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The Holmes Page THE SOAP BOX 1997/04/23



1997/04/23: The Hard Disk Shuffle   Earlier, I had a problem with one of my machines running Windows for Workgroups (WfW). Well, recently I upgraded the machine to Windows NT 4 Server. It is now a 486 with 16MB of RAM and a 420MB Seagate SCSI hard disk. A pretty "weak" machine, eh? 
This machine was using an old 40MB IDE drive, which was fine for WfW since the data files were stored on other machines anyway. Needless to say, NT wasn't going to fit! 
I bought a Fujitsu 2.1GB EIDE hard disk for this machine, but the BIOS on the motherboard (AMIBIOS 486SLC ISA BIOS 1992) did not support such a large drive. Of course, the Fujitsu came with Disk Manager software, but I didn't want to use it. I don't like little extra bits of software controlling my hardware, especially something as critical as a hard disk. 
Upgrading the BIOS seemed to be a good idea. A visit to AMI's BIOS site set me straight, though. It seems that I would have to go directly to the motherboard manufacturer, but the only clues to the identity of the company were the letters "RYC" and the word "Leopard". A search on the Internet revealed nothing but a lot of "Royal Yacht Clubs" that had wild cats for mascots. 
AMI offers a product called "Hard Drive BIOS Upgrade", which is an ISA bus card that overlays the portion of the BIOS that handles the hard disk. This means that you can leave the old BIOS in and just plug in the AMI card -- assuming that you have an empty slot. 
Sounds like a good idea, but this card would cost me about CA$100, while a new motherboard (which would be PCI with room for more memory and a built-in EIDE controller) would cost about $140. It doesn't seem quite right. I would probably be happy to pay about $45 for the add-in card, but no more. 
I thought "forget the BIOS, change the drive". So I took the 420MB SCSI drive out of my main machine (where it was acting as drive D:) and put the new 2.1GB Fujitsu EIDE in its place. Then I put the SCSI drive in the NT server. I basically swapped them. My main machine has a more up-to-date BIOS, so it can handle the larger IDE drive. 
I will soon be replacing the 420MB SCSI drive in the NT server with a larger SCSI drive (surprise, surprise!). This will work fine because the SCSI controller handles the larger disks by bypassing the limitations in the BIOS. Sounds like the AMI add-in card, doesn't it?

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