How slow HDD is really SLOW?

Segate 13G ST313021A on Pentium 90 @ 125MHz:

Average - 6.4MB/sec - now this is SPEEED! 😛

I wonder, if anyone have in operation slower HDD 😄


Therefore I wonder, if someone have a experience with replacing such SLOOOW HDDs with PATA to CF adapter and CF card(s)? The latest models promise very fast speeds - 160MB/sec is quite above PATA possibilities:

SanDIsk Extreme PRO 32G CF card

…and since the adapters are just wires, connecting the CF card to PATA interface (CF cards work on same PATA interface!) and only in best cases, you can choose the voltage (3.3V or 5V) and you get the power and activity lights:

DeLock 91620 PATA to CF

…then there should not be any problem of using CF cards as old PATA HDD replacement(s). Only problem I hear, that there should be changed bit on the card somewhere, that change the device type from removable to fixed. Then it should act as normal HardDriveDevice.

But maybe I missed something...? Do anyone have experience with this? Could someone share tips, software for the change (from removable to fixed) and experience in general?

Less worrying about removable device bit.
More plugging it in and trying it!

I have used CF cards in a wide range of vintage hardware, it is awesome. 🙂

Here, have some IBM 5150 drive benches. 😛
This is with the lo-tech 8-bit IDE adapter.

Keep in mind the other results in the Drive Evaluation Comparison are almost all faster computers. 😛
This CF card is also very old(new-old stock), but you get what you get on an 8-bit bus! (IDE being 16-bit)
I should probably bench other cards in it at some point, but that 256MB is what I use normally in the 5150 since it is plenty for the computer. My faster computers get the much larger and faster actually new modern cards.

Less worrying about removable device bit. More plugging it in and trying it!

Yea, but… I still waiting for the adapter. I have the SanDisk Extreme PRO 32G CF card, but nothing to plug it in - except maybe my camera, but that would be a overkill.

I have used CF cards in a wide range of vintage hardware, it is awesome.

So, do they look like a normal HDD when pluged in to the bios? Or do I need something special to prepare them? Or trigger change on the removable device to fixed one…? What if it will not work w/o the bit set...? Are there ways to switch the bit w/o the SanDisk special software?

have some IBM 5150 drive benches

Pretty cool, but you did not need to run Windows on that 🙂 I have for the CPU-Z validation.

you get what you get on an 8-bit bus! (IDE being 16-bit)

Hopefully I get better 🙂

My faster computers get the much larger and faster actually new modern cards.

Witch ones you have tested to work? And any spcial moves to get this to work?

SanDisk responded to my questions - actually only to the first one yet:

Dear Pavel,

I understand that you want to change your CF card from removable to fixed device.

Please allow us to inform you that CompactFlash cards can be configured to use “Fixed Disk mode” as this is defined by the CompactFlash specification.

SanDisk does not support its implementation with our consumer or professional-level cards as it is outside of the scope of their intended use.  Thus, all of our consumer and professional cards are shipped, by default, in Removable mode.
SanDisk no longer offers an OEM or fixed disk Compact flash card line.  There also is no utility available to change retail Compact Flash cards from removable to fixed disk.

Additional information you may read on the following web article:
Can I enable the Fixed Disk mode on my CompactFlash card?

In order to answer your question to which voltage the PATA to CF card adapter should be set, I will reply to you later as I will escalate this issue to our technical department, in order to give you a correct answer.

Thank you for your preference of our SanDisk products.

Click here to register your product online.
Please provide us your phone number (for technical support call back only)

Thank you for your kind cooperation.

Best regards,

Joanna R.
SanDisk Global Customer Care

So to put it short, I pay premium price for "CF card" that is not really a CF card, because I cannot change the bit that is defined by CF specification...? You are gotta be kidding me...

