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Formatting Larger Hard Drives in Win98SE


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#1 OFFLINE   Cluttermagnet

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 07:07 AM

I have an 80G WD and a 120G Seagate I'd like to use as bulk storage in some 98SE computers. I know Win98 can only address about 8G at a time. OTOH you can supposedly sidestep that with a PCI IDE card that ups your native capability to 137G, so I hear. I have such a card, a Promise Ultra 100 tx2. I also have access to partitioning software (Partition Magic, BootitNG) and imaging software (Drive Image, BootitNG).When one first addresses a mint HD directly on an IDE buss in Win98, one can fdisk it to about 8G (or 10G or so, according to a recent experiment I ran). I could probably slap a copy of Windoze on such a disk (if necessary), and/or later use Partition Magic to 'slide' the total active area on the disk out to the limits, partition it in 8G chunks, and maybe dump the OS later, ending up with just the full HD as bulk storage (no active partitions). Does that sound about right? I'm really looking for a faster, cleaner way of ending up with this result without all the intermediate steps. What I do know is that Windows can't 'see' the mint HD looking through the PCI IDE card unless it has been Fdisked and probably formatted as well- other than the Promise software does briefly detect the full size of the HD while it is loading its BIOS. Suggestions? I hear that the IDE card can provide a performance boost over directly addressing the HD over an IDE buss. I'm still a little fuzzy as to just what this card can and can't do for me.I'm just now coming out of my own personal era of smaller drives, where 30G has been considered 'large'. I always chopped those up into 8-10G partitions in the past. I assume I would still have to do that, even looking through the IDE card? My old P2 box has a 30G Maxtor and that one was installed using "EZ-BIOS" software from Maxtor. It's supposed to be some sort of 'spanning' software that fools Win98 into thinking it's only addressing 8G (?) I think I have that one partitioned in three 10G chunks anyway.BTW these questions are intended as a Win98 query, so you guys who are tempted to tease me about getting XP will be cheerfully ignored.  B)  ;)

Edited by Cluttermagnet, 06 February 2006 - 07:11 AM.

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#2 OFFLINE   Rons

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:13 AM

Have you tried using either Western Digitals or Segates formatting and partitioning tools that are available from their respective websites ?  B) Just a thought.

Edited by Rons, 06 February 2006 - 11:14 AM.


#3 OFFLINE   muckshifter

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:41 AM

HUH! B) Your BIOS is at fault not Win98 ... update your BIOS

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Most older system BIOS's have a drive capacity limitation.  Such          limitations may include 528MB, 2.1GB, 4.2GB, 8.4GB, and 32GB. The proper          solution for a BIOS limitation is to contact your system manufacturer          for a BIOS flash to upgrade your BIOS to the latest version.         Note: the 137GB limitation, related to 48-bit addressing, is not strictly          a BIOS problem that will be fixed by upgrading your BIOS. See Why          doesn't my system see the full capacity of my 137GB+ drive? What is the          137GB (128GB binary) hard drive capacity limitation?
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#4 OFFLINE   zlim

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 01:21 PM

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I know Win98 can only address about 8G at a time.
I'm not sure where that info came from but I think it's inaccurate. I run an HP desktop that came with a 20gig hd and 98SE. As far as I can tell, it did not come with any drive overlay software. I'll have a look around to see what is the upper limit of 98SE's hard drive recognition.Ok, I found someone who quoted Kim Kommando with the 8gig limit. This was for very early 98 and probably older motherboards.What BIOS are you running and what version...that is where the limit lies as far as I can tell from reading.I found these comments but I'm not sure if they are accurate.

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1. What is the biggest hard drive the operating systems can support? Here are the answers: Windows 98, 98SE, ME, NT, 2000, XP(without SP1) - 137GB2. Win 98, 98SE cannot prepare a hard drive larger than 32 gig without an update (BIOS)3. I have no problems with my 60GB Seagate on Win98SE

Edited by zlim, 06 February 2006 - 01:55 PM.

