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hard drive question - "bios drive"?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by pianoman1948, Feb 28, 2005.

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  1. pianoman1948

    pianoman1948 Thread Starter

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    I have a hard drive question; it sounds like I need to be educated about hard drives in general, because I must be missing something. I can't seem to find an explanation via a web search.

    I have a Maxtor hard drive, and I ran MaxBlast, the manufacturer's utility program that does things like set up a drive, display hardware information, zero-fill a drive, etc.

    When I pick one of those options, it displays the drives on my system so I can select which one I want to perform the action on. I expect to see only one hard drive (since there is only one in my system), but there are two: the one I expect to see (I can identify it by the names of the partitions on it), and a second one.

    This second one is labelled "BIOS drive, 81 hex, 10 MB"

    Does anyone know what the heck this is? I'm not sure I get the concept of a hard drive having a "bios" (as opposed to the system bios). Is this some kind of hidden partition? Firmware? Overlay? (as far as I know I don't use overlays of any kind). Do I need it? Can I get rid of it, or update it?

    (I have done the same sort of thing with Western Digital drives, and never seen anything like this. Is Maxtor's utility just more informative?)

    Or can you point me to documentation that might explain this concept?

    If this is indeed some kind of hidden but modifiable information specific to the hard drive, that may provide a long-sought clue to help explain another very weird problem I have been trying to solve. See:
    http://www.windowsbbs.com/showthread.php?t=41066
    ..... if you dare .....

    Thanks,
    Ted
    [email protected]
     
  2. rmay635703

    rmay635703

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    Remove the cable from all your hard drives (cd drives) leaving only the floppy connected (if you really feel a need to, I would just ignore it, unless FDISK finds it)

    Boot using maxblast see if that fantom drive is still sitting there. If it is that would be the second time I've seen that behavior.

    A few questions WHAT motherboard specifically do you have?

    Also do you really have only one hard drive? Or is the second one mentioned in your other post elsewhere still around?

    The last time I had a fantom drive the bios actually listed a drive when it wasn't there, setting the secondary master to none took care of it. (the other time was on a laptop but that was the soft power partition)

    I have also heard that Maxblast occasionally misidentifies a cd writer as a hard drive.

    As to your other question IFF you ever delete an entire partition on multiboot, especially the primary partition YOU CANNOT BOOT ANY OF THE OTHER PARTITIONS AGAIN!!!!

    You would need to wipe everything and start fresh.

    I don't know of any way around that.

    Good Luck
     
  3. pianoman1948

    pianoman1948 Thread Starter

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    Thanks very much for responding.

    Ok, will do ... tonight.

    Well, it's not keeping me awake at night, just mostly a matter of being informed. I would like to wipe that drive clean, and I want to be sure of what I am wiping.


    I am at work and the machine is at home, but I believe it is a PC Chips M925 1.6 GHz, if that helps.

    Not sure if I understand your question correctly; I have 4 or 5 hard drives lying around the house, but currently (when I ran MaxBlast) only one is connected in the machine.

    So it sounds like you are saying that this probably is a "phantom", something wacky that ought to be gotten rid of, and not something real on the drive itself (like a hidden partition or firmware), right?

    Which other question? I asked a bunch of them, lol ....... do you mean that big hairy thread about Windows 2000 setup not being able to detect hard drives?

    Depends what you mean by "delete". My primary partition had Windows 2000 on it. I formatted (not deleted or zeroed) it, and then installed XP on it. Once I tweaked the boot.ini file so it pointed to the remaining partitions correctly, all the XP partitions booted fine.

    The 2K partitions wouldn't boot anymore because I had violated Microsoft's "install OSs in chronological order" rule. I can live with that.

    Thanks again,
    Ted
     
  4. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    I would not delete that, it probably is the bios info. I would bet this is an old compaq correct?
     
  5. pianoman1948

    pianoman1948 Thread Starter

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    Actually, this drive is from my wife's Dell. Can you explain what you mean by "the bios info" (or direct me to a web page that explains it)? I know about the bios in the motherboard that you get to by pressing delete as the machine is booting, but .... the concept of a hard drive having a bios doesn't make sense to me .... yet.

    I want to zero the drive, but don't want to be wiping out something it needs to function properly .... if this truly is part of the drive.

    Thanks,
    Ted
     
  6. rmay635703

    rmay635703

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    I would never try to delete a fantom drive outside the bios of the system. I also would not try to format it.

    For one thing it probably cannot be deleted and two if it can be you do not know what you are deleting.

    If it goes away when you remove the cd drives it is simply something Maxblast is not detecting properly and therefor should be ignored.

    Cheers
     
  7. pianoman1948

    pianoman1948 Thread Starter

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    Exactly, that's what I'm trying to find out. I have a healthy paranoia of doing something like this without completely understanding it.

    What I want to wipe clean is the "real" drive. I guess I'm worried that if that other thing is somehow hidden somewhere on that same hard drive, that I will accidentally wipe it out too. Which may or may not be a problem.

    It will be interesting to find out what happens. You'll be the first to know.

    Can you tell me what you mean by deleting a drive "outside the bios of the system?"

    Thanks
     
  8. pianoman1948

    pianoman1948 Thread Starter

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    It was not the CD-ROM drives; I disconnected everything but the one hard disk drive and the 2nd drive still showed up.

    I also tried something else. As explained in that big long thread: the hard drives on my machine are not plugged into the motherboard, but instead run off a PCI Promise controller card. So I thought I would try taking that out of the equation (by plugging directly into the motherboard), and lo and behold, the phantom drive went away. So it apparently was the bios on the controller card.

    Something else weird: the very first time I ran MaxBlast, I accidentally had a non-Maxtor drive connected, and the MaxBlast instructions specifically say the program won't work on anything but a Maxtor drive. Indeed, the program terminated abnormally with a funny message.

    But last night I did the same thing by mistake (ran MaxBlast with a Western Digital drive), and it came up normally !?! And it also showed that 2nd "bios drive". <scratching head> <shrug>

    Anyway, thanks for listening,
    Ted
     
  9. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    Older computers sometimes did not have a real bios chip. They used a small part of the hd as a "bios" I think this is what you are seeing.
     
  10. pianoman1948

    pianoman1948 Thread Starter

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    Thanks for your response. Originally that was my thinking too, but (as explained above) it appears to be the bios of the PCI disk controller card, since when I took that out of the equation, the phantom drive went away.

    Not sure how old an "older" computer is, but I bought this thing brand new just a couple years ago. I am pretty sure it has a bios chip. I have put quite a few different hard drives in it and have never had to do anything special to make it use part of the hard drive as a "pseudo-bios" on any of them.

    Thanks,
    Ted
     
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