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Is there a maximum hard drive size with Windows 98?

by glb613 / May 8, 2005 10:13 AM PDT

My Mother has a old computer running Windows 98. It has been running poorly, I ran a diagnostic test and the hard drive is failing which doesn't surprise me. I want to replace the hard drive. Is there a size limit that Windows 98 will support? Is so, what is it? Thanks.

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by damasta55r / May 8, 2005 11:04 AM PDT


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by damasta55r / May 8, 2005 11:07 AM PDT

that was max for XP or something the other. Windows 98 has a max of 64GB and windows 98SE 137GB. A decent 20GB should do if you're using still windows 98.

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(NT) Thanks
by glb613 / May 8, 2005 11:21 AM PDT
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The limit is 127GB or 137GB depending on how you count bytes
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 8, 2005 9:36 PM PDT documents the issues.

The 64MB "LIMIT" is only for those that didn't download a patched up FDISK from Microsoft. The patched FDISK extended the "LIMIT" to double that size. That's not an entirely accurate answer. FDISK does work on 120GB drives fine. Just the display is misleading. All explained at the download site of FDISK as well as the site.

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The size of the drive doesn't matter
by TONI H / May 8, 2005 10:35 PM PDT

(as long as the motherboard can support large drives and isn't limited all by itself)'s actually the size of the partitions you create that are limited.

I have a couple of 250GB drives using W98SE FAT32 and as long as I have limited the partitions to about 125GB each, it went in just fine.

Be aware though that the FORMAT command will report numbers way out of whack for each partition.....ignore that, continue with the format of each partition, and once you hit the desktop, Windows reports the sizes correctly.


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Failing Windows 98 computer.
by evargasr38 / May 13, 2005 9:59 AM PDT

You did not mention the type of processor and motherboard you have. But since it is old and you are running Windows 98 I will presume it is a Pentium I. In any case the important thing for you to know is that the BIOS in your motherboard is the one that limits the useable size of the hard disk.
A little explanation : whuen you boot and enter setup, there is no operating system working yet, but your bios which is what is running detects the characteristics of your hard disk among other things. As time has gone bye there have been several limits I remember 500 Mb, 800 Mb, 2Gb. I am not up to date in this issue.
There are programs the are loaded before the Operating Sustem and fool the bios so thet your system can "see" larger drives.
I have not seen a bad hard disk since the early 80's. May I suggest that you first reformat your disk and reinstal the Operating System and other software and the retest your drive ?
I wish you success in your enterprise.
One last thought. How about getting a new Pentium 4 with a 17 or 19 in. Flat Panel LCD screen and a large hard disk ?

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by kevinthefixer / May 13, 2005 10:10 PM PDT

I once ran a Pentium II system with an 80GB HD on Windows 98SE (if you have 98 first release, I wouldn't even bother until you have an updated OS). It worked just fine except that I couldn't update Internet Explorer; that limited the applications I could use.

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Never heard of that
by TONI H / May 13, 2005 10:30 PM PDT
In reply to: Caution!

The size of the harddrive shouldn't have anything to do with whether you can update sounds more like there was a configuration issue (perhaps an activeX control not installed properly) that was needed for the update center.


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by Liriks / June 9, 2005 8:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Caution!

I know Internet Explorer is full of cute little tidbits of annoying creatures that lurk inside of it, bound to jump out at you any second with an invalid page fault or something or other, but I've never heard of anything like that.

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by GBTrevor / May 16, 2005 9:00 PM PDT

Do not forget some older PC's had a limit in the BIOS. Most BIOS's have an update for higher capacity HD's.
I cannot remember the usual BIOS limitations, but something like 8Gb, then 30Gb, then 80Gb, the 130Gb.

Hope this helps along with the previous posts.


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Can Pentium III BIOS detect 160GB Hardisks?
by michi-cdmr / September 19, 2006 2:42 PM PDT
In reply to: BIOS

Hi everyone,

This might be a useless question but I wanted to double confirm something.

Recently my office hardisk (40GB) crashed with bad sectors and when I tried to order a new one they only have 160GB because the less capacities are obsolete.