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#5 OFFLINE   Cluttermagnet

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 10:43 PM

View PostRons, on Feb 6 2006, 10:13 AM, said:

Have you tried using either Western Digitals or Segates formatting and partitioning tools that are available from their respective websites ?  :'( Just a thought.
Thanks, Rons-In fact, I had thought of them, but thanks for the reminder. I found my copy of WD's Data Lifeguard Tools, and I just downloaded Seagate's DiscWizard Starter ed. I also plan to grab a copy of Seagate's DiscWizard for Windows. These look like the best way to go.BTW the platform I'm working with right now is pretty recent. It's an Asrock P4V88+ running a Celeron D 320 (2.4GHz, 256k L2 cache). This MB will socket the later generation of Intel CPUs with the larger caches, so the BIOS in it is not very old.I will initially run these drives direct on an IDE buss and format them to their full capacity, then I will try moving them around to other computers and onto my PCI IDE ATA card and see how they behave. I'll let you know how I'm doing. Muckshifter and zlim- I'll let you know if I run into those BIOS or OS addressing limits. I can't tell yet whether I will or will not.
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#6 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:46 PM

Can I weigh in here? FAT32 can handle partitions up to 2TB (Terabytes) in size. Your BIOS is fairly recent and definitely has 48-bit LBA capability and therefore can handle any size over 137GB with 2000/XP. That being said, Windows 98 should be able to handle a 120GB drive without requiring an external 48-bit LBA controller, i.e., your Promise controller. The question comes down to the tools you use to create the partitions. FDISK, having some 16-bit code, will not be able to handle partitions larger than 64GB reliably. (Microsoft does have an updated FDISK that can deal with this.) All your really need is the Western Digital and Seagate utilities to create the partitions and then you should be able to do a clean Windows 98 install or add the drive to an existing system. Remember, your BIOS is 48-bit LBA capable.

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#7 OFFLINE   Tushman

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 02:08 AM

Peachy is right on (as usual).  Cluttermagnet, I don't know where you got your information about the 8 GB limit but it is wrong.  I used to have a 40 GB HDD (single partition) when I was running Win98 and eventually upgraded to 200 GB HDD.Maybe where you got confused is that 8 GB is the 'optimum' partition size with FAT32 that will produce the least amount of slack space.

Edited by Tushman, 07 February 2006 - 02:10 AM.


#8 OFFLINE   striker

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 07:00 AM

Clutter, both Peachy and Tushman are right. When I used 98SE I had 2 hard disks in the box, one was 40GB and the other 20GB. I used fdisk to partition. Never had any problem.
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#9 OFFLINE   _Ralph_

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 10:35 AM

Maybe you guys could give me some advice  . I have been following this thread and it's been very informative . I have a Thinkpad A21 laptop attached to a dock . The TP has a 20gb HD , 800MgH , P3 , running Win 98se . The current HD is partitioned to 8,8,4 with BingNG . Everything is running very nicely but I would like a bit more HD space . My thought is to purchase a 80 GB HD and place it in the dock which has a adaptor for the new HD . I would then get Win XP and place it on the new drive and have additional storage as well . My goal is to dual boot , increase storage , and continue with my current setup rather than going for a new pc ; my budget is tight . Thanks , in advance for your thoughts .

#10 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 10:57 AM

__Ralph,I'm not too familiar with using docking stations. So, may I ask, when you add a hard drive to the dock and hook up the laptop, can the laptop be made to boot off the hard drive in the dock?

