How to run the SpinRite Pre-Release

  • SpinRite v6.1 is Released!
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  • Announcing “BootAble” – GRC's New Boot-Testing Freeware
    Please see the BootAble page at GRC for the whole story.
  • BootAble – FreeDOS boot testing freeware

    To obtain direct, low-level access to a system's mass storage drives, SpinRite runs under a GRC-customized version of FreeDOS which has been modified to add compatibility with all file systems. In order to run SpinRite it must first be possible to boot FreeDOS.

    GRC's “BootAble” freeware allows anyone to easily create BIOS-bootable media in order to workout and confirm the details of getting a machine to boot FreeDOS through a BIOS. Once the means of doing that has been determined, the media created by SpinRite can be booted and run in the same way.

    The participants here, who have taken the time to share their knowledge and experience, their successes and some frustrations with booting their computers into FreeDOS, have created a valuable knowledgebase which will benefit everyone who follows.

    You may click on the image to the right to obtain your own copy of BootAble. Then use the knowledge and experience documented here to boot your computer(s) into FreeDOS. And please do not hesitate to ask questions – nowhere else can better answers be found.

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To obtain your registered and
licensed SpinRite pre-release
  1. Go to GRC's SpinRite pre-pelease page here: https://www.grc.com/prerelease.htm.
  2. At that page, enter your own SpinRite Serial Number, as shown in your SpinRite's initial screens.
  3. You will receive a single-use link to download the latest SpinRite Pre-Release: "SRPR.EXE".
    If your existing SpinRite boot USB stick is currently inserted you can download the file directly to it.
Note that unlike all regular release SpinRites, this pre-release ONLY runs under DOS. If you run it in Windows you'll be told that it's incompatible. So you will need to move (and rename) it to a bootable DOS USB stick, as follows:
Running the SpinRite Pre-Release
  1. Insert your existing SpinRite boot USB stick into Windows and view its contents in Windows Explorer.
    You should see your original SpinRite 6.0 file "SPINRITE.EXE".
  2. In Windows, rename your original SPINRITE.EXE -to-> SR6.EXE.
  3. Copy your own SRPR.EXE (pre-release spinrite) to the USB stick.
    See below for how to obtain your own SRPR.EXE SpinRite pre-release.
  4. In Windows, rename SRPR.EXE to SPINRITE.EXE.
  5. Safely eject the USB stick and you should be good to go!

Boot that USB stick on any PC compatible machine and the pre-release of SpinRite will run!

Booting SpinRite (Plan B)
If the steps above don't work for you

GRC's InitDisk utility was created at the start of the work on SpinRite v6.1. It is far more capable than the USB preparation system that's built into SpinRite 6.0, and its technology will be moved into SpinRite 6.1's USB preparation system. Until that happens, you can use InitDisk to prepare any USB drive for booting:

  1. Download the InitDisk utility from this page at GRC: https://www.grc.com/initdisk.htm
  2. Open a Windows Command Prompt as an Administrator.
    Under the Start menu is the Windows System folder. It contains "Command Prompt".
    Right click on it, and under "More" is "Run as Administrator".
  3. Change directories to the location of the InitDisk.exe you downloaded.
    If it's in "Downloads" enter the command: "cd downloads"
  4. Enter the command: "initdisk freedos" (and press enter)
  5. Carefully read and follow the instructions presented.
    When InitDisk finishes, the new drive letter will appear in Windows Explorer.
  6. Copy your SRPR.EXE obtained with the earlier steps above to the USB stick.
  7. Safely eject the USB stick and you should be good to go!
 
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This may be a stupid question, but here we go. Does the pre-release version of SpinRite support UEFI instead of BOIS and EFI instead of MBR? I was under the impression that the legacy SpinRite 6 USB key didn't do UEFI? So better off on modern systems to use Plan B? It's becoming more and more difficult to set BIOS back to legacy mode in order to run the old version. I unfortunately don't have a dedicated SpinRite system.
 
No. SpinRite 6.1 runs on DOS (FreeDOS), which cannot boot in UEFI mode. SpinRite 7 will fully support UEFI.
 
Oh bummer. I was hopeful 6.1 would've added support for UEFI. Weird, I listen every week, wonder how I missed this detail.
At one point (not long ago) Leo misstated this and I did not correct him since we were winding down after a long podcast and I just didn't feel like getting into it.

The problem (and it's a BIG ONE) is that =NO= versions of DOS will (ever) boot on anything other than BIOS machines. Some "transitional" UEFI machines retroactively offer BIOS support though something formally known as the "CSM" (compatibility support module) which provides backward compatibility for BIOS programs -- like DOS.

This means that in order for SpinRite to run on any "pure UEFI" machine it will need to be running on an operating system that can boot on UEFI. I now own such an OS, but I need to get SpinRite v6.1 finished (as the free upgrade to v6.0 that I've promised). THEN I'll be able to start working on the system that I REALLY want to create! (y) But SpinRite v6.1 will always be limited to machine that offer BIOS support.
 
At one point (not long ago) Leo misstated this and I did not correct him since we were winding down after a long podcast and I just didn't feel like getting into it.

