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write protected hard drive!?

Posted on 1998-06-25
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Last Modified: 2010-04-27
I have a hard drive here which I cannot partition with Fdisk.  Currently it has no partitions on it at all.  I was able to delete the previous partition (FAT 32) but when I try to create a new one, Fdisk gives me this error: "Write protect error writing fixed disk,"

I did successfully remove the old partition, leaving the hard drive empty of partitions now, but I am unable to create a new partition on it.  The error mentioned above occurs when I select "create primary DOS partition"  It tries to verify the drive integrity and it goes from:

"verifying drive integrity: 0%"

to

"Do you wish to use all available space for this partition? (Y/N) Y

Write protect error writing fixed disk"

both messages appear simultaneously so I deduced that it is unable to verify the drive's integity due to a write-protect error on the drive.  If I continue from there, it tries to make the partition anyway, has another write-protect error, but thinks that it was successful in creating the partition and says to reboot before formatting.  When I reboot (from a win95 boot disk), DOS is unable to find the hard drive.  I run fdisk again and it tells me that there are no partitions, but when I try to create one I still get the write-protect error.

I entered CMOS looking for a way to disable the write protection but there is no option for that in the CMOS on this machine.

This is a 515MB hard drive using LBA mode in a pentium 90

My real goal here is to format the hard drive and install windows 95.  I don't care if I lose 3 MB by not using large disk support, I just want to create a partition so I can format the drive.  Anybody know how to either unprotect the drive or get around it?
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Question by:ris
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6 Comments
 

Expert Comment

by:mkdjo
ID: 1136470
Do you use 16Bit FAT or 32 Bit FAT? Do you have fdisk on you bootdisk? If yes, try this one.
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Accepted Solution

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jhance earned 200 total points
ID: 1136471
One of two things cause this problem:

1) A faulty or improperly connected cable from the controller to the drive.  Check it and try a replacement if it looks properly installed.

2) A bad drive.  If you have another drive, try it.  A failure in the write circuity is not an uncommon failure.  In fact, I've got several in my junk box that do just this.  It's usually a bad part on the logic board.  If the drive is under warranty, get it replaced.  If not, junk it and get a new drive.  A 500MB drive is not worth much anymore.
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Author Comment

by:ris
ID: 1136472
I was afraid the hard drive was bad, but I was hoping there would be a way of salvaging it.  Thank you for explaining the problem so well!
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Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 1136473
Thanks,  unlike a floppy, there is no write protect function on an HDD.  If the controller is not receiving an "OK to write" signal from the drive, then this indicates some type of error.  It is possible to write protect an HDD by physically cutting this pin in the cable and so this is why you should check your cable for breaks.  It is possible that your drive is OK and the cable is bad.  
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Expert Comment

by:heacock
ID: 1136474
Try the following -

fdisk /mbr

this will erase the master boot record.  Fdisk and format do not re-do the master boot record.  Many viruses will infect the master boot record, and this how to rmove them.

after doing this run fdisk.  You will know it works if you type in fdisk /mbr and it goes back to the dos prompt without saying anything at all.  
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Expert Comment

by:KTRIBBECK
ID: 1136475
Some Bios have a Write protect option in the System Bios Settings Which Can have the Same Effect.
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