The Amiga 2000 was Commodore’s high-end model aimed at professional and business use when it launched in 1986. Expanding the 2000’s storage capabilities with a hard disk drive allows you to install larger programs, games, and work with data not possible on floppy disks alone. This guide will walk through the full process of installing and configuring a hard drive in an Amiga 2000 from start to finish.
Table of Contents
- Hard drives greatly expand storage and speed up disk access on the Amiga 2000.
- The 2000 has a built-in controller port but requires bracket and power accessories.
- Common hard drive types used are SCSI, IDE with bridgeboard, and CF card.
- Drive must be low-level formatted, partitioned and assigned with Workbench.
- Some configurations require Kickstart disk or software like X-Surf to be bootable.
- Proper partitioning and setup results in a more capable Amiga 2000.
The Amiga 2000 was somewhat unique among home computers of the late 1980s for having extensive expansion capabilities. This included 5 drive bays and a built-in SCSI controller port on the motherboard. But utilizing that port to install a hard drive still required some optional brackets, power supplies and configuration.
This guide will cover step-by-step how to install a hard disk drive into an Amiga 2000. We’ll go over the different drive interface options, physical installation, drive formatting and assigning partitions in Workbench. These steps will provide your 2000 with mass storage far beyond the 880KB capacity of its floppy disks.
After installation, we’ll also show how to make the drive bootable from startup with the proper Kickstart disks or software. Adding a hard drive to an Amiga 2000 provides incredible expansion. But getting everything properly set up does take precision. Let’s examine the process for getting the most from a storage upgrade.
Amiga 2000 Hard Drive Options
There were a few interface formats you could utilize to connect a hard disk drive to an Amiga 2000 depending on available peripherals. The built-in SCSI port on the 2000’s motherboard was designed primarily for hard drive use. But other options like IDE drives using a bridgeboard or even CF cards were also popular in later years.
Here are some of the most common Amiga 2000 hard drive interfaces and their pros and cons:
SCSI Drive – Uses the dedicated SCSI controller port. Very fast interface but needs SCSI peripheral Power supply and cable.
IDE Drive + Bridgeboard – Lets you use cheaper IDE drive. Bridgeboard adapts the interface. Slower than SCSI but costs less overall.
CompactFlash card – Small form factor and very inexpensive per megabyte. Requires CF to IDE adapter in internal slot. Slowest option with less storage.
For this guide, we will demonstrate installation and setup using a SCSI drive interface. But the general steps are similar for IDE or CF drives with some minor differences. Our goal is getting the 2000 properly configured to access the hard disk drive’s full capacity.
Physical Installation of the Hard Drive
Once you have your hard disk drive option selected, we can move on to the physical installation into the Amiga 2000 case. This will require a drive bracket to mount the hard drive securely and the necessary interface cables.
You’ll need the following tools handy for installation:
- Phillips screwdriver
- Needle nose pliers (for attaching cables)
- Anti-static wrist strap
Follow these steps for physical installation:
- Open up the case of the Amiga 2000 and locate an empty drive bay and expansion slot you plan to use.
- Install any required interface cards like a SCSI controller or IDE bridgeboard in an open full-length expansion slot.
- Attach the drive interface cable to the back of interface card. Carefully press in each connector pin firmly using pliers.
- Mount the hard drive into an open 5.25″ drive bay using screws on your drive sled bracket. Ensure the data and power ports face inward.
- Connect the drive interface cable to the hard drive data port, again pressing in pins fully with pliers.
- Connect the 4-pin peripheral power cable to the hard drive. Ensure red stripe on cable aligns with the power socket’s stripe.
- Place any required termination resistors onto SCSI connections. Refer to peripheral manual for proper resistor placement.
- Close up the computer case and secure screws. Now we can move on to low-level formatting.
Low-Level Formatting and Partitioning
With the physical installation complete, the drive needs to be low-level formatted. This writes the internal sector layout to the disk media itself. We’ll use the HDToolBox application for this process. The steps are:
- Insert your Workbench startup disk and boot the system.
- Open the HDToolBox application. Select your drive interface type under the Device tab.
- Click Read to scan the drive. The info like model, size and geometry should auto-populate.
- Go to Functions > Format Drive to open the low-level format window.
- Select Quick Initialization. Full Initialization is not needed for modern drives.
