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PA P E R
TecTips: Hidden FDISK(32) Options
Previously Undocumented Options of the FDISK Utility Released Under Microsoft Windows95™ OSR2 or Later
Read This First
Best-Case Scenario Windows Startup Disk How to apply these options
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Informational Options Behavioral Options Functional Options
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Content ©1999 StorageSoft Corporation, all rights reserved Authored by Doug Hassell, In-house Technical Writer
version “B” . Subsequent occurrences of the same trademarks will presume implicit ownership (no ™ symbol). however there is no warranty . representatives.x or the first Win95 release surely knows of the text-based utility. Each occurrence of this style will generally indicate a critical condition or pitfall that deserves specific attention. both to enhance readability and to eliminate elements that might detract from context. The information presented in this document is to be considered the “best advice” our organization has to offer. and are presumed to be “common use” terms. Refer to the Windows Help Topics for information on making file-extensions visible.or later. The following example shows the command that will quickly format (erase) a previously-used diskette in the A: drive. when the command should be entered at a specific location. such as /status. all commands referenced apply to the contemporary release of Win95 (OSR2 . Note that all options given here are not fully tested. By applying the information presented here. The first occurrence of said trademarks will show the trademark symbol (™) and directly indicate ownership..StorageSoft White Paper page 2 FDISK(32) Command Line Options Abstract Anyone that remembers setting-up Windows 3. Since such commands are very explicit in nature. documented switches. the reader is making an agreement to accept any and all responsibility of actions taken. Filenames will always include the file-extension. . The reader also agrees to hold StorageSoft Corporation. where all rights are presumed to be reserved. harmless in the event that applying said information results in manifest damages of a real or conceptual nature. the default DOS prompt text will also be shown. but in normal type. open the readme.which we will divulge in this document. Even fewer would be aware of the large table of undocumented command-line options . Some of those may even be aware of the few. reboot behavior. Also. C:\> format a: /q /u L This document contains references to certain files by name. partners and affiliates.. This is done through special textformatting conventions. For our recommendation on how to use these swtiches. The names of these files will appear in lowercase and in boldface (e.txt file for more information).including automated creation. and other modifiers . /x or even the commonly referenced /mbr. including Win98 and the up-and-coming Millennium™ edition). L The instructions to follow will include descriptions of DOS commands.exe. Disclaimer This document makes references to trademarks owned by third parties. nor are they guaranteed to work in all scenarios. described here… L Words and phrases of particular importance will stand-out. please refer to the “Read This First” section. however the file-extension is not always visible in environments such as Windows Explorer.. Linguistic variants of a trademark will not be indicated in any way.g.implied or otherwise . mono-space style to better communicate the exact characters that need to be typed. based upon said information. fdisk. each will be presented on a separate line in a bold.that the given information will give predictable results under any conditions. as well as its agents. Document Conventions In this document are certain references that deserve special recognition.
