advice for Retro Rigs

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Re: advice for Retro Rigs

Postby kasper21 » 2019-10-15 @ 14:23

Hey guys, I am still not decided on a good, decently fast and safe storage option...
the current HDD is terrible and very small for all the stuff I plan to put in it. (a Seagate Medalist 2GB and it is literally A TRACTOR when it comes to noise, I had old HDDs before but this one is grinding non stop... even in Idle sometimes... also its super slow and has some bad sectors on it as well, so will swap it for sure.. )

I ordered a SATA to IDE adapter ( the cheap kind that you put behind a SATA drive and outputs into IDE) but I can't decide on what option should I use after due to compatibility ...
SATA SSDs are definitely superior and smaller and quieter but from what I read, socket 7 motherboards can only take 8gb and Win95 can take a max of 32gb ..
So any drive I will plug in will just scale down to the 8gb size, correct ? if it's a 120gb SSD I will loose almost all of the storage on it and just have a small portion.
Does anyone have any advice for this? are there any SAFE ways of bypassing that limit ? without danger of data corruption.. has anyone succeeded doing with stable results over time ?
If I do get an SSD, i think i have to plug it on another PC first and format it in FAT32, right? and use some disk partitioning software because the Windows dropdown doesn't show FAT32 on SSDs.. only NTFS and exFAT..

What do you guys use for storage on your personal Socket7 rigs? will SSDs behave differently than HDDs on socket 7 mbs ?

I just want something that I will setup and run long term without problems or noise or slow speeds, since my rig will require lots of tweaking and installing all those programs I want.. i really don't want to do it regularly... I have no problem using 1 modern piece of hardware on it, if it comes to just safe reliable storage..
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Re: advice for Retro Rigs

Postby SirNickity » 2019-10-15 @ 20:56

OK, there are two limits that will affect how much space is available. The first is the BIOS. This matters during the boot process, and for OSes that rely on the BIOS to enumerate volumes. The second is OS-level 48-bit LBA support. Even some OSes that support LBA-48 will actually use a 32-bit integer internally, so you might see lower limits than you should. (But that really only applies to pretty big disks, so not likely to be an issue for Win95 PCs.)

If the BIOS limits your disk (I definitely have S7 boards that permit more than 8GB), then you need to make sure you keep your boot volume within its limit. Your "D: drive" or whatever can be beyond that, if the OS is 100% reliant on its own drivers for disk access.

You do NOT need to format the disk on another PC. You will only be able to format what the PC can see from the pre-installation environment, so you might be stuck with DOS limits. But, if you use a Windows boot disk with DOS 7+, then you'll have FAT32 and large disk support. Again, it's probably a good idea to stick to a volume that the boot disk can manage anyway, just for safety sake -- so there's no disadvantage to formatting it there.

SSDs are indeed often larger than older computers can handle. You can minimize that by getting a 120GB SSD, which will be cheap and within the common 147GB limit for example. Or, go with an SD-to-IDE converter instead, since 16GB to 64GB SDs are still easy to find. Be aware that some SD-IDE adapters top out at 32GB. OK for older PCs, not so great for last-gen IDE hosts.

You could also go hybrid, with a spinning disk for C: and a solid-state disk for D:. Disks started getting quieter around the 10-20GB range. The Seagate U-series disks (the ones wrapped in black foam) are good, as are the fluid bearing Barracudas that followed.
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Re: advice for Retro Rigs

Postby oeuvre » 2019-10-17 @ 13:09

You can use SCSI HDs, get a 4GB Compact Flash card + CF to IDE adapter, use older hard drives... there are options
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Re: advice for Retro Rigs

Postby chinny22 » 2019-11-06 @ 17:36

As you already have the Sata to IDE converter I would try that first. The benefit of these are no drivers needed as far as the PC and windows knows its a standard IDE drive. Negative is still limited to the motherboard BIOS limit (8GB?) Just plug in a large disk and see what BIOS comes up with and you'll find the limit more or less.

