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NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

NT WS Setup will not recognize this drive. Brand new Dell XPS 600 with 27 gb EIDE drive. Tried three different versions of FDISK and FORMAT (Dos, Win95, and Win98) per Dells "excellent" support. Got farthest with WIN98 but BSOD on first reboot. I've had problems in the past with drives > 8gb and know that NT has a prob with this. Does anyone have a good solution? Thanks!!

RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

Windows NT 4.0 has trouble recognizing drives bigger than 8GB because of the generic Atapi.sys file that comes with the installation.

Download the updated Atapi.sys from Microsoft's FTP server


and copy the file to a blank floppy disk. Run Atapi.exe on the diskette and the new Atapi.sys file will be extracted to the diskette.

Boot from the three setup disks supplied with Windows NT Server.

When asked if you would like setup to detect your mass storage devices, press S so that detection is skipped and you specify a mass storage device.

When setup list devices found, which should list <none>, press S again and insert the atapi disk and press ENTER twice.

After setup reads the disk and list the Microsoft ATAPI Service Pack 4 IDE driver, press ENTER to accept the driver.

Setup will now list Microsoft ATAPI Service Pack 4 IDE Driver as an installed driver. If you have additional drivers for other mass storage devices, press S; if not, press ENTER to continue through setup.

Setup should continue through normally but, it will prompt you to insert the disk labeled "Microsoft ATAPI Service Pack 4 IDE Driver Support Disk" at the copy phase after you have chosen or formatted a partition on a hard drive.

You are still limited to a maximum of 7.8GB on the boot partition even if the atapi file has been updated.

For more information on why go to: http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q114/8/41.ASP


John D. Saucier
Registry Backup

RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

I tried using the Microsoft ATAPI driver and it accepts the driver but still says that setup could not find a hard drive.

RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

Something else is wrong here. I have set many drives up on NT that have been greater than 8 gigs, it just limits the size of the initial volume. Is this perchance an ATA/66 drive and controller? They require special drivers to run...

Jim Collin
Collin Technologies
Consumer Technology Integration

RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

I forgot about telling you that you should check to make sure you also install the ATA drivers, or else you will run into Windows NT stop errors dealing with the mass storage problems.

John D. Saucier
Registry Backup

RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

the message from NT that it can not a hard drive is caused by not presenting NT with the new driver early enough in the installation process. This is a common situation with newer SCSI drivers and with RAID drivers. If it is that situation, as soon as "Setup is inspecting your Hardware...." appears on the screen, press F6 several times and NT will allow you install mass storage device drivers. For some drivers, its too late in the initialization sequence if you wait until NT prompts you for additional drivers.

documented SCSI problem in http://is-it-true.org/nt/utips/utips57.shtml

If this works for you, let me know so I can update my tip. Didn't know ATAPI.sys driver had similar problem.


RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

Thanks Wayne. Something I never knew :) might save some headaches in the future. Thanks alot for the info!

God's Love,

John Vogel

RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

That worked!! Thanks everyone. I had to press F6 (something I never knew) to add this driver (the Ultra/66 driver that someone at Dell finally sent to me)! If I tried to add the driver when NT prompted me for mass storage devices, it did not work. Wayne, you are right. I guess it was too late in the setup.

Thanks again Snicks2!!

RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive


What do you mean exactly? The same issue applies on a brand new PC where you are installing
NT for the first time using either the 3 boot diskettes or a bootable CD. By the time NT prompts for new mass storeage drivers (at least a subset of them), its too late. NT will not see a drive to install on. When new driver needs to be presented to NT, the F6 method is the only method I know that works.

If you mean that the updated driver could have been added to the 3 disks, can you give little more detail. I know how to add the checked versions of some of the boot files but don't have info about adding new drivers to the boot disks.


RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

With a three disk setup it prompts for the mass storage detection. It basically asks you if you want Windows NT to detect the devices, you SAY NO. Then you are presented with a list. You either select the device from the list or present Windows NT with an alternate driver.

John D. Saucier
Registry Backup

RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

thanks jsause. I believe it was the bootabe CD-Rom installs where this was required. -Wayne

RE: NT Workstation Setup on 27gb drive

This is something you should be aware of.

Although Windows NT 4.0 can in theory support partitions of up to 16 exabytes in
size using the NTFS file system, the maximum size of the system partition is
limited to 7.8 gigabytes (GB).


