Installing a large Harddrive (4GB or larger)

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This guide explains how to install a large harddrive into an Amiga A1200. This guide will also work for any other models of Amiga that have at least Kickstart 2.X and 68020+ CPU.

Note: The SFS file system required a 68020 CPU or higher so will not work on a 68000 based A600, or other 68000 based Amiga system.


Standard Workbench Harddrive size limitation

The Amiga's FFS file system only supports up to 4GB partitions, and a total HD size of 8GB. However that is only due to the built in Workbench File System. If you try to format a larger HD over the 4GB limit you are in danger of losing data and the system will start to wrap the data back onto the start of the HD past the 4GB point.

However there is a solution to this problem. Third party file systems exist for the Amiga that allow you to use much larger HD sizes, and SFS (Smart File System) is the best of these. But an important point to remember is to always create the first boot partition within the first 4GB of the HD space or the Amiga won't be able to find it and boot far enough to load the different file system. A good recommendation is to have a 512MB-2GB boot partition, and then the rest of the HD partitioned into various sized additional partitions based on your needs.

Also if you are wishing to use an HD and IDE CD drive you will also need to buy a buffered IDE interface. You can get one from for £11 and it works perfectly. This will work perfectly for a setup with a 40GB HDD and laptop CD drive.

What you will need

  • External USB HD enclosure (or other method of attaching the HD to the PC)

(USB enclosures can be found on ebay for as little as £3)

  • WinUAE emulator with Kickstart 3.1 rom image

(download WinUAE from

  • Copy of the Workbench Install disk in ADF format

(try for a copy)

  • The Smart File System files (SFS)

Download from (make sure you download both the main OS 3 and the 1.279 update).

  • IDEFix'97

Download from

  • Buffered IDE interface

(only if you wish to connect more than one device)

Setting up everything on the HD using a PC and WinUAE.

Before you begin you need to unlock WinUAE's HD safety checks which will prevent you from partitioning and formatting the HD otherwise. To do this you need to edit the WinUAE shortcut icon and add -disableharddrivesafetycheck after winuae.exe. Make sure you put a space between the .exe and -.

Next make a folder on your Windows desktop called work and extract the SFS filesystem, and IDEFix archives into it.

Once that is done you can put the 2.5" HD into the external USB enclosure and connect it to the PC (but don't format it in Windows if it asks). Then start up WinUAE and add the Amiga HDD to the Harddrives, and then add the work folder you created on your PC desktop as a second HD in WinUAE (this is a quick way to download files and be able to access them from within Workbench), and then put the Workbench 3.1 install floppy (adf) into the DF0: drive. Set WinUAE up as an A1200 with KS 3.1 and some fast ram and start it up.

Once you are booted into Workbench 3.1 you can start HDToolkit and set the drive partitions up. It is worth noting at this point that HDToolkit will give you completely wrong reading for all of the partition sizes, but it will partition the drive correctly for you anyway. You can work it out based on the total number of cylinders that the HD has, then divide the capacity of the drive by the number of cylinders so you can then set up the partitions to the size using the cylinder number. For example, on a 40GB HD a 4GB Partition was about 890 cylinders so you can move the partition size around until it matches that many.

Now you can follow the guide How to install SFS onto a real Harddrive within WinUAE which runs though how to setup the HDD using HDToolkit and the Smart File System. Remember to make the first boot partition under 4GB. Between 512MB and 2GB is probably best.

Once you have setup all of your partitions using that guide, and then formatted these partitions using the SFSFormat command (don't use the Workbench Format command as it will mess up the partitions), you are ready to install Workbench ready to get the HD into the real Amiga.

For this we recommend the ClassicWB package which is a predefined Workbench setup and contains everything most people need already setup and ready to go. This isn't currently available for download from the official site, but if you need it let me know. An alternative predefined Workbench package is AmigaSYS that is also pretty good. Whatever Workbench setup you are using, it is easiest to set this up in WinUAE as you can quickly get files onto the HD using WinUAE and test it out rebooting WinUAE quickly.

Once you have your Workbench setup how you like and working/booting using WinUAE then you just need to copy the IDEFix files over to the HD (in the boot partition) and then you can remove the HD and install it in your Amiga.

Starting the Amiga with the HD installed

Once the HD is installed back in your real Amiga you should be able to boot into Workbench from the HDD, but you will probably only see the first boot partition to begin with. You will now need to install IDEFix so that you will be able to see and access the remaining partitions on the HD beyond the first 4GB. IDEFix comes with an installer, so just launch that and follow the instructions. Once complete it should ask you to reboot, and if all went well you should now have access to the remainder of your large HDD and it is all setup and ready for you to enjoy using.

IDEFix troubleshooting

On some systems IDEFix will not work correctly straight away once installed and rebooted. You may need to edit the startup-sequence and change the IDEFix lines at the top of the file before it worked perfectly and you gain access to the rest of the HD disk space.

IDEFix includes some instructions showing the possible lines you can add into your startup-sequence in the actual lines of code in the startup-sequence. This can be a bit trial and error to work out which line works with your system. Just try each in turn until one works.

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