Can an ultra-large-capacity 3.0TB hard disk drive be used with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 & 8.1?

PROBLEM: I have a desktop PC running Windows XP Professional 32-bit version. I do a lot of video editing so I want to buy a 3.0TB Western Digital or Seagate hard disk drive. I know that a 32-bit version of Windows can’t access more than 3.5GB of RAM memory, so will I be able to use the whole drive without partitioning it? For that matter, will I be able to use such a drive at all?

ANSWER: Ultra-large-capacity hard disk drives used as a boot (system startup) drive, such as Western Digital’s Caviar Green 3TB, won’t work with any computer that uses a standard BIOS chip on its motherboard. The BIOS loads low-level system drivers, but it can’t recognise disks larger than 2.19TB. A hardware solution, such as a PCI Express SATA controller card, enables Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 to recognise these disks. Unfortunately, Windows XP can’t, as it calculates capacity in the same way as the BIOS. If you want to use an ultra-high capacity drive as a boot drive with Windows XP, software options are available that can force it to recognise the extra storage.

For example, the Paragon GPT Loader, costing $19.95 in April 2015, includes an XP driver that enables high capacity support and a utility for disk formatting. RAID support is not available yet, but if you have limited room for extra disks and need XP compatibility, it’s a good solution. Note that the loader only supports secondary internal drives, not boot drives (primary partitions) or external drives.

Paragon GPT Loader – A unique solution for using 3TB+ drives in Windows XP! –

“Paragon GPT Loader includes a special system driver for Windows XP and a utility for initializing ultra- high capacity drives. The driver adds support for GPT (GUID Partition Table) disks, while the utility initializes modern 3TB+ drives ready for use.” –

Hard disk drives have reached capacities of 10TB (WD claimed the highest capacity HDD of 10TB in September 2014) and their capacities will continue rising. There are several issues with regard to using a hard disk drive as the boot drive if it has a capacity larger than 2.19TB. A hard drive with a capacity higher than that requires a 64-bit operating system (a 64-bit version of Windows, which means a 64-bit version of Windows Vista or Windows 7 or Windows 8.1), device driver support and BIOS support. The BIOS has to be an UEFI BIOS, which most motherboards currently in use do not use. The following article provides detailed information on the 2.19TB barrier.

The 2.19TB Barrier –…

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I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.