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Any way around the 2TB limit in XP?

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  • Any way around the 2TB limit in XP?

    I just purchased a 4TB external not realising there was a 2TB limit in XP. Is there anything that can be done?


  • #2
    Originally posted by rokclimr View Post
    I just purchased a 4TB external not realising there was a 2TB limit in XP. Is there anything that can be done?

    More information would be helpful....but here is a shot in the dark.

    In your disc management section does it list 1 drive or several(depending on the number of drives in the raid)? If it does this is where Windows will stripe and format the drive into a raid array.
    Is this ESATA, USB 2.0, Firewire? Some of these ship with software to stripe, but windows does it just as easy.
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    • #3
      Hi Jerry,

      If I striped two of the drives (2TB) it shows up fine in disc management and works great. Anything bigger (3TB or 4TB) won't show up in disc management. It seems there's a 2TB volume limit in XP.



      • #4
        This is probably better solved with a good Google query, but essentially, you'll need to format the drive on a system with XP 64-bit, or Windows Vista (to obtain GUID Partition Table formatting capability)


        • #5
          Yes, the XP-32 2 TiB limit is per-volume,There is a limit to the total number of sectors that a MBR partition table can have. With the standard 512K sectors, that limit is about 2TB, which would be inclusive of all partitions on the drive/array. The partition table has a count of the start and end sectors of each partition, so you can not create a 2TB partition and then have another beyond that on a larger than 2TB drive. Unless of course your OS can see a GPT partition. As far as Windows goes support for GPT partitions started with XP64 and server 2k3.
          The 2TB volume size is a limit of the MBR partition - not Vista, XP, NTFS, Linux, 32bit, 64bit, etc, etc. The MBR structure only supports 4 primary partitions (more if you use extended volumes), the GPT partitioning scheme can support up to 128 partitions in Windows. Three common means of exceeding the 2TB limit in a single volume is:

          1. RAID controller that supports LBA64.
          2. Use dynamic disks or an application like unRAID or Windows Home Server that essentially aggregates your physical volumes by using dynamic volumes. I personally feel this is the least desirable and secure method.
          3. Use GPT volumes.

          You can combine two of the items above as well -
          Only Windows XP x64, Server 2003 SP1 and all versions of Vista can read/write GPT partitions, and only Vista systems with EFI can boot from GPT partitions. That's usually not an issue, though, since not many people boot from their large data arrays.

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