PC Buyer Beware! - Computer information website - Don't get ripped off - Forewarned is forearmed

Home Page

AGP - Video/Graphics Cards


Build a PC

Desktop PCs


Disk Drives

FireWire & USB


Great Sites

Laptop/Notebook PCs

Links to Other Sites


Media Center PCs

Modems - Dial-up

Motherboards, PC Cases and Power Supplies




Other PC Information

Problems & Solutions


Processor Sockets

Purchase Check List





Support - Technical

Technical Stuff

Tips & Tricks

Upgrade Checklists

USB & FireWire

Video/Graphics Cards


Windows Support

Windows Vista

Windows 7

Forewarned is forearmed...

Custom Search

Click to find updates on our Facebook page

Can an ultra-large-capacity 3.0TB hard disk drive be used with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 & 8?



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?


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, free for a limited time while in beta, 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 4TB (March 2013) 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), device driver support and BIOS support. The BIOS has to be an UEFI BIOS, which most motherboards currently in use do not. The following article provides detailed information on the 2.19TB barrier.

The 2.19TB Barrier - http://www.anandtech.com/show/3981/...

It's not completely true that a PC BIOS can't boot from a GPT-formatted disk. The design of the GUID Partition Table (GPT) incorporates backwards compatibility, including space for an old-fashioned Master Boot Record (MBR) boot sector that can be loaded with a bootloader that knows how to read GPT. As a result, the Linux operating system boots properly on a GPT-formatted disk, even on a PC with a standard BIOS. The specific issue is that Windows can't boot from a GPT-formatted disk without an UEFI, because the boot loader that Windows uses on a computer with a standard BIOS doesn't know how to read GPT partitions. However, the following solution from Paragon allows Windows XP to use drives with a capacity above 2.19GB as secondary drives, but not as boot drives.

Using GPT Drives -


Installed on a computer using a standard BIOS, GPT-formatted drives are supported as data storage drives (external storage not boot drives) in all 64-bit (not 32-bit) versions of Windows XP/Vista/Win7/Win8 as well as Mac OS X and Linux.

Systems that have a standard BIOS and/or a 32-bit version of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Win7 or Win8 installed can be made to work with partitions larger than 2.19TB by employing intermediary software, such as Seagate’s DiscWizard, that takes care of the addressing conversions.

Seagate DiscWizard tool: A site with a free download, user guides, and more -


Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 fully support storage (non-boot) drives larger than 2.19TB. For example, Windows Disk Management can format a 3TB or 4TB external drive normally as long as the user chooses to format the drive as a GPT partition, which allows Windows Vista/Win7 to create a single partition of a drive with a capacity exceeding 2TB. Windows XP cannot format drives exceeding 2.19TB, but if the drive is an external, non-boot drive, the drive manufacturer can also provide and installation option to format it for Windows XP compatibility. The drive's user manual should explain what to do.

However, in order to boot to a GPT partition, you need hardware support. The PC’s BIOS looks at LBA 0 for the Master Boot Record (MBR). Your PC's BIOS does not support booting to GPT drives. GPT is however supported by systems that implement the successor to the BIOS: Intel’s Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI).

New computers with Windows 8 preinstalled and all motherboards designed to be used with Windows 8 now all have a UEFI BIOS and so fully support boot and external hard drives larger than 2.19TB.

[Almost] Everything You Need to Know About 3TB Hard Drives -


Computer diagnostics: How to solve or fix common desktop and laptop PC problems

Click a link below to visit the described category of computer problems and solutions addressed on this website:

1. - Recovering and repairing Windows XP when a computer crashes or fails to boot

2. - Recovering and repairing Windows Vista when a computer crashes or fails to boot

3. - Windows Vista problems: How to fix problems with Windows Vista

4. - Recover, restore and repair Windows 7 (Win7) when a computer crashes or fails to boot

5. - Windows 7 problems: How to diagnose and fix problems with Windows 7

6. - Windows XP: How to troubleshoot and fix shutdown, restart (reboot), and startup problems

7. - Typical DLL (Dynamic Link Library) device driver problems

8. - Software problems: How to fix problems with Windows, programs, and utilities

Also visit the Software pages on this site for more information on specific software-related information and problems.

9. - Motherboard and power supply problems: How to fix common problems with faulty motherboards (mainboards) and power supplies (PSUs)

10. - RAM memory problems: How to fix problems with the Random Access Memory

11. - Hard disk drive problems: How to fix computer hard disk drive (HDD) problems

12. - CD/DVD drive problems: How to fix problems with CD and DVD drives and discs

13. - Processor problems: How fix common processor (CPU) problems

14. - Video/graphics card problems: How fix common computer video and graphics problems

15. - USB and FireWire problems: - How to fix common USB and FireWire problems

16. - Network problems: How to fix common wired and wireless networking and internet problems

17. - Laptop/notebook problems: How to address or fix the most common laptop/notebook problems

Contact me

Click here! to contact me concerning the problem addressed on this page or the PC Buyer Beware! website.


To the top of the page

PC Buyer Beware! Copyright © Eric Legge 2004-2015. All rights reserved.