How to install SFS onto a real Harddrive within WinUAE

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What is SFS?

SFS stands for Smart File System. This is an alternative third party file system to the standard FFS (Fast File System) included with Workbench/AmigaOS. FFS only supports a maximum HDD size of 8GB, with a maximum partition size of 4GB. SFS removes these limitations and allows you to use harddrives of any size with a maximum partition size of 128GB.

For more information about SFS and how it works look at the Wikipedia SFS entry.

What Harddrive can I use with my Amiga?

This actually depends on the Amiga you are using. The A4000, A1200 and A600 have an IDE interface built in as standard and can all used with standard IDE Harddrives. The A4000 was originally designed to use 3.5" units, and the A1200 and A600 the smaller laptop style 2.5" HDD. The A1200 can however be made to work with 3.5" HDs if you wish, but it is recommended to stick with a 2.5" HDD in the A600 or A1200 if possible as they take up much less room, and also have much lower power consumption.

The A3000 and other older big box Amigas use SCSI HDDs. This guide is focusing specifically on the A1200/A4000, but SFS can be used with most other Amiga models if they have a HDD controller fitted that supports larger Harddrives. However to connect a SCSI HD to a PC you would need to obtain a SCSI controller card for your PC. This is outside of the scope of this guide.

Connecting your Amiga Harddrive to a PC

3.5" HDD

If you use a 3.5" HD then it is easy to connect to a PC. With the PC switched off, open the PC up, locate an empty IDE connector on the ribbon cable and connect it to the drive. Then find a space 4 pin molex power connector and connect that to the drive. If you already have 4 devices connected to the PC you will need to disconnect one of them while setting up your Amiga HDD, and then reconnect it once finished. Disconnecting a CD drive is the best option if needed.

For a harddrive connected to the PC's IDE connectors, once you’ve got a hard drive connected, the drive should be recognised by the computer straight away when the PC is switched on and the name of the drive should be displayed on the boot screen. If it isn’t you may need to fiddle with some settings in your BIOS.

2.5" HDD

If you use a 2.5" HD then you will need one of the following methods to connect it to the PC:

  • A 2.5" > 3.5" IDE connector. This fits onto the 2.5" HD so you can then connect it to the standard IDE cable inside the PC as stated above for 3.5" HDs.
  • A 2.5" external USB Harddrive caddy.
  • A HDD to USB cable.

All of these connectors and external caddies can be picked up easily on ebay for just a few pounds. The best solution for 2.5" HDD is the external HD caddy. This makes it easy to connect the drive to the PC without needing to open the PC up or even switch it off. Just pop the HDD into the external Caddy and plug the USB cable into the PC.

If connected by a USB caddy, once the PC is on and fully booted, connect the USB caddy's USB cable to the PC and it should detect the drive and mount it. If asked do not try to format the drive in Windows.


Remember this guide is just focusing on IDE HDDs. If your Amiga is using a SCSI HDD then you will need to obtain a SCSI controller for your PC, set that up and then connect the SCSI HDD to it.

Setting up WinUAE

Once you have the HDD connected and detected by the PC, run WinUAE and setup a configuration similar to that of the Amiga the drive will go in to. Now click on the "Hard Drives" section of the WinUAE properties window.

Click on Add Hard Drive..., this should make a small box appear. Click on the drop down box and select the hard drive you have just connected to your PC. Tick the read/write box. You have now added the HDD to WinUAE.

Next we are going to add a directory as a virtual hard drive. First create a new directory on your Windows desktop and call it Work. Back in the WinUAE properies, click on Add Directory, select the PC folder Work that you just created and set it’s name to Work and device number DH2. (This drive is used so we can use files we download on the PC side, instead of setting up the amiga to connect to the internet)

Now save these settings as a new WinUAE configuration!

Download SFS

Download the latest version of sfs from either of these two sites. Make sure you download the version for AmigaOS 3.x/m68k, and NOT AmigaOS 4/PPC. AmigaOS 3.x/m68k

Then unpack it to the Work directory you made on your Windows desktop. - For this I use WinRAR.

Setting up the HDD

You will now need a workbench 3.0/3.1 Install disk (adf) for this.

