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Can't format entire hard-drive

Posted on 2003-03-26
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Last Modified: 2007-12-19
I have a 20 Gb hard-drive that had Win 98 installed on it. When I tried to install LM 9.0, it couldn't format part of it. I used my Win 98 boot disk to run fdisk and found that I have a 16 Gb partition labled as a "Dos Extensions" it won't let me delete it because there is no logical partition. If I create a logical partition, it doesn't link the two together. I tried to re-install windows, and it worked fine, expect that it only installed on the remaining 4 Gb, the "Extension" was still there. I tried to use "format", but it only formats the 4 Gb. It's like 16 of my 20 Gb are there, but I can't get at them. Please help, I'm at my wits end, here.
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Question by:jeremy1701
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38 Comments
 

Expert Comment

by:BrendanMoritz
ID: 8213114
Greetings jeremy1701,

Reboot your machine with the 98 boot disk.

Run fdisk, (I know you've tried this before but please bear with me).

Select Yes for large disk support.

When you get to the first options section, Erase the logical partition as you have done before.

Go back to the first option screen again.

Select option 5 - Change current fixed disk Drive.

This should display both partitions on your drive. (1.) should be the 4 gig partition and (2.) should be the 16 gig partition. Select option 2. Then repeat Erase Logical Partition as you did earlier.

Esc. out of fdisk, reboot you machine with your 98 boot disk, then enter fdisk once more. Select Yes for large disk support again. Then choose to Create Logical partition. This should give you the option of now using the entire drive. Do so, then once done, Esc out of fdisk once more, reboot then do what you need to do to install your OS. It should now be able to format the entire 20gig.

Welcome to the joys of computing,
Regards
BrendanMoritz
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 8213223
This situation may go into a lock-up. One possible solution is to use delpart to remove partitions, another is to download zap.com from the IBM site. It clears out the partition record and lets you start from scratch. I've found it very useful. Make sure you don't have anything on the drive you want to keep... and make sure you're zapping the correct drive, if you have more than one physical hard drive.

Regards
/RID
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:Baddog
ID: 8213383
Have you tried going into FDISK and Deleting NonDOS partition? Sometimes, OSes will create partition that is not DOS and the only way to remove it is to Delete NonDOS partition using FDISK.

If you cant delete them, then you could try an XP/2000 install (if you have them), deleting the partition, and then rebooting with a bootdisk. HDD will be left without any partion, so you can use FDISK to repartion.

You can also use Partition Magic by PowerQuest. It has the capability of removing different types of partitions.


BDog
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Expert Comment

by:SHONNER
ID: 8213410
Win98's FDISK doesn't understand some extensions left on a drive.  I then have to use the setup discs that created that partition to remove it.  Then I have the whole drive for Win98 to partition.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8214041
rid's ZAP suggestion should do it (not sure if it works on non-IBM drives though), you should be able to use FDISK to "Remove Extended DOS partition" though. (Note that the only time you will use or see FDISK option 5 to "Change fixed disk" is if you have multiple physical harddisks installed).

You can try Maxtor's PowerMax diags (which has an "Erase Disk/Factory recertification" function that will wipe out all partitions and data):
http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/downloads/agreement.htm?powermax.exe,,

IBM/Hitachi's Drive Fitness Test will do it too (Erase Disk function):
http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT

-dog*
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:jmeree
ID: 8215281
Go buy a new hard drive for $60 instead of wasting your time...
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LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:jwitt98
ID: 8215344
Most hard drive manufacturers have a low level format utility for their drives.  Check on the hard drive manufacturer's web site.  Keep in mind that this will zero out all data on the disk and restore it back to factory format so back up any data you need to save.  You can then create new partitions and file system format.  Good luck :)
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 8215599
The "ZAP" works well on non-IBM drives as well. It writes zeroes to the first 512 sectors (or something) and erases all partitioning and boot info. If you don't suspect the drive to be bad or failing it can be used instead of a regular "zero-fill". It is much quicker.

/RID
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8222749
jmeree...since you have money to burn, would you buy me a new harddrive?
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8224713
Thanks, everyone for your help. I tried almost all of your suggestions, and I think I may have to chalk it up to done. I used Partition Commander to erase the entire disk, but when I tried to put windows on, it gave me a "write error". It still worked, i.e. it would boot Windows, but again, it was only on the 4 Gb. Then I tried again, only with Mandrake 9.0, and it froze during "Format Partition hda6". Bummer. Could it be that my hard-drive is broke? It worked fine for like 2 years, then I went to install Linux, and *BAM*, nothing.
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 8224761
Can you verify that your BIOS recognises the drive correctly?

What does fdisk say, if you erase the disk and then boot from a 98 boot floppy, run fdisk option #4 (show partition info)? It should say that no partitions are defined and give you the available space you can use for partitions. What is the value given?

