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Old MS-DOS system issues

Last response: in Components
August 23, 2011 1:10:55 PM

I've got an old system that runs an audio console in the studio I work at, and my boss wants to clone the system drive and just have a backup around. Well the only IDE HDD I've been able to buy was 320 gigs, obviously way huge for that era of computer. The system itself is 13 years old. It only has DOS and the console GUI on it, but the system will not recognize the 320 gig HDD.

It's running a Pentium 133 with 32 megs of RAM and the hard drive in there right now I believe is a 3.2 gig or something obscure like that. I'm not sure if it's something where I would need to flash an updated BIOS to be able to read the larger hard drive or what.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

More about : dos system issues

August 23, 2011 1:21:36 PM

At one time drives could be jumpered off to allow them to function on older machines. Not sure what the MS-DOS limitation is, but check the drive documentation. If possible, "dumb" the drive down as much as you are able to. Hopefully someone with more experience will chime in, but hopefully this gets you in the right direction.
August 23, 2011 1:24:22 PM

I've got the 320 gig set to slave and the 3.2 set to Master. But I'm not sure since the drive has 8MB cache built into it if it's something that the system just can't understand or what is going on. Thanks for your response, hopefully I can get some more and get this corrected.
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August 23, 2011 1:24:24 PM

Is there a bios update for it? I'm also don't think Dos can handle anything that large. There were many "size blocks" as we slowly kept increase the amount of space the bios and OS could handle. There was one at 2GB, and another at either 4 or 8GBs. 2GBs and 127GBs were perhaps the most famous. Ebay or Craigs list might be your best way to find a drive that small. I've even got some that small if you want me to find one that sector tests 100%.
August 23, 2011 1:26:15 PM

Some old system will recognize big capasity HDD maybe just max 80GB - 160GB, and suggest need many partition in HDD
August 23, 2011 1:33:41 PM

MSDOS versions greater than 4.0 can support a 4GB Hard Disk partitioned into two 2GB chunks, as per There may be some workarounds, involving using Windows 95 OSR2 or Windows 98, and preventing the built in DOS that boots that newer OS from starting the GUI. You may need to update the BIOS to make the larger drive work, and even then, you may still not get it to work right. Alternatively you may need to get an old Promise IDE controller, which should allow the computer to see the larger drive.

Of course, the ideal solution is to tell your boss 'this thing is an antique and can't be serviced anymore. Spend some money to upgrade your computer and possibly even the device it's attached to.' You know, spend some money into this horrible economy? Maybe jumpstart it? But I know the chance of that happening is roughly that of being struck by lightning on February 29th while dancing the jig in the middle of Colorado Blvd. without getting run over. >.>
August 23, 2011 1:41:05 PM

Ha! Thanks for the responses, I may take you up on that older drive, just let me know what kinda price you're looking for and I'm sure we can swing it if the drive is good. As far as partitioning the drive goes, I can't get the system to even see it so I can't partition it unfortunately.

I was afraid that it wouldn't work just simply because of DOS restrictions, and I think that's what I'm running into here. I don't think it would be worth the effort to put the money into a new IDE controller, and I don't believe that the software GUI will work with any system other than just purely DOS.

It controls a 13 year old console, problem isn't the console as it sounds great, problem is we can't even update the computer because it has to run off this system. Obviously I could hack some stuff together, but by the time we got it working it would suck anyway.

Thank you for all the responses and Ill check into that support site and see what I can find as far as concrete evidence to show that it won't work.
August 23, 2011 2:11:47 PM

Doable. First problem: Bios will have a size limit and (2) is that The bios will only recognize a disk that is in it's table or you will have to input the Nr cyclinders/sectors for the drive in BIOS. Also I believe that Dos 6.2 will only recognize upto a 2 gig HDD (can get around this buy partiting the drive to multiple 2 Gig partitions in a computer that recognizes the drive.

2 options.
(1) get the make/model number off the HDD then do a google search for a USED drive that is the same size.
(2) Get a "Small" IDE SDD drive - expensive for size and "Hope the Bios will recognize it - see my experience.

