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Common Hard Drive Problems

If you’re like most people, you have either already ran out of space on your hard drive, or you are soon to do so.
And you’ll probably go out and get a new hard drive, either new or used. The new ones usually come with
software that set the drive up for you, by partitioning and formatting it. The used ones usually don’t. That’s
where the trouble starts.

The most common problem I get from people trying to set up their hard drive is: "My (Larger than 2GB) Drive is
only showing 2GB." The problem for that is usually in the Operating System (OS for short). The first version of
Windows 95, for example, uses a file system called FAT16. That file system limits the size of the hard drive that
is visible to the OS to only 2GB. So when you try to make that larger, it won’t let you. Plain and simple as that.
You either must partition your hard drive into several 2GB partitions, or upgrade to an OS that with a file system
that will support more than 2GB on a partition.
Another reason is because your BIOS has limits. 386 and 486 and lower end Pentium systems have limits of
512MB. Some Pentium Systems are limited to 2GB, and some of the newer ones, are limited to 8GB. It’s all in
how the BIOS address the clusters on the Hard drive. It can be corrected with software, that comes with most new
drives, like Western Digital’s EZ Drive, and Quantum’s Disk manager just to name a few. They take over where
your real BIOS can’t perform, and then addresses the hard drive correctly

The next most common problem I get is "My hard drive says it’s 2GB, but Windows is saying it’s 1.86GB.
Where’d that 90MB of space go?" Well, that problem is all in the numbers. The makers of the hard drive count
1MB as 1,000,000 Bytes. Windows counts 1MB as 1,048,576 bytes, a difference of 48,576 bytes. That adds up
when you are talking 2,000MB. Let’s do the math.

Makers of hard drive says there are 2,000,000,000 bytes on the drive, so divide that by 1024 to get the number of
kilobytes on the drive. Do that again to get the number of megabytes on the drive. Once more for the number of
Gigabytes on the drive. You should get 1.862645149GB, or just 1.86GB, which is what Windows is thinking.
That’s where your space went, in the numbers.

Another problem I am asked the answer for are a lot of FAT32 ones. "What is FAT32?" "Should I switch to
FAT32?" "Can I switch to FAT32 and keep my data on the drive." "What OSs support FAT32."

Versions of Windows95 older than OSR2, as well as any DOS version, operate on a file system called FAT16 (or
FAT12 in some cases). The existence of large hard drives has led to large partition sizes, which mean large cluster
sizes and wasted space. Under FAT16, a smaller cluster size is better, because a small file takes up a whole cluster
if there is even one byte in it; the leftover space is called "slack." FAT32 changed that.

FDISK in Windows 95 OSR2 or later will only allow you to put FAT32 on drives larger than 512MB. (Unless
you use the /fprmt switch when starting FDISK) Inside FDISK, you must enable "large disk support," to choose
FAT32. After exiting FDISK and rebooting, FORMAT the drive. NOTE that you must manually reboot after
exiting FDISK, this is not automatic as in previous versions of FDISK. If you do not reboot between FDISKing
and FORMATing, you will get strange-looking error messages.

As always, when you FDISK a drive, you will loose all data. But there are programs out there, like the one that
comes with Windows 98, and Partition Magic, that will convert your drive to FAT32 without loosing your data.

With that, I hope that somehow, and someway, your Hard drive upgrades, and future problems, will be easily
corrected.