Hard drive parking.

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Hard drive parking.

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-09 @ 20:11

I remember that my first ever pc had a 40Mb hard drive that needed park command to park the heads in case you moved your computer or something. Anyone knows when hard drives started to do parking automatically when you turn off the computer and how old hard drives still would need to be parked before moving in your retro pc?
I just got recently a pc that came with a 120Mb hard drive and I started to wonder how can I know if I need to park the hard drive before I move it.

I also have other 20Mb and 40Mb hard drives stored somewhere that I have not even tested yet.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby bjwil1991 » 2018-11-09 @ 20:39

I believe it was in the early or mid 1990's when IDE or ESDI hard drives came out and did the parking automatically when the system was switched off. Nowadays, there's software for a specific system (maybe all of them nowadays) that parks the hard drive in case the desktop or laptop drops to prevent the heads from crashing or breaking.

Normally, the park command is used for either the MFM or RLL hard drives, but, I believe it depends upon the manufacturer. The old Winchester hard drives required the PARK command to be utilized to prevent the data to get lost or damaged when moving the computer.

If the info is incorrect, feel free to correct me. I grew up around IDE drives, as well as an old Hardcard (Quantum).
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby torindkflt » 2018-11-09 @ 21:37

My first Toshiba T3100 portable from 1986 had a (proprietary) MFM hard drive that automatically parked the heads after five seconds of inactivity. Regardless, it still also included a utility called SHIPTRAK that could be used to manually park the drives. I don't know if it was specific to that model of drive/system or if it was a universal utility the previous owner put on there. I still have a copy of it, but I have not yet tried it on any of my other systems with MFM drives.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-09 @ 21:44

So you would expect any ide drive even as small as 20mb or 40mb to park automatically?
I have a huge MFM drive stored with a controller card. I would love to test it some day, but I don't know if there is any chance such old hard drive works.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby brostenen » 2018-11-09 @ 22:19

Baoran wrote:So you would expect any ide drive even as small as 20mb or 40mb to park automatically?
I have a huge MFM drive stored with a controller card. I would love to test it some day, but I don't know if there is any chance such old hard drive works.


It has nothing to do with drive sizes as such. A few MFM drives had a storage capacity of "mind blowing" 120(150?)-something megabyte's. :lol:

I believe the feature is called "Autopark", and if you find the feature/spec/data-sheet online, you might be able to figure out if the drive supports it. I have never seen an IDE drive that lacked autopark. To my knowledge it is all MFM/RLL drives that need it. Yet I do remember people talking about this feature and drives being sold with autopark as a selling point, back when IDE drives was already on the market. So my memory on if it was only MFM/RLL drives or it was a few early IDE drives as well, are not really accurate. Though I have a strong believe that IDE drives had this feature from the start.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-09 @ 22:25

brostenen wrote:
Baoran wrote:So you would expect any ide drive even as small as 20mb or 40mb to park automatically?
I have a huge MFM drive stored with a controller card. I would love to test it some day, but I don't know if there is any chance such old hard drive works.


It has nothing to do with drive sizes as such. A few MFM drives had a storage capacity of "mind blowing" 120(150?)-something megabyte's. :lol:

I believe the feature is called "Autopark", and if you find the feature/spec/data-sheet online, you might be able to figure out if the drive supports it. I have never seen an IDE drive that lacked autopark. To my knowledge it is all MFM/RLL drives that need it. Yet I do remember people talking about this feature and drives being sold with autopark as a selling point, back when IDE drives was already on the market. So my memory on if it was only MFM/RLL drives or it was a few early IDE drives as well, are not really accurate. Though I have a strong believe that IDE drives had this feature from the start.


I didn't mean it would depend on the size. What I was asking was that could drives as old as when they were still selling 20mb or 40mb drives have auto parking.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby brostenen » 2018-11-09 @ 23:16

Baoran wrote:I didn't mean it would depend on the size. What I was asking was that could drives as old as when they were still selling 20mb or 40mb drives have auto parking.


I don't know. As I wrote, then it was a selling point, back in the early days of IDE drives. If it was some of the early IDE drives that had it as that "brand new" feature, or it was all IDE drives that had it hence they compared IDE vs. MFM/RLL drives. Is something I don't remember. After all, I was only a young boy at the age of 14 in 1990.