Regards
/RID
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8224822
Yes, the bios recognizes my HD. I can delete the entire drive, then when I run fdisk, it tells me I have nothing defined. It will allow me to allocate all 20 Gb to one parition. It will also allow me to format the entire drive using the format util. But when I try to install Windows (From either the emergency disk or standard Win98 SE), I get a "write error" about 80% of the way through. Like I said, Windows will still boot, but again, it only installs on 4 Gb. hmmmm... I've been playing with formatting HD's for a while now, going between Win and Linux, and I've never had a problem like this.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8224852
Well, it would be a strange coincidence for the drive to fail suddenly just at the time you install Linux.  If Win98 still only was going to a 4GB partition, then "Partition Commander" didn't really get rid of the partitions.  You can download the Zap utility rid mentioned here:
http://www.easydesksoftware.com/files/Zap.exe

The format fail is fairly unusual though...what is the brand of the harddrive (Maxtor, Quantum, Western Digital, etc)?  Get the manufacturer's diagnostic software and try doing a thorough test of the drive (actually most of these will let you do a "zero fill" to the drive to ensure all the partitions are gone).

-dog*
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8224862
Yes, the bios recognizes my HD. I can delete the entire drive, then when I run fdisk, it tells me I have nothing defined. It will allow me to allocate all 20 Gb to one parition. It will also allow me to format the entire drive using the format util. But when I try to install Windows (From either the emergency disk or standard Win98 SE), I get a "write error" about 80% of the way through. Like I said, Windows will still boot, but again, it only installs on 4 Gb. hmmmm... I've been playing with formatting HD's for a while now, going between Win and Linux, and I've never had a problem like this.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8225262
So you FDISK it to 20GB but once you get in to Win98, it shows C: as only 4GB?  Are you enabling "Large Disk Support" (FAT32) when FDISK prompts you? Nevermind, you must be or you couldn't get the 20GB option.  I think its time for a full drive diag as mentioned above.

-dog*
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8225309
Unfortunatly, it's at home, and I'm at work. I'll try the Drive Fittness and Zap once I get home. Thanks for all your help, agian. I'll let you know how it goes!
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LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:jwitt98
ID: 8225750
It could be that the drive has been failing prior to the start of this, but didn't show up until trying to write to the area of the disk which is bad.  I think I would go to the disk manufacturer and download their utility to check the drive for errors as mentioned above.
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8239086
I ran Zap, still the same problem. I ran the Western Digital diagnostic tools, it told me the disk was good, I even ran the thorough test and wrote all zeros to the disk. I still have the same problem. Here's another issue, I tried to install Win98 SE updates after I ran the recovery disks (which installes Win98 E1 on 4 out of 20 Gb) and it gave a serious error, then crashed: "Cannot write to drive c:". Is there some physical way I don't have write permissions or something? I have the drive connected as "Master" and a Iomega Zip as "Cable Select". It's never been an issue before. I can't think of anything else to do.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8239267
AHh, well that could be it...alot of those OEM "recovery disks" are created in a way which forces a certain partitioning scheme or expects one to already be in place.  Do you have a non-recovery Win98 CD you can use to install?

Try taking the Zip drive off just as a test, you can just unplug hte power connection (while the system is off!) to see if that helps.  If it works OK, set the Zip to Slave (or preferably, move it to the secondary IDE channel where your CD/DVD drive is).

Did you run the thorough test with the Western Digital test, or just the "Quick test"?  If you did the quick test only, try it again with the thorough test.

Have you changed the IDE cable you're using?  Its somewhat uncommon, but the cable could be damaged somehow.

What kind of system is this, i.e. Dell, HP, Compaq, etc?

-dog*
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8239675
I have a Compaq Presario 5724. On the secondary IDE channel, I already have a Buslink CD-R/RW as master and a DVD as slave. I do have a Win98 CD, but I really wanted the software off the recovery disk (else I can't use the DVD player).  I ran the WD thorough test, and it came back all clear. I'll try to change the cable, and also try to install it without the Zip drive. Thanks dog*.
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8239952
I thought of something else... If it were the OEM disks, then Linux would have installed trouble free after I wrote zeros to the disk using the WD diagnotistic tools. That leads to to believe that it's got to be something physical. I'll try the swtiching the cable tonight. Sorry for all the troubles, I wish I had jmeree's ability to just go drop some cash on a new one!
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8240466
Yes, Linux should have gone on fine in that case after doing the zero fill.  The problem could lie elsewhere, with your RAM or CPU even.  Go to www.memtest86.com and download the bootdisk creation util to make a bootable floppy to test your RAM.  Let it run at least 1 cycle, if it comes back clear the problem may lie elsewhere.

-dog*
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LVL 16

Accepted Solution

by:
Kyle Schroeder earned 75 total points
ID: 8240500
OK, try the normal Win98 CD.  The DVD software you can get here:
http://www29.compaq.com/falco/sp_detail.asp?Model=1425&Div=4&Os=0&SoftwareVer=15462

Its installer auto-detects if you're installing on a Compaq or not and should work fine.