The problem (and it's a BIG ONE) is that =NO= versions of DOS will (ever) boot on anything other than BIOS machines. Some "transitional" UEFI machines retroactively offer BIOS support though something formally known as the "CSM" (compatibility support module) which provides backward compatibility for BIOS programs -- like DOS.

This means that in order for SpinRite to run on any "pure UEFI" machine it will need to be running on an operating system that can boot on UEFI. I now own such an OS, but I need to get SpinRite v6.1 finished (as the free upgrade to v6.0 that I've promised). THEN I'll be able to start working on the system that I REALLY want to create! (y) But SpinRite v6.1 will always be limited to machine that offer BIOS support.

Thanks for clarifying Steve. I even tried to run out there and nab a portable version of Rufus, thinking it had the ability to do UEFI and FreeDOS. I was thinking I could just throw the pre-release version of 6.1 on that drive and run from cli after boot. I'll stop spinning wheels now and get my hands on a BIOS machine if possible. Ready to buy a copy of 7 as soon as it drops!

Regards,
Adam Tyler
 
Hi Guys,

I followed Plan B, and reused a USB drive I had been using for Readspeed. (I normally use a CDROM when I run Spinrite.)

I have tried this several times, and with different USB drives, but in every case I get the attached error: Invalid Opcode

I have been using this PC to run Spinrite 6 on drives for many years.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

DrBob
 

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By the way, I've been meaning to download the pre-release of SpinRite and ReadSpeed for months now (!) but couldn't find the time. Had to bail out a family member with a down PC, so I did this today. I'm on Linux (Ubuntu) and it was super easy, following the instructions to burn the image file to an USB stick. Not only was it easy and fast, it also helped solve the PC problem. Just wanted to thank everyone involved in the project, much appreciated. The SpinRite improvements look super.
 
I see a similar problem. but I never get to the DOS boot prompt:
Look at the compile date for that version of FreeDOS. This is not GRC's current FreeDOS kernel... and this is the reason SpinRite v6.1 today has an updated kernel. The regular FreeDOS freaks out when it attempts to scan the system's drives at startup.

You should use the latest SpinRite 6.1 Window prep utility to setup a thumb drive, then replace the non-functional SpinRite placeholder it provides with your real licensed copy of SpinRite v6.1. (y)

https://www.grc.com/dev/SpinRite/WinSpin/SR61-R5.EXE
 
As suggested, I rebuilt with WinSpin and copied my registered copy of SR61RC5 on the drive. This is on a Dell T1700. It failed in a similar manner. So I tried it on my Lenovo laptop (T460s) and it works fine.

Since the whole point of this effort is to fix what I *think* is a bogged down SSD, I tried the Readspeed windows install version. Fails on Dell T1700, works fine on T460s. Here what I get on the dell with ReadSpeed:

IMG_6001r.jpg


similar failure. Invalid opcode message is the same location in all three cases. (Original DOS, WinSpin install, and ReadSpeed Windows app install.

FWIW this T1700 takes forever to boot (10+ minutes to boot and get Thunderbird and Firefox running) and can't start any other apps until it's up and stable. Dell's support tools report no issues other than a minor driver update, but I'm hardly surprised.
 
Okay... next test if you'll oblige. Can we rule out that the trouble is actually anything that's running AFTER FreeDOS boots? Could you try renaming config.sys and autoexec.bat (I always rename autoexec.bat to "a.b" and config.sys to "c.s") then reboot and see whether you get to the DOS prompt? Depending upon what's being run (if anything) this might be some of my code that's causing the trouble?? Thanks!!!
 
I'll also note... (to save on interactive turn-around in this conversation)... if you do not get to the DOS prompt, meaning that FreeDOS will not boot on that machine, we need to verify that "real DOS" (MS-DOS) does boot on this machine. Presumably, the answer is yes... but it would be VERY valuable to have you verify that.

The reason this will be important if real DOS does run whereas FreeDOS does not, and why I may be very glad that this has arisen while we're still in release candidate stage, is that after seeing SpinRite misbehaving on some non-FreeDOS versions of DOS, I have deliberately locked SpinRite to FreeDOS so that users will not hurt themselves by encounter any of this off behavior. (They were weird edge-case situations involving logging to missing drives and such, but still...)

But if you DO get a DOS prompt, could be track down what's running and causing the trouble? Thanks!!!
 
Looking at the Spinrite 6.1rc5 (that was created with WinSpin and works on the Lenovo) I don't find an autoexec.bat or config.sys.

1701128570442.png


Is there a partition invisible to Windows? It looks like a healthy FAT32 partition.

1701128771930.png


The ReadSpeed disk, however:

1701128866590.png


does. I'll edit it and try.

And i'll dig around and see if i have a real DOS 6.2 copy somewhere.
 
Looking at the Spinrite 6.1rc5 (that was created with WinSpin and works on the Lenovo) I don't find an autoexec.bat or config.sys.
With that drive mounted (drive F:) this command: attrib f:*.* should show you the attributes of the files on that disk. You'll see many 'S' and 'R' and 'H'. (System, Readonly, Hidden). Then you can remove these tags with attrib -r -s -h f:*.* After that, renaming the files should work.
 

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