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First post, by Rekrul

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I still have an older system with XP. I want to make backups of all the files on it. I don't have any newer systems. I want to buy either a pair of 2TB external drives, or a single 3TB drive that I can just plug in and use. I know I can use 1TB drives, but buying three of those would be more expensive than buying even two 2TB drives. While drive prices have come down, they never seem to break the $50 barrier.

I tried a 3TB Seagate drive a few months ago (lot of personal stuff came up in the meantime that forced me to put this on the back burner) and XP wouldn't recognize it at all. I don't mean that I couldn't use it properly, or that I couldn't use all the space on it (the most common problems), I mean that Windows wouldn't let me access the drive at all. The only place it showed up was in Disk Management and it wouldn't let me do anything with it.

After looking on the net, people say that XP has a 2TB limit for drives. Then they said that even Seagate's recent 2TB drives don't work in XP either. Some said you could install special software to see the full capacity, but that assumes that you can at least access the drive, which I could not. Others said that Western Digital had 3TB drives that worked in XP, no special software required.

Unfortunately, looking on places like Amazon, there's no concrete information about what versions of Windows any particular drive will work on, or even what revision it is. The Q&A section is useless because half the answers are talking about other models in the same product line rather than THAT exact model.

So can anyone point me toward a 2TB or 3TB external drive that will work in XP Pro, SP3?

Reply 1 of 20, by PhilsComputerLab

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You can also look at NAS drives. That way, there is no size limitation. Or just share a 4 TB drive, connected to another machine (with a newer OS), and share it on the network.

As for getting it directly going on the XP machine, I never used anything larger than 2 TB, but surely there would be a ton of information on the Interner about this.

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Reply 2 of 20, by Jo22

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As Phil said.

Certain external drives do also operate on a firmware which does translation trickery (huge NTFS clusters ?).
I *think* my USB 3.0 Intenso drive w/ 5TB (picture) does this, for example, since it reports the full capacity on XP x86.

https://www.cnet.com/forums/discussions/can-w … rabytes-627942/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS#Scalability

Anyway, I think what Phil said is the better solution.
Using a NAS and a network filesystem is way safer and more professional also.

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Reply 4 of 20, by Errius

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I think XP can't read GPT disks so you need to format in the older system if you want to use them in XP. I remember this causing problems with my parent's XP box.

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Reply 5 of 20, by Rekrul

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PhilsComputerLab wrote:

You can also look at NAS drives. That way, there is no size limitation. Or just share a 4 TB drive, connected to another machine (with a newer OS), and share it on the network.

If I had a machine with a newer OS, I could just pop the hard drives in that to back up the files.

Errius wrote:

I think XP can't read GPT disks so you need to format in the older system if you want to use them in XP. I remember this causing problems with my parent's XP box.

You have to be able to access the drive in order to format it and when I plugged in the 3TB I couldn't access it at all. I couldn't even see it on the system other than in Disk Management and that wouldn't let me do anything with the drive.

How do you reformat a drive if you can't access it?

Reply 6 of 20, by Anonymous Freak

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As pretty much everyone else has said - anything 2 TB and over won't work natively on XP x86. (Theoretically 2 TB will work, but if the drive reports even 1 byte over, it won't.)

Some drives may do some "trickery" to allow it, but you'd have to find out for a given drive if it does or not. Network-attached is your best bet, since that bypasses XP's storage subsystem that has the problem.

Reply 7 of 20, by yawetaG

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I've never had any problems connecting my Western Digital Elements 2TB drive to my Windows XP system. Western Digital should have the operating systems their drives can operate on listed on their website - at least they had last time I looked there a few months ago...

Reply 8 of 20, by Jo22

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2TB is the very limit without special drivers, has to do with XP's internal HDD managment (XP x86). Well, at least for internal drives with MBR partitions.
USB drives are a bit special, though. Some SATA/USB bridge chips can perform translations automagically, so huge external HDDs can be seen on XP.

This technique should be handled with care, though, since you maybe can't remove the disk from it's USB enclosure to retrive data.
Once you plug it into the SATA ports of a Windows machine (x86/x64 doesn't matter), the partitions won't be recognized anymore.

Please forgive me for the lack of details, but it hase been years ago when I read about this stuff in an article about bridge chips.
Back then I thought about updating my HDD enclosure to add a larger disk, and found that article.

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Reply 9 of 20, by gerwin

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I have an 'Icy box USB 3' SATA docking station with 'Toshiba mk2002tskb 2TB' Harddisk. This works fine in Windows XP 32-bit.

Jo22 wrote:

Once you plug it into the SATA ports of a Windows machine (x86/x64 doesn't matter), the partitions won't be recognized anymore.

Yeah, Past month I wanted to re-use this iomega 2.5" USB enclosure. But it uses an oddball Filesystem which cannot be read through the SATA interface. So when the enclosure fails, you need to track down a second hand identical one to get to your data. 🙁. This is not an exotic problem, as these Mini-USB connectors are crap.
Note that this enclosure originally came with a 1TB drive.

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Reply 11 of 20, by gerwin

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Jorpho wrote:
Rekrul wrote:

How do you reformat a drive if you can't access it?

A live Linux CD should be able to make an appropriate partitioning scheme, surely?

Can be done within XP too:
source

06 Jan 2008 - How to delete GPT Protective Partition […]
Show full quote

06 Jan 2008 - How to delete GPT Protective Partition

In Windows XP Professional, you cannot access or modify GPT disk, but you can convert a GPT disk to MBR by using the clean command in DiskPart, which will delete GPT protective partition and remove all data and partition structures from the disk.
Warning: The steps below will erase all data on the GPT disk, please backup your data first.