Try updating the BIOS via this ROMPAQ update:
http://www29.compaq.com/falco/sp_detail.asp?Model=1425&Div=4&Os=0&SoftwareVer=12244
The fix list/history shows a few harddrive-related updates re: UDMA66 harddrives and IDE/ATAPI timing issues.

-dog*
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8240509
Oh, you'll also need to install DirectX 8.0 or higher (9.0a is current version) from www.microsoft.com/directx

-dog*
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8294172
This isn't looking so good...

I tried a different HD (I have an older, 13 GB) and it works great. Win98 SE, Compaq Quick Restore and Linux (both RH 8.0 and Man 9.0) all went on flawlessly. Switch back to the 20, nothing. I ran the diagnostic tools for the WD HD, adn again, it came back all clear. I just have no idea what's going on here. I can format, but not install any operating system.

I'm thinking this, but I don't know how to do it. When I install Man 9.0, it formats HDA1 and HDA2, but then freezes when trying to install HDA6 (the biggest chunk). Do I need to have it partitioned like this? Can I just do without the HDA6, or does it need to be there? If I could just do nothing with the end of the disk (no formatting or anything), it might work. Even though I'd be making some of the drive usless, at least I'd have something.

Any other suggestions?
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 8294269
"I have the drive connected as "Master" and a Iomega Zip as "Cable Select". "

Review your drive jumpering. You either use CS or Master/Slave, not both. If system supports CS you jumper both drives for CS and put primary drive on ribbon cable end connector, secondary in the middle. Otherwise you use Master/Slave system - one master, one slave. Some HD's want a "Master with slave present" jumper positioning.

Check BIOS for HD write protect or "Trend ChipAway" antivirus, which may prevent HD write activity if they are enabled.

/RID
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8294381
Thank you, /RID

I don't think it's in my bios, as I'm able to write to the other HD. How do I check for the "Trend ChipAway" anitvirus?

I also unplugged the Zip drive, so I had only the HD plugged in as "Master" on a single ribbon and it still wouldn't work. Should it have been cable select?

j
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 8294494
Dunno. The system may support both modes, but Master/Slave is probably the most common jumpering scheme. Make sure your HD is jumpered for Master or Master/single if that is an option on your drive (if it *is* single, of course).

The ChipAway thing and BIOS write protect are BIOS setup issues. You need to go through your BIOS settings thotoughly and look for anything that may be related to HD protection or antivirus.

cheers
/RID
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8294615
I don't know why it would make an HDA6 unless you have other partitions "in between" HDA1 and HDA2.  Is the HDA6 supposed to be the /usr partition?  Maybe you can get away with formatting it after you finish the install??  I still think there is something wrong with the drive if it won't format properly.

Can you install XP on it now??

-dog*
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8294656
I'm pretty sure that WD drives do use that "Master/Only" setting rid mentioned, so check that.  Did you load the Compaq ROMPAQ update I linked to above?  It appears to resolve some IDE/ATAPI issues...

-dog*
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Expert Comment

by:SHONNER
ID: 8296591
I've never seen such a simple problem get dragged out for so long.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8296725
Well SHONNER, how about you resolve it then?  What's the magic solution???
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8333230
Ok, for those of you still here, thanks for all your help. I finally got things working, although I am truthfully not sure why I had a problem in the first place. Let me start at the begining. I had a DVD player as cable select, and zip as cable select on the secondary IDE, and the hard drive and CD-burner (both as CS) on the primary IDE. I tried to upgrade my HD to the 20, and figured everything would be the same, no such luck. I finally figured out that the upgraded BIOS that I installed (thanks to dog*!)wouldn't allow cable select and, get this, I set it up as follows: primary IDE had HD as master, zip as slave, secondary IDE had CD-Burner as primary, DVD as slave (makes sense, right?). Still the same problem, couldn't write to the HD. Anyway... After much fiddling, I finally got it to work by making the HD master and the CD-Burner slave (primary IDE) and the DVD master and zip slave (secondary). Go figure. I have no idea why it works this way, and not the other, but what can you do?

I know this was a long process, but I really appreciate all the help everyone gave me, especially dog*. Thanks a lot!!
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8333505
ATAPI Zip drives just do funny things sometimes...having it on the same cable as the harddrive probably wasn't helping as the harddrive was trying to load in Ultra DMA mode and the Zip I'm sure doesn't support anything over PIO-4 at most.  Cable Select is just a nightmare, Compaq always uses it for some reason (I guess they think it makes configuration easier when adding hardware, I dunno) but I've never had anything but problems with it.

In any case, glad you got it working!

-dog*
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Expert Comment

by:SHONNER
ID: 8334410
He only gave 2 points, and a B grade.  Harsh.
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8334718
I didn't know! I thought I was giving 25 :( sorry!
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 8335555
No, it was 25...after a question is closed, its point value shows as 10% of original...at one point (and I don't know if its still like this) the Previously Answered Questions could be "bought" for 10% of their original value.

-dog*
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Author Comment

by:jeremy1701
ID: 8335592
I think SHONNER is just trying to cause trouble :o)
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