• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here
  • Exhibitor application for VCF West 2022 is now open! If you are interested in exhibiting, please fill out the form here.

Need a 'Boot and Nuke' program for computers with VERY little memory.

Stone

10k Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
12,814
Location
South Jersey, USA
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

Experienced Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2009
Messages
267
Location
Washington State
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.
 

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,136
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
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.
 
Last edited:

cthulhu

Experienced Member
Joined
May 2, 2012
Messages
209
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)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,136
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
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

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2013
Messages
4,161
Location
Marietta, GA
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

Veteran Member
Joined
May 14, 2010
Messages
2,750
Location
UK
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

Experienced Member
Joined
May 2, 2012
Messages
209
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)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,136
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
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

Veteran Member
Joined
May 14, 2010
Messages
2,750
Location
UK
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.
 

Stone

10k Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
12,814
Location
South Jersey, USA
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

Experienced Member
Joined
May 2, 2012
Messages
209
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

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
7,205
Location
Chicagoland, Illinois, USA
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)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,136
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
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

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
4,997
Location
Central VA
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.
 

SomeGuy

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2013
Messages
4,161
Location
Marietta, GA
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.
 
Top