View Full Version : 5150 Hard Drive Issue

April 9th, 2006, 03:41 PM
My 5150 has a hard drive issue...like "bad sectors"....wont let me format it. So, The question of the day is....can I switch hard drives with out running into major problems? It currently has a seagate 225 in it and I have at least 4 identical that I salvaged for"A rainy day"...and its raining today!!


April 9th, 2006, 03:45 PM
Standard advice follows:

- Backup data.
- Low-level format
- DOS format

The drive might not be going bad .. it's ancient technology, and the electronics drift. If something is slightly out of tolerance, it won't work as well as it used to. The low-level format, if successful, takes care of a major class of problems.

After that, consider swapping if things don't improve.

April 9th, 2006, 08:10 PM
So,How do I go about doing a low-leval format..???? seeing as "format c:" didnt work....


Terry Yager
April 9th, 2006, 08:33 PM
From your bootdisk, go into 'DEBUG',
At the Debug prompt (-), type:


If a menu comes up, follow directions on-screen. If nothing happens, wave a dead chicken over it, while mumbling a majikal incantation...


April 9th, 2006, 08:45 PM
I'm thinking that not every controller has a low-level format routine built in. I could be wrong, of course. :)

Spinrite can do a low-level format and I believe it can also determine the optimum interleave. It marks bad sectors, too, if I'm remembering right.

Before the format, have the drive powered up for 15-20 minutes so that it's up to operating temperature.


Terry Yager
April 9th, 2006, 09:21 PM
I'm thinking that not every controller has a low-level format routine built in. I could be wrong, of course. :)



Hence, the dead chicken routine. When all else fails, try a little voodoo...


April 9th, 2006, 10:48 PM
was low on chickens so went with plan "D"...I figured if 2.1 didnt want to play Id try something different...Soooo, Dos 3.3 WOULD format but wouldnt install...Soooo,I went into the vault(?) got outa NEW copy of Dos 5 and installed that. That worked ! I would be happier if I could get Dos 2.1 on it so I'll try the chicken routine another day...In the meantime "My Babys Runnin". On another note....How long should this 5150 take to boot to C prompt...I havant timed it but sure seems like it takes a long time compared to other 8088s Ive got....My 5160 is like a rocket compared to 5150???? Normal or???? more chicken stuff ??? Anyways thanx for all the help.:D

April 10th, 2006, 07:27 AM
There are lots of places to find out how to do a low level format. On an XT class controller (which yours might be) there is even a BIOS service for it. (That feature was dropped on AT class controllers.)

As for boot time, it depends on the amount of memory installed. The 5150 counts by 16K increments. I think it clears the memory as it counts it too. The more you have, the longer it takes. A 5160 should be similar.

April 11th, 2006, 11:00 PM
I think I was off track on the boot time issue....... My 5160 boots to "C" in 1 minute flat....The older 5150 takes 1 minute and 20 secs....hadda tamper with autoexec on both of them !!!! Heck My P4-3 Gig takes a minute and a half....!!!!! Not bad for a couple of old timers....:oha:

Terry Yager
April 12th, 2006, 01:22 AM
My Epson PX-8 powers-up instantly. Hit the switch and you're good to go.


the xt guy
April 13th, 2006, 12:41 PM
Since the 5150 doesn't display the memory as it's counting it up on post, it seems to take longer, just because the cursor is sitting there blinking at you with nothing else on the screen.

The earliest hard drive controllers for the IBM PC (the Xebec) did not have a LL format routine in the card's BIOS, the LL format was on the Advanced Diagnostics Disk! Typing the g=C800:5 command without the disk would just hang the computer, forcing a reset.

I've bee told that cards that Xebec sold on their own did have the routine in the BIOS.

Also, many cards would only work with one or two hard drive types. The earliest Xebec ones only worked with the original 10 meg. hard drives. After the 21 meg. HD's were introduced then they would work with those two types only.

I've also read that MFM drives should be low level formatted on a regular basis, every 12-18 months, while RLL drives got off track more easily and needed a LL format every 6-12 months.

April 14th, 2006, 07:40 AM
OK, I did the low level format, and fdisk'ed under dos 3.1, now when the computer goes to boot, it says 1701(cannot read hard drive)
What did I do wrong?

April 14th, 2006, 12:03 PM
OK, so I went and put in a 165watt PSU, instead of the stock 63.5watt. Still the same thing. Did I screw my drive up? lol

the xt guy
April 18th, 2006, 12:38 PM
If you're going to put a hard drive into a 5150, you need to change the power supply to something bigger than the 63 watt that originally came with the 5150. The next size up is usually 130 watts which will work fine. The 63 watt ps may appear to work, but the computer may do all sorts of weird things while attempting to boot up. So you did the right thing there.

I just spent about 4 hours the day before yesterday LL formatting, fdisking and formatting a 10 meg. (ST-412) hd that was hooked up to a 5150. It was a long procedure and if you enter the wrong paremeters in the LL format, have the wrong card or a jumper set wrong, it is going to fail somewhere along the line. Also don't forget after you fdisk the hd you must "high level" format it (format C: ) as well.

LL formatting the drive shouldn't cause a 1701 error to be displayed. Usually that error comes up if there is something wrong with the hardware or cabling.

April 18th, 2006, 02:30 PM
Thanks, will look into it, I do think the controller is bad however.

the xt guy
April 19th, 2006, 12:38 PM
Here are some error codes for Western Digital controllers and what they mean:


Eliminate obvious fault causing problems, i.e., reversed cables,
overloaded system power supply, improper drive selection, etc.

Problem: Winchester activity LED is always lit.

Solution: Cables may be reversed

Problem: Both Winchester activity LEDs come on at same time.

Solution: Improper drive select or termination. Consult your drive
or system manual for information.

Problem: "Nothing done exit" appears when starting the low level
format program.

Solution: "Y" was not pressed. Start at Step 1 of the format

Problem: Controller formats 10 MB of a 20 MB drive.

Solution: Check S1 settings.

Problem: System hangs with controller installed.

Solution: System BIOS may not handle Winchester disk. Update system

Problem: "Error Reading Fixed Disk" when booting system.

Solution: DOS partition not active.

Problem: Slow and inefficient operation.

Solution: Normally due to incorrect interleave factor which may
require some experimentation (see Format instructions). Interleave
factors are dependent on drive access time, controller operation,
host operating speed and system, as well as application program.

Problem: 1701 or 01 Error Code

Solution: System BIOS does not support Winchester controller and
drive. Overloaded power supply. Update system BIOS (refer to format
instructions to check the BIOS data). Install 135 W power supply.
Finally, ensure that W3 enables controller BIOS.
Problem: Error Code 20

Solution: Controller component malfunction. Consult your dealer.
Make sure you properly installed the controller in the expansion
slot. Reversed cables.

Problem: Error Code 40

Solution: Wrong CCB option byte selected. Refer to format
instructions to check CCB option byte. Not enough host power for
drive. Install 135 W power supply.

Problem: Error Code 80

Solution: Not enough drive power. Check cables, drive select
jumpers, and drive termination. Check drive.