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Fire-Flare
June 6th, 2016, 03:31 PM
I work at an electronics recycling facility and we occasionally get a few 'classic' machines in.

We prefer to refurbish working units and send them back into the world, but we don't have the time to dismantle each machine and connect its hard drive to another computer to wipe the former owner's data.

DBAN is great, but hangs on systems that don't have enough memory; Is there another program we can use that will work with as little as 32KB of memory?


Self-booting from 3.5", 5.25", and 8" floppies would be appreciated!

Stone
June 6th, 2016, 04:08 PM
I have a Trojan executable that, when run, deletes the first partition on a drive. And, if you then run it again, it will delete what *was* the second partition but since the first partition has already been deleted it sees it as the first partition and... yup, you guessed right -- deletes it. It's under 3K in size so its memory requirement is quite minimal.

Fire-Flare
June 6th, 2016, 04:28 PM
I have a Trojan executable that, when run, deletes the first partition on a drive. And, if you then run it again, it will delete what *was* the second partition but since the first partition has already been deleted it sees it as the first partition and... yup, you guessed right -- deletes it. It's under 3K in size so its memory requirement is quite minimal.

That sounds promising, how might I get a copy?

Chuck(G)
June 6th, 2016, 04:34 PM
N.B. Most trojans/viruses can't handle large drives because they don't use the INT 13H extension calls to write data.
So your limit is about 7 GB, which isn't much by today's standards.

KC9UDX
June 6th, 2016, 04:36 PM
Plus it probably doesn't wipe the data very well. I don't know how much of a concern that is in this case, though.

Stone
June 6th, 2016, 04:37 PM
It's a DOS executable so if that is what you're looking for I can give you a link. It's not a bootable file so you need to be running DOS to use it.

Fire-Flare
June 6th, 2016, 04:39 PM
N.B. Most trojans/viruses can't handle large drives because they don't use the INT 13H extension calls to write data.
So your limit is about 7 GB, which isn't much by today's standards.

Well it's a start. I have a few machines I've been hanging onto that the trojan can probably get taken care of.

Stone
June 6th, 2016, 04:39 PM
Plus it probably doesn't wipe the data very well. I don't know how much of a concern that is in this case, though.It doesn't wipe any data. It just removes the partition(s).

Stone
June 6th, 2016, 04:42 PM
N.B. Most trojans/viruses can't handle large drives because they don't use the INT 13H extension calls to write data.
So your limit is about 7 GB, which isn't much by today's standards.OK, show me a system with ~ 32KB memory and a drive >7GB, or 8" floppies. :-)

BTW you have or had this file so you know or knew exactly what it is.

SomeGuy
June 6th, 2016, 04:52 PM
For wiping IDE drives, I used to use MAXLLF. Of course it doesn't really LLF all but the earliest drives, but it does neatly zero everything out. It supports CHS and LBA and is a simple small DOS program. I think it is only good up to 127 GB, but anything that large you should be able to use DBAN.

For any earlier MFM/RLL drives, probably the best bet is SpeedStor. Although it probably doesn't recognize every MFM/RLL controller out there.

SCSI systems would be bit of a headache as you would have to find the matching SCSI card drivers. The better ones, however often have a "low level" option built in to a BIOS that will zero the drive similar to MAXLLF.

If the DOS drive happens to be recognized by a DOS boot disk, you can also use Norton Wipedisk. I still use the 4.5 version on floppy disks. That version supports partitions up to 2GB. Later versions support more paranoid wiping methods and probably larger hard drives. I think the 4.5 memory requirements are fairly low, not positive but I would expect 128K or 192K perhaps, and if I recall correctly it works with MS-DOS 2.x.

If you have a system with 8" disks, it probably doesn't have a hard drive. In which case you can simply degauss any floppies if you must.

cthulhu
June 6th, 2016, 07:38 PM
I've used SGATFMT4 from ftp://ftp.seagate.com/techsuppt/seagate_utils/sgatfmt4.zip to wipe a Seagate PATA drive but I don't think it's limited to just Seagate drives. It's only about 79 kB so hopefully it'll run on low memory machines. Here's a bit from the manual:

SGATFMT4 (Seagate Format) is a lo-level formatting utility designed
for AT 286/386/486 systems, only. (If the program is run on an XT,
most likely a stack overflow error message will display.)

