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Using the parallel port software

Connect the drive as described and run the driver software. A 'Command Window' will open and this will display the registration number of the software and describe progress while the program searches for devices connected and tries to 'mount' the disc. This will then clear and the appropriate drive icon(s) will appear. If the disc does not have a valid format then the drive icon will be 'greyed out' and you will need to run the !PPFormat program to format it before it can be used.

The drive is used just like any other under RISC OS. To remove a disc click on 'Dismount' on the drive menu and then press the 'eject' button on the front of the drive. Note that until you click on 'Dismount' the eject button will be ineffective. Insert the new disc, wait untill the green light has stoped blinking, and the new disc is ready to use.

Sometimes when you first click on the drive icon after changing discs an error box may appear but without any error message. We haven't yet found the cause of this but we believe it's because the drive isn't quite ready. Just close the error box and try again and it should be OK.

If the drive icon is 'greyed out' this implies that the disc cannot be read. This may be because it is unformatted or because it is corrupt or has been formatted with a non-standard system.


You must select 'Dismount' from the drive menu before you can print as the printer can't use the printer port while the driver software is using it. Don't forget that ANY drive access will re-mount the drive, even using 'Free', and you'll have to Dismount it again. If you forget you will get an error message and you can click on 'Cancel', Dismount the drive, and try again.

Because you have to Dismount a drive before printing it is not possible to print directly from a printer-port drive. If you need to print a file that's on a parallel port disc just copy it to your hard disc (or a RAM disc), select 'Dismount' from the ParPortFS filer menu, and then print the file.

Password protection

This enables a drive or partition to be protected by a password. There are three levels of protection, Read Only, No Access and Read/Write.

Read Only means that data can be read from the drive but nothing can be Saved to it and existing files cannot be altered or deleted. This is useful for protecting files from accidental or unauthorised alteration or deletion but it does not stop them being loaded or programs from being run.

No Access stops all access to the drive, and you will have to enter the correct password when you click on the drive icon before you can access the drive.

Read/Write enables all normal drive access. As you need to know the old password in order to set a new one, if you set Read/Write protection this effectively stops anyone else (accidentally or deliberately) setting up protection to stop you getting access to your drive.

You must enter a password twice. This is to ensure you have typed it correctly as once a password is set up it will not be possible to unprotect the drive without using it.

When you set up a password it only takes effect the next time the computer is switched on.

Make sure you don't forget your password. If you do you will not be able to use the drive. It is possible to disable password protection but it is very difficult and can only be carried out by our engineers. If you forget your password we may be able to unprotect the drive for you but we reserve the right to charge for this service.

Use of Password Protection

As well as the more obvious uses this, in conjunction with partitioned drives, is especially useful in schools. If a drive is divided into two partitions and Read Only protection set on one and Read/Write on the other you can then put all your applications, fonts, and other fixed data onto the Read Only partition where it cannot be altered or deleted by pupils. !Scrap and any other data which needs to be changed or modified can then be placed on the other partition.

Unlike most protection systems this is very difficult to circumvent, but make sure your pupils don't know your password and that you don't forget it!

Formatting a disc

Important. Before you attempt to format or re-format a disc please read the section Problems with older machines at the end of this manual.

The !PPortForm program is used to format discs. This is a non-desktop program and is based on the formatter for our IDE interface. This makes it extremely versatile and it has many more features than most users will ever need. It will be described in more detail later, but at this stage I shall briefly explain how to prepare a 'normal' removable media disc for use.

With a removable drive put the disc you want to format in the drive and wait until the green light stops flashing. Now run !PPortForm. When the Menu appears select Option 6 'Initialise all partitions'. You will be asked if you want to make the disc 'bootable', so press 'N' for No, then you will be asked to confirm that you actually DO want to initialise the disc, so just press 'Y' for Yes. When the disc has been initialised the menu will re-appear and you can select Option 9 to return to the desktop.

Discs are given a name based on time and date so it is most unlikely that you will find two discs with the same name. You can, of course, rename them from the Drive Menu, and most people will want to do this, but you should ensure that ALL discs are given a unique name, otherwise the filer could become confused when they are changed.

Checking for defects

Sometimes discs do develop defects. As discs used in removable media dries are not sealed they may sometimes imbibe small dust particles that can lead to a defect. The desktop multi-tasking Verify is OK for checking if a drive or partition has defects, but it is of no practical use, so it's best to do this from the command line rather than the desktop. Press F12 and type

    Verify :4

to verify the first partition. The drive will be verified and any defective sectors will be shown. Sectors which required a retry will also be shown, and it is best to treat these as defects. The command to map out a defect is -

    Defect <drive number> <address>

The verify command returns the disc address of any defects found so you can use this to map them out. To save typing the address (and possibly making a mistake) you can use the COPY key (marked 'End' on later machines) to 'split' the cursor and copy the address. If there is a file using the defective sector then it can't be mapped out, and you will be told the name of that file. If you can't move the file, and this should be possible if you are trying to map out a 'retry' but probably not if it's an actual defect, then you will have to delete it before you can map out the defect.


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