40GB HDD won't format above 23GB - Again!

This drive was set up with a Dynamic Drive Overlay.

I originally posted the problem here:

garycase suggested nuking the drive with dban (Darik's Boot & Nuke - use with care)
This worked, I had 40GB back, points allotted to garycase with grateful thanks - problem solved.

Some time later I needed to reformat and the drive suddenly reverted to 23GB. This time dban won't do the trick. I'm tempted to try the old marine engineer's "float test" - throw it overboard.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 IDE drive.

Is dynamic overlay controlled by firmware on the controller?

LVL 24
Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerAsked:
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Do you think you have an EISA or OEM partition?  If so, have you tried to use diskpart in Windows XP?


list disk
select disk <disk #>
list partition
select partition <partition #>

But this would only work if it is a partition issue.
Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerAuthor Commented:
Thanks durindil,
No, this is blank disc now formatted as one NTFS partition. It shows in Disk Management as 23MB whether formatted or not.
I'm not familiar with Derricks boot& nuke.  But just maybe your computer's BIOS has incorrectly detected the number or size of your Disks Heads/Cylinders/Blocks/Sectors etc....  You could try to read the info off of the drive and manually enter it into the BIOS.  Also, check Large Block Addressing settings in BIOS.
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Does the MOBO BIOS see it as 40 GB?

If it sees it as 23 ,then the disk is hammered and maybe a float test is in order.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
vallis -- what does the BIOS report for the drive?

... and is it set to auto-detect?

... also, how did you reformat it?  [right-click, Format?   Disk Management?  etc.]
Download the Seagate utility for drive overlay and run the uninstall.

Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerAuthor Commented:
I will check tomorrow, thanks.

I suspect you're right, I'm only using the disc as for installing Ubuntu and 23GB is enough for the job. But I now have a personal grievance with it. :o)
I've used the Seagate utilities, the bootable and the windows version. The "remove DDL" choice is greyed out.

My main 2 drives are SATA, this one is the only IDE and is set to Master. I've also tried setting it up on a USB connection and reformatting.
I've reformatted it normally, via Disk management and with Acronis Disk Director. I've zero filled it with Seagate Disk Wizard and dban.

Thanks for the input people.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... what does the BIOS report for the size?  ... and is the BIOS set to Auto-Detect the drive?
Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerAuthor Commented:

Sorry, meant to put that in my last comment.
BIOS shows the disc as 25601MB.

Seagate support's response:
"Unfortunately, at this point, there is no way to fix or resolve your issue. There has been too much done between installing the DDO and trying  to remove it."

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
The BIOS report indicates the drive itself is mis-reporting its size ... this is not good.   It WAS resolved at one point (since you did see all 40GB after DBAN "nuked" it) ... but obviously something has happened since then.   When you reformatted it, were you using XP?   Also, you said DBAN didn't do the trick this time --> did you run it in full "nuke" mode ??

... do you by any chance have a copy of Spinrite ??   If so, run it against the drive and see what it reports for the low level drive parameters.

... While the "float test" might be appropriate here [I understand your frustration :-) ], it sounds like the low level drive formatting parameters (which you can't, unfortunately, change) may have been reset to report a 23GB drive (not sure how this might have happened, but I'm sure it's related to Seagate's DDO) ==> if this is the case, the drive will work fine as a 23GB drive ... and for what you want to use it for, I'd just do that rather than "float" the drive :-)     The good news is this is not an expensive issue ... at today's prices a 40GB drive is < $40  (with rebates I've seen them for $10).

... by the way, I have avoided drive overlays like the plague for over a decade => it is amazing how many issues they have caused (and continue to cause).   While the drive manufacturer's mean well, I simply do NOT recommend using any of their tools (except the diagnostics) that ship with their disks.

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Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerAuthor Commented:
My apologies for the delay. Too many other problems.
I suspect I'm beaten by this, but have not given up.
Thanks all.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Dump the MBR and post it here ...
Sounds like he needs a hex editor.
zap63 looks interesting
Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerAuthor Commented:
zap63 didn't fix it. I've given up - it must be a low level problem and it's not worth wasting any more time on it. If nobody has any objections I'll split the points between pgm554 & garycase.

Thanks for the input. I've learned a bit more and found a useful tool in zap63.

garycase: I have no idea how to dump the mbr.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Sorry for being less explicit ... I wrote that comment as I was leaving for the evening that day.   ... as pgm554 noted afterwards, you needed to get a hex editor; then just load cylinder 0, sector 0 (which contains the master boot record) and post the contents.   There are also a few MBR tools which are designed to do exactly that (load the MBR, let you save a copy, etc.).   Since you never asked for details on how to do it, I presumed you had resolved the problem yourself.
Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerAuthor Commented:
Curiouser & curiouser.
I installed Suse 10.1 on this disc this morning. Suse default set it up as 40GB!

Unfortunately I can't get Ubuntu, Suse or Fedora to run on that PC - another problem to add to the todo list.
So I deleted the 3 Linux partitions in Acronis disk director. It immediately reverted to 23GB of unformated space.

All is not lost.
I'm about to try the same thing on my main PC.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... It immediately reverted to 23GB of unformated space ..." ==> Is the BIOS still just showing 23GB?

This definitely sounds like a residual issue caused by a drive overlay ... but I'm at a loss as to why it reverted after the iniital fix with dBan; and also why the linux distro is "seeing" the correct size.   It will be interesting to see if the linux distro sees the same thing on your main PC.   Also, post what the BIOS shows for the size of the drive on your main PC.

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