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Is there a 2TB limit with Microsoft Windows 7 32-bit OS?

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November 29, 2009 8:39:57 PM

I want to upgrade from my WIN XP Pro OS. I have several problems with the XP OS that do not provide a good work environment.

I would like to upgrade to WIN 7 OS. Does the 32-bit version of WIN 7 OS allow a hard drive above 2TB? Or. is the only alternatve installing the 64-git OS?
a c 215 $ Windows 7
November 29, 2009 9:02:56 PM

To create a partition above 2TB in size in Windows, you must initialize the drive using the GUID Partition Table option, instead of MBR. Whether XP can do this, I am not sure, but Vista and 7 will have no trouble creating or accessing such a drive.

Edit: Both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows can create GUID Partition table drives.
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a b $ Windows 7
November 30, 2009 3:20:50 AM

The 2T byte limitation is not an operating system limitation, Windows XP (NTFS) will handle a 2T byte hard drive, the limitation is the motherboard will not be able to recognize such a large drive.
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a b $ Windows 7
November 30, 2009 7:55:20 AM

A volume over 2TB will work fine in win7 x86. In order to make a partition larger than 2TB though, you'll need to use GPT rather than MBR. Unless you have a board that supports EFI, this means that you won't be able to boot from the >2TB partition. It'll work just fine for storage though. Alternatively, you could break it up into several smaller partitions. An 8TB volume broken into 4 2TB partitions would also be fine, and you could even boot from it.
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November 30, 2009 2:43:31 PM

pjmelect said:
The 2T byte limitation is not an operating system limitation, Windows XP (NTFS) will handle a 2T byte hard drive, the limitation is the motherboard will not be able to recognize such a large drive.


this is just wrong and innacurate. you can not boot to a gpt disk, which is the partition table which can address spaces larger than 2tb without an efi bios. most motherboards don't have an efi bios so most cannot boot to a gpt disk. i have a machine without efi and a 6tb raid array. i simply cannot boot to it though, so the os is not on that drive.
vista 32bit can do that fine as well.

sorry cjl, jumped the gun there, didn't realize you'd already said all of that.
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a b $ Windows 7
December 1, 2009 1:21:50 AM

Quote:

pjmelect wrote :

Quote:

pjmelect wrote :


The 2T byte limitation is not an operating system limitation, Windows XP (NTFS) will handle a 2T byte hard drive, the limitation is the motherboard will not be able to recognize such a large drive.







Quote:
this is just wrong and innacurate. you can not boot to a gpt disk, which is the partition table which can address spaces larger than 2tb without an efi bios. most motherboards don't have an efi bios so most cannot boot to a gpt disk. i have a machine without efi and a 6tb raid array. i simply cannot boot to it though, so the os is not on that drive.
vista 32bit can do that fine as well.

sorry cjl, jumped the gun there, didn't realize you'd already said all of that.

Isn’t that what I said? Sorry if my writing is not clear, the limitation is in the motherboard BIOS not the operating system.
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
December 1, 2009 2:54:43 PM

Just to try to clarify the above comments:

A drive requires GPT-style partitions to go beyond 2TB.

With GPT partitions there is no problem for Vista, Windows 7 OR the motherboard going beyond 2TB - UNLESS it's a BOOT DISK.

For a GPT-partitioned boot disk, you need a motherboard with an EFI BIOS in order to boot from it.
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December 6, 2009 8:51:33 PM

i just installed a 2 tb drive in my rig that has a asus p6t deluxe with xp 64 os

so why is my mobo not seeing it but windows is
but i cannot format it or anything else as windows manager says its unreadable

after i tried to update all my sata and chipset drivers the mobo did see the drive but could not read it and hangs in the boot prompting me to hit f1 to continue

which it does fine and i get into xp 64

i also have windows 7 installed in another drive on same rig and it does not see the 2 tb drive either

so i believe it is the mobo that is the problem and not windows in just seeing the drive
now i just have to search and see if i did the drivers wrong or there is something else i need to know
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
December 6, 2009 10:42:38 PM

Do you have RAID enabled in the BIOS? If so, you'll probably have to go into the RAID configuration section of the BIOS and choose the RAID organization for the disk before you can access it.
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December 7, 2009 1:42:33 AM

no i do not have raid enabled for either controller
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
December 7, 2009 3:06:05 PM

If I remember correctly the Asus board has two different SATA controllers with different coloured SATA plugs. Did you plug the new drive into the other controller, and have you enabled the controller in the BIOS?
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December 8, 2009 1:41:47 AM

yes it has 2 controllers and they were not enabled in the bios as i had no need to do that
actually you cant install windows with them enabled as you would need the drivers too
i know i can slipstream them and other stuff but i was lazy and annoyed at the time so i did not turn them on after i realized when they were off windows would install fine

plus i was not using raid and it reduces boot time not having them on

trying to get this drive to work i have updated the bios to the latest and have tried to install all the updated chipset and sata drivers
since then i have enabled the controllers again but have not tried the drive yet

i have tried it on an external thermaltake blacx docking station and windows shows it in manager but it says its unreadable still

i am hoping i am still missing something and its not a bad drive adding to my misery

thanks for the help so far everyone
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February 8, 2010 7:10:58 PM

sminlal said:
Just to try to clarify the above comments:

A drive requires GPT-style partitions to go beyond 2TB.

With GPT partitions there is no problem for Vista, Windows 7 OR the motherboard going beyond 2TB - UNLESS it's a BOOT DISK.

For a GPT-partitioned boot disk, you need a motherboard with an EFI BIOS in order to boot from it.

Why do you need to have an EFI BIOS to boot from a GPT disk?

My understanding is that an ordinary (non-EFI) BIOS knows nothing about partitions. So it could care less about MBR partitioning vs EFI partitioning. Note that EFI partioning leaves the boot sector of the disk free for an MBR.

An ordinary BIOS boots by loading the first sector of the disk into RAM and jumping to it. That's why the first sector is also called the Master Bood Record. Perhaps MS Windows does not provide a boot sector that can handle EFI partitioning. That's not a hardware or BIOS limitation. According to this table, Linux and FreeBSD can boot from a GUID-partitioned disk even on a machine with a conventional BIOS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GUID_Partition_Table#OS_su...

Boot sectors use BIOS calls to do disk I/O. I think that there is a limit of 2T on how far they can reach. So whatever gets booted will need to be within the first 2T until enough gets loaded to provide a disk driver.

We'll soon switch from 512 byte to 4096 byte sectors. I don't know which limits that will affect.
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
February 8, 2010 10:07:19 PM

DHR said:
Why do you need to have an EFI BIOS to boot from a GPT disk?
Because the bootstrap loader on a GPT disk uses EFI-style calls to the BIOS to read the secondary bootstrap record from the active partition.

The standard (non-EFI) BIOS calls were upgraded by a new standard introduced in 2002 - they can now access LBNs up to 128 Petabytes, so there is no limitation in the BIOS itself. The real issue is the limitation of LBN sizes in the MBR paritition table and finding a partitioning utility that will create a GPT-partitioned disk with a loader that doesn't use EFI-style calls. Since EFI and the GPT standard are linked, that's a hard thing to find, if one exists.
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