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How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

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Wesley W.D. Summers
Frequent Advisor

How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

I have a number and variety (4.3, 9.1 & 18.2GB) of SCSI drives that are currently connected to a Smart Array 3200 installed in a ProLiant 5500.

They could just as easily be moved to the standard (non-array) controller, if this was required.

I would like to low-level format some of them, as they have experienced some I/O errors.

I have SmartStart v5.00, but I can't see anything there, or in the Test facilities provided by the F10 partition.

If anyone can point me in the right direction for the documentation on how to do this, I would be VERY grateful.


Regards, Wesley.
14 REPLIES
SAKET_5
Honored Contributor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Hi Wesley,

A couple of ways I can think of:

1).From a Smart Start CD, run the System Erase utility. It should perform a format of all the drives attached to the controller. Note, if you have other drives that you want to preserve, just unseat those ones.

2).Copy 'fdisk' or 'format' or 'gdisk' utilities on a MS-DOS bootable floppy. Boot off this floppy and format the drives.

3). From Windows, could you try setting up a filesystem on those drives and then do not tick 'quick format'. This would take some time. Is this not an option for ya?

4). If you have an option of connecting those drives to a linux host, run something like badblocks testing utility. This would guarantee a low level format.

5). You could also run CHKDSK from within Windows to see filesystem level errors. I would rely on management agents though to check SCSI Error counts, retries etc info for SCSI or device errors.

Hope, this helps:)

Wesley W.D. Summers
Frequent Advisor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Hi Saket,

Thanks for your reply, but I think what I would like to do, and what you have suggested are different.

Back in the good old days before Windows 3.x, you had to Low Level Format drives BEFORE you could format them for a File System. This is what I am trying to do.

In those days, it was a special feature of the Controller BIOS, and you would get into it via an Assembly Language Debugger.


-----
As far as your response is concerned, this is how I have understood what you had said:

1. The System Erase deletes the ARRAYS, but does not Low-Level the DRIVES.

2. Fdisk is a Partition table utility, and does not low-level format. However, FDISK and FORMAT will both do a FAT (i.e. OS Format of the drives). Again, since you would see an ARRAY with drives connected to the SA3200, I don't think it is possible to 'see'the physical drive. I have never heard of GDISK.

3. The Windows Format (With Quick Format OFF) does a FAT/NTFS in the same manner as the DOS FORMAT command in 2 above.

4. Sorry, no Linux host around, but BADBLOCKS testing sounds EXACTLY like what I am trying to do.

5. Files system errors are of no interest to me.


-----
So, I'm still trying to find out how I can Low Level format my SCSI drives (i.e. with no Array configured and no File System).

This is what the manufacturer would have done in the factory, which would map out any bad sectors, and use the spare tracks to bring the drive's capacity up to the specified disk space.


Regards, Wesley.
SAKET_5
Honored Contributor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Hi Wesley,

1. The system erase, as far as I know deletes the arrays and initialises all the drives attached to all the controllers. I agree that this may still not achieve a complete low level format that you are after.

2. I would check for you if you could just run badblocks utility from a floppy or if there is an equivalent one for Windows. This sounds like the way to go.

3. Understood that file system errors are of no interest to you. But, have you checked the management agent section where it lists the SCSI read/write/etc errors? Although this info would relate to a logical drive not individual physical drives.

I would have thought that the SCSI drives dynamically map any bad blocks/sectors through ARM (Automated reliability monitoring).

Regards,
Prashant (I am Back)
Honored Contributor
Solution

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Launch the SCU from the diskettes
- Press CTRL + A (advanced mode enabled)
- Select "Diagnostic and Utilities"
- Select "Test Computer"
- Insert the Compaq Diagnostic Diskette
- Choose "Prompt Test"
- Choose "Interactive Testing (Single Device)"
- Select "SCSI"
- Select the drive you want to format
- Select "Unconditional Format"
Nothing is impossible
Cheryl Griffin
Honored Contributor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

SmartStart is documented at
http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/servers/management/smartstart/index.html
"Downtime is a Crime."
Wesley W.D. Summers
Frequent Advisor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Dear Prashant & Cheryl,

In Prashant's message there are 2 things that should be noted:

1 - The SCU does NOT have to be run ONLY from Diskettes. I have the utilities on drives attached to the SA3200, so they can be run from there.

