Support for > 2GB HDD in win'95 version A.

pan_kaj used Ask the Experts™
My old PC (IBM Aptivia P-133 MHz) came preinstalled
with windows 95 ver. A which does not support greater
than 2 GB partitions.

The system is being used by my son (7th grade) who
complained about HDD space and accordingly I bought
a 40 GB HDD and partitioned in 4 parts of 10 GB each.

The problem is my old 2 GB HDD does not see it.
Can somebody guide me how can I do it?
I do not want to make new HDD for booting as it will
require painful process of configuring plenty of HW
(i tried but could not succeed with all of them.

If I can use my old 2 GB HDD,I do not have to change
any configuration.

Thanks in advance

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Top Expert 2004

the problem is fat16 has a limit of 2 gb, and w95A does not support fat32
1. upgrade to w98
or (and this would be a real pain)
2. partition the drive into 20 2gb partitions

the other problem would be the bios in this old machine may not recognize a 40 gb drive
for that see if there is a bios flash that would allow it, or try the drive overlay software that comes with the drive


Hello Stevenlewis

On a P-133 MHz system, windows itself crawls.
Win'98 would be very slow. Moreover, the system
has some legacy sound card and modem card which
are pretty hard to configure.
20 2gb partitions (I did tried) but will have
lot of wastage and also finding a particular
file will be too painful.
Win'95 ver. B & C do support larger partitions
but I understand that my OEM ver. of windows can
only be upgraded (in which I will be able to
retain all of my present study) only through a
special Windows 95 upgrade CD.  I understand
it is no longer availbale in market.
If there are some other alternatives, pl. let
me know.

Thanks in advance
Top Expert 2004
>On a P-133 MHz system, windows itself crawls
yes, but more RAM would help
on this old of a machine, you may want to consider getting a newer (read faster) machine
my laptop is a P150, 48 mb RAm, w98 se
not a screamer by any stretch, but it runs. Of course I limit the startup programs, to preserve system resources, perform regular maintanence (defrag, scandisk, disk cleanup)
I don't play games on it (you son may want to play games), I don't think it could handle it
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more than 32 mb ram, and this system would be noticeably fast
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.

You can tune W98 to run as fast as W95.


"but I understand that my OEM ver. of windows can
only be upgraded (in which I will be able to
retain all of my present study) only through a
special Windows 95 upgrade CD."

This statement (or question) is not quite true, first an OEM version can only be used to upgrade by renaming a file ( to Win.old) and also make sure the install folder is just "windows" and not "windows.0001"

I remember running Win98 on a P100 and it ran just fine, of course I did limit the startup programs so as not kill the system before it got started.
what's the HDD brand? (seagate,maxtor,WD), try to go to the company's website if u didn't get the diskette or the CD that SHOULD come with the drive, it usually solves this problem by installing a bootstrap loader on ur HDD, u will be able to access the whole 40Gb (whoever, u will still not get the correct number in the BIOS but it doesn't matter anyway).

Even with the dreaded software overlay, you cannot use  larger partitions than 2GB with FAT16, which is what you have in early win95 versions.

You could hook the new drive up to your system and do fdisk and format from the running O/S. Between BIOS and FAT16 limitations, you may get 2 - 8 GB of useful space out of it (perhaps more, I don't know about 20 partitions).

You could try to go for an upgrade to a later version of 95, that will support FAT32. This will help you use all the space that your BIOS can see on the new drive.

See if it is possible to up your RAM to 64M and go for win98SE. It may load slower than 95, but if you keep unneeded processes/programs from starting, it will probably run much like 95 on your machine. 98 and older hardware hasn't been a problem for me.

Top Expert 2007

I agree that win98 is probably your best bet also.

In addition, I would use a program to nackup your present 2 GB to somewhere on the new drive.  free for 30 days full version

How to do a new hard drive install, copy a hard drive copy  Image a drive

Then you can feel confident to try, but be able to restore you system if there are problems.

RAM should be 48 MB or more if at all possible. It makes a big difference.

Also booting from the newer drive and installing will probably give you a nice speed increase.

I hope this helps !
Win98 runs OK on P100's with 64MB RAM. We use several of the old things at work.
There are some definite system tweaks that will help this old box.
For example: set the virtual memory to Miniminm & Maximum = the same value [about 2 times the RAM is a good size]
Win98 is much better at smoothing things out but look for system tweaks at good web sites. is a good starting place.



Hello everybody,

thanks for ur suggestions.

As per rayt333 suggestion, I upgraded my old HDD
to win'95 ver. B which has a FAT32 support.

My 40 GB HDD partitioned earlier using EZ software
(boot-strap software) into 4 partitions of 10 GB each
and was installed with win'95 ver B earlier.  over
a period of time I have been using it as my backup
& has couple of GB of useful stuff on it.

Pl. note that in my system, it was possible to boot
from either of the HDD by changing the startup options
in BIOS as both were master and had different cables.

