3TB Hard Disk Utilities


Support for Disk Drives Beyond 2.2 TeraBytes (TB) and 4K Advanced Format Sectors (Seagate Knowledge Base, ©2010 Seagate Technology LLC)

“Most legacy systems built before 2011 have a traditional PC BIOS. This type of BIOS uses a Master Boot Record (MBR). The MBR Partitions can define a disk drive capacity up to 2.2TB. Windows operating systems that boot from an MBR are therefore limited to 2.2TB per MBR. A 3TB disk drive in a legacy BIOS and Window system will need a DiscWizard device driver to access the full capacity of a 3TB disk drive. Two partitions will be necessary because of the MBR limitation. The device driver mounts the capacity above 2.2TB with another MBR which looks to the system as a second virtual “physical” device.

PCWorld: The problem with deploying 3TB drives relates to older PCs (those more than a few months old, in most cases), and stems from the formula 2^32*512=2,199,023,255,552, or 2.2TB – a hard-drive addressing scheme found in legacy BIOSs and operating systems. In that formula, 2 indicates binary, 32 is the number of bits allowed in a legacy disk address, and 512 is the number of bytes in a legacy hard-drive data block. If the BIOS, drivers, I/O card, or operating system in your PC still plays by rules that involve this formula, you’ll have issues installing and using a 3TB drive.

This situation could have been avoided if the entire computer industry had future-proofed after enduring the 137GB (28-bit) limit problems that cropped up around the turn of the millennium. In truth, most vendors did, with the notable exception of Microsoft. The company chose not to implement support for anything larger than 2.2TB drives in any of its 32-bit consumer operating systems – including Windows 7.

Installing a 3TB Drive: Note that NTFS is limited to 2^32 clusters, also known as groups of sectors. That means you must format the drive with at least 1024-byte clusters, or you’ll fall prey to the formula I talked about earlier. The default is 4096, which allows up to 16TB; however, converting FAT partitions to NTFS often results in 512-byte clusters. If you’re trying to move a FAT partition to your new drive–don’t. You’re better off creating a new partition, reinstalling the OS, and restoring the files you backed up (it’s always wise to back up before doing any partitioning operations). This is because the FAT partition will in all likelihood be misaligned with the Advanced Format of your new drive.
Tip: With drivers or programs that don’t allow a full 3TB partition, you can use Windows dynamic volumes to combine two partitions into a single drive letter.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 introduced a new partition-table scheme, dubbed GPT (for GUID Partition Table). The GPT blasted past the previous limitations by supporting up to 8 zettabytes.(2^64 sectors, which, when using 512 bytes per sector, equates to 8 zettabytes). For perspective, consider that 1024 terabytes equal 1 petabyte, 1024 petabytes equal 1 exabyte, and 1024 exabytes equal 1 zettabyte.

Though not strictly a 3TB issue, all of the shipping 3TB hard drives also use Advanced Format, a low-level storage scheme employed on newer drives. AF uses larger 4KB data sectors, an approach that improves performance and diminishes the number of addresses required for any given amount of data. If you transfer legacy partitions via image backups to an AF drive, or if you format an AF drive with XP, the older 512-byte sectors might not align correctly with the new scheme.

UEFI BIOS desktop systems are new since 2011. Windows 7 64-bit and Vista 64-bit operating systems support booting from UEFI and GPT without the need of a non-Microsoft device driver. This is the Windows native solution for booting a 3TB drive to a single partition.