Well… first the good news: I tried 3.3V first and the good news are, that SanDisk Extreme PRO 32G CF card works well with 3.3V settings! There are the result, enabling Smart a 32bit mode transfer did nothing, PATA133 is supported, but it is not going to get higher. Sadly. Still, I think that this is a reasonable speed improvement:

(ASRock 775Dual-VSTA, 3.8GHz P4, 2G DDR2 Crucial Ballistix rams)

However, now to bad news. The CF card is completely useless, unless someone tell me how to change the removable bit to fixed. Period. You cannot use the CF card for anything w/o that. Two examples:

I use Mini Tool Partition Wizard Pro to setup the drive on boot CD - it let me allign the partitions - when creating second partition (one 4G FAT32 for OS, rest for DATA and NTFS = usable settings for waza), it tells me, that I cannot use that partition under Win, as Win recognize only ONE partition on removable device. I was like… that it is, I'm screwed.

So for lolz, I started the install. It want well even at 83MHz FSB with the ATI Rage XL card (IDE HDD refused to work under such conditions, it worked only when S3 Trio64 is used as graphic card at that clock), but then I get to the drive partitioning and problems arise. D partition is invisible (unpartioned space, lol) and there is no way to create a new partition there, because on removable drive, only one partition is supprted. So OK, I try installing and using only the 4G partition... but no! It cannot install, because this partition is NOT compatible with WinXP.
(additionally the card then refuse to work in any PC... formating in my Nikon Coolpix 4300 camera was the only way to fix the caard 😮 )

So basicaly, w/o the change from removable to fixed, any usage of any CF card as HDD replacement is doomed.


I'm quite mad at SanDisk - they should rename themselves as ScamDisk, because they are selling not CF cards, but CF compatible *) cards, with the *) exception for the possibility to change removable to fixed bit. I believe, that there is open possibility to lawsuit against SanDisk and any other CF card producing company, that produces products, that does not meet the CF card specifications. Because this is false advertising and misleading labeling of product. This is not a CF card, period.

Well, since SanDisk is not going to reply, I tried with the default 5V setting the DeLock adapter I mentioned earlier with very old, 0.5G CF card SanDisk SDCFH. It does support PIO 4, but no DMA and the speed is very slow:

Tested on ASRock 775Dual-VSTA (P4, 3.8GHz WinXP, alligned). Also works (or more precisely, get detected) on the target Asus TXP4-X, so so far, so good. Except the speed, lol.

Now the question is - what voltage to use for the SanDisk Extreme PRO 32G CF card and how to change the removable bit to fixed, so there will be the caching in Windows possible.

I found two ways, ATM, that attempted to flip the removable / fixed bit on my SanDisk CF cards. I have own a oldie SanDisk 5V and 0.5GBy big CF card (SDCFH-512) too. The second tested card was the SanDIsk Extreme PRO 32G (SDCFXPS-032G) CF card.

1 - there is a program called BootIt v1.07, that offer the flipping between the removable and fixed devices:
USB Powered Gadgets and more.. » Flip Your Bit USB Utility To Make Local Drive
It does promise that it will work (despite showing my 32G CF card as 18G) and it even claim to work:

…but the device stays as removable. Both my CF cards cannot be changed. It should work good on USB drives... but it does not work on both mentioned CF cards.

2 - there is program called
How to Set a CF Card to Fixed Mode | eHow
Again it claim to flip the removable bit to fixed on CF card, connected thru PATA to CF card adapter into a PATA interface. The usage is shell and it is simple:
atcfwchg /P /F
That should set the CF card, that reside on the primary IDE channel to fixed mode. In reality it output this error:

NAND Athens ID Drive Config Word (Fixed/Removable) Change Utility Version 1.4.
Fail (error #20)

So changing the "most important bit" on any CF card is not possible for these SanDisk cards, witch make them virtually useless for any PC usage, as for example, two partitions are not possible on removable device under Windows, while it is not a problem on fixed device…

There are also "solutions", like a diskmod-, witch is basically a driver that trick Windows into treating all devices as fixed. Yet that is not going to help me to be able to install Windows on the CD card, therefore I cannot attest on it's functionality of quirks or bad things that happen, when you use it. I saw video of this driver working well on Win 8.1, but since the change is not permament ON THE DEVICE and it is just a Win patch, then it does not interest me one bit.

So far, I'm clueless. Hopefully the information I gather will help someone... On SanDisk forum this message I posted disappeared very quickly (under 20 min)... so, beware, users. SanDisk does not sell CF cards, but compatible CF cards with the exception that the most important change you are forbidden to do it and they will even activelly seek and eradicate all informations regarding the topic...

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