Full Description of File
32 BIT DISK/FILE FAQ's W3.1/W4WG
This is collected information on
using 32 bit disk/file access with
Windows. The files come from
Gateway 2000, Western Digital, and
Contents of the 32BITFAQ.TXT file
So far this is the best substitute for a FAQ on 32 bit access I've seen.
This was posted to the GW2K Usenet newsgroup and is presented in its
entirety. I hope the information is of help.
Posted, originally, by Bob Smiejek .
This great information was "stolen" by me from the CIS GW forum,
but I thought it was worth it. It is authored by Jerod Enstrom,
with additions by me at the end. bs
There have been many questions about the 32-bit features in Windows,
or Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and enabling them with systems having
540MB or larger drives. The features can be enabled in different ways
in most systems, though some setups do require a loss of drive space
to use them.
Minimum Requirements to gain 32 Bit Disk Access
*** More may be required ***
To gain access to 32 Bit Disk Access, you must insure the following 3
lines are in the SYSTEM.INI file. If they don't exist, ad them:
The following =additional= information must be checked when
running WFW311 on a stand alone or networked system:
The Config.sys must contain the line:
Then re-start windows, and you should now be able to enable both the
32-bit file and disk accesses.
Please keep in mind that the 32BitDiskAccess, is a way of increasing
performance by doing the end run-around the BIOS to talk directly to
the Controller/Drive using 32Bit code, instead of the 16Bit code
normally used by the BIOS (which forces Windows to drop to "real" mode
to access the drive).
What benefits does 32-bit disk access provide? There are a couple of
benefits. If you are running DOS based applications through Windows
you will notice a slight performance increase. This may not be as much
of an increase as actually running your DOS based application in DOS.
The largest benefit will be for those people running multiple Windows
applications concurrently. 32-bit disk speeds up the paging to and
from your swapfile, as well as to any file accessed on the hard drive
while in enhanced mode. If you only run 2 or 3 applications at a time
you may not notice any difference in switching since your background
applications will be in memory and will not have been swapped to your
But, if you do have a lot of applications running at the same time you
will be able to switch from your current application to a background
application faster if you have 32-bit disk access. The program will not
run any faster, but you can switch to it faster. Performance is improved
only for those who must do a lot of switching between multiple
What benefit does 32-Bit File Access feature in Windows for Workgroups
3.11 provide? Basically, this feature tries to keep all of the calls
for files from the hard drive in 32-bit protected mode which allows
faster processing. This is the VFAT driver. The VCACHE driver
replaces the SmartDrive disk caching scheme in Windows and allows
faster caching routines for files.
The inability to get 32BitDiskAccess to function on a system when the
drive is is larger that 528M, and is set up with Auto-Config or user
defined for maximum capacity with the LBA function enabled, is caused
by the inability of the "virtual drivers" in Windows, which runs on
top of DOS, to access more than 1024 Cylinders. A drive with more than
1024 Cylinders is not considered to be WD1003 compliant at this time.
* The drive is capable of providing the full amount of HDD space,
however the reason that it isn't always possible to make it all
work, and gain the full drive size, is due to a combination of
limitations between the BIOS (OS) and the IDE Specification.
BIOS IDE LIMITATION
Max Sectors/Track 63 255 63
Max Number of Heads 255 16 16
Max Number of Cylinders 1024 65536 1024
Maximum Capacity 8.4G 136.9G 528M
The systems which can use the full drive size and the features
have Logical Block Addressing (LBA) settings in their BIOS'.
Currently, only those systems with the PCI buses, Pentium and P486
systems, have these LBA settings. All other systems have to lose
some hard drive space to use the features.
NOTE: If you have a REV.3 P5 M.B. or a 486PCI M.B., then the LBA
can be enabled, and the Auto-Config should work fine,
however the 32BitDiskAccess will not be supported by Windows
(See below for possible work around).
* The P5 & 486PCI systems are not being shipped with this feature
(32BitDiskAccess) enabled because PD feels that it is not
appropriate on these systems as of this time.
