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How slow HDD is really SLOW?


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Therefore I wonder, if someone have a experience with replacing such SLOOOW HDDs with PATA to CF adapter and CF card(s)? The latest models promise very fast speeds - 160MB/sec is quite above PATA possibilities:



SanDisk Extreme PRO 32G CF card


...and since the adapters are just wires, connecting the CF card to PATA interface (CF cards work on same PATA interface!) and only in best cases, you can choose the voltage (3.3V or 5V) and you get the power and activity lights:



DeLock 91620 PATA to CF


...then there should not be any problem of using CF cards as old PATA HDD replacement(s). Only problem I hear, that there should be changed bit on the card somewhere, that change the device type from removable to fixed. Then it should act as normal HardDriveDevice.


But maybe I missed something...? Do anyone have experience with this? Could someone share tips, software for the change (from removable to fixed) and experience in general?

Edited by trodas
fixed typo
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SanDisk response my my questions (actually only to the first one):



Dear Pavel,


I understand that you want to change your CF card from removable to fixed device.


Please allow us to inform you that CompactFlash cards can be configured to use “Fixed Disk mode†as this is defined by the CompactFlash specification.


SanDisk does not support its implementation with our consumer or professional-level cards as it is outside of the scope of their intended use. Thus, all of our consumer and professional cards are shipped, by default, in Removable mode.

SanDisk no longer offers an OEM or fixed disk Compact flash card line. There also is no utility available to change retail Compact Flash cards from removable to fixed disk.


Additional information you may read on the following web article:

Can I enable the Fixed Disk mode on my CompactFlash card?


In order to answer your question to which voltage the PATA to CF card adapter should be set, I will reply to you later as I will escalate this issue to our technical department, in order to give you a correct answer.


Thank you for your preference of our SanDisk products.


Click here to register your product online.

Please provide us your phone number (for technical support call back only)


Thank you for your kind cooperation.



Best regards,


Joanna R.

SanDisk Global Customer Care






So to put it short, I pay premium price for "CF card" that is not really a CF card, because I cannot change the bit that is defined by CF specification...? You are gotta be kidding me...

Edited by trodas
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Well, it also show SanDisk incompetence. They did not support what is defined in CF card standard (!) and they still not answered the question about voltage:


Dear Pavel,


We have escalated your case for review by an L2 Technician. We will provide a response to you shortly.


Thank you,

SanDisk Global Customer Care



Dear Pavel,


We have escalated your case for additional review by an L3 Support Engineer. You will be notified of further action within 24-48 business hours. Please feel free to contact us via email if you have any additional questions.



Thank you,

SanDisk Global Customer Care



Lame. Asking DeLock about the voltage, as adapters are already there :)

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Well, since SanDisk is not going to reply, I tried with the default 5V setting the DeLock adapter I mentioned earlier with very old, 0.5G CF card SanDisk SDCFH. It does support PIO 4, but no DMA and the speed is very slow:




Tested on ASRock 775Dual-VSTA (P4, 3.8GHz WinXP, alligned). Also works (or more precisely, get detected) on the target Asus TXP4-X, so so far, so good. Except the speed, lol.


Now the question is - what voltage to use for the SanDisk Extreme PRO 32G CF card and how to change the removable bit to fixed, so there will be the caching in Windows possible.

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I don't know the normal value, but 6.4 MB/s shouldn't be the real performance of the used Seagate HDD. HDDs produced at the end of the 90s should deliver at least an average double-digit transfer rate. The graph shows a rather steady transfer rate, which is common for flash devices, but not single disk-based storage devices. If not seriously hold back by the read/write head performance HDDs transfer rates are significantly higher at the outside of the discs due to the increased radius at the same rotation speed. Steady transfer rates are a hint for a bottleneck, likely interface-related (PIO mode etc.). 76.2 % CPU usage might be a drawback of course. :D

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Start with 3.3v and if not working switch to 5.0v


Okay, that sounds about reasonable... so I tried and the good news are, that SanDisk Extreme PRO 32G CF card works well with 3.3V settings! There are the result, enabling Smart a 32bit mode transfer did nothing, PATA133 is supported, but it is not going to get higher. Sadly. Still, I think that this is a reasonable speed improvement:




However, now to bad news. The CF card is completely useless, unless someone tell me how to change the removable bit to fixed. Period. You cannot use the CF card for anything w/o that. Two examples:


I use Mini Tool Partition Wizard Pro to setup the drive on boot CD - it let me allign the partitions - when creating second partition (one 4G FAT32 for OS, rest for DATA and NTFS = usable settings for waza), it tells me, that I cannot use that partition under Win, as Win recognize only ONE partition on removable device. I was like... that it is, I'm screwed.