The system partition is defined as the partition containing the files needed for
the initial system startup. For Windows NT, the files are NTDetect.com, NTLDR,
Boot.ini, and sometimes Ntbootdd.sys.

A boot partition is defined as the partition containing the system files. For
Windows NT, this is the partition containing the %SystemRoot%\System32 folder.

The system partition and boot partition can be on the same partition or on
different partitions. Because there can be multiple operating systems installed
on a single computer, a computer can have multiple boot partitions, but a
computer has only a single system partition.

When an Intel-based computer first boots, a number of things occur that result in
the operating system being loaded and started. This process, known as the
bootstrap process, has inherent hardware and software limitations beyond which
Windows NT cannot operate. It is these limitations that prevent Windows NT 4.0
from using a partition larger than 7.8 GB as a system partition.

During the bootstrap process, the only mechanism available to Windows NT (or any
other operating system) to access the drive is a set of functions in the BIOS
known as Interrupt 13 (INT13). The INT13 functions allow low-level code to read
from and write to the drive by addressing a specific sector on the drive. When
the INT13 architecture was developed back in the early 1980s, the possibility of
multi-gigabyte hard disks was not taken into consideration. The INT13 functions
define 24 bits to describe a sector on the hard disk. This breaks down to a
maximum of 256 heads (or sides), 1024 cylinders, and 63 sectors. With these
numbers, only 256*1024*63 (or 16,515,072) sectors can be used with INT13
functions. At a standard 512 bytes per sector, this is 8,455,716,864 bytes, or
approximately 7.8 GB. Note that for most modern drives, the computer's BIOS must
support some form of sector translation for the BIOS functions to address the
first 7.8 GB of disk space. The BIOS in virtually all modern computers supports
"Logical Block Addressing," which allows INT13 functions to address the first
7.8 GB of drive space independent of the drive's physical geometry.

The INT13 functions are the only means available to the operating system to gain
access to the drive and system partition until the operating system loads
additional drivers that allow it to gain access to the drive without going
through INT13. Therefore, Windows NT 4.0 cannot use a system partition larger
than 7.8 GB. In fact, the entire system partition must be entirely within the
first 7.8 GB of the physical disk. Windows NT can use a 7.8-GB system partition
only if the partition begins at the start of the physical drive.

NOTE: Partitions other than the system partition are not affected by the these

Other operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2,
Microsoft Windows 98, and Microsoft Windows 2000, can boot from larger
partitions because these operating systems were written after the computer
industry defined a new standard for BIOS INT13 functions (the "INT13
extensions") and implemented this new functionality on manufactured
motherboards. Because Windows NT 4.0 was written before this new standard was
invented, Windows NT 4.0 is unaware of this new technology and is unable to use
its features.

When you are installing Windows NT 4.0, you can create a system partition with a
maximum size of 4 GB. This occurs because Setup first formats the partition
using the FAT file system. If you want to use an NTFS partition, the partition
is converted to NTFS after the first reboot. The FAT file system has a file
system limitation (unrelated to any BIOS limitations) of 4 GB. When you perform
an unattended installation, use of the ExtendOEMPartition directive in an
Unattend.txt file can expand the system partition to a maximum of 7.8 GB.

In the future, additional limitations may come into play as well. Although the
NTFS file system can address 16 exabytes of disk space in a single partition,
current disk-partitioning schemes store partition information in structures that
limit partitions to 2^32 sectors, or 2 terabytes, in size. The ATA hardware
interface uses 28-bit addressing, which supports drives that are 2^24 sectors,
or 137 GB, in size. These limitations may apply to partitions other than the
system partition as well.

Note that file system limitations and hardware limitations exist independently of
each other, and the most restrictive of the two is the determining factor in the
maximum partition size. Another factor to consider when you are troubleshooting
partitioning problems is that hard disk manufacturers often use "decimal
megabytes" (1 megabyte = 1,000,000 bytes), whereas Windows NT uses "binary
megabytes" (1 megabytes = 1,048,576 bytes). Using both definitions of a megabyte
in calculations can often account for "lost" disk space. Also, this article
assumes a sector size of 512 bytes in all calculations. Although a 512-byte
sector has become a de facto industry standard, it is possible that disk
manufacturers could produce drives with a different sector size. This would
result in a corresponding change in partition limits. Partitions are based on
cylinder, head, and sector calculations, not on byte calculations. Therefore, a
change in bytes per sector causes a change in bytes per partition.

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