Since it can detect a 40BG, will it be able to detect a 160BG?

The motherboard is ASUS P3BF Motherboard, if not mistaken.

Unfortunately the store doesn't allow a refund if the hardisk is not compatible. I have another 160BG with 80GB partition but they are both formatted in NTFS. I am not sure whether the Win98 can detect those partitions or not.

Please advice?

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The 160GB drive will be all of 127GB in WIndows 98.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 19, 2006 9:30 PM PDT

It won't be 160GB and this will upset such buyers. Go get the 120GB so you sidestep this issue.

Fully explained at


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Smaller partitions?
by michi-cdmr / September 20, 2006 12:04 AM PDT

What about I partition it to smaller ones into Fat32? Will it be able to read the 160GB in bios then?

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Have you read yet?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 20, 2006 12:13 AM PDT
In reply to: Smaller partitions?

You asked me questions that have answers there.

If you can't use reference material I best tell you I don't duplicate web content.

1. If your BIOS notes 160GB that's good news.
2. What happens next is at the web site.
3. At least you'll get 127GB.
4. The hard disk maker may have workarounds but that's also noted at the web site.

Ask me something not on the site.


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About 48bitlba
by michi-cdmr / September 20, 2006 1:48 AM PDT

I am not very familiar with this, but is this a special chipset?

I was kind of blur reading it...

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Not a chipset issue.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 20, 2006 2:05 AM PDT
In reply to: About 48bitlba

To move past 127GB the LBA was increased to 48 bits wide.

Since you are going to use an old OS, my best advice is to get the 120GB drive.


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Link Rot
by J_P_Colirail / December 9, 2014 9:36 AM PST

Well, it seems that link no longer works.

What a surprise! (sarcasm)

Considering almost 9 years have past, chances are that the link would no longer work, which is indeed the case. Such phenomenon is known as 'link rot' where over time, the destination address of hyperlinks becomes invalid, leaving holes in posts with only raw references such as this one.

I would have thought you would have had some consideration for the people of the future that might stumble across your post, and taken the time to at least reiterate the information on the website you linked instead of just merely providing the refernce.

But alas, that information is now lost.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 9, 2014 9:57 AM PST
In reply to: Link Rot

Could you volunteer a few hours a day to go through as many posts as you can and update with current information? I haven't been back here for a very very long time. I wished you had waited a few more days so it would have been a decade even.

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48bit LBA
by otr_man / December 12, 2014 6:39 PM PST
In reply to: Link Rot
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Check BIOS!!
by Earth9111 / June 8, 2005 9:53 PM PDT

BIOS Limitations

33.8-Gbyte Limitation

If your drive is greater than 33.8 Gbytes, your system BIOS may freeze or lockup at Power On Self Test (POST). If the BIOS does not freeze, it may show the wrong capacity for the drive. Similar to the 8.4 Gbyte limit above, there are three methods to overcome this limitation:


A third party device driver such as DiscWizard Starter Edition (DiscWizard Starter Edition is provided on the DiscWizard diskette included with your drive)

An intelligent ATA Host Adapter (e.g., Promise Technology)

A system BIOS upgrade (contact the system BIOS manufacturer)

Reminder: If the system BIOS can display the full capacity of your drive, a FAT32 file allocation system (i.e., Win95 OSR2, Win98, WinMe) or an NTFS file allocation system (e.g., WinNT) is required to show partition sizes over 2.1 Gbytes.

8.4-Gbyte Limitation

If your drive is larger than 8.4 Gbytes, the capacity may exceed the limits of your system BIOS and operating system. Most system BIOSs cannot support ATA drives this large. DOS and Windows operating systems limit the drive capacity to 8.4 Gbytes per physical drive and 2 Gbytes per partition. Because of these limitations, a 32-bit file allocation table (FAT32) is required to acheive full capacity of your drive, beyond 8.4 Gbytes. To acheive full capacity of your drive, you will need BIOS support for drives greater than 8.4 Gbytes and a Windows operating system that supports FAT32. This support is available by way of the following methods:


A third party device driver, such as DiscWizard Starter Edition (DiscWizard Starter Edition is provided on the DiscWizard diskette included with your drive)

An intelligent ATA Host Adapter

A system BIOS upgrade

Invalid BIOS Information

Some computers have a BIOS that may display invalid information in the CMOS. This issue may show up in one of two ways:


The CMOS will display invalid drive parameters. However, the BIOS is translating the drive correctly.

