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How Do I Use a 3-terrabyte Drive in Windows?
January 17, 2012 3:00 PM   Subscribe

What's the story with Windows and big disks? Specifically, Windows 7 and a 3tb drive. I've read what Microsoft and others say about using large drives with Windows 7. I gather it works. However, I haven't found a how-to guide that actually spells out how to get the thing done. In my case, it would not be the boot drive. I'd boot off an SSD and use the 3tb drive for storage. How can I do a clean install on that? I've tried and Windows doesn't see all of the 3tb drive. (The GPT format option is greyed out.) Then, if I get Windows to recognize the 3tb drive, can I partition it into multiple logical drives? So, for example, the SSD would be C: and I'd split the big drive into D: and E: . Doable?
posted by justcorbly to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
 
Much like support for over 3GB (I think it is) of RAM, support for massive 3TB HDDs appears to be a legacy issue with Windows, and requires the 64-bit version of the operating system, rather than the 32-bit.

I believe Windows 7 comes in both flavours on the install CD, or at least you can do some kind of download from the Microsoft website to get the 64-bit stuff to paste over the top of the 32-bit version. Note: installing the 32-bit version two times will not make it 64-bit ;-P
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:18 PM on January 17, 2012


Oh and I forgot to mention that the article says you might consider checking your BIOS to see if 3TB drives are usable in your machine. If not, a BIOS update might do the trick. That's a good place to start at least. I'm sure you know what a BIOS is and how to get to it but for reference, when you first boot up/power on your machine, keep your eye on the screen and there'll be an option to hit F11 or whatever to enter BIOS/system setup or something similar. Check the exact name and version of your BIOS (and motherboard) then hit up Google to see if an update is available. It's generally the motherboard manufacturer that will release BIOS updates but sometimes (rarely) it's the BIOS people themselves.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:21 PM on January 17, 2012


There's a smidgen more info here. In fact the first dozen or so Google hits for "windows 7 3tb drive" (without quotes) seem like they might be of some use to you.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:23 PM on January 17, 2012


Thanks. I should have mentioned it's Win7 64-bit. It's a new machine with an updated BIOS. Linux sees all the drive just fine.
posted by justcorbly at 3:25 PM on January 17, 2012


Okay, well, I'll bow out with this final link, which talks a bunch about EFI, which is totally out of my realm of knowledge, but it might contain some further clues for you.

Have you actually installed Windows 7 to the SSD? If it were me, I'd do that first and then start mucking around with the 3TB drive.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:38 PM on January 17, 2012


Yep. I put Windows on the SSD and then tried to format the large drive. As far as I can determine, Windows should let me use a GPT option to formatting the drive, which would provide all 3 terrabyters. The GPT option was grayed out after the install. Windows wanted to use the old MBR approach, i.e., use only 2.19 tb's.

To confuse the issue more, everything I've read says Win7 64-bit can handle a large data drive. It's only when you want to use it as a boot drive that you may run into problems.

I'm not going to attempt this again unless I can find some kind of definitive guidance.
posted by justcorbly at 3:57 PM on January 17, 2012


Something of a guide here.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:00 PM on January 17, 2012


You are correct, without a GPT you'll get nowhere. What if you create a GPT table in linux, with however many partitions you need? Does Windows see them then?
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 4:03 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I believe Windows 7 comes in both flavours on the install CD...

It comes with two DVDs. One has the 32-bit version and the other has the 64-bit version.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:48 PM on January 17, 2012


Chocolate Pickle is right of course.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:53 PM on January 17, 2012


I'd read that guide before, Tumid. This time I noticed that the target drive needs to be empty and unpartioned to use GPT. (Picky picky.) It may not have been when I tried earlier.
posted by justcorbly at 5:09 PM on January 17, 2012


mad bomber what bombs at midnight: "What if you create a GPT table in linux, with however many partitions you need?"

This is what I would try.
posted by vasi at 5:20 PM on January 17, 2012


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