Installing External Firewire HD

Posted on 2002-03-20
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
A few months ago, I bought an external 30 gig Western Digital firewire hard drive.  I have been unable to get the drive to install. At first I thought it was a problem with my operating system (Windows ME). I kept getting an error message telling me that my OS doesn't support firewire devices and I need to upgrade to Win 98 SE.

I decided to backup my files and reformat my internal hard drive.  I reinstalled Windows ME, reinstalled all my drivers and software, and verified that my firewire card was installed correctly. Everything is set up perfectly, but I still can't set up the external HD.

I went to Western Digital's website and found out that their software was written before Windows ME came out, and it doesn't recognize Win ME as a compatible OS.

My question is this... can I set up the external HD without using the software that came with the drive?  Or, would it be possible to boot up with a Win 98 SE startup disk and run the installation CD from there?  Would the installer see Win 98 SE as the OS, or would it still error out because Win ME is installed on the C: drive?  My concern is that I'll attempt to install the external HD and end up erasing my internal HD.  I spent all last night loading software and drivers, and I don't want to have to do it again.

I need specific instructions for how to format the drive either using the WD software or directly from Windows. This drive will be used only for data storage.  I don't intend to make it bootable.
Question by:msmcall
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 6883152
I find it very unusual that is would be support with Win98SE but not WinME.  Theses two operating systems are practically the same thing and device driver model is identical between them.  Are you sure that the Win98SE drives don't work with this thing under ME?

Remember that there are 2 things that must be in place for such a drive to work:

1) The FIREWIRE port drivers must be installed and working.
2) The driver for the disk itself must be installed.

It's not clear from your question which of these was causing the problem.

Author Comment

ID: 6885487
Yes, it is very unusual that the software supports Win 98 SE but not Win ME.  But that's the case.  The following statement was copied directly from

"Since our software was developed before Windows ME was released, it can't identify the ME version and doesn't recognize ME as being a compatible operating system."

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Firewire card is installed correctly.  I hooked up my mini DV camera to the port and recorded video to my C: drive.  So I know the port is fine.

My problem is that when I go into "My Computer", the firewire hard drive does not show up.  So I go to "Add New Hardware", and try to install it... but Windows doesn't recognize the drive.

According to the setup instructions that came with the drive, I am supposed to be able to just plug the drive into my Firewire port, insert the installation CD and follow the on-screen instructions.  But when I open up the CD, I get a message stating that "your operation system does not support firewire devices."

On the Western Digital web page, after saying that the software doesn't support Windows ME, it goes on to explain that the drive has to be formatted before Win ME will recognize it.  Without being able to use the formatting software that came with the drive, I need another way to format the drive.

Which brings me back to my original question... How do I format the firewire drive?  Installing the drivers manually is not going to format the drive for me.  I'm pretty sure that once the drive is formatted, Windows ME should recognize it and search for the compatible driver.

By the way... I'm bumping up the points on this to 100 points... I need an answer!

Expert Comment

ID: 6886221
Take the drive back and exchange it with one that supports ME, or change your OS in the internal to 98SE.  When a mftr says it's incompatible there is usually no way around it as they would have developed it first to gain market share.
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LVL 16

Accepted Solution

Kyle Schroeder earned 100 total points
ID: 6886903
I'd like to add that "WinME wasn't around when we wrote the software" is a steaming load of update your software  you freaks!  That is really poor customer support.  I think I found the same article as you did at WD's support site:
Firewire Installation on Windows ME
September 2000

Since our software was developed before Windows ME was released, it can't identify the ME version and doesn't recognize ME as being a compatible operating system. ME, however, does have the correct driver for our adapter available in its database. Just plug the adapter into the slot and restart the computer. When the system restarts, the New Hardware Wizard will recognize a new device connected to the system and automatically load the NEC Firewarden OHCI driver, NEC OHCI driver, or Western Digital OHCI driver. Any of these drivers will work correctly with our FireWire Adapters.

If you don't see the New Hardware Wizard or you want to make sure the driver loaded correctly, right click on the "My Computer" icon and click on "properties". Choose the "Device Manager" tab. If there is a listing for 1394 Bus Controller, click on the "+" and it will show the driver that is loading for the adapter card.

All storage devices must contain a partition and be formatted before they can be accessed by the operating system and used. If you are installing our hard drive and the installation utility on the Western Digital CD will not set up the drive, you can partition and format the FireWire drive from within Windows. You can partition the drive using the Fdisk utility and format it with the "format" command so it will be ready for use. If you encounter this problem and are unfamiliar with Fdisk and format, please call our FireWire Technical Support for assistance. For further information please refer to the Microsoft knowledge base article for additional information explaining how Fdisk works and a link explaining how to set the drive up in Windows 2000.
So if you go to Start->Run->command <enter>
then type fdisk <enter>, answer Y to "Large disk support", then Option 5 to change Fixed Disk, and find your drive there (it should show up as a choice) then 1 to create a Primary DOS partition.  Set it to use 100% of the size of the disk (or whatever allocations you want; you can do 50% or any other number, then define another partition by defining a "Logical DOS drive" from FDISK options after creating an Extended Partition.)
When its done, ESC to Exit FDISK, and you may need to restart (though probably not).  Now open My Computer and you should see a new drive icon there.  Right click it, choose format, FAT32, (must use long format) and type in a label.



Author Comment

ID: 6894232
Thanks Dogztar.  That worked just fine.  I knew there was probably a simple solution, but I wanted to check with an "expert" before I screwed something up. You get the points...

-Scott (msmcall)

Author Comment

ID: 6894236
Thanks for your help!!

LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 6894621
Glad to help msmcall!


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