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Can't format 1.44m floppy on Nt4.0 SP3

APTaylor asked
Last Modified: 2013-12-28
I recently upgraded a Windows NT 4.0 server to a multiprocessor kernel (2 Pentium Pros on a Micronics M6Me dual processor m/board) and service pack 3. Now, when I try to format a floppy (on any of the 2 1.44 floppy drives) I get an error saying 'Windows NT unable to complete format'. When I try to format from the command line I get 'device is busy'. I can read, write and delete files from a floppy as normal. I booted from a Windows 95 system floppy and was able to format as normal : so it's DEFINITELY NOT A HARDWARE PROBLEM. Help.
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Do you upgrade the board with a second processor or do you upgrade the NT kernel ? Or both ? If you only upgrade the board, it is strongly recommended to upgrade the kernel from uni- to multiprocessor type. Do this by using the unitomulti.exe from the RK.

Also, remember that the SP3 documentation requires that you run SP3 again after every Hardware OR Software install.  Have you installed some new software or hardware lately and havn't reinstalled SP3?


I did use unitomulti.exe to upgrade the kernel, and I did re-apply SP3 just to be sure.

Possible simple solution: If you are trying to format the disk via NT Explorer, make sure that the right-hand pane isn't currently displaying the current contents of the disk when you choose the format option.

Can you format in a DOS prompt session of NT.
I am posting this as an answer because I recently had a problem like this on a clients pc and I found out that the format section in rundll32 was corrupt. It did work fine in DOS mode (cmd.exe/format.com).

If this happened, then you should extract your newest service pack using 'ntsp3_i.exe -x' (or the equivalent) and replace the rundll32 file in c:\winnt\system32 by the one from the service pack manually.

Good luck.
PS: If this is absolutely off track, then please enjoy rejecting my answer.


I can't format from a DOS prompt session of NT , I get the response 'Device is busy'. I re-installed the entire service pack 3 anyway.

As for nicktork's comment : I've re-checked the pane isn't displaying the floppy contents, and that's definitely not the problem.

Did you add a 2nd CPU to a single-CPU installation, or is this a new motherboard with 2 CPUs?

If you added the 2nd CPU, did the floppy format work before you upgraded?

If you added a 2nd CPU, is it of the same S-spec as the first one?  If not, get two that match.  Intel (and your MB manufacturer) says if the two don't match, system performance is unpredictable.

Are you 100% that you are not running some program or service that is accessing the disk drive?

jrhelgesonSolutions Architect

Is that an answer?
jrhelgesonSolutions Architect

I Have your answer, will post it shortly.

Joel R. Helgeson
jrhelgesonSolutions Architect

A few brief quesstions:

 1. Are we talking processor (physical) upgrade?
 2. Or are we talking kernel HAL (software) upgrade?
 3. Can you be a little more specific when you say, "upgraded my Windows NT
 4.0 workstation to a multiprocessor kernel"?
 4. Did you try another disk?
 5. Are we trying to format with NTFS or FAT?
 6. How much space is available?
 7. Have you scanned the floppy with any Windows NT Anti-Virus Software?
 8. Try Renaming floppy.sys, copies new one off of CD/ROM for NT 4.0. Maybe
 this file is corrupted and/or damaged.


for JHance:

I added a second processor to the existing m/board. Formatting did work before (and still does under win95). It has a different stepping mode, but the intel spec says the two modes that I have should work togther with no problems.
I'm as sure as I can be that there is nothing accesing the drive.

for jrhelgeson:
1. Yes.
2. I used unitomulti.exe to upgrade to the multiprocessor kernel.
3. See 2.
4. Yes, many.
5. FAT.
6. I have used blank discs with the same effect.
7. Yes.
8. Will have a go.


Re-copying floppy.sys didn't work.

You might be having a problem with the dual CPU install. NT can sometimes fail to recognize a single to dual CPU install. You need to get get a utility with the resource kit called UPTOMP.EXE. There is a known problem with this program, because of a file not being copied correctly. This can be fixed by adding "win32k.sys=0,2,win32k.sys" to the end of uptomp.inf where you installed resource kit (reskit).
See www.eu.microsoft.com/kb/articles/q142/6/60.html for more info.
jrhelgesonSolutions Architect

I have to admit this is bizarre one due to the fact that you can several things to the disk except format after running "Unitomulti.exe". I have couple of questions. They are:

1. I'm familiar with Untomp.exe but not with Unitomulti.exe, can you confirm the spelling of the utility and the manufacturer's name.
2. Is there a un-install of this multiprocessor option, to confirm problem goes away?
3. Doing your testing, did we try to format the floppy before adding SP3?
4. You may have already tried this but happens if you go into Windows 95, format the floppy then go back into Windows NT Workstation with the same floppy, can we then format the floppy?
5. Are their pre-formatted floppies?
6. Have we booted into Windows NT Server [VGA MODE} and tried to format?
7. Have we tried to create an ERD, which would format aomatically, does that work?
 8. Is this computer on the HCL? If so, any BIOS upgrade available (I know, but I'm trying all areas)

jrhelgesonSolutions Architect

Have you been busy too?
jrhelgesonSolutions Architect

Are you still interested in resolving this issue?
jrhelgesonSolutions Architect

Since you did not use Untomp.exe but confirmed it as unitomulti.exe, I have a request. Can you please provide me with the manufacturer information for this utility?  I was not able to locate anything by surfing the Internet. I am still waiting to hear the other suggestion results as soon as they are available.



I have resolved the problem (by the way, it was UNTOMP.exe that I used (typo)). It was basically the EISA config (Phoenix's cf.exe) getting screwed up with a sound card that was in there (I had to redo it when I put the new processor in).

"jrjelgeson" can have the points if he/she wants, as they have been the most helpful : please lock the question again so I can do it.
jrhelgesonSolutions Architect

Thank You.

I'm glad I could be of some help.
Solutions Architect
This one is on us!
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jrhelgesonSolutions Architect

Disappointed by the grade, I put a lot of effort in trying to help.
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