EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Getting old software/games running on older hardware.

EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2015-1-20 @ 07:18

The topic of blasting through the 504 MiB BIOS / capacity barrier on very old Computer keeps popping up. I did a video on Ontrack, but this software is commercial, very hard to track down and not even available for sale.

So I have turned to EZ-Drive, specifically the Western Digital edition version 9.03W which is freely available and happens to work with non-Western Digital drives as well :)

There is also a video, but the write up below covers all the steps: http://youtu.be/8LzCB6kDVC8

I recommend using EZ-Drive when all BIOS options have failed to break the 504 MiB barrier.

The goal is to have four 2 GB partitions, which is the maximum MS-DOS 6.22 supports.

I'm using an old Acer OEM system which has a 504 MiB BIOS capacity limitation as shown below:

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I sucessfully tested this version of EZ-Drive on a 80 GB Seagate IDE, 20 GB Western Digital IDE and 4 GB Compact Flash card.

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Creating the EZ-Drive boot floppy

Download it from here: http://www.philscomputerlab.com/ez-drive.html

Put it on a floppy and start the executable:

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Setting up the BIOS

As per documentation there are three options:

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I went with the second options:

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Installing EZ-Drive

Boot from the EZ-Drive boot floppy

Select "Fully Automatic Install":

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Confirm with "YES" to delete existing data:

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Insert a MS-DOS boot disk so EZ-Drive can copy system files:

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Press a key:

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Confirm "Use These Partition Sizes":

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Here we are getting an error. This error did not appear on the CF card. I assume that it struggles with so many partitions:

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It's not a problem though. All we need to do is format the partitions manually. EZ-Drive has successfully created the partitions but was unable to format them.

The 4 GB CF card didn't throw an error and EZ-Drive formatted the partitions:

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Format partitions and install MS-DOS

Restart and boot from C:

It is crucial that you always boot from C: so that EZ-BIOS is getting loaded! If you want to boot from A: then boot from C: but hold down the CTRL key. A boot menu will appear allowing you to continue booting from A:

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Only at the very first boot you don't have to press CRTL because a different menu appears:

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Now we format all of the partitions:

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format c: /u
format d: /u
format e: /u
format f: /u

Now we have four 2 GB partitions ready to go!

Reboot the PC, press CTRL and continue booting from your MS-DOS 6.22 installation floppy to install MS-DOS 6.22 onto your machine.

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Removing EZ-Drive

Two steps are needed to remove EZ-Drive.

Under "Advanced Options" > EZ-BIOS Setup > Controlled by EZ-BIOS set to Disabled:

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Select "Uninstall EZ-BIOS":

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EZ-Drive has now been removed from your drive!
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby keropi » 2015-1-20 @ 08:17

excellent info!

I always use a retail copy of OnTrack Disk Manager , they do the same job but you also get the option to boot from a CD-ROM, even in 386/486 systems.
Tbh both programs look very similar, it wouldn't surprise me if they are based on the same core or something...
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2015-1-20 @ 08:23

keropi wrote:excellent info!

I always use a retail copy of OnTrack Disk Manager , they do the same job but you also get the option to boot from a CD-ROM, even in 386/486 systems.
Tbh both programs look very similar, it wouldn't surprise me if they are based on the same core or something...


What annoys me about OnTrack is that the company is still around but don't sell it! Looking on eBay it hardly ever comes up. So it's hard to recommend something that people have difficulty getting their hands on :dead:

Ontrack is the more capable of the two, supporting FAT32 for example. EZ-Drive seems to only support FAT, but that's fine IMO.

EDIT: A solution would be collecting all the manufacturer versions of Ontrack. Especially from Seagate and Western Digital.
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby SquallStrife » 2015-1-20 @ 11:16

philscomputerlab wrote:EDIT: A solution would be collecting all the manufacturer versions of Ontrack. Especially from Seagate and Western Digital.


Ask and ye shall receive!

http://www.vogonsdrivers.com/index.php?catid=19

If I recall correctly, I mirrored them from here http://members.shaw.ca/rinocanada/hdutils.htm because who knows how long that site will be around for.

Edit: Yeah, just checked and they are definitely from that shaw.ca site. Some of his links are broken, e.g. the Samsung brand one.
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2015-1-20 @ 12:08

Cool!

I also found some following a Spanish YouTube tutorial about Seagate Disk Manager LOL

Just created the floppy disk on a Windows 98 machine and will test it at some point. Today I'm working on a video about the GOTEK Floppy Emulator :)
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby Stiletto » 2015-1-20 @ 18:59

SquallStrife wrote:
philscomputerlab wrote:EDIT: A solution would be collecting all the manufacturer versions of Ontrack. Especially from Seagate and Western Digital.


