. I could only find it on archive.org: http://web.archive.o...de/fdisk121.zip

It correctly identified the 750 gb drive and printed it's size correctly on the screen (no funny math or misplaced numbers). I used it to delete and then re-create a single primary FAT32 partition on the 750 gb drive using the max-drive-space option. After re-booting back into DOS, I ran format.com (win-98 version) and this time format used 32kb cluster size and the drive ended up with 22.9 million clusters.

Norton Disk Doctor (NDD32.exe) still crashes with a blue-screen error (Fatal Exception 0E) even when invoked with /NOLBA command-line switch. I'm pretty sure I've seen NDD run on drives with more than 22.9 million clusters, so this result was not expected.

However, Windows-ME version of scandisk (scandskw.exe / dskmaint.dll v4.90.3000) did perform a standard drive test without any issues or error messages (there were no files on the drive - not sure if this makes any difference or not).

It seems that format.com will use and give priority to any cluster-size setting that already exists in the FAT boot sector, perhaps even expecting this value to already be set at runtime (perhaps format.com does not actually set the sectors-per-cluster value in the FAT boot sector).

So I think this shows that format.com will work with drives at least up to 700/750 gb (depending how you define gb) and that Win-me scandisk is also compatible with a single volume of that size (22.9 million clusters). Any or all versions of Microsoft-supplied fdisk.exe are definitely limited to a max drive size of somewhere between 500 to 750 gb (most likely 512gb). Free Fdisk version 1.2.1 is a suggested alternative for drives larger than 512 gb.

FORMAT.COM assumes that the Boot Sector is correct and will not change it if valid. Only by zeroing it out were you able to force FORMAT.COM to create a new one based on Microsoft's algorithm. You have confirmed what I said in my earlier post.
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#46
dencorso

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From the present thread and from hdd size limits?, I think I have enough material to create this summary of what we do know at present about the limits of the different programs related to HDD formating, partitioning and maintenance, so here it goes:

The limit for NDD32.EXE (up to v. 19.0.1.8, from NSW 2008) is somewhere between 7.8 and 7.9 million clusters, or somewhere between 61.0 and 61.7 thousand sectors per FAT (as I now believe it crashes when reading the FATs to a buffer in memory).

The limit for SCANDSKW.EXE (4.90.0.3000) is somewhere between 26.4 and 26.6 million clusters, or somewhere between 206.1 and 207.7 thousand sectors per FAT. It crashed with Marius '95 1 TB raid single partition (link), although 98-Guy has reported it works up to 31.2 million clusters (follow the links inside this post).

SCANDISK.EXE from Win ME works, at least, up to 1 TB, according to Marius '95, and to 31.2 million clusters, according to 98-Guy (both these limits are about the same, for a 1 TB partition, using 32 kiB clusters, has about 31 million clusters).

NDD.EXE for DOS (2002 ..10E) also is reported by the same users as having the same limits as those of SCANDISK.EXE, but that's now doubtful, because it crashes for wsxedcrfv with 22.9 million clusters. In any case, Marius '95, for whom it worked, said it was very slow, so maybe he just didn't wait enough time for it to crash...

FORMAT.EXE works up to, at least 1018 GiB, but above 1TiB a divide error occurs, according to RLoew, in the present thread.

And the limit of Petr's fixed FDISK (based on the FDISK contained in this update: KB263044, which has a numerical display bug) is 512 GB, according to Microsoft (KB280737), and confirmed in the present thread. Suitable alternatives are The Ranish Partition Manager, although it is not adequate to format the partitions it creates, because of defaulting to 16 kiB clusters, or the Free FDISK v. 1.2.1, or Symantec's GDISK (not free), or RLoew's RFDISK (not free).

#47
BookWorm

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I just tried the Ranish Partition Manager, and it has the same 128 Gig limit as Windows. :realmad:

#48
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I just tried the Ranish Partition Manager, and it has the same 128 Gig limit as Windows. :realmad:

Please provide more details - such as the Ranish version number, the type of drive, interface type (IDE, SATA, other).

My limited experience with Ranish (posted in this thread) was that it was able to partition and format a 750 gb SATA drive.

#49
dencorso

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I just tried the Ranish Partition Manager, and it has the same 128 Gig limit as Windows. :realmad:

No, it does *not*! But the BIOS of your machine may have it, and the Ranish Partition Manager depends on the BIOS to work. AFAIK, only RLoew's RFDISK and RFORMAT can work independent of BIOS, in DOS. Always double-check your results for hidden dependencies, in order not to spread misinformation. I have used RPM (v. 2.44 Beta) to sucessfully format and partition two different 500 GB HDDs on two different occasions, and it worked flawlessly in both cases. One of those HDDs (the IOMEGA) I still have with me and it remains in use (more details are in the quotation below).

Well, to be more precise, since you are interested in the model number, it's an
External Hi Speed USB IOMEGA MDHD500-U enclosure with a Hitachi Deskstar HDS725050 500 GB HDD inside
The other HDD I have also tested is actually a multimedia player:
External Hi Speed USB Conceptronic Grab'n'GO CSM3PL with a 3.5" SAMSUNG HD501LJ 500 GB HDD inside.



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dencorso

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And the limit of Petr's fixed FDISK (based on the FDISK contained in this update: KB263044, which has a numerical display bug) is 512 GB, according to Microsoft (KB280737), and confirmed in the present thread. Suitable alternatives are The Ranish Partition Manager, although it is not adequate to format the partitions it creates, because of defaulting to 16 kiB clusters, or the Free FDISK v. 1.2.1, or Symantec's GDISK (not free), or RLoew's RFDISK (not free).

The Ranish Partition Manager, although it is not adequate to format the partitions it creates, because of defaulting to 16 kiB, still remains the best free partitioning tool. Nowadays, I'm convinced v. 2.44 is the best one to use. However, until recently, the only free formatting tool I knew of that's capable of reformatting using a user defined sectors-per-cluster number, regardless of how the partition was originally formatted, was Ridgecrop's fat32format (which is needs a NT-family OS to work), since the undocumented /Z switch of the MS Format refuses to work. This may have changed, thanks to Udo Kuhnt and his DR-DOS/OpenDOS Enhancement Project!

To format FAT12/16/32 drives, you can use the new DR FORMAT command v1.0 (source or binary). This is based on FreeDOS FORMAT v0.91u with added support for 128K cluster size and some other enhancements; use the new option /C:clsize to override the default cluster size.

So, please, do test the new free DR FORMAT v1.0 (see quote above for download link) and report. If it works OK, we now have a DOS only way of doing it. :yes:




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