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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk BIOS and Capacity Factors | Overcoming BIOS Disk Size Barriers ]

Manually Entering Drive Geometry Parameters

Some drive problems associated with older size barriers and drives that are small by today's standards, can be avoided simply by avoiding the use of BIOS hard disk autodetection and entering drive parameters manually. Yes, I know, I am always saying to use autodetection. I do think it is the best way for most people to set up their drives--assuming their BIOS is new enough and supports the drives being used.

In some cases, for example, where the BIOS wraps around when the disk is too large, you can get around the problem by manually entering the maximum parameters that your disk can support. Let's suppose that you have a 540 MB hard disk that your old 486 system is choking on. The drive has 1048 (logical) cylinders, 16 heads and 63 sectors per track. If you manually set the disk up in your BIOS as having 1023 cylinders, 16 heads and 63 sectors per track, it will probably work fine, but as a 528 MB disk. You still get the use of 97% of the disk.

Note that this technique will be of no help for modern systems with large drives; for example, it will do nothing to get around larger size barriers such as the 8 GB barrier.

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