SGATFMT4 is designed and LIMITED to work with the following Seagate
disc drive interfaces: ST412 (both MFM and RLL), ESDI (with controller
bios disabled), and ATA/IDE (with certain limitations). SCSI
interface disc drives are not supported. (See the section "ABOUT
DRIVES NOT LISTED")

SGATFMT4 does not use the system BIOS to access the drive, but instead
uses the AT register command set.

Chuck(G)
June 6th, 2016, 07:55 PM
OK, show me a system with ~ 32KB memory and a drive >7GB, or 8" floppies. :-)

BTW you have or had this file so you know or knew exactly what it is.

Yabut-- you need a utility to know the difference and supply the right calls to the API no matter if it's a 16K 5150 or a 16G super-hot box.



SGATFMT4 does not use the system BIOS to access the drive, but instead
uses the AT register command set.

And if you have a controller in the PC that doesn't conform to the standard AT I/O port mappings (e.g. SCSI disk) and registers, you're SOL.

If I understand the OP, he wants something that can boot on just about ANY x86 machine and wipe whatever hard disk is in there--and the guy doing the wiping doesn't have to be an expert on what's in the box.

cthulhu
June 6th, 2016, 10:06 PM
If I understand the OP, he wants something that can boot on just about ANY x86 machine and wipe whatever hard disk is in there--and the guy doing the wiping doesn't have to be an expert on what's in the box.

Meaning a program that understands all drive types whether or not they contain their own controller. I don't think such a thing exists. The utility I linked to should work on every type of drive except SCSI and on any PC with a 286 CPU or newer, no BIOS support for the drive required. Know of anything that beats that?

NeXT
June 6th, 2016, 10:57 PM
My method of formatting drives is something I don't even do in-house, simply because the machine netboots off a server. and I have -no idea at all- how the hell that works. ;)
Now mind you, I always pull drives when I format. Trying to format in machines with unknowns is asking for trouble.
One of my old employers has a junky old pentium III bolted to the wall with a wooden plank hanging out of the case. Inside you had IDE and an AHA-2940UW which handled SCSI. There was no CD drove or even a hard drive. Just cables hanging out of the case for data and power. You netbooted what was essentially a stupid compact linux install with DBAN and it went to work erasing any drive it detected attached to the machine. We later upgraded the machine with a fiber channel card so we could also plug in fiber channel arrays and leave it to nuke all the drives in the chassis at once and eventually a SATA controller as well. The linux kernel took care of the drivers and DBAN just seemed to work without any modifications.
I think the netbooting design is based off the same system used at FreeGeek Vancouver. You might want to contact them and see if they might be a bit more helpful in suggesting how to setup something slightly similar.

For MFM stuff however there was a nasty BabyAT 386 machine with a Western Digital MFM controller with the formatter in ROM. The machine booted off floppy, used debug to enter into the formatter and then we used TH99's drive list to specify disk parameters and let the formatter do the rest. I wouldn't try using formatters that run within DOS itself as then you got an abstraction layer to negotiate that tends to cause weird things with drives that are not yet (and won't be because it's only gonna be plugged in for twenty minutes or so) properly setup in the BIOS. You can leave stuff like interleave optimization and formatting until later if you just need something that will wipe the drive enough to get it OK'd to leave the place.

Chuck(G)
June 7th, 2016, 08:42 AM
And of course, if you ran across a system with an ESDI drive in it, you'd do what?

Stone
June 7th, 2016, 08:49 AM
And of course, if you ran across a system with an ESDI drive in it, you'd do what?I'd jump for joy since I've never seen an ESDI drive! :-)

Chuck(G)
June 7th, 2016, 08:55 AM
I'd jump for joy since I've never seen an ESDI drive! :-)

Really? They're easily mistaken for MFM drives. I think I've still go a couple as well as the controllers. Similarly, how does anyone except a very good tech notice the difference between an XTA and an ATA drive?

And so on. Really, you do have to open the box up. I've run across at least one system where a second installed drive wasn't connected--probably a dupe placed in the box in case the primary failed.

Fire-Flare
June 7th, 2016, 09:02 AM
I've used SGATFMT4 from ftp://ftp.seagate.com/techsuppt/seagate_utils/sgatfmt4.zip to wipe a Seagate PATA drive but I don't think it's limited to just Seagate drives. It's only about 79 kB so hopefully it'll run on low memory machines. Here's a bit from the manual:

SGATFMT4 (Seagate Format) is a lo-level formatting utility designed
for AT 286/386/486 systems, only. (If the program is run on an XT,
most likely a stack overflow error message will display.)

SGATFMT4 is designed and LIMITED to work with the following Seagate
disc drive interfaces: ST412 (both MFM and RLL), ESDI (with controller
bios disabled), and ATA/IDE (with certain limitations). SCSI
interface disc drives are not supported. (See the section "ABOUT
DRIVES NOT LISTED")

SGATFMT4 does not use the system BIOS to access the drive, but instead
uses the AT register command set.

Thank you, I'm running the program now and it looks good. The ability to verify the drive is very useful too.


Do you have any similar utilities for non-Seagate drives?

Fire-Flare
June 7th, 2016, 09:15 AM
One of my old employers has a junky old pentium III bolted to the wall with a wooden plank hanging out of the case. Inside you had IDE and an AHA-2940UW which handled SCSI. There was no CD drove or even a hard drive. Just cables hanging out of the case for data and power. You netbooted what was essentially a stupid compact linux install with DBAN and it went to work erasing any drive it detected attached to the machine. We later upgraded the machine with a fiber channel card so we could also plug in fiber channel arrays and leave it to nuke all the drives in the chassis at once and eventually a SATA controller as well. The linux kernel took care of the drivers and DBAN just seemed to work without any modifications.
I think the netbooting design is based off the same system used at FreeGeek Vancouver. You might want to contact them and see if they might be a bit more helpful in suggesting how to setup something slightly similar.

For MFM stuff however there was a nasty BabyAT 386 machine with a Western Digital MFM controller with the formatter in ROM. The machine booted off floppy, used debug to enter into the formatter and then we used TH99's drive list to specify disk parameters and let the formatter do the rest. I wouldn't try using formatters that run within DOS itself as then you got an abstraction layer to negotiate that tends to cause weird things with drives that are not yet (and won't be because it's only gonna be plugged in for twenty minutes or so) properly setup in the BIOS. You can leave stuff like interleave optimization and formatting until later if you just need something that will wipe the drive enough to get it OK'd to leave the place.

I've been thinking about building a system solely for formatting old drives, but I think having an arsenal of programs that can run from DOS might be less time consuming than dismantling each machine to get the drive(s) out.

My boss likes things to be done fast, simply hooking up a vintage machine and running a program is faster than dismantling it to run the formatter on a separate machine.

SomeGuy
June 7th, 2016, 09:18 AM
See my post on the previous page about MAXLLF. That woks on all brands of IDE drives.

It seems like the last post on pages never gets seen.

After thinking about it, your best bet for MFM/RLL and SCSI systems is probably just to keep a couple of machines around with well known good interface cards (formatters in BIOS) and long cables that you can just run inside a machine without unmounting the drives. Of course, with MFM and RLL drives, they will then appear completely unformatted to the original controllers.

Edit...shiiii last post again.

Stone
June 7th, 2016, 09:18 AM
Really? They're easily mistaken for MFM drives. I think I've still go a couple as well as the controllers.I've seen plenty of pics. What I meant was that I've never seen one 'in the flesh' so-to-speak. So I've never had the pleasure of touching one. :-)

Fire-Flare
June 7th, 2016, 10:00 AM
See my post on the previous page about MAXLLF. That woks on all brands of IDE drives.

It seems like the last post on pages never gets seen.

After thinking about it, your best bet for MFM/RLL and SCSI systems is probably just to keep a couple of machines around with well known good interface cards (formatters in BIOS) and long cables that you can just run inside a machine without unmounting the drives. Of course, with MFM and RLL drives, they will then appear completely unformatted to the original controllers.

Edit...shiiii last post again.
Thanks, I got copies of SPEEDSTOR, but do you have a copy of MAXLLF you can upload? My Google searches are suggesting sites I don't trust.

SomeGuy
June 7th, 2016, 11:01 AM
Here is the version I have been using: http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?file_id=00696517508184089671

Didn't realize this one had also fallen off the face of the Internet.

Chuck(G)
June 7th, 2016, 11:06 AM
I think that this is barking up the wrong tree. There are lots of things that MAXLLF won't work on.

INT 13 wipers, on the other hand, will generally work with any drive that is recognized by the system, regardless of interface.

That being said, the best solution is to remove the drives and grind them up in a purpose-made machine. Some states (e.g. Massachusetts) even have laws that almost mandate this.

Making a non-DOS bootable version should be child's play for most PC-oriented programmers here.

cthulhu
June 7th, 2016, 01:00 PM
Do you have any similar utilities for non-Seagate drives?

I think SGATFMT4 also works on non-Seagate drives. Also, here is a link to the original self-extracting archive that MAXLLF came from: http://web.archive.org/web/19971113103542/http://www.maxtor.com/ftp/pub/ide/llfutil.exe

cthulhu
June 7th, 2016, 01:05 PM
I think that this is barking up the wrong tree. There are lots of things that MAXLLF won't work on.

INT 13 wipers, on the other hand, will generally work with any drive that is recognized by the system, regardless of interface.

Judging from MAXLLF.TXT in LLFUTIL.EXE it does use the BIOS interface to do its job.

Chuck(G)
June 7th, 2016, 01:37 PM
Well, there are darned few IDE drives that allow for a "low level format"--i.e. writing out ID address marks. If this utility simply overwrites any data using ordinary write commands, it should say so.

But clearly, if it's getting its information from the drive using the IDENTFY (0ECh) command, it's not using the BIOS. If it's really using the FORMAT TRACK (050h) command, not only is it not using the BIOS, but many non-Maxtor (and even some Maxtor) IDE drives will treat the command as any more than a no-op. The reason is that for most IDE drives, the format pattern is laid down using special equipment at the factory and often contains embedded servo data. It's not customer-rewritable. Add to that, that most later IDE drives used "zoned" recording, so the number of sectors per track isn't constant, no matter what the drive actually reports.

So, exactly what does the utility do and how does it go about doing it?

An IDE drive is not the simple brain-dead device that a ST-412 interface drive is.

SomeGuy
June 7th, 2016, 02:15 PM
I'm fairly sure that MAXLLF talks directly to the drive. It does not at all recognize SCSI, MFM, RLL, or SATA in non IDE emulation modes. I recall that it can always do its thing regardless of BIOS support. (without overlays, etc). And I've never run in to an IDE drive that it didn't successfully zero out.

For a really fun time, run it inside Windows 9x. :) Windows won't stop it from running and Windows will just sit there happily until it needs to read something from disk.

pearce_jj
June 7th, 2016, 02:27 PM
For wiping IDE drives, I used to use MAXLLF. Of course it doesn't really LLF all but the earliest drives, but it does neatly zero everything out.

I've seen this perform some absolute miracles with almost unusable Maxtor IDE drives around 500MB.

cthulhu
June 7th, 2016, 02:48 PM
Well, there are darned few IDE drives that allow for a "low level format"--i.e. writing out ID address marks. If this utility simply overwrites any data using ordinary write commands, it should say so.

Agreed.


So, exactly what does the utility do and how does it go about doing it?

Here's what it says in MAXLLF.TXT in regard to this:

3. From the Main Options Window, select "Low Level Format Current Device" and press the [Enter]
key. The following will appear in the red MESSAGE WINDOW:

Do you want to use LBA Mode (if not sure, press N) (Y/N)?

The program default for this is "N" (no), as some older System BIOS's do not support Logical
Block Addressing (LBA) Mode.

4. If the hard drive's capacity exceeds 504 MB, type "Y". If the hard drive's capacity does not
exceed 504 MB, type "N".

NOTE: Improper selection will result in the hard drive not formatting correctly.

Chuck(G)
June 7th, 2016, 02:55 PM
Still too much smoke and mirrors. I would not expect MAXLLF to work on drives that do not support the low-level format command.

The business of LBA and 504MB is common to all IDE drives supporting those features, so no surprise.

pearce_jj
June 7th, 2016, 10:40 PM
Hi Chuck, it basically zeros out free space but is nice and small and fast - I've been using this since about 1995. But with Maxtor drives of around the same era, it can sometimes restore a clicky drive to good working order.

Chuck(G)
June 8th, 2016, 05:28 AM
I think I see. It writes zeroes to non-Maxtor drives, but can low-level format some early Maxtor IDEs.

Do I have the general idea?

Stone
June 8th, 2016, 05:53 AM
Chuck, I don't think it actually LLFs the early Maxtor drives. It's another example of using the term 'format' loosely and not technically. You know, kinda' like using term CPU to describe a computer in its case without the monitor or keyboard. It's technically incorrect but the vast majority of novices don't know that. We, here, do, however, or at least we should.

cthulhu
June 8th, 2016, 05:53 AM
I think I see. It writes zeroes to non-Maxtor drives, but can low-level format some early Maxtor IDEs.

But why does MAXLLF ask the user whether or not to use LBA? It can directly query the drive to find out if LBA mode is supported. The documentation mentions that the system BIOS may not support LBA, but why should this matter if MAXLLF is accessing the drive directly?

Trixter
June 8th, 2016, 08:16 AM
It would take all of an afternoon to write a program that just zeros out all attached drives via BIOS calls; is there a reason why a straight Int 13h-interface program won't do the job? (I'm really surprised there isn't something like this already out there)

Chuck(G)
June 8th, 2016, 09:45 AM
There is, Jim. I wrote one for a security outfit that does anything up to and including the 7-pass security erase years ago. As I recall, there were others, promoted as "disk scrubbers".

glitch
June 8th, 2016, 10:17 AM
I'd imagine you can accomplish that with Linux, with "really old disks" support compiled in. IIRC the kernel just does INT13 calls to whatever the BIOS has mapped in. I've used it with e.g. Tom's Root Boot (2.x kernel and root disk on a single floppy) to run exhaustive checks on old disks/controllers (ESDI mostly) that had no other kernel support. That doesn't help much with wanting a super low resource utility though.

Trixter
June 8th, 2016, 10:37 AM
It also doesn't help with needing to run it on <386 systems.

SomeGuy
June 8th, 2016, 10:39 AM
I'd imagine you can accomplish that with Linux, with "really old disks" support
But I think the objective here was to have a universal way to do this all on minimal hardware without changing the system around. On IBM PC style computers this can be as little as an 8088 CPU. Practically speaking a hard disk system probably would not have had less than 128k, but it is technically possible.

But my thought is this does really depend on the machine working properly. I recall working on some 286 where Int13 to the hard drive wasn't even available if the BIOS/CMOS wasn't set up. And don't forget a machine may have multiple hard drives.

Some non-IBM PC hardware compatibles may not even have Int13, but then we are getting in to really obscure stuff. It does occur to me, I think Norton Wipedisk 4.5 may actually work at the DOS block device level - I'm fairly sure I have run it on ramdisks before.

Regardless, I hope the OP finds a solution that lets them re-sell this stuff. I don't know how many they get, but these days the idea of an "MFM"/"RLL" drive going in the chipper shredded just because some paranoid moron think there might be a social security number or two on it, just makes me want to throw up.

Trixter
June 8th, 2016, 10:41 AM
As I recall, there were others, promoted as "disk scrubbers".

Some quick googling shows http://www.killdisk.com/erasedata.htm (runs on a 286 with EGA) and http://www.brothersoft.com/hard-disk-scrubber-for-dos-download-251721.html -- there are probably more hiding around various simtel archives.

cthulhu
June 8th, 2016, 04:02 PM
I'd like a response to my question about MAXLLF. Does anyone know what it's actually doing and why user input is required? But going back to the original question this looks ideal as it'll run on an 8086 with around 400 to 512 kB of RAM: http://elks.sourceforge.net/introduction.html

Chuck(G)
June 10th, 2016, 10:54 AM
Take a look at the text file for the Seagate formatter (ftp://ftp.seagate.com/techsuppt/seagate_utils/sgatfmt4.zip), which is probably the same as the Maxtor one. Under the heading "About Drives Not Listed", it's explained why later drives [b]cannot/b] be low-level formatted.

cthulhu
June 13th, 2016, 09:26 AM
Take a look at the text file for the Seagate formatter (ftp://ftp.seagate.com/techsuppt/seagate_utils/sgatfmt4.zip), which is probably the same as the Maxtor one. Under the heading "About Drives Not Listed", it's explained why later drives cannot be low-level formatted.

