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Recognising 4 IDE Hard Drives

By peter ·
Have a Win98SE machine using 4 hard drives on both the IDE channels.
i.e. Primary Master & Slave & Secondary Master & Slave.

I am unable to get Windows to recognise the 4th drive once I remove a CD Rom Drive (used to setup) & then attempt to add the 4th drive.

I get errors on both the drive & also secondary IDE channel in Device Manager.

Using a ASUS TULS2-C Motherboard

A fellow tech suggested it may not be possible due to limitations with Win98.

I must unfortunately use Win98.

Need to know if he is right or if another solution (apart from Promise Card) exists to be able to use existing setup.

Thanks in Advance

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by ozi Eagle In reply to Recognising 4 IDE Hard Dr ...


Double check your jumpers on the drive, it sounds like both drives are either masters or slaves.

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by peter In reply to

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by Gigelul In reply to Recognising 4 IDE Hard Dr ...

It is possible to use 4 HDDs. Like in the previous answer, check again:the jumpers, the cables and BIOS.

What errors you got?

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by peter In reply to

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by sgt_shultz In reply to Recognising 4 IDE Hard Dr ...

watch the black screen during setup. does your ide controller report finding all four drives? my guess is
enter BIOS (aka 'Setup') and force it to detect the drives. it is not always obvious how to do it. you should be safe selecting Load Defaults.

but it worries me that you are getting a Device Manager error on the secondary channel.
i shorted out one of my ide channels one time by putting it on the motherboard backwards.

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by peter In reply to

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by TheChas In reply to Recognising 4 IDE Hard Dr ...

Was this working before you changed the CD drive for the 4th hard drive?

How is the fourth hard drive (in fact all drives) partitioned?

If any drives are partitioned with more than 1 partition, and multiple logical drives, adding the 4th drive can change drive letter assignments and cause Windows to be unable to find software.

Please post a response to the following questions:

Does the BIOS POST screen show all 4 hard drives correctly?

What are the brands and models of your hard drives?

And, out of curiosity, why do you need 4 physical hard drives?

2 final thoughts:

I have seen situations where 2 hard drives from different manufactures will not work together on the same IDE channel.

It is possible that there is a problem with the 4th drive itself, or the IDE cable.


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by TheChas In reply to

Thanks for the extra information, that is very helpful.

Even though your BIOS sees all 4 drives, and you had used a CD drive, I would try swapping in a different IDE cable. Sometimes just that last plug and un-plug operation is all it takes to damage an IDE cable.

Also, try a different power connector.

Just as a reality check, this drive has been partitioned and formatted as a FAT32 volume?

What is on the second partition of the Primary Master Drive?
By default, Windows is going to attempt to assign the new drive as F and re-assign the second partition on the Primary Master drive as G

Here is a good question, did you remove the CD drive from device manager before you shut down?

If not, go to the ENUM key in the registry and remove the entries for your CD-ROM drive.
That might be all it takes to fix the problem.

Or, if you don't want to edit the registry, swap the CD drive back in, and change the assigned drive letter to something high like R.
Reboot twice.
Open device manager and remove the CD drive.

Shut down and swap the hard drive back in.

I run up to 4 hard drives and 3 optical drives on my XP system (extra IDE controller on the motherboard) with no problems.

2 additional thoughts:

Were ANY of the drives set up using the drive manufactures utilities?
This can cause strange problems when all drives are not from the same manufacture.

While I am not aware of any restrictions on the number of physical hard drives on W98, I wonder if 400GB exceeds some addressing or file structure issue for W98.
Similar to the large RAM bug.

Speaking of which, if you have over 384MB of system RAM, drop back to 256MB or 384MB and see if you are bumping into Windows needing the upper (above 512MB) memory addresses to deal with your total drive capacity.

I don't have a system handy that I can play with 4 large drives on, or I would see what I can find.


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by peter In reply to Recognising 4 IDE Hard Dr ...


All was OK before I added the 4th drive.

Bios recognises all 4 drives

Primary Master IBM 76.5GB, Secondary Slave Maxtor 100GB, Secondary Master & Slave both Seagate 120GB.

Partitions = Primary Master 2 x & the balance all single partitions.

Why so many, well I need the storage. Win98 doesn't like drives in excess of 120GB I have found.

I do need to stick with Win98SE.

Pse adv further.

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by 3xp3rt In reply to Recognising 4 IDE Hard Dr ...

If the BIOS recognise all the 4 HDD, and windows no, must be a Windows problem. Go to Device Manager and try update the IDE drivers from the motherboard install CD. If still not working, verify the 4 HDD. It is compatible with your motherboard? (ATA - SATA.....)

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