System only seeing a 128gb partition

My media center pc wasn't displaying in colour on the tv for a while, and then it wouldn't display anything at all. I looked under display options, and found that "extend my desktop onto this monitor" wasn't checked. I would tick it, but when I clicked "apply" the screen would flicker and then untick itself.

For some reason I didn't think to try updating the drivers, but just figured I would reinstall windows. I put in my WinXP CD (it's a copy, but a legitimate copy, from when I was studying at uni and all students got free copies), but when it came to the point where you tell it where to install, it wouldn't find the partitions correctly. The drive is a Samsung 750gb, and I had partitioned it in to a 50gb primary for windows, and a 700gb logical/extended for data. The WinXP cd was only showing a single unformatted 128gb drive. My first thought was "f*ck, my partition tables are corrupted", and I spent a long time trying to restore the partition tables using ultimate boot cd. Weirdly, UBCD recognised the partitions ok (I should have clicked at that point I realise). Nothing seemed to work - whenever I put the WinXP cd back in, it would still only recognise a 128gb drive.

I gave up on trying to fix the partition tables, and with the help of a mate's external enclosure, I copied all the data off the drive. Again, my laptop recognised the partitions perfectly well. Once I had all the data off I reformatted the drive, but WinXP still was only recognising the 128gb drive. I tried formatting the drive under WinXP Setup, but when it came time to reboot, rather than going into the next stage of the install, it just went back to not being able to boot, and not being able to find a proper partition.

I then plugged in a fairly new Hitachi 1tb drive, and again, the winXP cd only recognised a 128gb drive. By now I was pretty sure that it wasn't the drives that were faulty! I cleared the CMOS, but no luck. I re-flashed the BIOS to the latest version, but again, no luck - WinXP still just sees a 128gb partition.

I then ordered a new motherboard (a Biostar TA690G) to replace what I thought was a faulty mobo (it was/is a Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H), but yesterday when I installed the new mobo, I was still getting the same problem.

I'm utterly stumped by this. If it isn't the Mobo (surely two mobos having the same problem isn't likely?), and it isn't the HDD (again, two hdds having the same problem?), what else could it be? I've tried nearly all the apps on the UBCD to try and wipe/format/install/partition the hdd to get windows to recognise it, but I've had exactly zero luck.

Any suggestions are very gratefully received.

The System:

Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H or Biostar TA690G Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Socket AM2 2.6GHz
OCZ 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 CL 4-4-4-15 PLATINUM XTC * 4 (ie, 4gb total)
Samsung HD753LJ 750GB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm *32MB Cache*
Hitachi 1TB SATAII 7200RPM HDD
Abit wireless PCIx
Pinnacle PCIx TV Tuner card
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More about system 128gb partition
  1. You need to install XP with at least Service Pack 1. (There are now 3 Service Packs available for XP.)

    Also, there is a registry hack you can find by searching the web. It's probably better to just go ahead and install XP with the Service Packs to take advantage of all of the updates, instead of just hacking the registry.
  2. XP (pre SP1) does not support the new extended LBA format required to see drives larger than 128GB properly. You'll need a disk with at least SP1 to see it properly.
  3. You're not the first person to suggest that, but if this is the cause, how come I was able to install Windows on there in the first place? I'm using the exact same CD, with the exact same hardware, so why would this problem only have started recently?

    (I should have mentioned that more specifically in my post - it's another reason I'm so stumped with this - if nothing has changed, why has it stopped working?)
  4. I would venture to say that you did not have that large disk when you first installed Windows onto this build. You installed XP onto a smaller drive, and at some point (after the automatic updates upgraded your installation to SP1) you have added the larger hard drive, or something)
    Either that, or you did something else to install XP.
    Regardless, unless your version of XP is indeed SP1 or later, it will only see 128 gig of hard drive space.
    Just how old is that CD?
    If it is a few years old, that has got to be the case here.
  5. You had your old disk partitioned so that there was a smaller Primary Partition with the OS from which to boot, and then a much larger Extended Partition for all the data. Do you still want to have that structure? If so, you don't really have a problem.

    On a new install of XP (original version without "48-bit LBA Support") on a very large hard drive, you can go ahead and make your Primary Partition any size you like up to128 GB, and install XP to that. As soon as it's running, use the Windows Updates site to update your XP as far as it goes, which most certainly will include SP3 in its many updates. Once that it done, use Disk Manager in Windows to go into your hard drive and create the Extended Partition out of the Unallocated Space available there. If you make one biggie, it will be D:. (If it is not because your CD-ROM has dibs on "D:", use the disk Manager tools to change Drive Letters to what you want.)

    Now you have a hard drive with a C: boot drive of under 128 GB containing the most up-to-date Win XP, and a D: data drive that is around 600 GB, and an optical drive called E:, and everything you always wanted. Only problem is, it's all brand new with no data, and you have to restore your old data. You did make a backup before starting to re-install Windows, right?

    If that is NOT what you want - if you want one big bootable C: drive, you need a newer version of XP (with SP1 or higher) to install from. You can buy one, or learn how to make your own by the perfectly legal process of "slipstreaming". It ends up with you making (from your fully licensed legal original XP Install Disk) a new burned-by-you XP Install Disk that does contain a fully upgraded version of Win XP that can handle big disks at installation time.
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