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The Hard drive forum FAQ/Sticky, please read -Updated 11/2005-

Discussion in 'Storage Drives' started by Werewolf, 3 Feb 2005.

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  1. Werewolf


    Joined: 17 Oct 2002

    Posts: 28,603

    Location: Panting like a fiend

    Ok, this is a quick and dirty FAQ for the new forum (at least until I or someone else can get round to doing a better one).

    It covers a lot of the most common questions asked about drives, so don't be suprised if someone has told you to read it.

    Drive utilities, RAID information,Manufacturers support/RMA pages, and common questions/problems.

    Backup's are your friend
    I'm sure that no one will ever read this, but i'll say it any way.
    Always keep backups of your important data - just because your hard drive is "fine today" doesn't mean you won't need to recover data tommorow (due to virus, drive failure or partion gone wrong).
    A CDRW Drive can be bought for about £30, CDR's can be bought for as little as 12p each, DVD writers can be bought for £100 and DVD-R can be bought for £1 each.
    Compare this to the cost of recovering your data using a specialist program (can cost £100's assuming it works), or to hire a specialist company to do the data recovery (can cost thousands).

    There are very good reasons programs like Partition Magic tell you to back up your data, they can and do go wrong on occassion - which can cause you to lose a partitions worth of data.

    Yes it can be annoying backing up your data but lets face it, 8 minutes once a month will probably back up all your "documents", your email folders and your favourites.

    If you are doing coursework/Uni project do a backup to CDR every week, and a daily backup to CDRW (if you've got webspace use that as well), it'll cost you maybe a fiver over the space of a year, which is nothing compared to having to redo all your work.

    Other options for backups include:
    • Second hard drive -either on another machine, in RAID 1, or as a seperate drive in the same machine (but remember a second hard drive in the same machine might be killed at the same time as the primary if you have a power surge or PSU failure)
    • External/removable hard drive
    • USB/flash/smart media type memory sticks
    • Floppy drive + floppies
    • Webspace (good idea for students etc, place your latest version of your coursework on your webspace in a location you can remember - you'll have it if you need it at school/uni or if you have a drive failure)
    • CDR/CDRW a CDRW drive can be had for £25-30
    • DVDR - DVDR drives can now be found in the £100 price range and will hold ~4.5gb per disk

    There is no excuse for not having a backup of your data in this day and age, mass storage has never been this cheap.

    Many thanks to Exentia for updating the sticky, and all those who made suggestions
  2. Rilot


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 20,320

    Location: Wargrave, UK

    General Hard drive FAQ's

    Q: My hard drive isn't detected by the Bios.
    • Check the cables to the drive are secure.
    • Try a different data cable
    • Check the jumpers are correct (if in doubt use CS/Cable Select)

    Q: My computer hangs at boot after adding a new drive, or the Drive is described incorrectly at boot (it appears garbled such as "ibj de2576y".
    A: Check the jumpers on the drive - sometimes having two drives set as master or as slave can do this, also if you are using an Abit Serielle IDE to SATA converter you must have the drive set to master (and remember to plug power connections to both the converter and the drive).

    Q: My drive isn't shown in "my computer", or isn't accessible in my computer (and gives an error when i try to use it) - but is shown at boot.
    A: You need to partition the drive or format it - under Windows 9x and ME you need to run Fdisk from dos, under Windows XP you need to go to "administrative tools" and select the drive from "disk management" and the select to create a partition in the fee space.
    You may also want to look into the drive manufacturers own tools (which often have an easy to use graphical interface, and many can clone your old drive over) or a third party tool such as Partition Magic.
    As always be carefull when playing around with drive partitions as you may loose data if you mess up an existing partition (remember what i said about backing up).

    Q: My new drive is only showing as XXXgb when it's a YYYgb drive/
    A: This is perfectly normal, Computers count a kilobyte as 1024bytes (2 to the power of 10), and 1gb as 1024mb, Hard drive manufacturers count them as 1000. This means that it's normal for a 120gb drive to show up as something like 111gb, you will also "lose" some space due to the overheads imposed by the file system when you format.

    Q: My XXX drive only shows as 127gb in Windows.
    A: You need to have Windows XP SP! installed in order for windows to be able to see the space over the 127gb limit.
    This is due to limitations of the 32bit addressing used by Windows prior to SP1, SP1 includes an update that allows windows to use 48bit addressing for hard drives.
    You will also need hardware that supports 48bit addressing, i beleive most/all new motherboards do (if you have an older motherboard which does not, you can probably get an IDE expansion card with support for 48bit addressing fairly cheaply).
    See here for more details.

    [edit]Corasik posted this tip
    Q: My new hard drive is only showing as 32gb what's up?
    A: Many hard drives have a "drive capacity limit" jumper, this is to allow the drive to be used on machines that only support up to a certain limit (usually due to bios limitations), one such limit is 32gb.
    To solve this you need to check the jumper settings for your drive (normally printed on a label on the top of the drive), and look for the ones without the limit, often without the limit setting you will have only one jumper in use (with a second jumper needed to enable the limit).
    Some drives (Samsung for example) often seem to ship with this jumper set for some reason.

    Q: My computer gives a message about "no 80 conductor found"
    A: Your PC has a IDE/ATA controller capable of ATA 66/100/133 speeds are either using a 40 pin conductor in which case the bios disables the higher speeds to prevent possible data corruption, your 80 conductor cable is damaged or you might have a drive set to "Master" on the "Slave" header (or the other way round).
    You need to check the cable type and position of the drives and if need be replace the cable or swap the drive positions on the cable.

    Q: My computer is giving a message about "no drive attatched to fast track controller, bios not installed."
    A: This sort of message is normally given when an additional ATA controller (such as add-in raid cards and SATA controllers) do not have a drive attatched.
    This is normal if you don't have a drive attatched.
    Some motherboards will give this message due to the way that additional features are included on them - it is not uncommon for a motherboard to come in 2 or more variants, one without RAID and one with RAID or additional SATA ports using a secondary controller chip (which is normally the same sort as found on add-in cards).
    The Abit NF7-S, Asus P4c800 Deluxe and Asus P4G8X are all examples of boards that add SATA in this manner.

    Q: My computer cannot partition a drive larger than 64gb properly when using Windows 98.
    A: This is a limitation of the version of FDisk supplied with Windows 98 Microsoft have an update for this.
    Most drive manufacturers also have suitable utilities to overcome this problem.

    Q: What sort of packaging is required to RMA a drive to the manufacturer.
    A: For full details of RMA packaging please refer to the manufacturers website, but as a general rule you will need.
    1x antistatic bag per drive.
    1x sturdy box at least 4 inches bigger than the drive in all directions.
    Stiff foam or the drives retail packaging.
    Seal the hard drive in the antistatic bag.
    Cut stiff foam to size - with at least 2 inches of foam on all sides of the drive.
    You will probably find it easiest to use something like 3x 2inch thick cuts, with one having a cut out for the drive (so you have solid foam, soam with cut out holding drive, solid foam).

    If you have the option you will probably find it easier to use the manufacturers "advanced" RMA option, normally you will need to contact the manufacturer and get an RMA number, enter the RMA number on their website and select "advanced RMA" and your credit/debit card number (as a garunetee that you will return the faulty drive), and they will then send out a replacement drive in advance of you returning the faulty one.
    This has the big advantage of supplying you with the necessary packaging to return the faulty drive and minimising the time you are without a drive.
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