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#11 OFFLINE   Marsden11

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 04:06 PM

With the proper BIOS, Win98SE should handle a large HD. However, the largest volume size it can format is 32 GBs. 98SE can't format an entire 120GB in FAT32 as a single volume.The most significant difference between FAT16 and FAT32 is the maximum number of clusters supported, which in turn affects a volume's maximum size and storage efficiency. FAT32 breaks the 4-GB volume limitation of FAT16 by extending the maximum number of clusters.Due to the greater number of available clusters within FAT32, each cluster can be made smaller for a particular volume, increasing the efficiency of data storage. For example, FAT16 volumes between 2 and 4 GB use a 64-KB cluster, whereas FAT32 volumes between 16 GB and 32 GB use a 16-KB cluster.In Windows Me, using a cluster size of 32 KB, a FAT32 volume can theoretically be about 8 terabytes. However, the 32-bit fields in the partition table (and in the FAT32 boot sector) limit the size of an individual volume (regardless of file system) on a basic MBR disk using a sector size of 512 bytes to approximately 2 terabytes. The other main limitation is max file size in FAT32. Any file over 4GB minus 1 byte. will simply puke on FAT32.

#12 OFFLINE   _Ralph_

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 07:42 PM

View PostPeachy, on Feb 7 2006, 09:57 AM, said:

__Ralph,I'm not too familiar with using docking stations. So, may I ask, when you add a hard drive to the dock and hook up the laptop, can the laptop be made to boot off the hard drive in the dock?
I 'm sorry but I don't know if I can or not . I need to ask IBM support that question before I buy it . Thanks for the tip . I know I can use the new HD in the the main slot in the laptop and place the old drive in the adaptor in the dock .

#13 OFFLINE   Tushman

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 10:18 PM

View PostMarsden11, on Feb 7 2006, 05:06 PM, said:

With the proper BIOS, Win98SE should handle a large HD. However, the largest volume size it can format is 32 GBs. 98SE can't format an entire 120GB in FAT32 as a single volume.
Where do you get this infromation from?  I really don't think that's correct.  Under FAT32, Win98 SE can support drives upto 2 TB in size.  Read Peachy's posting above above.

Edited by Tushman, 07 February 2006 - 10:21 PM.


#14 OFFLINE   Marsden11

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 11:30 PM

You can't format a partition greater than 32GBs from within Win98SE.

#15 OFFLINE   Marsden11

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 01:29 AM

I may be wrong on the volume size limit but the maximum file size supported is still 4 GB. If your trying to do a 5 GB backup your screwed. Forget FAT32 for video work as well.

#16 OFFLINE   Cluttermagnet

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 05:38 AM

Great discussion, guys. Very helpful so far- thanks! I will have a go at formatting the entire drives, 80G and 120G, using the manufacturers' software, as mentioned above in this thread. I'd partition drives of this size anyway, as a matter of course. I have in mind an initial size limit of, say 20-30G for my partitions. I will actually get to this job in perhaps the next day or two. I'll let you know how the experience went.Yes, I believe I have a recent enough MB and BIOS to accomplish this. In any case, the particular Promise ATA board I have would allow me to see up to 137G, so I hear. In practice, 30G or less would do. I've never gotten into video much. It's been ages since I last tried to stream a crappy video news feed over dialup. Ugh! Little or no interest in video here in any case. Old, outdated 98SE fits my purposes pretty well, actually. As to other file types, my drive images are the largest files I've dealt with so far, and they remain generally in the under 1G category, so I'm going to be OK in that regard. I'm just not downloading large OS images or movies, etc.
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#17 OFFLINE   striker

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 09:19 AM

Ok, let us know how it goes. Good luck.
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#18 OFFLINE   Marsden11

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 01:26 AM

So, how many Win98SE users are actually using volumes larger than 137 GBs? Everything I read on the subject says if you try and load more data than 137GB on one of these >137GB volumes you will suffer data corruption even with 48bit LBA support.So much for the 2-TB maximum volume limit...