If you look at these data's of an Conner 21mb IDE drive. Then at "Read/Write and Control Electronics", it is noted that the drive has autopark features. And that is why I wrote that you need to look for the data-sheet or manual for each indevidual drive, in order to figure out if the drive has that feature.

https://stason.org/TULARC/pc/hard-drives-hdd/conner/CP-2024AT-21MB-2-5-SSL-IDE-AT.html
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby jesolo » 2018-11-09 @ 23:17

All IDE hard disk drives park their heads automatically.
Some older MFM & RLL drives required manual parking (like your Seagate ST 225 20 MB HDD) but later models (like your Seagate ST 252 43 MB HDD & Seagate ST 251-1 43 MB HDD) parked their heads automatically upon powering down.

Best way to confirm is to refer to the technical details of the particular hard drive model.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby brostenen » 2018-11-09 @ 23:27

jesolo wrote:Best way to confirm is to refer to the technical details of the particular hard drive model.


Yup.... Just to make shure that it is not some obscure drive, that does not fully comply with the standards.
Speaking of... When that was a selling point in the add's, I kind of think that they eighter tried to sell the standard as a special feature that made that drive superior. (Cough... Cough... Fruit company... Cough....) Or there were indeed IDE drives that did not fully comply with IDE standards.

Always a good idea, to RTFM. ;-) :-D
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby SW-SSG » 2018-11-09 @ 23:50

It is often a good indicator that an HDD requires manual parking before power-off, if the HDD uses a stepper motor to move the read/write heads and uses an MFM or RLL interface. There are exceptions, however; the Seagate ST-251 40MB MFM drive mentioned earlier auto-parks, while I believe the Western Digital WD93044-A 40MB IDE drive requires manual parking.

Meanwhile, I'm quite sure that any and all HDDs with voice-coil actuators instead of stepper motors, auto-park.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-10 @ 00:05

Thanks. I tried testing those old 20mb and 40mb hard drives and it seems they might use some older xt ide standard, so normal ide controllers don't seem to work or they are broken.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby 0kool » 2018-11-10 @ 17:26

I find it particularly amusing that I (as a kid in mid90s) was constantly nudged by the adults (and they were by so-called "IT professionals") to always use "park" in DOS (with 486+ machines).

It sure takes some effort to form a habit, but even more so to break it.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby brostenen » 2018-11-11 @ 01:17

0kool wrote:I find it particularly amusing that I (as a kid in mid90s) was constantly nudged by the adults (and they were by so-called "IT professionals") to always use "park" in DOS (with 486+ machines).

It sure takes some effort to form a habit, but even more so to break it.


Well... The IT teacher at my school used to tap her hand on the case of the schools new PC's, and tell us that it was such a large harddrive that was sitting there next to the computer. And then she pointed at the keyboard, because she thought that it was the computer it self.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby Matth79 » 2018-11-15 @ 01:50

If I recall, my weird ST351A/X 40MB drives have autopark, and they are perhaps the strangest drives ever...
IDE, with stepper motor (but autopark), single platter, single head, using 3 zone density - a right mix of technologies.
I used one in an old system as an alternative boot drive into Caldera DOS
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby Errius » 2018-11-15 @ 06:54

^^ I got hold of half a dozen of those a few years ago. They hadn't been used for 20+ years but were mostly still in perfect working condition.

One of them had an unusual mounting, different from the others, which meant it couldn't be installed in modern drive bays. I wondered what that was for.

ETA: This website has good pictures of the ST351A/X. Here is a side-on view of the regular drive. In my drive, those "S1" brackets were different (taller) and held the drive about an inch higher than normal. (It does fit in regular 3.5" drive bays, but occupies two slots instead of one.) What was this for?

ETA2: This unusual drive also had an 18-pin jumper block, whereas the others had 12-pin blocks.

ETA3: Found a picture of it on this website.
Last edited by Errius on 2018-11-15 @ 07:55, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Hard drive parking.

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-15 @ 07:17

Matth79 wrote:If I recall, my weird ST351A/X 40MB drives have autopark, and they are perhaps the strangest drives ever...
IDE, with stepper motor (but autopark), single platter, single head, using 3 zone density - a right mix of technologies.
I used one in an old system as an alternative boot drive into Caldera DOS


I have a 20Mb drive ST-325X that uses XT ide interface. Does it have auto parking too?
Any ideas what kind of ide controller card I would need to be able to test it?
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