The Multi-Terabyte Nightmare

The troubles of massive drive sizes, operating system support, and partitioning.

Steve Smith explains how to choose the right hard drive, how partition tables are important, which one is right for your drive, and how to partition massive drives easily, even after you already started playing with it.

Episode #5-25 released on March 9, 2015

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Hard drive space, something we take for granted, until we start running out of space. One of the natural side effects of today is the creation of bigger and bigger capacity drives. Most of us will buy hard drives with double the amount of hard drive space. Many might even buy the new drive to replace the existing internal drive. While, your previous drive did not necessarily cause you issues, the new one might. It is for that fact I ask, how big a hard drive is too big for your system. I, also, explain to you what the new partition table can do, what types of mainboards will support it, and how to format it correctly to avoid spending hours searching for an issue that is technically, simple to do.

In 2015, the technology available to us is perfectly capable of supporting the new hard drives, however, many computers have gone without significant upgrades for years. This might be the computer in your living room, office, maybe your bedroom. The type of mainboard in your computer will limit your ability to upgrade to larger and larger sizes because of natural limits from the bios, and because of the required partition table, in order, to use the hard drive completely.

The typical mainboard people use probably does not support Windows 8, has a conventional bios, not a UEFI one, and a hard drive less than 2 terabytes. The reason I can determine this, is, anything bigger would have you on Google searching for an episode like this one.

First, the partition table, because it is affected by the type of bios, and operating system. Most users have hard drives format with the MBR partition table. It has a 2.2 Terabyte upper limit to the size it can be. What you'll, also, find is that you can't really partition the rest either unless you have a special driver that technically makes it a different drive. However, this kind of multiple partitioning slows down computers, so when creating partitions, create a single one per drive.

Provided you are using Windows Vista or better, you can actually use a different kind of partition, other than MBR. It is called GPT, or GUID Partition Table. It is a new partition table that can handle massive drives, but it comes with a drawback. To be able to boot to a GPT partition drive, you need a mainboard with UEFI support, as it is part of the UEFI standard. Now, if you have support for UEFI, the best operating system to use it with is Windows 7, or better. And I suggest Windows 8.1 with massive drives, as you will have the best support currently for that kind of drive.

What does this mean for you? It depends, is the drive going to be your boot drive, or your data drive?

If you using Windows Vista or better, and it is going to be a data drive, because you use a different smaller drive for your operating system, once Windows boots, the driver for GPT support will be on and you can use the drive normally.

If you are going to use this as the boot drive, you either deal with only up to 2.2TB of drive space, or have a UEFI Bios in your computer.

Now, have you already tried to partition the drive? Chances are you tried to make a MBR partition and have realize that you cannot get more than 2.2TB. You probably found some places about GPT partition but no clear methodology to get that to work once the drive has been previously partitioned.

First, go to your computer, right click This PC, Manage, then go to Disk Management. You will need the drive identification number for the next step. Let us say for arguments sake, it is drive 2. It can be something different but for instructions, it will make this easier. The next step is to use the Diskpart utility. It loads a dos like window. You'll want to do the following: Type, Select Disk 2, the click enter. Then type, Clean, and then click enter again. It will have made the drive brand new.

You'll have to go back to Disk Management now. Once you go back into Disk Management, you'll be asked to initialize the drive, and to pick a partition table type, which for this case will be GPT. Then, you'll create the partition the same way as for MBR.

You may, also, decide that instead of creating a partition, that you clone an existing partition into that drive. The instructions are the same as cloning to a MBR partitioned drive, with one different. You can make the GPT unusable as a boot drive, or make it usable as a boot drive. Select what is relevant to your system.

You may, also, do that to drives smaller than 2.2 Terabytes, if you so like. And, if ever the partition becomes an issue, or you wish to use it in a different computer. Find the disk drive identification number, load diskpart, select disk #, clean, and you are done.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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