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Thread: Max Harddrive size for old bios

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    Senior Member Stubzz's Avatar
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    Max Harddrive size for old bios

    A mates got an old PC, a PII 350, and needs a new hard drive for it.

    Whats the max it can take, the guys at the shop are saying that anything over 40 is a no-go cos of the bios. Does sound wrong to me, i dunno the make of the motherboard yet and i would've thought if anything a bios upgrade would enable it

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    Oh no!I've re-dorkalated! Jiff Lemon's Avatar
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    indeed there could be limits, depending on the board.
    maxtors have a downloadable utility that allows windows to see the drive even if the Mobo can't.

    Check the mobo before spending any money.

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    I thought 137gb was the limit?

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    There has been several limits over the years. IIRC the latest is 136GBish which ATA133 addressed. However in the murky past there have been 2GB, 8GB then 32GB IIRC. As said most HD manus supply sw to get the larger HDs working on the old PCs.

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    But they were all software related (File Allocation Table).

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    Well even an old PC can still use NTFS which completely does away with a File Allocation Table, it would still have a limit imposed by the mobo itself. Still I get your point as the original FAT (16) was only really good up to 2GB but very wasteful at that size. FAT32 improved things but once again > 32GB was often problematic and always very wasteful. The HD limits are more about the mobo BIOS and the IDE implimentation and how they address and recognise the HD. Newer PCs can have the BIOS updated very easily but older PCs are not so fortunate. Simply selling the old PC and buying a much better but still bargain basement 2nd hand PC is often a good move and can save a LOT of hassle.

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    cat /dev/null streetster's Avatar
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    • streetster's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus P7P55D-E
      • CPU:
      • Intel i5 750 2.67 @ 4.0Ghz
      • Memory:
      • 4GB Corsair XMS DDR3
      • Storage:
      • 2x1TB Drives [RAID0]
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 2xSapphire HD 4870 512MB CrossFireX
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX520W
      • Case:
      • Coolermaster Black Widow
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 7 x64
      • Monitor(s):
      • DELL U2311
      • Internet:
      • Virgin 50Mb
    our old 486 mobo couldnt handle harddrives over 512mb, and the p1 200 mobo cant cope with anything over 32GB (lukcily there was a 'limit to 32gb' jumper thing on my 40gb drive that i put in there for a few weeks... i'm unsure of what size hd your mobo can take.. any chance of borrowing a hd off someone just to see if its recognised in the bios?

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    Senior Member joshwa's Avatar
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    • joshwa's system
      • Motherboard:
      • PC Chips M577 AT/ATX
      • CPU:
      • AMD K6-2 500Mhz
      • Memory:
      • 128mb PC100 SDRAM
      • Storage:
      • 8GB Fujitsu
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 3dfx Voodoo 3 3000 AGP (16mb)
      • PSU:
      • ATX 500watt
      • Case:
      • Midi Tower AT
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 98 SE
      • Monitor(s):
      • 22" TFT Widescreen
    i got an 80gb hard drive working with a dell BX p2-350 system, by using the WD software from www.wdc.com site. and possibly by setting the jumper to something or other. (sorry i can't remember) it should definitely be possible though.

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    Senior Member SilentDeath's Avatar
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    you should be able to get round it by getting another ide controler, either (p)ata, (s)ata, scsi, or using a firewire / us enclosure thingy. to mobo might also have updated bios to fix it so check the manuf site and check

    if u do get another controler, (p)ata is best for an old machine and cost less than £20

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    A note, if you are able to update your BIOS to support larger harddrives: if you experience MBR corruption, it's because your motherboard doesn't truely support the harddrive's size, even though the BIOS may claim it does.

    This is a problem I had with a Gigabyte P2 board. Updated BIOS to support, supposedly, 40GB. However, as I eventually found out, as data is being written closer to the end of the drive, the pointer is somehow looped back to the beginning of the drive. So while Windows thinks it's writing to a point at, say, 85% of the drive, in reality the data is being written at the beginning, overwriting and corrupting the MBR.

    This happened to me, say, 8 times? Nearly learnt the Win98SE CD key off by heart. However, the system is currently running on a 20GB just perfectly.

  11. #11
    DR
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    Dynamic Drive overlay.... will allow bigger

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