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Formatting a New IDE/ATA Drive
using Apple Drive Setup
by Mike B.

Formatting the New Drive



Update: This article was originally posted *before* OS X was released. For those using OS X - I recommend using OS X's Disk Utility to format the drive. It's also on the OS X install CD (selectable from the menu of the installer CD). Make sure you select the option to install OS 9 drivers on the new drive if you want to boot to OS 9 from the drive. (The newest Macs can no longer do that but previous models can - if you forget to check that option you will not be able to boot from OS 9 with the drive.)

(original article on OS 9 drive setup follows)

Now that the new drive has been installed, you have to format the drive before it will appear on the desktop and be ready to use. Whenever possible, I use Apple's Drive Setup which is included with all Macs and Mac OS updates. The latest version as of OS 9.04 is Drive Setup v1.9.2. It works with every IDE/ATA drive I've seen and most SCSI drives also. Apple's drivers (installed by Drive Setup) currently perform about as well as any in most cases and have the advantage of compatibility with future OS updates. (Unlike many 3rd party drivers which often require updates for later OS versions, some of which cost $$ to buy the latest version.) Apple Drive Setup is inside the folder of the same name contained in the "Utilities" folder of the Mac OS CD, or your hard drive (if the drive you're adding is a 2nd/Slave drive as in the case of this guide).

Drive Setup Folder Contents

Run Apple Drive Setup and select the new drive, which is shown as uninitialized (see image below).

Drive Setup Initial screen

Once you select a drive in the list, the "Initialize" button in the lower right corner will become active. Click on it to bring up the initialization options panel. Although not a must, in that panel I always select the custom initialize option, even if I plan on selecting only one partition. The image below shows the custom Initialization screen. (The image below was taken during formatting a 18GB drive, so the formatted drive size will vary of course depending on the drive size you're using. The 45GB IBM drive for instance has a formatted size of just under 43GB. The 'rated' size vs formatted size differences are primarily due to the decimal (drive rating) vs. binary (computer formatted size) numbering system. 1000 is 1K decimal, 1024 is 1K binary for instance.)

Drive Setup Partition Screen

Note: Make sure you format the drive as "Mac OS Extended" format (aka HFS+), otherwise there will be a lot of wasted space on large volumes due to the older HFS format's large minimum block sizes. (I.E. a small file will take up many times its actual size on the disk since the minimum allocation block size will be very large. HFS+/MacOS Extended allows a much larger number of total allocation blocks, so each one can be smaller, increasing storage space efficiency.)

You can always reformat again later in the Finder if you didn't select Mac OS Extended at this point, but reformatting destroys any existing data, so best is to do it right the first time. (Note: Alsoft's Plusmaker can convert volumes from HFS to HFS+ (MacOS Extended) without erasing the data).

After the drive is formatted it will mount on the desktop and is ready for use. An IDE Slave drive is bootable of course, so you could copy a system folder to the drive or use a MacOS CD to install a system to the drive. Once a system folder is present, you can then select the drive as the boot disk using the Startup Disk Control Panel.


Related Links:

For other storage related articles/reviews/guides, check the Main Site IDE, SCSI, or Firewire articles pages, which have other guides and reviews of drives, controllers and more. The Frequently Asked Questions also has topic areas on storage as well as over a dozen other topics.


Index of IDE Drive Install Pages

Intro/Removing Drive Bkt | Mounting New Drive | Formatting the HD

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