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Solved How to find out Ontrack disk parameters?

December 1, 2020 at 11:10:39
Specs: DOS 3.3
I have an old 120 MB disk from DOS 3.3 era, I believe and I think I bought it in late 1990 and installed it to my old 80286 computer. The BIOS did not recognize the disk, only the first 32 megabytes of it and therefore I got the Ontrack disk management software which let me partition it to four smaller partitions. I remember choosing one of the sixteen hard drive BIOS options after which the Ontrack software chose the number of heads/sectors and the disk worked. It did work well for a number of years after being installed to a 386 computer.

I still have it and I still have the original motherboard plus the RLL connection ISA hardware but I cannot remember the parameters. So my question is: has anybody been in the same situation and solved the same problem.

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December 1, 2020 at 17:46:25
DOS 3.3 was limited to 32MB partitions:


What specific hard drive (make/model) are you inquiring about?

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

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December 1, 2020 at 18:38:04
✔ Best Answer
There was usually one ideal translation in which the bios would recognize the drive but others often worked as long as they didn't exceed the drive's actual physical parameters. First try googling the drive's model number with the word translation and see if what pops up works for you. If not, I think there was software you could run from a floppy that would identify the parameters but that may have been for a drive already working. (It's been awhile.)

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December 2, 2020 at 01:47:37
Yes, T-R-A, my question actually includes the information you provided. I asked a specific question about Ontrack.

message edited by mkvee

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December 2, 2020 at 01:55:30
Thanks, DAVEINCAPS, I will try to search using those parameters. I had no idea something like that was available. I vaguely remember the number of sectors or heads was huge, something like 4990. I could, of course, try to try out various combinations but I that would take A LOT of time :)

A quick search already revealed something. The technology seems to have an acronym: DDO. Now I have a couple of paths to follow, at least. Thanks! Something to do during my retirement days :)

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December 2, 2020 at 09:56:00
I hope it works out for you. I remember trying various cylinder, head, and sectors settings on those old MFM and RLL drives. It can be frustrating. Oh and if possible use the same controller card the drive was originally partitioned with. That's not as important with 16-bit architecture (286's, 386's) as it was with 8 bit (8086 and 8088) but I think it's best.

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