Yesterday, on one of the partitions of 40 GB HDD,
i created a directory and xxcopied everything from
c:\ drive using xxcoopy software.

Afterwards I xxcopied my old 2 GB HDD using xxcopy.
However, system refused to boot up now.  EZ software
only got loaded and nothing happened. Even the message
that starting windows 95 also did not come.

I used EZ sofware option to boot from startup floppy
and tried to somehow access the HDD. From Command Prompt
booting option, I could access HDD and manually copied
(after changing file attributes etc.), io.sys,
msdos.sys, system.dat, system.da0, user.dat, user.da0,
win.ini, system.ini, protocol.ini from the copy which
I had backuped earlier.

On rebooting, this time I got "Starting Windows 95"
but immediately got following message
"The compression deiver can not be setup correctly.
Get a ver from ur vendor that is compatible with the
ver. of windows."

Bypassing doublespace loading at startup with Step by Step
booting option, I could proceed further but got following
While initalizing device VFBACKUP:
VFAT and DOS vol. in drive C layouts are mismatched.
Cannot proceed furhter.  Doing so may destroy disk data.
Pl. report the condition immedately.

System freezes at this point.

Pl. advise what should I do now.

The only reason I was doing this exercise of copying the
system to move to new HDD was that I was unable to
configure some of legacy H/W (Aptive dolphin MWave sound
card and modem) & screen resolution on the new HDD
which were perfectly running fine on old HDD.

If can revert back to earlier HDD state of 40 GB HDD,
I will be happy as I have valuable data on it.  I will
sacrifice the leagacy H/W.

I am unable to use xxcopy now to pick up everything
from the backup which I have on one of the partition
of new HDD as xxcopy gives an error saying that this
program can not be run from DOS mode.

Pl. advise.




Just an update.  I have edited msdos.sys and
have set dblspace & drvspace = 0.  This way
the initial message about incompatible compression
driver doesn't come.

Other problem still remains

VFAT and DOS vol. in drive C layouts are mismatched.
Cannot proceed furhter.  Doing so may destroy disk data.
Pl. report the condition immedately.

the system is P-133 MHz, 48 MB RAM. The system is
probably slow as this model of APTIVA comes without
any cache memeory.

Thanks in advance
Top Expert 2007

If you have access to another computer, I would first make sure tht your other data is intact on the 40 GB.
Then you can decide how you want to utilize the drive.

Since the drive is not recognized without the EZBIOS overlay, that is the forst thing that you need to get working.

Then I would wipe the first partition, and get it to where it can boot from the first partition.

Next would be trying to get access to the rest of your data. If this works, then you can use xcopy /c/h/k/s to copy over the data from the old drive to the new one.

You should then have a working system.

 I hope this helps !


Hello Everybody

Apparantly both my HDD have developed problems
and I am going step-by-step to fix them.
1)  My 2 GB HDD which had win'95 ver A and was
consequently upgraded to win'95 ver B by the
method given by rayt333.  The win'95 now doesn't
recognize my CDROM drive. It was being recognised
earlier. Moreover, the Win'95 ver. B was installed through it only.  Though my modem is also not being recognized for which I have got an external modem.
CDROM works fine during installation and is correctly
being recognized by BIOS. CDROM is very important and
I am seeking everybody opionion on it / fix it.

I will be borrowing my friends old HDD for parking my
data from my 40 GB HDD and will get back on that shortly.

Thanks in advance


Open Device Manager and see if there is any yellow "!" or red "X"

Did you install to a clean HD or as an upgrade over Win95"A"?

You may just need to install the motherboard drivers to get the use of the CD-Rom back.


Well, this is upgrade over Win95"A".
In device manager, I do see yellow marks
on the under the disk controller cards. I
tried to remove them but can't as the system
doesn't let me do it.
How do I install motherboard drivers.  I thought
BIOS does it. Pl. elaborate.

Top Expert 2007

You should go to the IBM site and download any win98 drivers you can find for your model, especially for IDE.

 I hope this helps !

We could help you find them if we had your machine number, we need the PC 7-digit machine type model  (ex:  2645-5EU)

Or you can go here and find them yourself:


Hello Everybody

I tried to do everything conceivable and advised
but the system just did not work.  In frustration,
I formatted the HDD and installed win'98 SE.  As
expected the sound & fax card did not work.  Purchased
a new SB and modem and the system is working now.

I do not know if anybody should get a point for this.
Nevertheless I appreciate everybody time and patience
and am thankful for it.

Glad to hear that you have a working computer again.
Seems like a lot of people are getting information at EE and not closing out their threads, lately.
I't good to hear from someone who has some integrity.

Since stevenlewis was the first to suggest that you install Win98, the points should be awarded to him.
Just click the "Accept Comment as an answer" by his name at the top of his comment.


No comment has been added lately, so it's time to clean up this TA.
I will leave a recommendation in the Cleanup topic area that this question is to:

Accept stevenlewis'  comments as answer

Please leave any comments here within the next seven days.
EE Cleanup Volunteer
Per recommendation.

EE Moderator

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