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Windows 98SE Maximum External HD size


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#1 qtaqq

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 07:23 AM

I was wondering if anyone knows what the maximum external hardrive size Windows 98 will recognize using USB? Is it possible to recognize a 1tb drive? I was looking at purchasing something from 120gb-1tb, so I can use it with some of our other systems as well, Windows XP, and Vista.

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#2 ThunderZ

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 08:26 AM

If my memory serves. 120G is about the max. You are also limited in individual recognized file size due to having to format in fat or fat32.

Side note in case you were not already aware. You must have at least 98SE for USB to be recognized and function.

#3 Platypus

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 09:09 AM

As ThunderZ comments, getting a USB Mass Storage Device to operate using Windows 98FE is very flakey, and is much improved, but not always 100% with 98SE.

Unless you already have a suitable generic Mass Storage driver operating on the Windows 98 systems, you will need to find one, or an external drive or enclosure that the manufacturer provides a Win98 driver for.

120GB would be the safest option, as it will automatically avoid the 48-bit LBA issues involved in going over 137GB (128GiB).

There are two potential problems I'm aware of with 48-bit LBA in a USB drive. It is not the same limitation as using an internal IDE 48-bit LBA drive, which involves the IDE driver, not the USB storage driver.

The first relates to the Win98 drive utilities. If you need to try using a drive over 137GB capacity, do not use any Win98 drive maintenance utilities on the drive, eg defrag, as they will corrupt large partitions. It may be possible that they can be safely used with multiple partitions <128GiB, but I can't be sure. If I recall correctly, Windows ME utilities can be substituted. But if the drive is also used on XP systems, they can be used for any drive maintenance.

The second is unpredictable, depending on the command set of the specific hard drive, and occurs if the drive does not support addressing sector 268435455 in 28-bit LBA mode. Svend Olaf Mikkelsen offers a utility called GB32 which identifies large drive issues including this one: http://www.partitionsupport.com/utilities.htm

As I understand it, in principle a USB drive should be feasible up to 2TB, but Win98 without specially developed patches cannot utilise the newer hard drives with 4K sectors.

http://www.48bitlba.com/usbharddrives.htm

Edited by Platypus, 20 October 2010 - 09:17 AM.

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#4 Eyesee

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 01:46 PM

The Western Digital site states that the limit for fat32 is 4 gig and do have 98 drivers available for at least one of their products here

Seems a mighty waste of space to have a nice big drive and to only be able to utilize 4 gig of it!

Edit: link corrected

Edited by Eyesee, 21 October 2010 - 12:04 PM.

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#5 ThunderZ

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 02:26 PM

Depending on the size of the storage drive you end up with, I would think you could partition it in to two volumes. A 120 Gig in fat or fat32 for Win98. Leaving the remainder for An NTFS partition in order to take full advantage.

Be aware. Any machine with Win2k = NTFS or above will be able to see and use the entire drive. Both fat and NTFS partitions. How ever, Win ME and earlier = fat 32 will not be able to read or write to the NTFS partition.

#6 qtaqq

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 06:42 AM

Ok thanks for the info everyone. A little off topic but I was able to, with an internal ide drive, install a 200gb hardrive with windows 98se. Dos only reported the 200gb in mb though, and took a long time to partition it, it was very slow installing Windows98SE as well, i'm talking hours, but after the intial startup it ran normal, I can't remember if it reported the drive size in mb or gb though after install, I upgraded to Windows XP after that and it reported correctly in gb. That's why I was wondering about a usb drive since it seemed to have trouble with a large internal drive. I wasn't sure if on usb it might not be able to recognize over just a few gb's. Platypus, I read the links but I'm still a little confused on the 48-bit LBA, is that what was causing the Win98se to operate so slow formating and installing on the 200gb drive? I had it partitioned to two 100 gb drives.

#7 Platypus

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 07:10 AM

I suspect it would probably be doing a full format that would make the installation process take a very long time.

If the Windows 98 didn't have 48-bit LBA patches applied, then you would initially get away with having two 100GB partitions, since all the data being written to the drive would be under the 128GiB barrier. The C: partition would be accessed without problems, likewise the second partition whilst data access remains below the 128GiB point. Data that needed to be written beyond that could be expected to corrupt either the file contents, or the drive if the value wrapped around and overwrote the start of the drive.

Note that 4GB is the file size limitation for FAT32, and there have been Windows 98SE drivers available to enable access to the NTFS file system, but they've become hard to track down.

Edited by Platypus, 21 October 2010 - 07:12 AM.

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#8 qtaqq

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 07:54 AM

Is that a positive or negative if our Windows98SE doesn't have the 48-bit LBA patches?

#9 Platypus

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 03:37 AM

Well, it's always a negative if there's the prospect of corrupting a drive. But if you create a FAT32 partition of less than 128GiB, and have the remainder as NTFS, it should not matter whether the Win98 systems have 48-bit LBA patch or not.

Besides open-source software like Ranish Partition Manager, for creating a FAT32 partition larger than 32GB using Windows XP, this is a handy utility:

http://www.ridgecrop.demon.co.uk/index.htm?fat32format.htm

It is donation ware, that is the creator requests a Paypal donation if you use it.
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#10 ThunderZ

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 11:39 AM

Platypus. I was able to locate several NTFS access utilities for 98SE. Have an old 98SE lap top myself.
Just an FYI should you or Qtaqq be interested. So they are still out there. I grabbed one by DiskInternals Research. There were others.

Have not installed and tested yet.

#11 Platypus

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 05:07 PM

Thanks for that, I'd read that the SysInternals ones also were still being mirrored somewhere, since MS took over SysInternals. But not having used 98 for some years, I haven't looked.

Edited by Platypus, 24 October 2010 - 05:13 PM.

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