* If you have the P486 systems, you may have problems as well with the
32-bit Disk Access feature. This is because the driver for the PCI
interface uses the same software interrupt the Windows Fast Disk
driver uses as well. You can remark out the PCI driver in the
Config.sys file or not use 32-bit Disk Access. At this time, there
is no other option.
* If you have the NEC IDE CD drive in your system and it is installed
on the same controller, you cannot enable 32-bit Disk Access. This
is because the file structures for the CD and hard drives are
different and the Fast Disk driver won't recognize the CD file
* If you have a Pentium system with two controllers, make sure you
have the most updated CD drivers and connect the CD to the ISA
controller and leave the hard drive connected to the PCI controller.
You do have to change the CD driver line to show its movement from
the primary to the secondary controller. With this setup, you can
enable 32-bit Disk Access.
* Additionally, If you have a 486PCI system, with the PCI add-in IDE
interface, it uses an additional driver that will conflict with the
FASTDISK driver, due to them both using the same software interrupt
(INT13). You will have to make a choice on which you want.
* The 32-bit File Access feature has some incompatibilities as well.
It won't work with some disk compression programs like Stacker 4.0
and DOS 6.0 DoubleSpace. It will work with DOS 6.2 DoubleSpace.
Just remember you may have problems with it on compressed drives.
* Other problems can be found with trying to use the Windows MS
Undelete program. Since the 32-bit File Access changes the file
reads, you cannot use this program to recover files. If you delete
a file, you cannot get it back.
* There is also a "BETA" WD Fastdisk driver available from this
service, which will allow you to use the drive at full capacity, and
use 32BitDiskAccess, but we have not fully tested it (DO NOT use
this driver unless you have a WD HDD installed in your system). This
driver will replace the DEVICE=*WDCTRL line in the System.ini.
*** You can D/L this file, and use it at your own risk. ***
*** Gateway 2000 assumes no responsibility for any problems ***
*** encountered with this driver! ***
=IF= the HDD is larger than 528M, =AND= none of the information above
has allowed you to enable the 32BDA:
 Backup all of the information on your hard drive.
 You have to delete the original partition by typing FDISK and
using STEP 3 from the main menu to delete all partitions.
 Get into the CMOS on booting and go to the hard drive setup.
 Change the hard drive from Auto Config to User Defined and use
the following parameters:
CYL: 1023 HD: 16 SEC: 63 (size will show 504M)
 Save these settings and boot onto the first DOS disk. Press
F3 twice to exit the setup program.
 Type FDISK to repartition the drive to the new parameters.
Create it with the new settings.
 When this is done, press Escape to reboot the system and load
DOS on it. Have the software format the drive for you
 When the format is complete, reload your backup software, then
restore your system.
NOTE: It is not necessary to re-partition the drive if you
decide you can live without 32BitDiskAccess, so that you can
gain the extra drive space by configuring the drive to use LBA,
and setting it up for 1048 Cylinders (either user defined, or
Auto-Config). BTW, LBA in itself is not what is causing the
incompatibility, but rather the number of Cylinders.
32bit DISK ACCESS with Qemm 7.5 and Stealth
To get 32BDA working with Qemm 7.5 Stealth, you need to download the file
32BDAFIX.SYS to the Qemm directory. This is inserted in the C.Sys.
You insert Device=C:\QEMM\32BDAFIX.SYS in the line right under
the Qemm line. Also, make sure you are using the Fastdisk driver 2.5
In the WD program group, uncheck the 3 left boxes, and re-boot.
You should now have 32bit disk and file access.
Note: On my system (P5-66 w/ Mitsumi CD), I had trouble with Quickboot
and Optimize "hanging". When I optimize with Stealth, I have to remark
out the 32BDAFIX.SYS. For Quickboot to work, I had to add BV19:N on the
Qemm line, to prevent conflicts with the CD loading MTMCDAE during
config.sys. I hope to update this soon, with help from Qemm.
STACKER 4/ QEMM 7.5/ 32bit
Stac now has (or soon will) a new patch which updates Stacker 4.0
and provides a new StacHigh.sys to work with QEMM 7.5 It is supposed to
support 32bit file access.