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Windows 7 hdd size problem

Last response: in Storage
February 25, 2010 12:38:57 PM

I just installed Windows 7 on my PC. I had been using Windows Vista Ultimate (32 bit) and upgraded to Windows 7 RC (32 bit). I wanted to use a 64 bit OS, so I wiped the HDD which had Windows 7 RC on it to do a clean install of the full version of Windows 7 Ultimate. At first, it wouldn't install on my HDD and wouldn't show my other 350 GB storage HDD. I unplugged the storage HDD and finally it allowed me to install. After I plugged the drive back it, it will only display as 127 GB. It also says it's empty, when I had quite a bit of media files on it. I'm not exactly sure what the problem is. I've checked the bios and the HDD option for my storage drive is selected as "auto" (other choices include LBA, Large, and C??). I'm not sure what gives. I have updated all the drivers that I could find. It's a Maxtor IDE drive.
February 25, 2010 12:45:49 PM

I just wanted to note that everything on my PC was working fine and correctly until I upgraded to Windows 7 Ultimate. It even worked fine with the RC. I am also having a soundcard driver issue, and can't seem to find a driver that works.
a b $ Windows 7
a c 329 G Storage
February 25, 2010 1:25:51 PM

If your mobo were very old I would suspect the BIOS does not have what is called "48-bit LBA Support", because that is what limits you to to 127 GB. However, you say it was working before under 32-bit Vista and Win 7 RC, so it cannot be a BIOS problem. I suggest you try two steps.

1. Use the BIOS screen to auto-detect the drives in your machine and see if forcing it to examine the 350 GB unit can resolve the problem.

2. Try to update the driver for the 350 GB IDE drive. Win 7 most certainly should support a drive of this size, but maybe it somehow used the wrong driver when the drive was added after installation.
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February 25, 2010 1:46:20 PM

I will try both when I get home. The strange thing is that under My Computer (or whatever it's now called), it shows that the drive is empty, 127 GB/127 GB free. If I do a bit more digging in the device manager, it shows the drive is 350 GB but still won't let me use the entire space and won't show my data. I'd prefer not to lose my data, but if it happens it happens I guess. I've read somewhere that I could "expand" the drive, but I don't think that option is displaying anywhere. If anyone else has a suggestion that I could try should the these options not work, please let me know. Thanks for helping me out!
a b $ Windows 7
a c 329 G Storage
February 25, 2010 2:22:18 PM

Yeah, somehow Windows is confused. The device is 350 GB, and in its former use it was successfully Partitioned as one volume ("drive") with all of that space. But somehow the 64-bit Win 7 you have installed cannot grasp that and it appears to believe the unit should be dealt with as NOT having "48-bit LBA Support". But in trying to operate that way, Win 7 cannot make any sense of the rest of the info it gets from the disk, so it is misinforming you and itself. Do NOT try to re-format that drive or Expand any Partition, etc. Any such attempt by Windows to write new structure data to the drive when Windows is already WRONG about the drive's characteristics could completely destroy your access to its data.

One way to force Win 7 to re-do the recognition of the drive is this sequence. Boot into Windows normally. Click on Start in lower left and chose Control Panel ... System and then the Hardware tab and the Device Manager button. Expand Disk Drives and right-click on the 350 GB unit. Choose to Remove this unit from the system and exit from here. Shut down, disconnect power, and disconnect that drive - both its power supply and its ribbon cable. Close up, power up, and boot into Windows. It will now recognize that there is no such drive in the system.

Now you re-do the installation of the drive, basically. Shut down, disconnect power, open up, plug in the drive's cables again, close up, reconnect the power cord and boot up. Just to be sure, go directly into BIOS Setup and use the extra screen to Auto-Detect the hard drives, confirm the correct choices. Check in the IDE port setup parameters screen that your drive is listed properly. Save and Exit Setup. This will make sure the BIOS recognized that drive properly. So now as it boots up, Windows should detect a new piece of hardware and automatically load the correct driver for it. That MIGHT solve the problem and let Windows begin to recognize it correctly.
February 25, 2010 2:57:17 PM

Initially, the installation would not "see" the 350 GB HDD and only showed my 70 GB HDD. As I stated before, it also would not install until I unplugged my 350 GB. It installed to my 70 GB WD Raptor (which is what I wanted). After installing, I turned off the PC, plugged the power and cables to the 350 GB and rebooted. After the reboot, the drive appeared but only 127 GB. I have looked in the BIOS and it is showing the drive in the correct size. I will try out both suggestions though. Thanks for your help thusfar, I'll keep you posted.
February 26, 2010 12:30:00 PM

Update: I attempted to uninstall the HDD and reinstall with no success. My friend has a PC with both Win 7 and Ubuntu so we installed the HDD on his PC. On both OS, the HDD shows that it is a 300 GB+ drive, but has the same problem and will only let me access the 127 GB of "empty" space. I changed some of the settings in my BIOS in an attempt to make the computer recognize the HDD to no avail. I also attempted to find drivers for both my HDD and Mobo (update BIOS) but there do not seem to be any available online. My friend suggested that I reformat the drive and see if that will fix it. I don't mind doing this, but want to recover the data. Is there software available that can recover my data without creating the need to rename every file? This problem is quite puzzling - it almost seems as if the installation of Win 7 had some impact on the drive itself, but I doubt that's possible. Any more advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated as this has been an extremely frustrating experience!
February 26, 2010 1:08:03 PM

Also, could this have anything to do with my switch from a 32 bit OS to a 64 bit OS?
a b $ Windows 7
March 1, 2010 3:25:29 PM


When you say "upgraded" what type of installation did you perform when moving from Windows 7 RC to Windows 7 RTM? Please note that a custom installation would be required as opposed to an upgrade installation.

Also, what are you seeing under Disk Management? Are your discs being recognized there?

Microsoft does have an official Windows 7 Support Forum located here . It is supported by product specialists as well as engineers and support teams. You may want to also check the threads available there for additional assistance and guidance.

Microsoft Windows Client Team