VOGONS


First post, by Saidian

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Got most of the components nailed down in my head for my first retro system (Pentium 3 1000EB, 512mb RAM, Geforce 4 Ti4200) but after doing a bit of reading about storage and limitations on Windows 98 I could do with some advice regarding what hard drive would be appropriate.

I'd like to have as much storage and speed as I can while still having high compatibility and without having to do too much black magic to get it all working. I know the mainboard matters when answering a question like this, I'll be using a DFI CS61-EC. In case it needs knowing I've got quite a lot of games to install and while most run in Windows a few of my childhood favourites run in DOS.

While I was playing games on PC in the late 90's I didn't build my first PC till 2006 so any help would be much appreciated 😀

Reply 1 of 10, by Cuttoon

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IIRC, many bios of that era still had a limitation to hard drives up to 120 GB. But that should be plenty and easy to find for very little money.
There are pretty good 120 GB Seagate Barracuda with 7200 rpm but 80 GB pieces are even more abundant.
Or a cheap SSD with sata adapter.
Apart from that, it should be rather trivial. AFAIK, FAT32 is supposed to handle partitions up to 2 TB.
If you go with a conventional one, better cut it in two or more partitions. It helps if the core OS has its own that is quick to defrag.

I like jumpers.

Reply 2 of 10, by Tetrium

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If you want as much storage space as possible without needing to, for instance, add in more controller cards (for SCSI or SATA or whatever you can get working), you can add 2 HDDs for a max capacity of 240GB if regarding the 120GB BIOS limit.
Don't forget to use an ATA133 cable then 😋

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Reply 3 of 10, by Saidian

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Cuttoon wrote on 2022-06-09, 19:29:
IIRC, many bios of that era still had a limitation to hard drives up to 120 GB. But that should be plenty and easy to find for v […]
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IIRC, many bios of that era still had a limitation to hard drives up to 120 GB. But that should be plenty and easy to find for very little money.
There are pretty good 120 GB Seagate Barracuda with 7200 rpm but 80 GB pieces are even more abundant.
Or a cheap SSD with sata adapter.
Apart from that, it should be rather trivial. AFAIK, FAT32 is supposed to handle partitions up to 2 TB.
If you go with a conventional one, better cut it in two or more partitions. It helps if the core OS has its own that is quick to defrag.

So Windows 98 won't complain if I slap a 80gb or 120gb drive in?

Also regarding partitions, is it as simple as making them before installing the drive and then pointing the installer to the one I want the OS to be on? How large should the OS partition be?

Just asking the super simple stuff so I have it all rolling around in my head 😜

Reply 4 of 10, by Cuttoon

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Pretty sure. Win98 uses FAT32, which has several shortcomings when compared to NTFS, the Win NT file system of Win 2k and XP. But, it is way more advanced than FAT16 of DOS 6.22.

Nowadays you could simply prepare the thing on a modern PC via some USB adapter or drive bay. Or on the same machine using more modern means like gparted from a live CD, if the things will boot from CD.
But doing it old school can't hurt.

There's a helpful page on the issue by Phil:
https://www.philscomputerlab.com/windows-98-m … e-capacity.html

Win98 will only ever install on the one primary partition, usually C:

To install Win9x from CD, you need a boot floppy with CD drivers. Alternatively, you can prepare things on a modern machine, maybe format the first partition as bootable and dump the CD content on D: in a folder like "wincd" and then start "setup" from there. That way, it will install quickly from there and never ask for the CD for driver updates, etc., as it remembers the path.

No expert on Win9x, but a C: partition of 8 to 32 GB could suffice and will keep the cluster size low.
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/def … 8f-73169155af95
(any small file or the last bits of its data will use at least one cluster, so, e.g. a bunch of 10 kB file with 32 kB clusters would waste 22 kB each, but that's rather academic.)
It depends on what you want: Having only the OS files on their own partition allows you to defrag that data quickly and frequently, keeping the boot time low. You could do the same for all the game files all the time, it just will take quite long.

As Tetrium writes, nothing will keep you from installing four HDDs on a standard enhanced IDE controller. You could still use a CD-ROM drive via some sound card IDE port then.
But even a single 120 GB one, you'll be having a hard time filling it as long as you don't plan on using Steam or hoarding every single game up to 2002 with dumping the CD image.
Cable should indeed be "ATA-66" or "UDMA-66", those are the ones with 80 thin wires instead of 40. The older ones would reduce transfer speed to 33 MB/s which would actually bottleneck some later drives.
Have fun!

I like jumpers.

Reply 5 of 10, by Saidian

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Yeh I don't really have any plan to put anything higher than 120gb in the system, 80gb would be fine.
I've got a whole bunch of games from the period lined up along with about 5 from later years that will just about work on 98. Gonna program some original games for fun but unless I use tons of mp3 or wav files I doubt that'll take much space (more likely to use midis tbh).

Btw what do you mean about the cable should be ATA66? Tetrium said ATA133 didn't they?

Reply 7 of 10, by Cuttoon

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Saidian wrote on 2022-06-10, 03:20:

Btw what do you mean about the cable should be ATA66? Tetrium said ATA133 didn't they?

The step to the later cable was at 66. Controllers went up to 133, but with the same cable. Only those two types around, the 40 and the 80 wire.

I like jumpers.

Reply 8 of 10, by dormcat

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Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-06-10, 03:26:

You should go with the 80-wire IDE cable overall. Both ATA-66 and ATA-133 are just IDE data transfer speeds.

Seconded. Use 80-wire cable whenever possible, unless you must connect a vintage device with #20 male pin still exists, as late era (UDMA capable) IDE devices often have #20 male pin removed and female 80-wire cable without corresponding #20 receptacle.

Reply 9 of 10, by Saidian

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Well I basically have the info I need, being able to use a 80gb HDD without doing anything beyond the norm during install is a relief.

I'm wondering now about what Dosbox frontend is good to use on Win98 but I guess that's another thread 😜

Reply 10 of 10, by Tetrium

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Saidian wrote on 2022-06-10, 05:15:

Well I basically have the info I need, being able to use a 80gb HDD without doing anything beyond the norm during install is a relief.

I'm wondering now about what Dosbox frontend is good to use on Win98 but I guess that's another thread 😜

Good luck 🙂

Personally I went with smaller drives mostly because I needed the bigger (and usually much more expensive!) drives for my XP rigs. Of course now we're 10+ years later, so this handicap doesn't really exist anymore like it did back then.

Yes, it's an 80p cable (basically the same 40 wires but between each ordinary wire theres an additional ground wire which makes 80 wires total) which is designed to reduce cross-talk which would otherwise cause data corruption when used at higher transfer rates.
I used to call the 80p cables ATA133 cables because that's how they were often labeled as back when I was still learning how to build computers and that name kinda stuck 😋

Whats missing in your collections?
My retro rigs (old topic)
Interesting Vogons threads (links to Vogonswiki)
Report spammers here!