Change of capacity HDD WDCaviar 500Gb Sata 3

Hello, after a power failure while performing defrag with WinXP, my new WDCaviar 500Gb Sata (2nd HDD data purpose only) ends up listed as raw. I succesfully recovered all my data with a powerful partition software (TestDisk 6.11). Sadly, after that, I also changed the disk geommetry because the soft adviced it was wrong. Now, I´m able to make partitions and format the disk, but it appears reduced to 137 Gb from a 500 Gb one!
WD docs says nothing about reformatting the disk or even the right numbers of headers and sectors intended as original for its disks. Help!
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  1. The 137 GB is a familiar number, BUT not when it is reported by Windows! A system that lacks "48-bit LBA Support" cannot use a HDD larger that 137 GB according to the way a HDD manufacturer counts it (they define a Gigabyte as 1,000,000,000 bytes). But Windows will call that same space 128 GB, because they define a Gigabyte as 1024 x 1024 x 1024 bytes.

    But if your post means the drive appears to be a 137 GB unit in HDD maker's measurement system, you may have this problem. Win XP in its ORIGINAL form did NOT have 48-bit LBA Support. It was added in Service Pack 1 and maintained thereafter. Now, with all your problems, did you end up re-installing Win XP from an older Install CD that did NOT have any Service Packs included on it? If you did, the Install process could only have created a Partition no larger than 137 GB (or M$'s 128 GB) in which to do that install.

    You say you "can make Partitions and Format the disk". How? What software tool are you using for those tasks? When I first started setting up my system with 320 GB units, I used a utility from the HDD maker to Partition and Format them, and ran into this limit. It turned out that if you ran the utility from the CD it came on it did NOT know what OS you had or were planning to use, so it refused to make a Partition larger than that limit. This was designed to prevent you from creating a Partition that your eventual OS could not handle. The simple solution is NOT to do the job that way. Let the Windows Install disk do the job for you if you're installing - any Win version from Win XP SP1 onwards will make Partitions larger than 137 GB. Or, if you are using Disk Management within Windows it will do the job just as long as the Windows you are running is at least SP1 of Win XP.

    If that is not how you got to this situation, I suppose it is possible that something wrote information to the HDD's controller board that told it to limit itself to that size. I know Seagate drives can be set this way by using a utility from them, and can be reset to full capacity. I don't know whether WD has a similar feature or not. Check with their Tech Support guys.

    By the way, you will not find any info on Cylinders, Heads and Sectors on modern drives. All of that is managed by the controller board on the HDD itself, and users cannot manipulate those things. Twenty years ago one had to put the right info like that into a computer's BIOS. Its controller used those three parameters to direct the HDD heads to the right sector it wanted to use. In the LBA system that took over in the '90s, modern controllers specify what sector they want with a single binary number. The controller board on the HDD takes that number and, pre-programmed with the data for the particular drive it is attached to, translates that number into the CHS co-ordinates for that drive. The original version of LBA ("Logical Block Addressing") used 28 binary bits to communicate this number. So the maximum number of sectors it could address was 2^28, or 268,435,456. Now, sectors up to recently are 512 bytes, so that's a maximum of 137,438,953,472 usable bytes - look familiar? By the late '90's HDD makers realized they would soon pass that size in their products and revised the LBA system to use 48 binary bits instead to communicate this address. Even without resorting to the new larger (4096 byte) sectors, that system provides for HDD capacities 'WAY larger than anyone knows how to make!
  2. Hello and Thanks Paperdoc. It seemed strange to me not to find anything about cylinders, heads and sectors. After your explanation, I understand why!
    But there´s still software that fiddle with those things. I used TestDisk 6.11 (originally for Linux, in a solid version for Windows ) to recovered data from the HDD and later to wrongly changed disk geommetry specs. Putting the disk back in the original CPU, I can format and make partitions with Fdisk or with my installation WinXP CD. And yes, as you inferred, my WinXP Cd is old, previous to Service Pack 1.
    But I finally get my HDD back on track with Acronis software, download free from Western Digital: it easily recognized and established the 500Gb size again, making possible to format and create partitions on it (one primary and one logical). That with my disk temporarily as a second unit in other PC.
    But now, when I put it back in the original CPU, and ran my old WinXP installation disk, it only appeared to be 137Gb without partition again!
    So it seems I`ll need a newer version of XP. Or migrating to Vista installation disk from my notebook will do the trick?
    What can I do? Reformatting with my old WinXP to only 137 Gb (if it later -actualized- recognize the real 500Gb) or migrate to a new OS?
    Thanks in advance.
  3. Best answer
    In your situation you have these options:

    1. Don't install original Win XP. Install another OS instead - either a newer version of XP, or Vista or Win 7 which all have 48-bit LBA Support. These options mean you spend money on a new OS.

