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General Hardware Discussion Hard drives, CD, DVD Monitors, All hardware questions not better served by our other Topics


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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 7th September, 2012, 07:49 PM
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Can't Format Hard Drives

I got to take an old Tower Server home and gut it.
I'm donating the motherboard/ram/CPU and keeping the case.
Last weekend I moved my Linux server hardware into the case and its GREAT! Much better than my old tower.

I wanted to format the old Maxtor IDE hard drives so I could use them, but I'm having a problem....
When connecting them via USB adapter with IDE connector, Windows and Linux won't allow me to format, delete or do anything.
They both show 0 bytes and can not even mount the drive.

The USB connection recognizes the drive but I can't modify all 3 of them in any way with Disk Management (Win) or Disk Utility (Linux).

What is the deal? I've never had this problem before?
Do you think there was some kind of encryption on the drives?
I tried different jumper settings but still locked out...
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Old 8th September, 2012, 12:23 AM
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Perhaps they are password protected.

Parallel ATA - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 8th September, 2012, 01:15 AM
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Are you kidding me! I've never heard of this...
Kinda cool actually, but totally not neccesary in the server I got them from.
So now I have to learn how to pass a command to the drive???
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Old 8th September, 2012, 01:29 AM
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It's a possibility.

What kind of organisation owned these drives?

Do you have any drive tools which will tell you if the drives are protected?
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Old 8th September, 2012, 03:09 AM
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Newspaper industry.
The server was a print server when it was last used. I really don't think there was sensitive data on it, but maybe 10 years ago when it was originally used there may have been.

Drive tools? Like hardware or software?
I can use the Disk Utility in Linux...
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Old 8th September, 2012, 04:41 PM
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I think MHDD should indicate drive protection:

HDDGURU: MHDD
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Old 8th September, 2012, 07:11 PM
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Off the the wall...But you have an Acronis disk right? Use it to wipe the drive, fast will do... this has ended so many problems for me in the past.
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Old 8th September, 2012, 07:13 PM
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Disk utility should do what ever you want...I don't know a thing about encrypted or protected drives though
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Old 8th September, 2012, 09:23 PM
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Thats what I'm saying... even disk utility won't format or delete the volumes/partitions.
So they must be locked....
I'll do some research on MHDD

Are you guys sure it's not a jumper issue? I am using a USB adapter, but its always worked on every drive I've plugged into it.
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Old 9th September, 2012, 08:42 AM
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The ATA security (password protection) prevents you being able to read or write to the disks until the password is sent. If you attempt an operation, the drive would return a "drive not ready" error (same as if the disk has having problems reading).

However, if you can read anything that's on the disk, it's not likely to be protected.

USB adapters can bring their own issues, generally they can only issue read and write commands - things like ATA security aren't handled. Also, if the drive is very old, it might not understand some of the DMA modes that the USB adapter might be attempting to use.
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Old 10th September, 2012, 05:25 PM
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Linux and Windows definitely says "drive not ready"
I'm pretty sure there is a password protection on these guys.
Sucks because I already donated the original motherboard.
So I can't even plug them in to the original hardware and format them.
But even if I could... the password would probably still exist because its in the firmware not the platters.
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Old 10th September, 2012, 05:40 PM
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If they're password protected, then you're a bit out of luck I'm afraid. There are people who specialise in retrieving/deleting the password from the firmware, but they cost $$$.
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Old 10th September, 2012, 06:32 PM
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do you think I could connect these in a different computer and try the password?
I know some of the standard passwords that might work...
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Old 11th September, 2012, 09:05 AM
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Yeah, there's no reason not to. You'll need a motherboard that has BIOS support for ATA Security, which is the difficult part. Most laptops can manage that, but few desktops can. Desktops that are designed for corporate use are more likely to support the feature.
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Old 11th September, 2012, 05:38 PM
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wow, I had no idea...
If I had known previously, I would have kept that motherboard. It was a cheap Pentium 4 motherboard, but I donated it with the processor and ECC RAM. I really have no use for it and I've already re-used the case.
That Sucks!
At this point I'm giving up until I get another spare server/corporate workstation.
I don't even really need the hard drives, but they are nice for my refurbished builds.
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Old 11th September, 2012, 06:19 PM
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Yeah, there's been one or two trojans in the past that have been able to activate the ATA Security features, because the motherboard BIOS doesn't deal with it correctly. Ideally a BIOS would check the ATA Security features, get the password if necessary, then apply a "Security Freeze", which stops any changes being made.

It's all extra code.
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Old 11th September, 2012, 07:13 PM
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Trojans huh? so there IS a way!
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Old 12th September, 2012, 02:04 AM
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Cool it Boo you aren't even Greek!
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Old 12th September, 2012, 04:26 PM
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I'm not really going to install a Trojan, but if those guys can figure it out, there must be a way.
I just want them formatted and ready-to-go
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Old 12th September, 2012, 05:30 PM
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Other way around I'm afraid. It was a case that the trojan would set a password on your hard disk, and suddenly, you couldn't read it any longer. BIOSes that recognise ATA security set a flag on the drive preventing changes to the password, so it wasn't possible to set the password after booting.
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