bat file. Click the button that reads Create Disk and provide a regular. As most are already aware.bat extension (be sure to select File Type of “All Files”). make a diskette with simply the DOS Mode system files. This is done most-easily by using the Windows Format Disk applet (right-click on a Floppy Drive icon ..exe program. FDISK will directly modify the system-level data structures on a hard drive. Windows Startup Disk Since the context of this paper revolves around recent Win95/Win98 versions.44MB diskette when prompted. offering a simplified interface for simple partitioning functions. as well as acceptance and responsibility on the part of the reader for all resulting consequences..exe program-file (in the \windows\system\command folder. After the diskette is made. or as a stand-alone batch script. Whichever method is chosen. or at least the Setup Files from the CD. a prudent measure before applying any of these commands would be to create a Windows Startup Disk. and the fdisk. and select the tab labeled Startup Disk. or a similar texteditor application.). It is still the “low level”. Best-Case Scenario FDISK is not a cutting-edge tool. the options described herein can be manifested as a batch program. While this disk includes the FDISK utility.and select Format. will be necessary). Applying any of the options presented in this document constitutes an understanding of this possibility. use of FDISK can likely result in complete data-loss.. often without regard for existing contents.exe and select Send To | [Floppy Drive]). always boot from diskette when using these FDISK options! . when it is critical to start the system in a standardized environment. system was not booted from the hard-drive). navigate into Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs. To make one. The purpose of the Startup Disk is as a “backup” for booting the system. basic functionality tool of professionals and amateurs alike.e. it should not be modified for use with any of the options described herein.A: or B: . Use Windows Notepad. simply boot a Win9x machine normally. then copying the fdisk.5”/1. FDISK is not a tool to be used lightly. right-click on fdisk. Use this disk only in an emergency.StorageSoft White Paper page 3 FDISK(32) Command Line Options Read This First As many will already know. by any means. (The Win9x Installation CD. This also means that FDISK works best when the active system is not dependent upon the hard-drive in any way (i. or when attempting to recover data. How to apply these options For the options that follow. and save the file with the . If the intended drive is not already erased. either included in the autoexec. 3.
Free If the hard-disk is not fully allocated. not partitions. Mbytes The size of the disk/partition in MB. FDISK also shows the value used for Mbytes (not exactly 1 million). this value would be 100%. Use of this option has no effect on the partition table. this column will appear blank.StorageSoft White Paper page 4 FDISK(32) Command Line Options FDISK(32) Options The options that follow have been sorted into three categories. On a fully-allocated hard-disk. and can even be safely used within the Windows environment at a DOS prompt. . Usage Only applies to rows for the hard-disk(s).. Note that this column does not reflect free space within any of the partitions. (e.. the amount of free space (also in Mbytes) is shown here. On a drive that is fully allocated. The tabulated headings are as follows. the hard-disk system area will be changed With careful planning and execution.. there is really only one option that qualifies in this category: Display Status /status Displays the partition-table in its current state. but rather display important information Behavioral These options only change how FDISK behaves.g. only space on the hard-disk that is not allocated. Informational Options Actually. Any rows that do not show anything under Disk or Drv represent partitions that can not be read by DOS or Windows (only the size is shown). Informational Such options have no real effects.. Disk The number representing the order of the installed hard-drive(s). This means that it is not only appropriate in a batch program.. the first hard-disk appears as disk 1) Drv This column shows which partitions have been assigned as DOS Logical drives (drive-letters). this value displays the percentage of allocated space over total capacity. and in a practical format. and may even make setting-up the next hard-drive a quick and efficient task. but may also be used as the command-line in a Windows Shortcut. this information can help one to become a powerful master of the FDISK tool. and do not make any significant changes on their own Functional These options will have real results. At the bottom of the screen.
FDISK will use the special “LBA” Partition Types when a partition goes beyond (or includes) the 8. use of this option can have unpredictable results until the system is actually restarted. Prompt for FAT16/32 on each partition /FPRMT By default. Since the DOS environment does not “see” the changes made by FDISK until rebooting. Because of the option to over-ride the >512MB convention. .e. will only enable FDISK to use FAT32 partition-types when the partition-size is also >512MB. Using this option will disable these special types. FDISK already uses an automated system when creating new partitions and/or volumes. use of this option can give unpredictable results. Disable LBA Partition Types /X By default. Use with caution. a necessary action if the changes are to go into effect. Careful review of these options is recommended before applying any of the Functional Options.4GB capacity-point on the drive. Disable Hard-Disk Integrity Check /ACTOK By default.StorageSoft White Paper page 5 FDISK(32) Command Line Options Behavioral Options Each of the following four options has a specific purpose. or MS-DOS) versions. FDISK actually enforces this requirement by invoking a fairly-common BIOS instruction under the i386 architecture. Use with caution. Use with caution. FDISK will prompt to use FAT16 or FAT32 types for each partition or volume that is created during that session. but also invites the possibility of using a hard-disk that contains bad sectors in the “system area” (first track) of a partition. Use of this option will prevent FDISK from enforcing this requirement. Using this option. Using this option will cause FDISK to skip this scan. and may also limit the full use of >8. regardless of size. Skip reboot upon exit /Q When any permanent changes are made in FDISK (interactive mode) it will require that the system reboots upon exit. FDISK prompts for “Large Disk Support” whenever a hard-disk of >512MB is detected. In short. These options will over-ride such behavior. however. quickly checks the first track of each cylinder on the drive.. This selection.4GB drives. FDISK will perform a “quick” disk-integrity scan before creating a partition or volume (i. and/or could result in permanent damage to data if another utility is then used immediately after FDISK. the process generally takes a few seconds to complete). often in a manner that would reflect the behavior of older (Win95 “original retail”. especially when used in combination with the Functional Options in the following section.
