External Hard Disk, SSD and NAS Drives

Formatting and booting from a HDD (not an SSD) with a capacity exceeding 2.19TB

Note that to be used as system boot drives that start the system, hard drives with a capacity exceeding 2.19GB require an UEFI BIOS. Windows Vista/7/8.1/10 fully support storage (non-boot) drives larger than 2.19TB. For example, Windows Disk Management can format a 3TB external drive normally as long as the user chooses to format the drive as a GPT partition, which allows Windows Vista/Win7/8.1/10 to create a single partition of a drive with a capacity exceeding 2TB. In other words, a external HDD with a capacity above 2.19TB has to be formatted as a GPT drive or partition, not as an NTFS drive or partition.

GUID Partition Table (GPT) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GUID_Partition_Table

Also note well that you should only use a quick format not a full format on an SSD drive, which support the NTFS and GPT, the two main file systems used by Windows.

How to format an SSD safely: don’t perform a full format –


Here is what the major drive manufacturer, Seagate, says about booting from drives exceeding 2.19TB:

“Most legacy systems built before 2011 have a traditional PC BIOS. This type of BIOS uses a Master Boot Record (MBR). The MBR Partitions can define a disk drive capacity up to 2.2TB. Windows operating systems that boot from an MBR are therefore limited to 2.2TB per MBR. A 3TB disk drive in a legacy BIOS and Window system will need a [Seagate] DiscWizard device driver to access the full capacity of a 3TB disk drive. Two partitions will be necessary because of the MBR limitation. The device driver mounts the capacity above 2.2TB with another MBR which looks to the system as a second virtual “physical” device. GUID Partition Tables (GPT) can define drives larger than 2.2TB. You can use GPT today on any Windows 10/ 8.1/8/7 and Vista system as a non-booting data drive. Windows can only boot a GPT partition on a new type of BIOS called UEFI.”

Page 6Providing security protection to an external HDD and SSD drive