The first release of SpinRite stunned the personal computing industry. Never before had anything been able to "non-destructively" low level reformat a hard disk drive. SpinRite used this totally unique and original capability to adjust the "sector interleave" of MFM and RLL drives in order to optimize the mass storage system performance.
SpinRite was also VITAL for detecting surface defects that were printed on drive labels but had never been manually entered (as was required) by the system's integrator during the initial low level formatting and system setup.
After SpinRite's first 18 months in the marketplace, SpinRite II was developed to respond to all of the feedback we had received from our customers. SpinRite needed to operate upon drive partitions larger than 32 megabytes (Way back then, MS-DOS only ran on partitions smaller than 32 megabytes!) and to advance SpinRite's core technologies on several fronts.
SpinRite II allowed the use of BIOS-extending device drivers, provided enhanced reporting, and incorporated many special handlers for whacky and weird hard disk controllers. SpinRite II was much more compatible with the exploding market for personal computing mass storage.
The release of SpinRite 3.1 -- which was horribly delayed after its announced release in order to incorporate fully integrated support for hard disk partition data compression -- was a nearly complete re-write of SpinRite II.
SpinRite 3.1 broke completely new ground by circumventing the system's BIOS and talking directly to the mass storage system hardware. This paved the way for a whole range of powerful new capabilities. It allowed SpinRite to detect much smaller defects and it enabled the radical Dynastat data recovery system.
SpinRite 3.1's major new features were:
Time kept marching on and drives kept getting bigger ... and bigger and bigger. So, SpinRite needed to address these changes for its customers.
Here's what was added to SpinRite 4.0:
TEN TIMES faster operation
First, since each testing pattern had a deliberately long repetition period, each one of the many test patterns could only test "data bit cells" which were spaced far apart. As a result, a great many individually-shifted patterns (typically twenty-two) were required to scrub every possible bit cell. This took an inordinate length of time.
Second, the long-period patterns tended to interact not only with the disk's surface (which we wanted), but also with the read/write electronics throughout the drive's data channel (which we did not want). The result was an effect that we dubbed "the ping pong effect" since SpinRite 3.1 would erroneously mark regions as defective, and then later mark them as good.
Some SpinRite users wondered how defects could "come and go"; since this seemed counter-intuitive. It turned out that the problem was an interaction between SpinRite's intolerance for any variation in data amplitude, even though the long-period patterns had been designed to force just such variations.
No more "Ping Pong." Faster Testing.
SpinRite 4.0's defect analysis is now so fast and effective that we even eliminated the weaker and faster surface analysis tests. Rather than three "levels" of surface analysis, now there's only one, because that's all you'll need.
Latest drive technologies
MUCH STRONGER data recovery
So ... the new "DYNASTAT" command line option allows the data recovery strength to be either turned down to nearly none, or up to 1000% ... for massively strong recovery performance.
Continually predicts completion time
Quick-Run diskette operation
The command line option: "DISKETTE" jumps the user directly into SpinRite for operation on the A: or B: diskette drives. Operation on hard disk drives is suppressed, since this continues to be unsafe without a clean system reboot. But diskettes can now be recovered much more easily and quickly. (And with surface analysis that's about seven times faster on diskettes!)
Updated for DriveSpace recognition
Intrinsic caching compatibility
Miscellaneous interactions resolved.
This crazy industry is never going to stop, or even slow down. SpinRite needed to address Window's new 32-bit FAT format and the proliferation of mass storage alternatives. So SpinRite 5.0 brought many new features to its users:
Operation on FAT32 (32-bit) partitions
Compatible with "device-driven" drives
Special handling for JAZ and ZIP drives
Windows/DOS hybrid program
Automatic and seamless drive locking
"NoBlanking" command line option
Since the machine will be running for a long time, SpinRite incorporates a built-in screen blanker so that a fixed image is not burning itself into your monitor for hours on end. But some people dislike continually unblanking the monitor to see what's going on with SpinRite. For them we have added a new "noblanking" command line option.
Redesigned low-level IDE interface
With SpinRite 5.0 still so young, and with SpinRite's typical version lifetime being several years, it is MUCH too soon for us to talk about what will come next, or when. We don't know yet. But as you can see when you look back over the past ten years of SpinRite's life, growth, and evolution, we will continue to respond to developments and changes that occur in the industry. We will always offer the most advanced utilities to provide for the long term maintenance, repair, and data recovery of personal computing industry mass storage systems.
... and there probably never will be.
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