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External HD

by fnelson / February 27, 2005 1:22 AM PST

Running Windows98SE;trying to get going a new Maxtor 120G hard drive inside Ultra Mini Portable Disc Enclosure. How does one initialize and partition the drive in this situation? Please be clear and step by step. I also was thinking of putting an second copy of my Windows on this drive to have as backup since I know how temperamental this old OS can be. Will this be a good idea? There is lots of room. (Otherwise it will be used for storage of photos, etc. ) Has anyone tried this? Thanks in advance. Frieda

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It's only a little more complicated.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 27, 2005 1:36 AM PST
In reply to: External HD

With Windows 98, the only supplied partitioning tool is FDISK. I won't offer any guide to FDISK since that would be duplicating web content that is ready for your use.

However the one thing is that you will get to run FDISK while Windows is running unlike how you would do with a new blank drive.

I'm wondering what happened to the documentation that comes with this drive. I'v seen it and it was very clear to me what to do.

After you partition with FDISK, then you reboot and format that new drive letter with either your choice of a command line (in windows) or Explorer. Again, no need for me to duplicate web pages about this.


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by fnelson / February 27, 2005 4:47 AM PST

Before I got myself the Ultra (Trying to save $) I had purchased a Sabrent Storage Case. The aluminum one. It came with "instructions" which were very strange to say the least. I tried to run the installation with that and NO Thing! Tried everything, even getting a new driver off their site, their help line was no help only confused me. Somehow I had from them the idea had to do the process in DOS..never did they say DOS but if what I did was what they said that's what I would be doing. I had the feeling that was a major wrong thing but the other wasn't working, either.

Sorry to bother you but I wanted to get this right and not screw it up again. I did learn to pay the extra $20-

You are right--the book that came with the Ultra is straight forward but after a week of that other thing I was insecure.

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What step is unclear?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 27, 2005 4:52 AM PST
In reply to: clarification

The usual is not how to use FDISK or Format (either command line or Explorer), but most of the time the new owner can't get it to work since USB 2.0 support is required and either the machine doesn't have USB 2.0 ports (many owners couldn't tell you if you asked) or the USB 2.0 drivers (which are never supplied with said drive!) are not installed.

Microsoft won't install them for you either.

It's no bother at all, but you need to be very specific about which step eludes you. And some don't want to read the web pages about FDISK. For those, they should have the drive prepared at the shop they obtained the drive from...

More than you need to know about USB 2.0 is over at Again, I never duplicate web content unless it's a one or two-liner.


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I must research this thing further and /or consult a pro
by fnelson / February 27, 2005 5:57 AM PST
In reply to: What step is unclear?

If I knew what step eluded me I would have the thing connected and would be doing better than I am. It isn't working and as long as I know a couple of things I did not know before I will be able to tell what I am not doing or have to do different...probably my USB 2 is funny.

Thanks again

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by fnelson / February 27, 2005 7:58 AM PST
In reply to: clarification

I don't understand or feel right around DOS. I thought it was what was there when you went inwith a Windows Startup Disc. I am a case but I admit it. Frieda

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Since it's Windows 98se, you can't escape the command line..
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 27, 2005 8:46 AM PST
In reply to: Plus

That last post actually revealed where the issue is. At least to me.

The partitioning of an USB HD in Windows 98 isn't that intuitive or done with any GUI (a graphical user interface).

FDISK is not hard to use once you overcome the fear... Here's a page about it ->


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Need to know some things first
by Steven Haninger / February 27, 2005 1:42 AM PST
In reply to: External HD

How is the external connected? If USB or firewire, you need drivers installed to configure the device. If the device is on the motherboard, a driver disk for Win98 should have come with it. The same goes for add in cards. Win98 does not have its own USB or firewire drivers. Once Win98 recognizes and configures the port, you can plug in the cable for the enclosure. It may also have drivers to install as it will have an IDE or some other controller which connects to the drive itself. Now, once the external controller is configured, the drive should show in windows. It will not be accessible until you partition and format the drive. This you can do from windows. Hope that give you a starting point.