You might see HD Drive in GPT status on Disk Management.
Go to DOS command line (click on "Start Menu", then "Run", type in "cmd" in textbox, and hit "OK")
-Type in "DiskPart" in command line.
-Type in "list disk" in command line to show all disks in this machine.
-Use "select" to set the focus to the specified partition.
-For example "select disk 1".
-Use "clean" command to remove GPT disk from the current in-focus disk by zeroing sectors.
Go back to Disk Management, you can see GPT disk is "Not Initialized" now.
Within Disk Management, right click on disk info, choose "Initialize Disk", You can see GPT disk is "Unallocated" now.
Right click on disk info, choose "New Partition…", follow Partition Wizard and format it. Now you are able to use the disk in Windows XP.

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Reply 12 of 20, by yawetaG

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gerwin wrote:

Yeah, Past month I wanted to re-use this iomega 2.5" USB enclosure. But it uses an oddball Filesystem which cannot be read through the SATA interface. So when the enclosure fails, you need to track down a second hand identical one to get to your data. 🙁. This is not an exotic problem, as these Mini-USB connectors are crap.

Another problem is that in some cases, e.g. the 2.5" Western Digital drives (IIRC), the Mini-USB connector is soldered directly to the hard disk's PCB instead of the hard disk being a normal SATA or IDE disk hooked up to a separate converter in the enclosure.

Reply 14 of 20, by Carlos S. M.

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if i remember, ~2.2 TB is the max limit for MBR and legacy BIOS, OS/BIOS might not detect the HDD at all or detect with a worng size (like 700-800 GB), since Windows XP x86 doesn't support GPT, there no much to do

There are a forum thread about Windows XP and larger HDDs: http://superuser.com/questions/884011/is-ther … e-in-windows-xp

A NAS could still be a good option

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Reply 15 of 20, by gerwin

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yawetaG wrote:

Another problem is that in some cases, e.g. the 2.5" Western Digital drives (IIRC), the Mini-USB connector is soldered directly to the hard disk's PCB instead of the hard disk being a normal SATA or IDE disk hooked up to a separate converter in the enclosure.

Yikes, what a bad idea in regard to safety of ones data. You are right, It seems WD has been making those USB Native Disk drives since 2009 at least. Again: Mini-USB is crap.

WD Support Statement

- Depending on model, the internal hard drive in an external enclosure could be either SATA or native USB.
- We can only guarantee drive capacity. We cannot guarantee a particular internal hard drive model, data interface, rotational speed, or cache size in the external hard drive enclosure.
- Dismantling any single-drive external enclosure to obtain this information will void the warranty of the hard drive.

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Reply 16 of 20, by Rekrul

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I took a chance and bought a Western Digital "My Passport" 2TB drive (after confirming that I could return it if I had problems). When I plugged it in, Windows asked where to look for drivers and I let it go online to find them. It downloaded and installed something, but the drive still didn't show up. After a little Googling, I found a message that said you had to use WD's Quick Formatter to reformat the drive from GPT to MBR. So I downloaded the program, unplugged my other drives just to be safe, and ran it. It detected the drive, I told it to format it and now the drive shows up as just under 2TB and seems to be working OK.

As for the external drives with the connections soldered right to the drive; It's not just WD doing that. A friend gave me an older Seagate external drive that died and when I opened the case, the PCB was soldered right to the drive.

Reply 17 of 20, by KT7AGuy

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Awhile back, I was running WinXP MCE 2005 with a 160GB drive for the OS and a secondary Western Digital 1TB drive for data storage. I ran into some problems with the 1TB generating an error. I'm sorry, but I cannot recall the specific error or what the details were. However, when I researched it at the time, I found that XP can have problems with some drives greater than 500GB. The problem may also have been specific to MCE 2005. I just don't remember. After upgrading to Win7, I've had no problems.

I realize this isn't much help, but I wanted to make the comment that XP can have issues with some drives larger than 500GB.

Reply 18 of 20, by tayyare

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KT7AGuy wrote:

Awhile back, I was running WinXP MCE 2005 with a 160GB drive for the OS and a secondary Western Digital 1TB drive for data storage. I ran into some problems with the 1TB generating an error. I'm sorry, but I cannot recall the specific error or what the details were. However, when I researched it at the time, I found that XP can have problems with some drives greater than 500GB. The problem may also have been specific to MCE 2005. I just don't remember. After upgrading to Win7, I've had no problems.

I realize this isn't much help, but I wanted to make the comment that XP can have issues with some drives larger than 500GB.

This happens specially when you upgrade your boot drive from 500GB to anything bigger. Same thing happened to me, and I search thru the net and found the solution. It's a little bit vague at the moment (it was years ago) but I remember the problem caused by storage drivers, and installing the latest Intel Matrix drivers and utility solved the problem. The symptoms were funny though; not working windows update, not working IE, etc. It took some time to finally realize that it is related to "XP does not like drives larger than 500GB" issue.

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Reply 19 of 20, by agent_x007

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In short :
Any drive will work, as long as it is initiated as MBR (which hard limits usable drive space to 2TB).
Also, I doubt future 4Kn drives are supported...

PS. I'm using a 2TB drive for XP at the moment in my main setup.
In attachment I screenshotted how my WinXP sees a GPT drives and I added a not formatted one for comparison.
Also, you CANNOT do anything with GPT drive partitions (all options from context menu are greyed out, only "Help" remains).

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  • GPT vs. Win XP mini.png
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