My Experience:
Needed to replace some 2 gig SCSI HDD in an Old pentium 90 and Pentium 233 systems Both Runnin windows 3.11. COULD NOT replace systems with a newer computer as VERY expensive/ and would have had a Long delay in a revived satellite program. Bought three 8 gig IDE (PATA) SLC SSds. The pentium 90 would not recognize them, but the Pentium 233 would. So I cloned the SCSI drive to the SSD for the Pentium 233 - Worked fine.
How I cloned was removed the HDD from the Computer, Stuck it on a Windows XP computer (In my case I had to also install a OLD SCSI card (You would Not) and installed the "NEW" drive. Booted to windows XP and cloned Drive old -> drive new

For cloning, recommend Acronis (What I used):

SSD Drive I used (But not sure it has not been discontinued):
It is a 2 1/2 in drive - so also need a 2 1/2 -> 3 1/2 inch bay adaptor also (may have come with it) a connector adaptor to convert the Drive connector to the IDE ribbon connector as IDE does not carry the 5 V need to power it. IF SSD will work, much better than cloning to a 2nd HDD

I looked at transcend - Ouch 2.5 IDE&exid=

August 23, 2011 2:49:13 PM

I have a IDE Quantum Fireball Bigfoot 2.5GB laying around, also some other various sized drives from that era. Send me a PM
August 23, 2011 3:02:26 PM

Richard - All these years I've never sent a PM, not sure where you click
Any ways Thanks for the offer But I have about a 10 SCSI drives that Can be used should one of the three computers fail. Bigger concern is if one of the computers crap out. The 3 computers are rack mounted with the "Computer" mounted on a ISA card. We are in the process of upgrading the Ground support equipment (GSE), Buget is probably around $100K, mostly do to Programs and manhours. Should be compled in about 6 months.
August 23, 2011 4:07:25 PM

How about this:

Take the 3.2GB hard drive out of the old PC, and put it into a newer computer that still has IDE ports.
Clone/backup the old hard drive on the new PC.

Once it's backed up, I would also check to see if the DOS and GUI console will run on the newer PC without any software changes.
If it does, you could just ditch the old PC.
August 23, 2011 4:35:55 PM

Retired, I think he was talking to the OP. If you want to send a PM, click the little green envelope next to the avatar. I'll check my junk bin as well when I wake up. I have a harddrive plastic shell for mailing, and would only want like $5 + cost of shipping. Should fit in a flat rate box from USPS so we aren't talking a lot of $$$ here. Issue is I'm looking at working 6 straight at work and don't really have the time to do this. I should be able to mail it Monday or Tuesday next week unless you want to get one from Richard.

Kendelux has a good idea, at least for cloning. I don't think the program will handle newer systems.
August 23, 2011 5:17:21 PM

^ You're correct, I missed the "IDE" in front of the Fireball. And thanks on the PM method.

And cloning in a 2nd computer should work as that is what I did. Used an Old XP to clone a 2 gig SCSI drive (From Pentium 90) to a 8 gig PATA SSD (Which I partitioned into 2 Gig partitions first) But used the SSD in the Pentium 233 System.
August 23, 2011 6:03:02 PM

Yeah, cloning the drive on a newer system doesn't work unfortunately, there are 2 controller cards that are the OOLLLDDDDD school slots and I can't find a motherboard that supports those anymore either. We're talking pre-PCI OLD. The name is slipping my mind right now, but yeah that's the other problem.

I'd gladly pay for that, and honestly I wouldn't even mind buying one from each of you and just using dos to xcopy close 2 of the drives. Better safe than sorry on mechanical drives!
August 23, 2011 6:53:07 PM

You must be referring to ISA or EISA slots.

Wait a minute.
You said the 3.2GB is set to master and the 320GB IDE as the slave, so I'm assuming both drives are IDE drives, correct?

The 3.2GB drive should still work in any newer PC with an IDE port.
There shouldn't be a need to move the controller cards over.

August 23, 2011 7:44:29 PM

kendelux said:
You must be referring to ISA or EISA slots.

Wait a minute.
You said the 3.2GB is set to master and the 320GB IDE as the slave, so I'm assuming both drives are IDE drives, correct?

The 3.2GB drive should still work in any newer PC with an IDE port.
There shouldn't be a need to move the controller cards over.

Yeah the old ISA slots for the controller cards for the console. Not the IDE controller stuff. That's totally different.

I think you've gotten a little confused reading down through all of it but basically, the HDDs are both IDE, but the computer communicates through the console through the 2 ISA cards that allow for automation on the console etc.
August 23, 2011 8:01:40 PM

A little out of the box but may work.

You can get a Compaqt flash to IDE converter card (See link below)

plug that in with a 4GB Compat Flash card

You should then have a 4gb IDE hard drive for the bios to see.

But as previously posted most IDE drive have a jumper to limit the site to 127Gb (limit for the 28bit LBA bios address) if you give the make and model of the drive then can probably tell you how to set drive.
August 24, 2011 12:01:29 AM

Alright Hollett that sounds AWESOME!