Quick facts about Windows and 3TB drives:

  • Windows 7 and Vista support GPT 3TB single partitions.
  • Windows 7 and Vista can only boot GPT on systems with UEFI BIOS.
  • Windows 7 and Vista can mount a GPT non-booting data drive.
  • Intel RST device drivers before v10.1 do not support 3TB disk drives.
  • Windows systems with Legacy BIOS and MBR boot drives are limited to 2.2TB partitions.
  • Windows XP x32 does not support GPT. Windows XP x64 edition can use GPT disks for data only. Only Windows XP for Itanium-based systems can boot from GPT partitions.
  • While 32-bit Windows XP systems can’t handle GPT natively, there is a solution: Paragon Software Group’s Paragon GPT Loader, that allows you to to utilize all 3TB in a single data partition.
  • DiscWizard software (Acronis®) can install a device driver which opens the full capacity of a 3TB. You can use it to create a second partition for the capacity above 2.2TB.
    DiscWizard v13 with support for 3TB drives is now available.

DiscWizard v11 for Windows is available today for all lower capacities. Click here to access DiscWizard v11.”

Overview for the best free disk imaging programs (Gizmo):

  1. Acronis for Seagate/Maxtor HDDs http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/discwizard
  2. Acronis for Western Digital HDDs http://support.wdc.com/product/downloaddetail.asp?swid=119
  3. 1-Click Restore Free http://www.keriver.com/oneclick_free.html
  4. Comodo Backup http://backup.comodo.com/
  5. Drive Image XML http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htm
  6. PING http://ping.windowsdream.com/
  7. Clonezilla http://clonezilla.org/
  8. Paragon Backup and Recovery 2010 http://www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/
  9. O&O DiskImage 4 Express Edition http://www.oo-software.com/home/en/products/oodiskimageexpress/
  10. Macrium http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.asp
  11. EASEUS http://www.todo-backup.com/business/free-backup.htm
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24 Responses to 3TB Hard Disk Utilities

  1. Helen says:

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  7. Joao says:

    Hello all,I found this blog entry bcsuaee I had a similar problem (ext3 formatting a partition and mounting it under windows), although not with truecrypt. I tried EXT2FS Anywhere , EXT2 IFS and many other tools, and no success.But: I found a solution how to get around windows not being able to find valid data, and offering to reformat it. I am now able to use any program / service to provide access to my ext2/3 partitions!In linux there is a file /etc/mke2fs.conf . The e2fsprogs package contains it. All newer distributions provide additional filesystem features, like ext_attr and allow you to specify the inode size. Comment out the inode_size and remove the ext_attr from the base_features . Also make sure your inode_ratio is set to 8192.Now you can format your partitions all day long and make use of them from windows. Btw.: Make sure you have a backup of your data prior to formatting the partition in question.Cheers!

  8. Omed says:

    Well, I don’t know about your ptroitian problem as I have never heard of a way to repair an actual ptroitian without formating. Windows repair disc can repair a corrupted windows os, but I do not believe it can repair the actual ptroitian. I would suggest removing your hard drive and plugging it into another system as a slave to back up your data. Also you could use a friends computer to install xp on a flashdrive to boot windows via usb and hopefully get your info off. Gl losing all your software is a pain.

  9. Damian says:

    This is a srniupsirgly common issue with XP Pro. Anyhow:The key to this is running the CheckDisk. Assuming that you have a standard Windows XP Pro installation media. Won’t work from a Corporate’ edition. You should create a Bart PE boot disk. This is a CD that you can use to boot into the Bart PE (PreInstallation Environment). You can then use the CheckDisk program to scan your hard drive. (I have dozens of those to repair each year).Link to Bart PE download page (it’s free) is in the sources.This situation is generally caused by incorrect system file closure during the shut down procedure of Windows. This has nothing to do with Virus issues.The technique given above will not damage any of your existing data so you will not lose files because of it. Be sure to set the CheckDisk to scan for bad sectors and attempt recovery.Good Luck.

  10. Angelo says:

    The PC Make Model nbuemr would have helped! the vista recovery/installation disk was likely hidden on your hard drive. The PC User Manual explained exactly how to find and burn your own Vista Recovery disk.But, since you can’t access your hard drive anymore, you have to call the PC Manufacturer and order replacement Recovery Disks for your specific Model nbuemr, usually less than $50.TIP: Unless you have a recent backup, all your personal data will be lost.

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