Hard Drive Formating

StuartAdkins used Ask the Experts™
I have recently be given an old 3.2Gb hard drive which I was going to us to build up a basic system, but when I have come to format the drive it only formats to 507MB. I have tried deleting and creating the HD partition but still the same problem occurs, am I doing something really silly, why will it not format at 3.2Gb ?
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.

When you partitioned it how many Mb did it give you?  Did it give you the full 3.2 Gb.  

If it didn't the reasons for that could be your BIOS doesn't support 3.2 Gb or that there are still partitions on the hard disk.  If the second remove all partitions and then recreate one big partition.  If the first then update your BIOS.

Check that your BIOS recognises it as a 3.2 Gb drive instead of perhaps a 512 Mb drive.

If the format is finishing early and giving error messages then possibly your hard drive is stuffed.  You could try and fix it by using the disk utils supplied by the hard disk manufacturer which can be obtained from their website.

Are you using a 486 or first generation of pentium ?
If yes, that means your pc's bios cannot support a hdd with a space more than 512mb ! maybe you should think of an upgrade.

What name brand is the hard drive?

Odds are you need to go into your BIOS and set your Primary hard drive in the detection to set it for LBA type and set it to AUTO.
If it does not detect the type of hard drive it is then you will need to manually input the data about the hard drive.
This data will be found on the label on the hard drive itself.
You will need to know the:
You will see this data on there. You then will have to manually input it in there as well as set it to LBA type.

After it then detects the accual type of Hard drive it is, use your Win98SE boot disk (if you have one) and use the FDISK option then. Let it set the hard drive to use the maximum amount of drive space. Select the "Y".
Create your partition.
Activate the partition.
If the partition is smaller than the 3.2 GB
Then you can create a extended partition to pick up the rest of the drive space.
It will tell you to hit ESC when finished.
I think you will then need to reboot (Its been so long)..
Now you will format your C drive and D (if less than 3.2 GB in the C).
Now you can install your Operating System.

If you are using a regular DOS disk you will not be able to SET it higher than 2 GB per partition.


I tried to set all the bios setting for the primary master to auto but the problem remained, so I tried running the bios auto detection for the HD and it set the Cylinder,Heads etc up successfully. Once that was done fdisk created the correct partition size. Thanks for the advice.

My pleasure, glad I could help.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial