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Format taking forever (don't know if it's normal?)

Thx1138

Experienced Member
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Jul 20, 2010
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51
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South East England
Hi,

I have an old Epson Equity 286 portable with what I'm guessing is a 2Omeg or thereabouts hard disk.

I'm trying to format it and install DOS.

When I run format on it first displayed:-

Head: 0 Cylinder: 168

It has progressed very slowly (an hour) with the head going from 0-3 and then the cylinder increasing by 1 to Head: 0 Cylinder: 172

Is this normal, it seems to be doing something but taking forever.

Charlie
 

Chuck(G)

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Jan 11, 2007
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No, it's not normal--and I wonder if the format routine is flagging scads of bad sectors. The usual process for error recovery involves a (slow) recalibrate and retry several times. It can take forever if you've got lots of bad sectors.

On many drives, you can actually hear the retry going on--the heads are stepped slowly (3 msec per track) cylinder 0.
 

Thx1138

Experienced Member
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Jul 20, 2010
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South East England
Thanks Chuck, my assumption was that it was probably caused by some sort of disk damage. I decided to give up and run fdisk again, creating a 4 meg dos partition instead, avoiding the rest of the disk. I've been able to install DOS onto the hard drive now.

The drive is a JVC JD-3824R RLL 20MB.

Charlie
 

Chuck(G)

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For whatever reason, it seems that some drives degrade with age. Perhaps it's a fault of the binder used in the platter coating. I've got a small pile of early Conner 3.5" drives that exhibit this behavior. It wouldn't surprise me if your drive wasn't suffering the same sort of aging.

Generally, plated-media drives seem to survive better than coated-media ones. So high-end drives survive better than the economy ones, in my experience.
 

Chuck(G)

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Since that's a RLL drive, I wonder if a Low Level Format would help the situation.

I'd (perhaps foolishly) assumed that a low level format had been done already. When I was still making extensive use of MFM and RLL drives and was getting ready to reload the contents, that would be the first thing that I'd do.

Sometimes I assume that everybody knows that you do something, but that's me forgetting that this stuff was 25+ years ago. Sort of like assuming that everyone knows how to do phasor math on a slide rule...
 

Ole Juul

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. . . Sometimes I assume that everybody knows that you do something, but that's me forgetting that this stuff was 25+ years ago. Sort of like assuming that everyone knows how to do phasor math on a slide rule...

As I understood it back then, you were supposed to do a LLF as a matter of maintenance. I used to do that because that's what I was told. Like you, I assume that people know that. How did that little piece of information get so lost in just a few years?
 

Chuck(G)

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I don't know, Ole. One of the big selling points initially of SpinRite was that it could do a LLF on your MFM/RLL drive without destroying your data. The idea being as mechanical wear causes some "drift" (this is before 5.25" drives with closed-loop servos), you could adjust the disk format to compensate.
 

modem7

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I had been reading about low level formatting and might try that in the future, do I need specific software to do that?
Epson's documentation for the machine is on their web site. In the 'Product Support Bulletin(s)' PDF is a 'Commmon Questions and Answers' bulletin. In that, Q20 addresses a low-level format. Epson's answer is basically that users don't need to do a low-level format and for that reason, the HDFMTALL program is not on the LT Reference Diskette.

Interesting because elsewhere, Epson clearly promote use of their HDFMTALL program (and HDPART/HDFORMAT).

HDFMTALL.COM is at http://114.130.27.10:8086/S_O_F_T_W...-_SOFT_-_COLLECTION/System Utilities/Lowlevel

HDFMTALL.COM won't be the only method.
 
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