FAQ: Execute WDidle3 via Virtual Floppy Drive

"There’s No Such Thing As A Silly Question" -- does the cliche sound familiar? In this part of pimp-my-rig reloaded, technical questions are answered. Mail them to me and I will post the answers here. If you have a better answer, by all means share it with us.

FAQ. When I published the document regarding Caviar Green W20EARS drives making strange clunk sounds, one of the readers of the post sent me a mail to ask how to execute this mod if he has no floppy drive.

First of all, thanks for your interest in this mod. We are pretty much in the same boat -- I don't have a floppy drive in my desktop as well. Although it is not expensive to obtain, I don't see any use for the floppy anymore, just like you. Besides, for the price of acquiring the floppy drive an equivalent USB flash drive (UFD) can be bought for the same amount but with a larger capacity than a floppy can contain.

The solution to our problem is a virtual floppy. But how do you emulate a virtual floppy on a computer that has not booted yet? Here's the trick.

Before you begin, it is highly recommended that you read through the entire instructions first. As pre-requisites, download the following software:

[1] Format the UFD with FAT or FAT32 file system type. Grub4dos does not support NTFS filesystem so use FAT or FAT32 but the older FAT file system is most recommended. That is the rationale behind the recommended UFD size of 2GB or less.

[2] Extract the grubinst zip file (in this example we will assume directory D:\grubinst. Likewise, extract the grub4dos zip file (in this example we will assume directory D:\grub4dos). Extract the other files as well.

[3] In the directory D:\grubinst, locate grubinst_gui.exe and run it as Administrator. Click on "Run" when shown the security warning.

[4] A Grub4Dos Installer window will be opened. In this window tick Disk and beside that select the disk referring to the UFD. Hit the refresh button if the selection dropdown is empty. You will be able to correctly select the UFD from the dropdown as it reflects the size of the disk.

On the Part List dropdown, Whole disk (MBR) should be selected from the dropdown. For options, tick the Don't search floppy box. Click on Install.

A command prompt will be opened with a message informing you of a successful installation.

[5] Open the MS-DOS 6.22 floppy image in winimage. Expand the overall capacity of the floppy image from 1.4MB to 2.8MB. Then inject the file wd3idle.exe to the root folder of the floppy image. For tutorial purposes, save the new image as WDIDLE3.IMG. Note down where you will save this file as it will be used below.

(NOTE: The filename is case sensitive!)

[6] Now copy the following files to the root of the UFD:
  • grldr (from D:\grub4dos)
  • WDIDLE3.IMG (from step#4 above)

[7] Create a text file menu.lst in notepad. Copy and paste the code below into menu.lst. This directive in grub makes the computer emulate a virtual floppy drive using the WDIDLE3.IMG file as the virtual floppy.

timeout 10
default 0

# boot WDidle3 floppy image
title WDidle3 tool
map --mem (hd0,0)/WDIDLE3.IMG (fd0)
map --hook
chainloader (fd0)+1
rootnoverify (fd0)
map --floppies=1

# reboot
title Reboot

With the UFD having the required files, you can now boot from it and run WDIDLE3 to mod your WD Caviar Green drive. Use wdidle3 /s300 and validate with wdidle3 /r.

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