2 - In fact, drives attached to a Smart Array controller CAN'T be formatted using the technique Prashant describes. As I suggested in my initial message, I was happy to connect the relevant drive to the Inbuilt SCSI controller, if necessary.

When I didn't see the SCSI option (Since NO drives were connected to the Inbuilt SCSI controller), I connected 2 drives, and then the option was presented.

When I did this, the procedure supplied by Prashant works 'like a Dream'!.


-----
In Cheryl's message, she points to the documentation available for SmartStart.

I will enjoy looking through all this while my SCSI drives are formatting, then doing a Surface Scan (which will take a few hours, since I have a few drives to do!).

Thanks to everyone for their contributions.


Kind regards, Wesley.
Rahul Sharma
Frequent Advisor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Hi
I have one utility which is known as DBAN it is img file and you can boot the system with this utility and it will erase everything on this and you can never recover anything back. i use this utility to earse the decommissioned server from our secured environment.

check this out
http://dban.sourceforge.net/
or
do a search on google for DBAN
Prashant (I am Back)
Honored Contributor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Hi,

Enter Compaq Diagnostics in F10 Setup and choose Surface Analysis to do destructive wipe of all partitions
***Note Armada M/V/E series do not have F10 Diagnostics and do not work with the older bootable diagnostics disks

1 Boot unit into the F10 setup and choose "Computer Checkup" from the main menu. Then choose:
2 Prompted Diagnostics - [ENTER]
3 Interactive Testing (Single Device) - [ENTER]
4 Hard Drive(s) - [ENTER]
5 Format menu - [ENTER]
6 Surface Analysis - [ENTER]
7 Leave Surface Analysis promt at default of Read/Write/Compare passes (4) - [Enter]


------------or----------------------

F10 / Boot from Compaq Diagnostic Disk

>Press Ctrl+A between "Compaq Diagnostics" and "Compaq Diagnostics (enhanced)" .

Main menu:

> Computer Diagnose (Test)
> Continue
> Prompted Diagnostics
> ... Initialize *.TM Files ...
> Interactive testing> OK
> Harddisk(s)
> Format menu
> Unconditional Format / Surface Scan
> OK>OK>OK ... (20-60 minutes)


Regards,
Prashant S.
Nothing is impossible
Knuckles The Echidna
Occasional Visitor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Hi all,

I'm trying to low level format an hard drive "COMPAQ BD018745A3 SCSI Disk Device (16 Go)" which is in a Compaq Proliant ML330.

I don't find what utility I can use. The first disk have the compaq system partition but when I type F10 before and after the POST, I can only go into the system BIOS. There is no option for manage the SCSI drives.

The controller is "Wide Ultra SCSI2 Compaq".

There is a way to low level format this disk ? I try the SCSISelect utility from adaptec but the controller isn't compatible...

Thanks you in advance for any help !
Wesley W.D. Summers
Frequent Advisor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Have you tried the solution provided by Prashant Sharma on May 19, 2004 at 09:08:24 GMT?
Knuckles The Echidna
Occasional Visitor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Yes, otherwise I didn't do me precedent post on this subject... ;)

I try to restore the compaq system partition with SmartStart 5.5 (newer versions don't boot on my Proliant ML330), but when I type F10 I haven't the suggested menu.

I have no diskette too :(

Thanks you ;)
Knuckles The Echidna
Occasional Visitor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

How can I access the system partition created by SmartStart 5.5 on my Proliant ML330 ?

The partition is here, according to Windows, but pressing F10 at boot time gives me the motherboard BIOS...

If I try to type "F10" when the Compaq logo appears, a message telling that it may be an error with my keyboard appears...

Thanks for your help !
Petko Minkov
Occasional Visitor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Hi Wesley,
I also have to do low-level format on my HP server. It has two controllers:
SCSI P6400 and SAS P400 with attached SCSI HDDs.
I will be really appreciated if you explain me your way for doing this step by step

Thanks in advance,
Petko
Knuckles The Echidna
Occasional Visitor

Re: How do I Low-Level format SCSI drives?

Any solution yet ? :(