I'm not sure why you mentioned this since I didn't say anything about low-level formatting. I'm interested in why MAXLLF asks the user whether or not to use LBA mode.

Moving on, ELKS (Embeddable Linux Kernel Subset) is apparently used by FreeGeek Chicago to wipe hard drives. Does anyone here have any experiences with ELKS? It'll apparently run on a 8086 or 8088. There are floppy images available at https://github.com/jbruchon/elks/releases

Chuck(G)
June 13th, 2016, 09:44 AM
I'm not sure why you mentioned this since I didn't say anything about low-level formatting. I'm interested in why MAXLLF asks the user whether or not to use LBA mode.

MAXLLF = Maxtor Low-Level Format. My point was that the name was a bit of a misnomer. As to the question about LBA, that's not certain, unless there's a gotcha in one of the early Maxtor drives (there were interesting bugs in them, such as reporting the doubleword value of the total number of sectors as a (low word/high word) pair, reversed order from standard.)

Agent Orange
June 13th, 2016, 09:48 AM
Some quick googling shows http://www.killdisk.com/erasedata.htm (runs on a 286 with EGA) and http://www.brothersoft.com/hard-disk-scrubber-for-dos-download-251721.html -- there are probably more hiding around various simtel archives.

I can vouch for 'KillDisk'. Used it job related on HD's prior to recycling as per directives. The final step was grinding, folding, then smelting. Hard to top smelting. :sneaky:

Trixter
June 13th, 2016, 10:18 AM
If you have any 386+, Darran's Book and Nuke (DBAN) is my go-to.

I think the 286 and lower solutions are the most interesting. Hoping the OP finds something that will work for them; I'd write a simple one myself if I had free time. I agree it's a shame for old working drives to be destroyed just because the data can't be wiped first.

Chuck(G)
June 13th, 2016, 10:38 AM
I think the 286 and lower solutions are the most interesting. Hoping the OP finds something that will work for them; I'd write a simple one myself if I had free time. I agree it's a shame for old working drives to be destroyed just because the data can't be wiped first.

...if the old drives haven't destroyed themselves, first. ;)

6885P5H
June 14th, 2016, 08:24 PM
It's cool that you guys send old machines back into the world, but the data on their hard drives have the possibility to be even more valuable than the machines themselves. I always hate to hear about "lost videos", "lost games" or "lost programs" or hardware that cannot be used anymore because of missing drivers... That's the thing I hate to hear the most about because it could be so easily averted if people scanned hard drives for potentially valuable data before wiping them..

Sometimes I just think about all the lost programs, prototypes etc... Thought to be gone forever that could lie on an hard drive somewhere, ready to get formatted... I am sure that in a couple of years people will regret all of this "mass-formatting" that's currently going on.

Yes I do understand that you may want to keep the privacy of the previous owner intact, but that's just how I see things.

SomeGuy
June 15th, 2016, 12:43 AM
That is absolutely true. The other day there was a thread about an IBM "Graphics Development Instrument" computer - I suspect it was the installed software that made the system what it was, but the hard drive had apparently been removed and run through Goodwill's chipper shredder. (There needs to be an advertising campaign to never, ever, EVER, "donate" old computers to mother f-ing Goodwill)

In my opinion another crime here is the the destruction of the original software manuals and disks that accompanied these machines. A good chunk of the time the hard drive installations are really not useful without these anyway. But since there is no "toxic waste" or gold in software, it always goes straight in to the trash.

But since some of these privacy laws are quite draconian, there may be no other way around them for some businesses what want to re-sell old hard drives. If a piece of wiping software or erasing procedure can certify that there is no magic private information on a hard drive, permitting a valuable MFM/RLL drive to be re-sold, then at least that is something.

I would be very interested to hear if the OP finds such a tool or procedure sufficient to meet their legal requirements. It is downright evil that old hardware has to be destroyed just to appease laws that were obviously written by Dell/Apple/Microsoft just to make people buy new computers.

Moondog
June 19th, 2016, 05:08 PM
Really, you do have to open the box up. I've run across at least one system where a second installed drive wasn't connected--probably a dupe placed in the box in case the primary failed.

I've run into this alot. In some instances, I was the culprit. the company I was working for parted ways with a engineering contract firm, and underwent a project to have all their home-grown applications migrated to a couple of "historic data" workstations. The person who took ownership of these machines would access them once every six months, and whenever they used it, they'd contact me to make a backup. I placed a second drive in the case, and used Ghost to mirror the drives.