You could also get a PCI Sata card, main negative is you would need to find one with Win95 support. Main positive is this is non longer limited by your BIOS.
SCSI is basically the same as this but with period correct hardware, its also expensive and spinning disks are noisy.

Personally I do the "hybrid" setup as SirNickity said. Physical IDE drive as c:\ for windows and something more modern as d:\ for games. In my case usually a IDE to CF card setup. Which can be swapped out when needed.
IDE to SD card would be just the same.

As for Windows limits, Win95 OSR2 and above (the ones that support Fat32) are limited to to 128GB due to the inbuilt IDE driver. You can get unofficial drivers to get round this.
Your also better off keeping the boot partition below 32GB as the inbuilt tools can corrupt larger partitions. This 32GB doenst effect any other partition though.
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Re: advice for Retro Rigs

Postby oeuvre » 2019-11-07 @ 13:50

everyone should ditch linux, macOS, windows 7 or greater for windows 95
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Re: advice for Retro Rigs

Postby foil_fresh » 2019-11-08 @ 06:43

SirNickity wrote:CF vs HDD is a religious debate. IMO, it's not retro if it doesn't have a hard disk, but either gets the job done, and even I'll admit that when you're listening to bearings fail and watching Scandisk count clusters going bad, flash does have some kind of appeal.


CF came out in 1994 and i'm sure it would have just been one of those premium options for PCs back then if you had the cash to buy the drives/adapters, and even more common in business laptops. an 8gb spinning drive in 1999 would have been far less expensive than a 512mb CF card at the same time (right?).

I'm using CF in my P166 MMX rig, the processor came out in '97, motherboard and video cards in '98. In 1998, the movie enemy of the state, character daniel zavitz is using CF in his computer to back up video files of a murder he catches on tape which he gives to will smith's character. CF is retro! :dead: :dead: :lol: SD and SSD not so much (but i say use 'em if you got 'em)
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Re: advice for Retro Rigs

Postby foil_fresh » 2019-11-08 @ 07:51

kasper21 wrote:Hey guys, I am still not decided on a good, decently fast and safe storage option...


you never know when an ide controller is going to die, and whne it's dying, you may not have crc checking and you will find out that your data is corrupting too late.

make sure you never keep anything mission-critical on the old pc. keep your installs, isos, driver packs on another hard drive, backed up to elsewhere. i have 3 locations, locally on my main pc, backed up to my nas, which is all copied to my usb 500gb (formatted in 7 x fat32 partitions and a large ntfs partition) for easy access on any pc.


i have a 16GB CF card sitting in my p166MMX machine and i copy files to it using a 500gb usb drive partitioned with fat32 volumes. no corruptions or errors yet. used it for a year on the socket 7 system. definitely using more than 120gb of space. i run all ISOs mounted with daemon direct from the USB drive. there is definitely enough bandwidth for it to run nicely. the limiting factors are the processor and the ata33 bus.

good luck with the builds!
P1 166MHz / Voodoo Banshee / HOT591-p / AWE64
P3 667 MHz / SY-7VBA / Voodoo 3000 / SB Live!
Athlon XP 2200+ / SL-75FRN2-L / Radeon 9600 XT / Fortissimo Gamesurround III 7.1
P4 3.2GHz / 648FX-A2 / Geforce 6800 GT / SB Audigy
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Re: advice for Retro Rigs

Postby SirNickity » 2019-11-08 @ 20:03

foil_fresh wrote:CF came out in 1994 and i'm sure it would have just been one of those premium options for PCs back then if you had the cash to buy the drives/adapters, and even more common in business laptops. an 8gb spinning drive in 1999 would have been far less expensive than a 512mb CF card at the same time (right?).

I remember having a select few USB thumb drives in stock at a computer store I worked at, circa 2001 or so. Capacities were small... 32MB to 128MB, IIRC... but I could be off by a power of 2. They were so expensive, I would look at our little display rack with maybe half a dozen items and think, "nobody's going to buy these things..." Very few people did, until a year or two later when you could actually get them at prices that started to approach the threshold of a luxury impulse buy.
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