Help, SMARTDRV, DOS 50,62, Win30,31, Floppy I/O errors

Help, SMARTDRV, DOS 50,62, Win30,31, Floppy I/O errors

Post by Bruce E. Goldste » Sat, 27 Jan 1996 04:00:00



I am a PC novice and would appreciate some help or suggestions on the following.
I have a 386SX Lodestar computer (20 or 25MHz) with 2MB RAM installed, which
ran DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.0 OK. But, wanted to get a printer and all the new
inkjets seem to require Windows 3.1. OK, went to install Windows 3.1 and
DOS 6.2 on it, ran MEMMAKER. To do the install, I had to swap the A and B
drives on the floppy cable because the computer could only boot from A
and C and the 5.25 floppy used to be on A, whereas the disks were 3.5. Well
during and after the install I noticed that I seemed to be getting occasional
floppy read errors (telling the installer retry allowed me to
get the installation done). At first I thought I had somehow messed things
up by moving the cables around, and eventually replaced the 3.5 inch floppy
drive, cable, and HDFD controller with brand new ones, but the problem
persisted. Should mention that the BIOS on the machine is something called
MR BIOS, I do not remember at the moment what MR stands for other than the
name of the company that did it was M????? R?????. Anyhow, at the point where
I had replaced all the hardware I realized that I had a software problem.

First, the problem occurs in DOS when it alone is running (no Windows or
Apps), when I do a DISKCOPY of the 3.5 inch floppy or COPY of a very large
file I get I/O errors on the floppy both on read and write. I isolated
the problem to SMARTDRV 5.0 (which is what comes with DOS 6.2).
Experimenting further, I told EMM386 to exclude A000 through EFFF, forcing
everything to load in conventional memory except for the cache space that
SMARTDRV uses. Still got the IO errors on floppy. Next checked the online
documentation at Microsoft, and found that (as best I could tell) the
SMARTDRV that came with DOS 5/Windows 30 cached only the hard drive.
OK I thought, let's tell SMARTDRV 5.0 to do the same
SMARTDRV a- b- c+. Still got IO errors. OK I thought, let's turn off write
cache on the hard drive SMARTDRV a- b- c. Fine, this worked. But, I could
do both read and write cacheing on the hard drive with DOS 5/WIN30, why
am I suddenly restricted to just read cache with DOS 62/WIN31? Why does
the cache setting on the hard drive affect whether I have IO errors on
the floppy? Would I be giving up anything significant by reverting DOS to
50 (I am not using DoubleSpace)? I should mention that the hard drive is
a recently acquired 540 MB IDE drive, and I had the problem when the new
floppy, HDFD controller, and AB cable were in the machine.
Any idea what is the most likely cause of this problem (the
BIOS/motherboard would seem to be the only possibility, but is this likely
and is there
some obscure wrong way of configuring the software that could
cause this? I am curious as to what might actually be the cause of such

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