Reading really old (CHS geometry) hard drives

KSB

Junior Member
Dec 29, 2006
3
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Hi all,

I've got a 130MB (yes that's not a typo: MB not GB!) IDE Seagate hard drive that I need to recover around 75MB of data off. It's in an old Amstrad 9486 PC running MS-DOS 6.2.

I tried hooking it up to an IDE to USB adapter connected to my Dell E6410 laptop but Windows 10 only sees a RAW partition and not the MS-DOS formatted (FAT?) partition that's clearly there and works on the old PC.

The idea is to copy the disk contents onto something a bit newer so the legacy programs on it can still be run on alternative hardware just in case the old PC/hard drive dies. Replacements for the programs aren't on the horizon yet.

And before you say it, there are no USB ports, CD drive or ethernet ports available on this machine. Only a parallel and a serial port. But I'd rather mount the HD on another machine and copy off than buy/mess with a Parnet or null modem cable etc.

On a side note it was amazing seeing the 25MHz 486 SX processor in this PC running without even a heatsink let alone a case fan and it was barely even warm to touch.

The noisiest components in the whole machine are the AT PSU fan and the rather loud whine of the Seagate HD! Apart from that the build quality of the case, motherboard and other components is striking. This thing was built to last! Just the hard drive cage on its own feels heavier than some mid ATX cases available nowadays.
It's been on 24/7 for at least 19 years as far I can figure and it just soldiers on!
 
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VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
56,339
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You might need to source a mobo with a real IDE port, and a BIOS that supports CHS translation in the BIOS. (A 386/486/Pentium board should do). I don't know if a Socket939 / NF4 board would work, but that might be easier to obtain.
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
6,655
2,041
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You might need to source a mobo with a real IDE port, and a BIOS that supports CHS translation in the BIOS. (A 386/486/Pentium board should do). I don't know if a Socket939 / NF4 board would work, but that might be easier to obtain.

I did exactly this two days ago with my 540mb Quantum drive from 486-66dx machine. I had gotten a virus so I popped it into my 8.1 system and scanned it with Malwerwbytes.
 

KSB

Junior Member
Dec 29, 2006
3
0
0
Think I may have some old machines lying in the shed (was about to recycle them too!). Early Pentium 4's though - might not be early enough.
Now if only I can convince the dude who's machine it is to let me borrow it for a bit to try it out...
 

TheELF

Diamond Member
Dec 22, 2012
3,973
730
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I tried hooking it up to an IDE to USB adapter connected to my Dell E6410 laptop but Windows 10 only sees a RAW partition and not the MS-DOS formatted (FAT?) partition that's clearly there and works on the old PC.

As long as it shows up you can use testdisk advanced tools to see the files and copy them over,in fact you can use any file recovery software that supports fat(pretty much everyone does) it will be much simpler than setting up a virtual machine with installed DOS and ftp or iso burning software so you can copy them over.
 

Mike64

Platinum Member
Apr 22, 2011
2,108
101
91
Not a direct answer to your question, but have you considered installing an IDE CD burner in the old machine? Seems like you can find even new/old stock pretty cheap, and then you'll also have the drive in that machine for however much longer it lasts as a "bonus", however minor...