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DaBretty asked on

ESDI Hard Drive and controller, how to set up drive?

Hello -

I have a very old PS/2 (Model 60) hard drive that I am trying to recover a few pieces of data off of.  It has an old ESDI hard drive, and unfortunately its floppy drive is completely dead with the CMOS cleared (dead motherboard battery).  Since the right floppy drive is hard to come by (in working condition) I decided to try to go down the route of getting a disk controller for a more "modern" PC that could read the drive.

So now I have a "modern" 486 with an ISA-based ESDI disk controller (Adaptec ACB-2322) with the drive attached.  (BTW, I removed its ISA-based IDE to clear out any confusion)  This ESDI disk controller also has a FDD connector, and this is hooked up.  In the BIOS I disabled all hard drives and booted the PC, to have it successfully boot off of the floppy (so the disk controller appears to be talking okay).

But my question is - and I am totally inexperienced in pre-IDE days like ESDI - how do I get this hard drive to be detected?  The 486's BIOS has the good old IDE auto detection utility (which fails to find anything).  I'm assuming I need to set the drive up manually in the BIOS, but the drive (over 20 years old!) has no markings as to cylinders, heads, etc for me to do so.  Is this the right way of going about this problem - do I need to set this up in the BIOS first?  Anybody know where I could find this ancient information (cylinder count, etc) for my particular drive?

Storage HardwareComponents

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8/22/2022 - Mon

If you know the size of the hard drive, try the preset drives in the BIOS that match the size - when you select the right one, the data on the drive will become readable.  Setting it to the wrong one for read-only purposes should be harmless.

You can also try searching for the drive model using google and see if someone has the drive geometry specs.

Failing memory says things about using debug.  Not sure if that was for formatting or setting it up.

Some links (some may not be relevant).


http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~stanisls/helppc/hard_disks_drives.html (see bottom of page for debug use)


>>  Anybody know where I could find this ancient information (cylinder count, etc) for my particular drive?
  <<   post the model, then we can look info up
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James Murphy

Well, we eventually found the right information but could not get the BIOS - which was looking for IDE drives - to see the ESDI drive.  Essentially, I think this is like the handling of SCSI drives - meaning the BIOS isn't supposed to see anything (since they're not IDE), yet a secondary driver (for the ESDI controller) should load during boot and detect the drive.  No such luck, I could not find much in terms of drivers for this controller.

We ended up solving the problem by buying a "newer" PS/2 (Model 77, a 486 with MCA bus) and dropping in the original PS/2's MCA disk controller.  We then had full access to the drive and could extract its contents to the "new" PS/2's other hard drive (SCSI based).  It's amazing that this (buying a newer computer) is actually the most economical solution, when you account for man hours spent fiddling with this old junk!

Refund points to questioner and PAQ.  Questioner solved problem himself.

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