#19 OFFLINE   Tushman

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 11:14 PM

View PostMarsden11, on Feb 9 2006, 02:26 AM, said:

So, how many Win98SE users are actually using volumes larger than 137 GBs? Everything I read on the subject says if you try and load more data than 137GB on one of these >137GB volumes you will suffer data corruption even with 48bit LBA support.So much for the 2-TB maximum volume limit...
That's ridiculous.  Just because you haven't heard about it doesn't mean it's a false claim.Let me ask you, did you manage to contact every forum member on the internet and ask if they were able to do this?  And what pray tell have you read that makes you the so called expert on this?  You speak as if you've done us a favor by reading something on the internet.  Please do share w/ us your insight - I'd be interested in reading those links for myself.

#20 OFFLINE   Marsden11

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 02:59 PM

OK, try this for yourself. Format a volume larger than 137GB under Win98SE. Transfer data totaling more than 137 GBs.Please report back what happens to your data after it hits the 137GB limit and begins overwriting data at the beginning of your disk.Prove me wrong!

#21 OFFLINE   Tushman

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 08:29 PM

View PostMarsden11, on Feb 13 2006, 03:59 PM, said:

OK, try this for yourself. Format a volume larger than 137GB under Win98SE. Transfer data totaling more than 137 GBs.Please report back what happens to your data after it hits the 137GB limit and begins overwriting data at the beginning of your disk.Prove me wrong!
I don't have to prove you wrong on anything bud - you're the one that's making claims "based on" what you've read.  I'm still waiting for those links you've supposedly read.

#22 OFFLINE   burninbush

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 11:22 PM

View PostMarsden11, on Feb 8 2006, 09:26 PM, said:

So, how many Win98SE users are actually using volumes larger than 137 GBs? Everything I read on the subject says if you try and load more data than 137GB on one of these >137GB volumes you will suffer data corruption even with 48bit LBA support.So much for the 2-TB maximum volume limit...
Well ... not sure what you mean by 'volume' here -- but I have a 250gb disk that boots to a w98 msdos prompt; has 2 @ 100gb fat32 parts, and 6 smaller parts used for msdos and linux.  I've certainly had more than a sum of 137gb on the disk -- spread across various parts; this may not trigger the problem scenario you describe?  Hard to imagine why anybody would need more than 137gb in a single partition anyway.  But at least on this ECS ks75a-pro mobo the drive is fully useful.  FYI, I used linux cfdisk to partition the disk, and then mkfs.msdos and various other mkfs utils to format it.  Only real problem I encountered was that I had to upgrade my win2k to sp4 before it would see the disk correctly.

#23 OFFLINE   b2cm

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 12:57 AM

FAT/32 isn't your only option if you are using Windows 9x/ME. You can set up Ext2 partitions (primary or logical) and access (read-write) these partitions within Windows using Explore2FS. NTFS and ReiserFS volumes can also be accessed (read-only) from Win9x/ME using similar drivers.

#24 OFFLINE   Marsden11

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 06:17 AM

I'm talking about volumes (partitions) greater than 137GB in size. Example: take a 200 GB drive and format a single FAT32 partition under Win98SE and copy data files totalling more than 137GBs... let's say 150GBs... to that single 200GB partition.The problem is in the file ESDI_560.PDR. The code it uses to access the hard disk does not support 48-bit LBA. As soon as you try to write beyond the 137GB point of your hard disk, it will wrap around and access the area at 0GB, completely trashing your data. But hey, I never ran Win98/SE/Me. Pure junk! But don't listen to me. Try a Google search... there are ONLY 20,200 hits for 137GB limit. You can waste your time doing your homework...

#25 OFFLINE   lewmur

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 12:30 PM

View PostMarsden11, on Feb 8 2006, 02:29 AM, said:

I may be wrong on the volume size limit but the maximum file size supported is still 4 GB. If your trying to do a 5 GB backup your screwed. Forget FAT32 for video work as well.
Spouting the party line again?  Most partition imaging software can overcome this simply by splitting the image into multiple files.  I do it all the time.  And people create dual layer DVD's using FAT32 drives all the time.  You can create a video over 7gb using it.  Again, the software merely splits the video into multiple files instead of one gigantic file.  And that is a better way to do it anyway.




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