Loading HDToolbox

  1. Put the WB3.X install adf into the WinUAE DF0: drive (make sure you untick write-protected) and boot WinUAE.
  2. It should boot into Workbench.
  3. Open the ADF/floppy disk (normally called Install3.1).
  4. Open the HDTools drawer.
  5. Click ONCE on the HDToolbox icon to select it.
  6. Now right click and select Information from the Icon menu. This should bring up a new window.
  7. In this new window, in the tooltypes section it should have a line saying: SCSI_DEVICE_NAME=scsi.device
  8. Change this to: SCSI_DEVICE_NAME=uaehf.device (make sure you press return)
  9. Now close the window by clicking OK
  10. Double click the HDToolbox icon.

If all has gone correctly your new drive should appear in the box after it finishes scanning.

CLI Alternative method

You can also launch HDToolBox with the specific device as a command line parameter:

  1. Press WindowsKey + E to open a command window
  2. Type "DF0:HDTools/HDToolBox uaehf.device" then press enter

This also means that you do not need to remove write protection on the floppy.

Once you have HDToolBox up and running

Detecting your Amiga HDD

  1. Click on the drive name and then click Change Drive Type, a new window should appear.
  2. In this new window click on Define New, a new window should appear.
  3. Change the FileName: text box to ram:junk (this will stop the drive definitions being written back to the floppy)
  4. Click on Read Configuration
  5. Click on Continue
  6. Click Ok.
  7. Click Ok again.
  8. Click Continue in the next box.
  9. Click on Save Changes to Drive.

Creating the partitions

Now that HDToolBox can see the HDD, you now need to set the size of each partition. Click on Partition Drive Set your partitions up as you want them by moving the sliders up and down. It is recommended you call each partition DH0, DH1, DH2 etc.

A standard setup is to have a System/Workbench partition of between 512MB and 2GB, and then additional partitions of any size you wish for games, demos, work files etc... These can be whatever size you wish and as many partitions you like.

Make sure that the Advanced Options Box is ticked for each partition as you make them.

Adding the Smart File System

Once you are happy with the arrangement and size of partitions on the HDD you will need to edit each partition's advanced settings to set it to work with SFS.

  1. Highlight your first partition.
  2. Click on Add/Update.
  3. On the next screen click Add New Filesystem.
  4. This next box is where we add the new filesystem!
  5. In this box type the address of the file you unpacked from the sfs.lha into your shared amiga/pc Work directory. If you simply unpacked the SFS lha archive into your Work dir then this address should be Work:SmartFileSystem/L/smartfilesystem
  6. Now click Ok and enter the following information:

DosType: 0x53465300
Version: 1
Revision: 277

(Version and Revision are only used to identify which version of SFS you are installing, at the time of writing the most recent version is 1.277)

Now click Ok. Custom File System should now be listed. Click Ok yet again.

SmartFileSystem has now been added!

Editing each partition to use SFS

You will now need to make sure each partition uses the new file system. Select each partition and perform the following for each, until all of your partitions are setup like this.

  1. Select a partition
  2. Click On Change...
  3. On the next screen click on the top box until it cycles through to SFS\00
  4. Type the following information EXACTLY into the corresponding boxes~

Mask = 0x7ffffffe (There are 6 f’s)
MaxTransfer = 0x1fe00
Blocksize = 512

Make sure you press Return after you enter each value. Now Click Ok This should return you to the partition screen. We now set Buffers = 100 (Again make sure to press Return)

Repeat this section, setting SFS/00 and the values (Mask, MaxTransfer, Blocksize, Buffer) for each partition you have created.

Completing the partition setup

Once you have completed everything above, and have altered the settings for all of your partitions, click Ok to return to the main HDToolbox menu. Click Save Changes to Drive and click Continue

Now select Exit and then Continue to reboot. Wait for it to reboot. Workbench should now reappear with new icons saying DH0:NDOS, DH1:NDOS etc.

Formatted the new partitions

We now need to format the new partitions on the drive, DO NOT do this by simply using the workbench format command.

  1. Open a command window by pressing WindowsKey+E
  2. In the box type Work:SFSformat DRIVE DH0: NAME drivename (replace drivename with the name you want the drive to be labelled)
  3. Press Return, and it should quick format the drive!
  4. Repeat the format procedure for each drive (DH1, DH2 etc.).

Note: The SFSformat command should be in the same dir you extracted the sfs.lha to, change the above command if you unpacked it to a different directory).

You can now install workbench, or whatever you like on the drive!


  • Guide based on an FAQ originally written by Killergorilla
  • Guide updated by Harrison
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