Ask and ye shall receive!

http://www.vogonsdrivers.com/index.php?catid=19

If I recall correctly, I mirrored them from here http://members.shaw.ca/rinocanada/hdutils.htm because who knows how long that site will be around for.

Edit: Yeah, just checked and they are definitely from that shaw.ca site. Some of his links are broken, e.g. the Samsung brand one.


Dang. Should we just upload an image or two of Ultimate Boot CD (DOS) and be done with it? :)
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby NJRoadfan » 2015-1-20 @ 20:36

The 5 partition thing is likely causing problems. The MBR partitioning scheme only supports 4 "primary" partitions. This is not to be confused with "extended" partitions which is a DOS workaround to the limit.

I have run into the following problems with dynamic drive overlays, which is why I tend to avoid them:
-They store themselves at the top of the 640k barrier and reduce the total amount of conventional memory available. Some poorly coded software flips out if it detects less then 640k installed.
-They change the partition type of the drive to prevent any other machines from accessing the contents of the drive. This used to not be a problem in the Windows 9x days as you could kick start a machine with an EZDrive or Ontrack equipped floppy, but its not possible with Windows NT based OSes. This eliminates the convenience of popping a CF card into a reader on a modern machine. Also in many cases, one might inadvertently format a drive with data on it thinking its blank.
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby NJRoadfan » 2015-1-20 @ 21:01

SquallStrife wrote:Edit: Yeah, just checked and they are definitely from that shaw.ca site. Some of his links are broken, e.g. the Samsung brand one.


https://web.archive.org/web/20050829112 ... global.exe
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2015-1-21 @ 05:36

NJRoadfan wrote:This eliminates the convenience of popping a CF card into a reader on a modern machine.


I did a review of Ontrack version 9.xx a while ago, video on YT and my website, and I was expecting what you describe, but to my surprise, I could access the CF card fine on my main desktop. Note that I used Ontrack in that case to create a 32 GB FAT 32 partition on a 386. Yes it was a 32 GB CF card.

So maybe Ontrack is doing things differently.

In general accessing four FAT partitions in new machines is causing issues anyway. Under Linux all four partitions will open in a CF card reader, but Windows will just show you the first partition, not giving you access to the other three.

I will keep that fifth partition in mind for my next video :)
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby SquallStrife » 2015-1-22 @ 01:08

Stiletto wrote:Dang. Should we just upload an image or two of Ultimate Boot CD (DOS) and be done with it? :)


You don't think they should be there? AFAIK they only work with the respective brand of HDD, so they're like a driver disk in that sense.

If they are just commercial versions that were illegally available on that shaw.ca site then I can remove them.

When I made the site borrowing the VOGONS name, I did in in good faith that we are collectively OK with what's on it. If people think something shouldn't be there, or if something REALLY shouldn't be on there, I'll delete it without hesitation.
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2015-1-22 @ 01:17

SquallStrife, want to thank you for the links. Was very helpful and allowed me to get some testing done and produce some videos :)

I also only put the manufacturer OEM versions on my site. WD's DDO happens to also work with Seagate drives and both, WD's and Seagate's DDO, happen to work with Compact Flash cards.

The other versions for Maxtor, Quantum, Fujitsu and so on are cool but I won't be able to do much testing because I don't have drives from these manufacturers.

It's clear however that all of them licensed their DDO software from EZ-Drive and Ontrack. So if you know your way around a version of Ontrack and EZ-Drive, you've seen it all.

Maxtor's MaxBlast Plus and MaxBlast Plus II are based on EZ-Drive but MaxBLAST 3 is based on Ontrack.

I couldn't find anything newer from Western Digital however. Specifically with FAT32 support, so if someone knows about a newer version than 9.03W please let me know.
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby Stiletto » 2015-1-22 @ 03:19

SquallStrife wrote:
Stiletto wrote:Dang. Should we just upload an image or two of Ultimate Boot CD (DOS) and be done with it? :)


You don't think they should be there?


No, I was teasing. ;)

FWIW though, UBCD has all these free utilities and more though, and AFAIK no commercial versions...
I guess the people who use these utilities don't have CD drives?
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby SquallStrife » 2015-1-22 @ 09:22

Stiletto wrote:
SquallStrife wrote:
Stiletto wrote:Dang. Should we just upload an image or two of Ultimate Boot CD (DOS) and be done with it? :)


You don't think they should be there?


No, I was teasing. ;)

FWIW though, UBCD has all these free utilities and more though, and AFAIK no commercial versions...
I guess the people who use these utilities don't have CD drives?


Oh... ok! :blush:

I just don't want to step on any toes. I know VOGONS has a pretty long history, long before I ever signed up, and yet I went off and registered vogonsdrivers.com, and lifted the colour theme without really asking anyone. The last thing I want to do is get VOGONS in trouble by knowingly hosting something naughty.