So for lolz, I started the install. It want well even at 83MHz FSB with the ATI Rage XL card (IDE HDD refused to work under such conditions, it worked only when S3 Trio64 is used at that clock), but then I get to the drive partitioning and problems arise. D partition is invisible (unpartioned space, lol) and there is no way to create a new partition there, because on removable drive, only one partition is supprted. So OK, I try installing and using only the 4G partition... but no! It cannot install, because this partition is NOT compatible with WinXP.


So basicaly, w/o the change from removable to fixed, any usage of any CF card as HDD replacement is doomed.




I'm quite mad at SanDisk - they should rename themselves as ScamDisk, because they are selling not CF cards, but CF compatible *) cards, with the *) exception for the possibility to change removable to fixed bit. I believe, that there is open possibility to lawsuit against SanDisk and any other CF card producing company, that produces products, that does not meet the CF card specifications. Because this is false advertising and misleading labeling of product. This is not a CF card, period.




WinSetupToUSB you say? I would gladly give it a try, but... as I looked on their page, there is nothing about changing the removable to fixed bit at all. They just use USB as install drive for Win, witch is entierly different thing. If they have a way to INSTALL Win on removable USB drive, then that could be helpfull. This does not looks like anything that could help me in my dire situation :(

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I.nfraR.ed - but there is plenty of tools, could you tell me witch one it is...? I find there only bold claims about the BootIt working, but it does not...





I found myself two ways, ATM, that attempted to flip the removable / fixed bit on my SanDisk CF cards. I have own a oldie SanDisk 5V and 0.5GBy big CF card (SDCFH-512) too. The second tested card was the SanDIsk Extreme PRO 32G (SDCFXPS-032G) CF card.


1 - there is a program called BootIt v1.07, that offer the flipping between the removable and fixed devices:


It does promise that it will work (despite showing my 32G CF card as 18G) and it even claim to work:


...but the device stays as removable. Both my CF cards cannot be changed. It should work good on USB drives... but it does not work on both mentioned CF cards.


2 - there is program called atcfwchg.com:


Again it claim to flip the removable bit to fixed on CF card, connected thru PATA to CF card adapter into a PATA interface. The usage is shell and it is simple:

atcfwchg /P /F

That should set the CF card, that reside on the primary IDE channel to fixed mode. In reality it output this error:


NAND Athens ID Drive Config Word (Fixed/Removable) Change Utility Version 1.4.

Fail (error #20)



So changing the "most important bit" on any CF card is not possible for these SanDisk cards, witch make them virtually useless for any PC usage, as for example, two partitions are not possible on removable device under Windows, while it is not a problem on fixed device...


There are also "solutions", like a diskmod-, witch is basically a driver that trick Windows into treating all devices as fixed. Yet that is not going to help me to be able to install Windows on the CD card, therefore I cannot attest on it's functionality of quirks or bad things that happen, when you use it. I saw video of this driver working well on Win 8.1, but since the change is not permament ON THE DEVICE and it is just a Win patch, then it does not interest me one bit.


So far, I'm clueless. Hopefully the information I gather will help someone... On SanDisk forum this message I posted disappeared very quickly (under 20 min)... so, beware, users. SanDisk does not sell CF cards, but compatible CF cards with the exception that the most important change you are forbidden to do it and they will even actively seek and eradicate all informations regarding the topic...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Guy that goes with nick fzabkar discovered that the SanDisk utility change the Identify Device configuration word from 848Ah to 044Ah:


1283:16C1 BF0006        MOV	DI,0600                          | if removable, then
1283:16C4 833E280801    CMP	WORD PTR [0828],+01              | write 0x848A to 0x630 
1283:16C9 740A          JZ	16D5                              |  
1283:16CB C6453084      MOV	BYTE PTR [DI+30],84              |
1283:16CF C645318A      MOV	BYTE PTR [DI+31],8A              |  
1283:16D3 EB08          JMP	16DD                             |  
1283:16D5 C6453004      MOV	BYTE PTR [DI+30],04              | else write 0x044A to 0x630  
1283:16D9 C645314A      MOV	BYTE PTR [DI+31],4A              |


Witch makes me wonder, if someone could re-create such utility to change my CF card to fixed device rather that being removable, witch cause all sorts of problems with Windows and other programs... and slow-downs.

(for example backing up or restoring a partition by DriveImage boot CD impossible!)


Once I managed to run the card using the Hitachi CF card driver with DMA and I get pretty nice 20MB/sec speed:


32_G_CF_Sandisk_karta.jpg CF_card_is_now_fixed_drive.jpg


...but on next reboot it fails to PIO mode again (and stay that forever since) and the speed is about 2MB/sec with *HUGE* CPU load :(


Hopefully could someone help me out, because that suxx :(

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