Some of the following options will use a command varaible. this option will disable FAT32 functions in the newer FDISK utility when creating the partition. on the specified hard-disk (both values are required). the reader is taking full responsibility for any and all results. it over-writes the machine-code construct that surrounds the partition table in the hard-disk Boot Sector (cyl 0. . this option allows any hard-disk to be specified as the value. but only as a FAT16 partition-type. Consider this a final warning. sector 1). this only over-writes the Master Boot Record code on a hard-disk. in Mbytes. as well as truncate a larger value when it exceeds the total hard-disk capacity. Certain. which will be represented as either of the following place-holders. where replacing it with the “FDISK default” could disable certain functions. side 0. Volumes of 512MB or larger will automatically become FAT32. <hd> Specifies one of the installed hard-disks. The resulting partition will be set as the “Active” or bootable partition on the specified hard-disk (irrelevant for secondary hard-disks). Overwrite Master Boot Record on secondary Hard-Disk /CMBR <hd> Like the /MBR option. IDE Primary Master) <mb> Specifies the size of a new partition. Overwrite Master Boot Record on Hard-Disk 1 /MBR This option. does not modify the partition table. Create Primary Boot Partition as FAT16 only (PRI DOS type) and set “Active” /PRIO:<mb> <hd> /PRIO: Creates a Primary Boot partition of the specified size and on the specified hard-disk. also known as the Master Boot Record or MBR. starting with hard-disk 1 (e. the partition will become FAT16.. <hdisk>. In effect.. For example. By applying any of the following options. Use with caution.g. Create Primary Boot Partition (PRI DOS type) and set as “Active” /PRI:<mb> <hd> /PRI: Creates a Primary Boot partition of the specified size. Where the /MBR option only works on hard-disk 1. to over-write the MBR on the Primary Slave. substitue <hdisk> with the number 2. Rather. in actuality. When formatted. 3rd-party utilities may make use of a customized MBR. FDISK will round-up this value when necessary..StorageSoft White Paper page 6 FDISK(32) Command Line Options Functional Options The following options will have permanent effects on the hard-disk system area.
See notes for /EXT above. it must be used when creating the Extended Partition. two options). Remember that an Extended Partition itself can not be formatted. forcing the FAT16 volume-type. Create Logical Volume as FAT16 only (when creating Extended Partition) /EXT:<mb> <hd> /LOGO: /LOGO:<mb> /EXT: Creates a Logical Volume of the specified size. however it must be used when creating the Extended Partition.StorageSoft White Paper page 7 FDISK(32) Command Line Options Create Extended Partition /EXT:<mb> <hd> /EXT: Creates an Extended Partition of the specified size and on the specified hard-disk. . Create Logical Volume (when creating Extended Partition) /EXT:<mb> <hd> /LOG: /LOG:<mb> /EXT: Creates a Logical Volume of the specified size. however. See notes for /EXT above. Volumes of 512MB or larger will automatically become FAT32. but is only a “container” for one-or-more Logical Volumes (see the following.