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RISC OS 3 User Guide


RISC OS 3.7 User Guide

27 - HForm

This application is used to format or initialise the hard disc in your computer. Usually you won't need to use it unless you are installing a new hard disc.

If your computer has a hard disc, it's supplied already formatted and loaded with the standard RISC OS applications. You'll only need to use this application if you fit a hard disc that has not been formatted, or if an existing hard disc develops a problem that can only be solved by formatting.

HForm only formats IDE drives connected to the motherboard IDE interface (ADFS). If you have a SCSI drive or 3rd party IDE interface refer to the guide supplied with your SCSI or IDE Expansion Card. This computer does not support ST506 disc drives.

WARNING: Formatting your hard disc will permanently remove all data stored on the disc. It is essential that you copy all the data and applications that you want to keep to floppy discs (or otherwise back them up) before you reformat the disc.

WARNING: Save your work and quit all applications before using HForm.

You should keep a spare copy of !HForm on floppy disc in case your hard disc becomes unusable.

Formatting your existing hard disc

In the following instructions it is assumed that you have to reformat your existing hard disc because of repeated hard disc errors. In order to carry out the reformatting successfully you should have a record of the disc errors which have occurred and their addresses.

HForm allows you to leave the program at any time by pressing Esc before you start formatting. Additionally, at the end of the Format options you will be asked if you want to proceed with the formatting; answer No and HForm will quit without formatting your disc.

Starting the application

HForm is in the Utilities directory on your hard disc or network. To start HForm, double-click on the !HForm icon. The application starts immediately.

Using HForm

Once you've started HForm, the desktop will disappear and be replaced by a blank screen with just text on it. You'll need to reply to certain questions that appear on the screen. Text that you should type in is shown in bold below. You should press Return after anything you type in.

In the following description the text that appears on the screen will be shown  like this.  Your responce will be shown in italics   Like this.   If you are required to press the Return key it will be shown as   <Return>.

First, tell HForm which drive you want to format.


  Format which drive (4 - 7)?4   <Return>

If you want to accept the default drive number 4 just press  <Return>  otherwise type the desired number and press  <Return>.  HForm checks the type of hard disc and displays message similar to this.

  Drive 4 is an IDE drive
  IDE drive ADFS:4 identifies itself as:
  Description: Conner peripherals 240MB - CP30254
  Firmware version : 0.33
  Configuration: 895 cylinders, 10 heads and 55 sectors/track

Next, tell HForm which hard disc shape to use.

You don't need to know the manufacturer of your hard disc or its specifications since you can usually just accept all the defaults offered. If you want to use a different drive shape turn to Changing the hard disc shape.

  This disc supports the LBA (Logical Block Address) option
  This disc was last formatted using the standard shape:
  895 cylinders, 10 heads and 55 sectors/track
  Parking cylinder 894, Initialisation flag 1, LBA flag 1(enabled)
  Do you wish to retain this shape (Y/N)?
  Y <Return>

Note: The first line will only appear on discs that support the LBA option (see Changing the hard disc shape).

Decide whether you simply want to format the disc, or whether you want to map out any defects found. HForm gives you the following choices:

  A: no more changes
  B: add defect by cylinder, head, byte/sector
  C: add defect by disc address
  D: remove defect

If you want to add some defects see Recording a list of hard disc defects. If you are simply formatting a disc:

  A, B, C or D?   A   <Return>

Decide whether to format or initialise the hard disc.

  Disc will be formatted as: A
  Format or just initialise the drive (F/I)?
  I   <Return>

You only need to format the disc if it was previously formatted using the wrong parameters or has some other problem. With an IDE disc it should never normally be necessary. This example assumes you want to Initialise the disc.

Decide whether you want to carry out a soak test.

  Soak test the hard disc for defects (Long/Short/None)?   L   <Return

Soak testing checks that the state of the defects on the disc is stable.

L is the long test; the disc is continuously tested until you press the Space bar. S is the short test, which is just one scan of the disc. For a small drive this will last just a few minutes, with a large drive it can take hours. You now have a final chance to quit the format process before it starts, or decide to proceed.

  Are you SURE you want to do this to drive 4 (Y/N)?   Y   <Return>

Entering Y and pressing  <Return>  starts the format or initialisation. Entering N will quit from the HForm application without formatting the disc.

If you specified the long soak test, the test continues until you press the Space bar. It is recommended that you carry out the soak test for at least 24 hours.

If you do not perform a soak test, and if the verification process detects any additional defects, HForm will then repeat the formatting and verification process in order to include the new defects. It will display the messages  Formatting  and  Verifying  as it does so.

At the end of the formatting process, you'll get one final prompt asking you to enter the Large file allocation unit. The value offered will be the smallest that can be used. Unless you understand exactly what yu are doing you are strongly advised to accept the default value by just pressing  <Return> .

The final prompt is:

  Large file allocation unit? <number>  <Return>

The formatting process is now complete.

Recording a list of hard disc defects

A defect is a fault that has been detected in part of the disc. The following process marks the defective part of the disc, so that the defective part is no longer used.

HForm lists the current defects (if any) on the hard disc and invites you to change the list by adding any new defects that you may have discovered. You may wish to add a new defect because ADFS has previously returned an error message, such as;

  Disc error 10 at :4/00831E00

You should make a note of any errors on your hard disc of this type that the computer reports.

When HForm asks you if you want to map out any defects type C then press  <Return>.  Type in the defect address exactly as it appeared in the disc error message, but omit anything up to and including the colon. For example, for the error above, you'd just type  4/00831E00  then press  <Return>.

You can add multiple errors by typing them in, separated by  <Return>.

When you have entered all the defects you wish to, type A and press  <Return>  to indicate there are no more changes.

Changing the hard disc shape

HForm prompts you to confirm the name of the disc in your computer. The application gets this information from the previous format type; you do not need to know the manufacturer of your hard disc.

However, you may need to change the specifications of the hard disc format used (known as the shape) if

If you want to change the disc shape you can answer NO to the following question:

  Do you wish to retain this shape (Y/N)?  N  <Return>

You will be presented with a list of alternative shapes to choose from. If you don't want to use any of these shapes use  OTHER.  You will have to enter the formatting specifications you require. Consult the manual accompanying your hard disc for its precise specifications or contact your supplier for details. Note: During this process, if your disc supports it, you'll be given the opportunity to specify Logical Block Addressing (LBA).

  Drive LBA flag (0 disabled, 1 enabled))?  1  <Return>

LBA provides a faster calculation of disc addresses. If you don't set the LBA flag here, the normal Cylinder-Head-Sector (CHS) addressing will be used.

RISC OS 3.7 User Guide - 22 JAN 1997

This edition Copyright © 3QD Developments Ltd 2015
Last Edit: Tue,03 Nov 2015