- Click Start Format to perform low-level formatting. This can take 5-10 minutes.
- After formatting completes successfully, close HDToolBox.
Now we can proceed to partitioning the hard drive using the Amiga’s HDToolBox or PartitionWizard program. This divides the drive into assigned sections to mount:
- Open HDToolBox or PartitionWizard from Workbench desktop.
- Select your drive interface again under Device. Click Read to reload.
- In the Partition tab, click Add to create a new partition.
- Choose the partition size in megabytes (or entire drive). Select filesystem type like OFS, FFS, etc.
- Repeat steps to create additional partitions as needed. Can make one giant partition if preferred.
- Click Write to commit the partition map to disk. May need to reboot for changes to appear.
The hard drive will now show your defined partitions when viewing it through Workbench. Next we’ll cover properly assigning and formatting the partitions.
Assigning Partitions with Workbench
For the Amiga to fully utilize the partitions we created on the hard drive, they need to be properly assigned as volumes by Workbench. This process is similar to formatting a disk. We’ll use Workbench’s DiskTool for quick assignment and optional formatting.
- Open the Workbench DiskTool utility from the System drawer icon.
- Click the Mountlist button, then click Assign… to view connected drives.
- Select your new hard drive partition from the list and click OK.
- By default it will be assigned the next letter after your existing drives.
- You can optionally quick format FAT partitions using DiskTool for use on other systems.
- Repeat the assign process for any other partitions you created.
The hard drive partitions should now appear as valid volumes that you can access through Workbench windows and icon browsing. But there is still some additional recommended setup needed for bootability.
Making the Hard Drive Bootable
While we can now access data from our freshly installed hard drive, there are a few extra steps involved with making the drive bootable on startup. The Amiga requires Kickstart ROM on floppy disk or a Boot Selector program to handle bootstrapping to a hard drive.
Here are two options for allowing your Amiga 2000 to fully boot from the new hard disk drive:
1. Boot Selector Program
- Popular boot managers like X-Surf allow booting from hard drives.
- Copy the Boot Selector program files to the root of your boot partition.
- Configure via text file instructions to auto-boot drive partition.
- Allows dual booting between multiple partitions.
2. Kickstart Boot Disk
- Official Commodore Kickstart boot floppy required.
- Matches your Amiga 2000 Kickstart chip version.
- Disk copied to boot partition root directory.
- Typically faster boot up than boot selector programs.
- Less flexibility than boot selector approach.
With either of these approaches fully configured, you can startup your enhanced Amiga 2000 directly into Workbench running off the hard disk drive. Boot times will be dramatically faster compared to floppy disk.
Adding a hard disk drive to an Amiga 2000 allows you to expand capabilities far beyond the limited built-in 880KB floppy drive. With proper low-level formatting, partitioning, assignment and boot configuration, the hard drive interface options provide performance similar to later model Amigas.
The 2000’s versatile expansion ports combined with the right bracketing, cabling and boot setup allows even very large multi-gigabyte IDE or SCSI drives to be usable. This mass storage paired with the 2000’s potential 68020/030 CPU upgrades gives a nearly modern computing environment.
Hopefully this guide provides a full overview to help retro computing enthusiasts upgrade their Amiga 2000 systems with everything from SCSI drives to compact flash. By following the steps for proper physical installation, drive prep, assignment and bootability, you can outfit your 2000 to take it far into the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I install more than one hard drive into the Amiga 2000?
A: Yes, the 5 drive bays and daisy chain ports allow attaching multiple drives if needed. Just be sure to assign each its own unique device name.
Q: Do I need to use a boot selector or Kickstart disk to boot from hard drive?
A: Not always required, but recommended. Boot selectors allow booting from other partitions easily. Kickstart disks ensure fastest boot up speed.
Q: What’s the largest hard drive I can use in an Amiga 2000?
A: Vintage SCSI drives can hit around 500-700MB. With SCSI CF adapters, 128GB is not uncommon. For IDE, drives up to 8TB will work with the proper bridgeboard and software.
Q: Can I install games and apps directly to the hard drive?
A: Yes! No need to swap floppies. With enough storage you can keep your entire Workbench and game library installed on the hard drive. Just copy them over.
Q: How do I get software to recognize and access the hard drive?
A: After properly assigning in Workbench, the drive will auto-mount. Some older apps may need updated prefs files or original boot floppy to detect the drive though.