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Thank you
by fnelson / February 27, 2005 5:00 AM PST

Good Basic stuff to know and to check. Nothing like understanding what you are doing so people can't mess with your head. Thanks again..Frieda

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This won't be what you want to hear
by Steven Haninger / February 27, 2005 7:15 AM PST
In reply to: Thank you

but externals are a cinch with newer hardware running XP with SP2. While it can be done with retrofitting an older rig and forcing it on Win98, you seem to be finding out this is not a joyful task. Basically, there are three steps to just see the drive and they are;

1. Add or get Windows to recognize and configure the port (USB, etc.) to which the external enclosure will be attached. Drivers may need to be added to systems not already so configured.
2. Attach the external device. It has a controller which accesses the disk inside. The controller also needs drivers. Windows may or may not need help with this. Once this is done, Windows should now see the drive attached to the controller and give it a drive letter.
3. The drive needs to be partitioned and formatted. Windows 98 uses fdisk. You can run fdisk from the Win98 command prompt once the drive letter for the device has been assigned. I'm not sure but Win98 might have some partition size limitations even with controllers that can access larger volumes. Basically, you type "fdisk" (without quotes) at the command prompt. You can display the partition information and, if all is well, should find the external as unallocated space. You then go back and select the option to 'change to another drive letter' (Win98 will select C: by default). Select the drive you want to partition and answer the questions such as 'do you want to partition as one drive' or something to that affect. This will create the largest partition possible on the drive. Once successful, the machine may tell you it needs to reboot for the changes to take affect. After it reboots, the drive will show and you can do a right click on the drive and select "format". That process will take a very long time on a large drive. Be very patient. Hope this helps a bit and sorry to be so long winded.

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OK..go get it
by fnelson / February 28, 2005 2:42 AM PST

I can see this is going to be rough but I will do my best to make this happen. All that will stop me will be absence of some driver. My computer friend Steve who is not available now always tells me "when things go badly that is when you learn 50 things" I am going for my 50 things, no matter how ugly the results. Frieda

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(NT) (NT) Good for you and keep us posted.
by Steven Haninger / February 28, 2005 4:03 AM PST
In reply to: OK..go get it
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OK..go get it
by fnelson / March 6, 2005 1:42 AM PST
In reply to: External HD

Back again all bitten and chewed up! No success. This thing is sitting just where it was before I got you involved with my problem. My EHD is on the list in the device manager and my USB hub shows it is there but I cannot under any circumstances get it any farther. At least it is a lack of driver and not a huge personal failure. Thank you for your attention and all your help. Frieda

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Let's recap.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 6, 2005 1:52 AM PST
In reply to: OK..go get it

You have the USB 2.0 enabled and functional.

You use the FDISK command in Windows to partition said drive.

You use the FORMAT command in Windows to prepare the drive.

Which step is not understood or is failing?


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by fnelson / March 6, 2005 7:31 AM PST
In reply to: Let's recap.

Windows sees it in the hardware list but has no name for it. Calls it "unknown device" I know what it is though. Using the Fdisk gets nothing. I tried FDISK, fdisk, A:\fdisk. <A:\fdisk> Nada. The same with format command. Something wrong with my form? I don't do much with Dos Prompt. It's been so long since I formatted C I don't remember how exactly. (For that I don't go through Windows. ) That is a treat since I used to have to do it every 4 to 6 months and I could keep it in mind. It is acting very good and it's been more than a year. Knock on Wood. There is a USB connection waiting. Frieda

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Lets be clear about USB 2.0
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 6, 2005 7:45 AM PST
In reply to: Update

Another poster reached some 40 plue posts before they admitted it was only USB 1.1 ports. They saw the drive in the device manager too, but couldn't prepare the drive or see it in any other tool. If it's not on USB 2.0 and USB 2.0 is not working proper, your situation is ... as it is and you will not make any progress from my experience. More than we need to know about USB is at

Next, open a command window and type...


There's a space after fdisk. Supply the results here.