The CMOS will display the drive parameters and capacity correctly. However, the BIOS is not translating the drive correctly.

To ensure your drive is translated to its full capacity, you will need to check the actual drive size. This can be done when creating partitions on the drive.

6322 Cylinder (3.27-Gbyte) Limitation

Some computers have a BIOS that does not properly handle a cylinder value over 6322. If you are in the CMOS attempting to set the cylinder value higher than 6322 (for a 3.27 Gbyte+ drive) and your computer hangs, your computer may have a BIOS with this limitation. To by pass the limitation, you have two options:


Set the cylinder value to 1024 or less and use Ontrack's DiscWizard Starter Edition to provide support for the whole drive.

Contact your computer manufacturer for a BIOS upgrade

4096 Cylinder (2.1-Gbyte) Limitation

Some computers have a BIOS that does not properly deal with the "13th bit". The 13th bit is needed to provide support for a drive having 4096 or more cylinders. The chart below displays the corresponding cylinder values in decimal, hex, and binary values.
Decimal Hex Binary Size
1023 = 3FF = 10 bits = 528 Mbytes
2047 = 7FF = 11 bits = 1.0 Gbytes
4095 = FFF = 12 bits = 2.1 Gbytes
8191 = 1FFF = 13 bits = 4.2 Gbytes
16383 = 3FFF = 14 bits = 8.4 Gbytes

If you have added a new drive and your system locks right after turning the

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For Earth9111
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 8, 2005 10:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Check BIOS!!

While everyone appreciates your work at posting this, please consider the forum policy the forbids wholesale copies of other people's work into posts.

Please write in your words a synopsis and supply the link to the full text.

The second rule you broke is you didn't give credit to the original website or author from which you copied this.

Again, your post stands, but please try to follow the policies.


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Thanks Earth9111
by unbent55 / October 3, 2006 11:23 PM PDT

I did not care where the info came from but it helped, Thanks again

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size does not matter
by ebeken / October 14, 2006 3:30 AM PDT

windows 98 can take as much as you throw at it as long as u have enough sockets on the ribbon belt although this will make it slower

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my best advice is to get the 120GB drive
by 8086 / September 1, 2007 3:14 AM PDT
In reply to: size does not matter

The best advice you can give is not to use a smaller drive, but use a PCI hard drive controller card that will handle all LBA addressing or a special add in card that was made to override the BIOS HDD limitation, though I cannot remember where to find one.

Alternatively, you could get a custom engineered bios from Mr.Bios. Contact them and they will try to sell you a new BIOS for $80 or so, tell the salesman that you can get a new motherboard for less than the price of the BIOS offer and that its not a good deal. They will ask you for your personal information, give it to them. Refuese their first offer and they may try to offer you a second one at a lower price; ignore that one too. After several failed attempts for the salesman to make a sale you end the call with out having purchased the BIOS. Now, just sit back and wait a few weeks for them to call you back with an even lower offer, ignore that too and they will call back again with an even lower offer. Keep acting like it's too expensive and that you aren't interested due to the high price. until the price comes down to $30-40.

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98 and large hard drives
by inachu / September 5, 2007 11:07 PM PDT

You will do fine with a 120 gig hard drive.

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laptop which will run with windows 98 and other system
by raji_champdani / April 10, 2009 12:11 PM PDT

I want to buy a laptop with will run with windows 98 and other operation system, because I have to run tally 4.5 on that machine.
please say me how to run on tally4.5 on windows Xp or on other operationg system

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Just hints.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 10, 2009 12:44 PM PDT

Install Microsoft's Virtual PC on that new machine. Run Windows 98 there.

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