The funny part was when the person who used the workstations left the department, there was also a major turnover in employees. They were either reassigned to another department or transferred out. The new manager saw these old Gateway desktops sitting in a cubicle, and asked for me to haul them away. He said they didn't need them any more. I told him why they were there, and he said he didn't care. So much for warning him! Instead, I held on to them, because I knew how much trouble it was to collect and transfer the information that was one those workstations. Sure enough, six months passed, and I get a call from my supervisor informing me we were in big trouble for disposing of "essential technology transfer equipment." There was a procedure for evaluating the disposal of historic data, and the manager was trying to blame me and my department for not properly surveying the impact of losing the contents on those workstations. I let my supervisor know they were stored in the back of the equipment room with the name of the original user, and why the equipment was moved in the first place. Problem solved.

This neither the first, nor the last time I found myself shuffling around legacy hardware and software to avoid the housekeeping fanatics from tossing essential equipment out.

Fire-Flare
July 19th, 2016, 01:09 PM
I'm still having some trouble. My latest find is a 486 laptop (In pristine condition with manuals and accessories) that won't boot off some of the disks I've made and others start to load but the system reboots when the memory gets filled (12MB in this case)

Booting Microsoft DOS startup disks never seems to be an issue on any machine, can somebody write a DOS program that will fit on a 1.2MB floppy that will wipe the drives?

Also 6885P5H, I'd love to leave the OS and utilities intact, but I just work here.

SomeGuy
July 19th, 2016, 01:28 PM
What do you mean "reboots when the memory gets filled"? Do you mean just after launching a few applications? What OS is this? Windows 3.1, Windows 95? That could be either a RAM problem (run CheckIt or Norton Diags) or a hard drive virtual memory problem.

I would guess this would have an IDE interface, so just use MAXLLF to wipe the drive. MAXLLF will also take care of any bad sectors as well.

Fire-Flare
July 19th, 2016, 02:19 PM
What do you mean "reboots when the memory gets filled"? Do you mean just after launching a few applications? What OS is this? Windows 3.1, Windows 95? That could be either a RAM problem (run CheckIt or Norton Diags) or a hard drive virtual memory problem.

I would guess this would have an IDE interface, so just use MAXLLF to wipe the drive. MAXLLF will also take care of any bad sectors as well.

I mean the floppy unzips its contents to RAM and it gets full, triggering an error that restarts the machine.

I found a download for MAXLLF and I'm using it now. Thanks!

Trixter
July 19th, 2016, 05:23 PM
I mean the floppy unzips its contents to RAM and it gets full, triggering an error that restarts the machine.

What floppy is this?

deathshadow
July 21st, 2016, 07:30 PM
I've run across at least one system where a second installed drive wasn't connected--probably a dupe placed in the box in case the primary failed.
Laughably, a place I worked at had 1.44 meg 3.5" in 5.25" bay fillers on a bunch of AT class and a handful of 386 machines, and being late 1990's nobody really ever tried to use the 5.25" -- it was a laugh they were still using 286's but they got the job done. (Word 6.0 for DOS, Procomm into a *nix mainframe)

I had been there about three months when I got a call that the secondary drives weren't working in the ENTIRE marketing department... so I go down there and pop them open, NONE of the drives were connected -- the cables didn't even have the edge-card connect for them! Looking closer, they were ALL 360k drives...

It turns out the previous IT guy was recycling AT cases on upgrades and didn't have the proper blockoff plates, so he just slapped the 360's in there as the boss didn't like the gaping holes...

Sucktastic part was the IDE hard drives were double sided taped into the cases either on top of the PSU or packed in tight under those floppy drives. HERPADERP.

I think it was that job where I started muttering "sleazeball shits" under my breath a bit too often.

Same place where most of the employees preferred using the VT-100 knockoffs (I think they were WYSE branded?) as those were connected at 192000 baud stable, while the PC's could barely manage a quarter that reliably. I ended up building an alloy slave network to let four of those terminals run Word remotely and have access to the membership and development databases. (the latter written in Paradox). Confused the hell out of them though when they wanted to make a copy and had to use a floppy drive in another building to do it.