Can I upgrade the hard drive in my home server?
November 12, 2014 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Will my older hardware accommodate a 4TB (or larger) Hard drive?

Our home server resides in a Shuttle case with LGA775 socket and Intel G41 chipset. It is currently running 64 bit Windows 8.1 pro. It's an older machine, but it seems to handle everything we throw at it. All of our files reside on a 2TB hard drive. However, the drive is getting full, and I'd like to swap it out for a 4 or 6 TB drive. I have heard that there are issues with older computers and huge hard drives, so before I buy the drive, I want to know if it will work. Can I just swap out the existing drive with the new one? Or will it require some sort of extra rigging? Or will it work poorly or not at all? Thanks for your expertise!
posted by Crotalus to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Will the 4TB hard drive be the boot drive or is there a separate boot drive already? Motherboards that don't have a newer UEFI BIOS (like the one in that PC, I'd gather) have issues booting off of partitions bigger than 2.19TB. You may be able to split it into two partitions, but I don't know if you want two partitions. This is because UEFI allows use of the GUID Partition Table (GPT) instead of the older Master Boot Record (MBR).

Functionally, it should work fine other than that, although there might be some fancy SATA features that motherboard might not offer like Native Command Queueing or some power management stuff, but that stuff's just icing on the cake and not necessary for your use case.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:32 AM on November 12, 2014

Could you find a way to mount the 4TB disk as a second drive? Keep the O/S on the primary disk and put the bulk of the server data on the new drive.

Every time someone has asked me to replace/upgrade the primary boot disk on a Windows system, I know I'm in for trouble. The license key is tied to the serial number of the disk as well as a bunch of other things. Windows /hates/ it when you swap out parts of a machine.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:47 AM on November 12, 2014

The computer boots from a small drive that houses only the OS.
posted by Crotalus at 11:56 AM on November 12, 2014

Should be good as long as you can set your BIOS for AHCI.
posted by srboisvert at 6:36 PM on November 12, 2014

Can I just swap out the existing drive with the new one?

With a G41 and it not as your boot drive? Yes. Just make sure you partition it using GPT instead of MBR when asked and that you're using AHCI not IDE legacy emulation in the BIOS. If you do have to change the latter, that will break windows boot (until you change it back) - but it's a lot easier to get windows 8.1 to cope with that than it used to be. You might also need to update the intel RST drivers (setupRST.exe) for the SATA controller depending upon which ones you have installed.

You've 3 SATA ports so you should be able to hook up both old and new drives simultaneously temporarily with the case open (no need to screw both in, just rest one circuit board face up on a flat surface) and copy the data direct in windows, then tidy up and put just your new drive in the case.

For future reference, if you want to use a 2.2+TB drive as a boot drive, you must use both GPT partitioning and have a UEFI motherboard (or some hackery) which your board is a bit too old for. But as a secondary drive, you can let windows do the heavy lifting. Basically, all of this is part of the 64-bit transition to go past the 32-bit limits; just as processors and OSes have had to transition to allow more RAM, so has the BIOS to UEFI, MBR to GPT etc to address larger disks.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:27 AM on November 13, 2014

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