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me again
by fnelson / March 6, 2005 8:40 AM PST
In reply to: External HD

I did remember to be simple and fdisk responded in as much as I got in, made contact sort of but there were not many choices..four how did I want to change the sizes of the partitions that are already there. Want to delete? Dumkopf! I tried to change the drive letter but all I was allowed to do was one of those changes or else take the easy way out and ESC! So that was what I did. To think more.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 6, 2005 8:52 AM PST
In reply to: me again

It could have cleared up something I need to know.

If you can't open a command window, please tell.

If you can't type in FDISK /STATUS, please tell.

If you can't follow these steps, please seek help.


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This is what that looks like
by fnelson / March 6, 2005 12:15 PM PST
In reply to: Why no FDISK /STATUS?

I did what you said feel accomplished but my efforts bring "Bad Command or file name" This is what I have tried. I seem to have Disk 1 and C. Better show it.
Disk Drv Mbytes free fixed disk status

1 19462 100%
C 17375

C:\Windows>--- I think we are getting close but I just can't seem to tell it what it wants to hear
I have tried (format, disk 1 format,partition, Disk 1 partition, Drive Letter G, G drive, seek unknown device, pretty much everything I can think of.) All this gets me Bad Command or file name. I think we are getting close. Sort of. Frieda

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Let's be clear.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 6, 2005 12:26 PM PST

So far, you have yet to prove you have USB 2.0 ports. But let me be very clear that all those other commands (format this and that) don't apply until the FDISK step is done.

About the FDISK /STATUS results. So far it appears you have the usual headache of an USB DRIVE on USB 1.1 ports. It teases it's owners to expend great amounts of efforts and insisting that it should work.

As it stands I don't see the USB 2.0 ports and ... this will not work.


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Forgot to be clear about one more item.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 6, 2005 12:32 PM PST
In reply to: Let's be clear.

The FDISK /STATUS command will only show what we need in Windows. Some try a DOS boot disk. That will not work.


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Thank you for all your efforts..
by fnelson / March 7, 2005 5:46 AM PST

I was thinking I needed a new fdisk-updated, you know. But I can understand a little better what I have gone through if I don't even have USB2 The hardware is old enough and one day I will have the $ to get a computer that has it. The ports are the correct size so what do I know. I was getting so I didn't even want to come look here because this has to be just a little annoying from your point of view. Happy Spring. Frieda

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No problem at all.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 7, 2005 6:12 AM PST

Sorry if I seem annoyed in the least. I altered my writing to be as sure and precise about the issues as I possibly could.

It was all in the effort to nail down what the cause was.

I added USB 2.0 recently to a desktop. It wasn't much as you can see at


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hang in there...
by 812 / March 9, 2005 1:13 AM PST

Hope you don't mind the interruption here; just wanted to tell you to hang in there and keep asking until you have a response you understand. I've had this kind of problem myself, and have "frustrated" a number of people until I figured out how to ask the right question the right way, and somebody else figured out how to give me the right answer the right way. At some point it just "clicks", and then everything else makes pefect sense. You may feel a bit foolish after the light comes on, but you will have learned so much that will be useful in the future. It's worth sticking with it...

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No fdisk
by gaffe / April 21, 2005 11:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Why no FDISK /STATUS?

Am I the only one that types fdisk at the command prompt and gets a command not found type of error?

I have XP home, and searched my hard drive for fdisk.exe and it is not there.

So, I have a few questions, the first one being how do I get fdisk, why is it not there already, can I get it without boot floppy stuff because I want to put FAT32 on an external drive and right now when I plug it in windows only offers to format it with NTFS, which I don't want.

I can't figure out how to do this on my mac either, which is even more infuriating, because at least I expected this crap from Windows.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 21, 2005 8:47 PM PDT
In reply to: No fdisk

The changes seem to have upset a few people. The tools changed from DOS days.


In Windows, the GUI tool is the DRIVE or DISK MANAGEMENT you find with Start, Help and Support.

Rant if you must, but many complain before they used Start, Help and Support and asked it about FDISK.


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