    2. Read up on the web about the process called "Slipstreaming". It is a perfectly legal way to take your licensed copy of the original Win XP Install disk and convert it into a more recent version for free. Basically you make an image of the entire Win XP (original) Install CD onto your hard drive, then download files that change all that stuff to a new image that contains the newer version, and finally you burn that updated image back out to your own CD so you have a new XP Install disk. THEN you can install that updated version of XP. I NOTE that Microsoft recommends this sequence: use Slipstreaming to make a Install disk only up to Service Pack 2, and install that. (When you do that Install, it WILL allow you to make the Primary Partition you create the full size of your HDD.) THEN use the Microsoft Windows Update process to update that already-installed OS to SP3. To do this you will need a bunch of files downloaded from Microsoft, some software tools for making the image copies, and a clear step-by-step set of instructions. I've done it and it is not hard if you follow those instructions carefully. This would get you to Win XP SP3 for free and legal - just takes some time.

    3. Install Win XP original version that you have, realizing that you will be limited to a Primary Partition of 128 GB to do the installation. Once that is done, update that version of Win XP to SP2. THEN update again, to SP3. (Microsoft advises not to try to go all the way to SP3 in one step.) Once that is done you can use Windows Disk Management to Create and Format a new additional Primary Partition on your hard drive, using the Unallocated Space left over when the first Partition was created. Since you won't be booting from this Partition it does not need to be made bootable. This Partition will be treated exactly as just another drive with its own letter name, and you can use it for lots of data. You just will not have one huge 460 GB drive. You will have two "drives" - the C: drive you boot from of 128 GB, plus another drive of about 330 GB you use for data.

    Note in Option 3 that, even though you update your installation of Win XP to SP3, it will NOT convert your existing C: Partition to a larger size. Windows does not really like to try manipulating the boot partition in case something goes wrong and you lose it all! However, a fourth option is to get to the point of having XP on the 128 GB Partition and updated to SP3, and then buying some third-party software like Partition Magic and having it expand the original Partition to add in all of the Unallocated Space. I have not done this, but it is supposed to work. It just costs money for that software.
  4. Best answer selected by gearoid.
  5. Hello,
    I tried to install Vista (32bit version 2008) but it didn´t recognize the partitions already made to the hard disk.
    So I finally used a slisptreamed XP install CD (made for curiosity a couple of years ago) wiht SP 2 included. Besides this install XP treated the HDD as a 500Gb and "saw" the two partitions already done on it with the Acronis soft from WD, installed in my other PC (under XP OS too); it cannot recognize its format (NTFS) so I gave up and reformatted the first primary partition to complete the install. The second partition left, although formatted in NTFS with my data preloaded from the other PC, still cannot be read by "this" Win XP, even upgraded to SP3. Strange.
    Thanks anyway for your comprehensive response and possible options.
    Gerardo Doyle
  6. OK, when you look at the hard disk unit in Disk Management, look at the unit in the lower right pane. It will be represented by one horizontal block. At its left end is a small label that says things like "Disk_2" with a size, etc. To the right will be a few separate sub-blocks, each representing a Partition on the HDD. In each Partition there will be information about the Partition's Volume Name (assigned to it by you or not, like "OS" or "Geraldo1"), its letter name ("C:"), size (like "212.9 GB"), its File System like "NTFS", and a status line like "Healthy...". It would seem your C: drive partition is working OK, but not one or two others.

    Two problems can pop up here to prevent use of a "drive" (Partition). One is its letter name. Does it have one? If not, RIGHT-click on that Partition and choose to assign one to it - one that is NOT already in use, but usually you can only choose unused letters. If you do this, back out of Disk Management and reboot to establish the change.

    The second thing is the File System. Sometimes a little corruption occurs in the Partition Table and the system cannot identify the File System installed on that Partition, so it will show it as "RAW". Then it will try to tell you you need to Format the drive. DO NOT do that! Search the web instead for how to repair a RAW Format drive and recover its files.
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