I realise now I was confusing UBCD with Hiren's boot CD, which is (or at least was) pretty much just a bootable warez disk.
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2015-1-22 @ 10:05

philscomputerlab wrote:I couldn't find anything newer from Western Digital however. Specifically with FAT32 support, so if someone knows about a newer version than 9.03W please let me know.


Found one :)

It's Western Digital's Data Lifeguard Tools 11.2.

Also based on the same 2004 Ontrack as Seagate's DiscWizard.

Uses just one floppy, but also has a few less options.

But the main features are identical:

- FAT16 and FAT32 supprt
- Boot from CD-ROM on machines that don't support it
- Uses 10 KB more memory compared to EZ-Drive
- Very nice graphical user interface
- Needs 16 MB RAM to load

Just like Seagate's DiscWizard it happily works with CF cards but not with drives from other manufacturers.
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby Eli Duttman » 2016-1-16 @ 17:49

The link to EZ-Drive is dead. :(

This topic is of considerable interest to me, as I'm reactivating an ancient ISA bus PC. An Adaptec AHA154n SCSI controller is present. I've sourced a BIOS upgrade for the controller. However, that may not resolve the lack of INT 13H extensions support in the main BIOS.

Ontrack's software supports SCSI and I've got it on hand. Getting the BIOS overlay right may be critical to success. FWIW, I'll use either Win95 or a small footprint version of Linux as the OS.

TIA, for anything useful.



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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2016-1-16 @ 19:15

Check my website under storage!
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby Eli Duttman » 2016-1-16 @ 22:53

Thanks for replying.

IDE is not an answer. I have an IDE card, with an extended INT 13H BIOS, for the machine that failed. >:( Repairing or replacing (if even possible) that card is not cost effective.

SCSI offers several advantages, of which the ability to place the HDD in an external enclosure is particularly important. The PC in question has a very limited PSU. Only removable media drives will be in the main "box". Anything that eases the demands for "juice" helps. Also, IIRC, until PCI connected UDMA cards became available, SCSI provided the fastest HDD performance. FWIW, I have a salvaged 15000 RPM server drive for this project. At least rotational delay will be small.
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby Malvineous » 2016-1-17 @ 21:35

FYI the first IBM PC isn't really considered ancient here, so your machine is probably not that old to us :-)

Assuming finding a newer SCSI card is not possible, you could go ahead and use the small footprint version of Linux you have proposed. Linux accesses SCSI controllers directly so int13 extensions aren't needed providing the boot partition is at the start of the disk, and it will ignore any disk overlay software like Ontrack anyway. Of course native Linux only works on 386 or later machines (486 or later for recent versions), which are considered to be newer machines. If your machine really is ancient (286 or older) then you'll have to use a different port of Linux like ucLinux, which may or may not have drivers for your SCSI card (I'm not sure whether they have to port drivers separately.)
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby SquallStrife » 2016-1-18 @ 00:36

Eli Duttman wrote:However, that may not resolve the lack of INT 13H extensions support in the main BIOS.


That's the whole point of an Option ROM BIOS, to provide those services. Even in an IBM 5150 (whose system BIOS contains no fixed disk services at all), you can use XTIDE Universal BIOS in a boot ROM socket to provide INT 13h services.

The functionality used by EZ-DRIVE to do its magic is abstracted away by the SCSI controller anyway, in no way to they belong together.
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Re: EZ-Drive Dynamic Drive Overlay

Postby Eli Duttman » 2016-1-18 @ 01:44

FYI the first IBM PC isn't really considered ancient here, so your machine is probably not that old to us :-)


Agreed! Now an IBM 1401 is truly ancient. Yes, I have done 1401 programming, on a S360 in the early 1970s. :-D

The "box" in question is/was my 1st machine. It began as a Compaq model 1. PSU capability has been doubled over OEM. The original MOBO has been replaced by a passive backplane and a SBC (486) occupies 1 of 4X 16 bit ISA slots. The backplane has an 8 bit slot, intended to be used with the OEM video card/built in monitor. I bought an ATI EGA Wonder plus feature piggyback card to upgrade video. I eventually acquired a digital multi-scan monitor, in order to take advantage of the ATI board's VGA capability, which went up to 800 by 600 in 16 colors. Sadly, that monitor went missing when I moved from NYC to central NJ. In this reactivation, the 8 bit slot will hold an ethernet card. I'll use an ISA VGA card and monitor (already onhand), this time around.

The functionality used by EZ-DRIVE to do its magic is abstracted away by the SCSI controller anyway, in no way to they belong together.


Thanks! I had my suspicions and it's good to have them confirmed. I'll just have to see how the AHA154n behaves, after the ROM upgrade.

BTW, I was wrong. The salvaged server drive is "only" 10000 RPM, which should prove quite satisfactory.
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