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 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.
UEFI BIOS desktop systems are new since 2011. Windows 10/8/8.1/7 64-bit and Vista 64-bit operating systems support booting from UEFI and GPT without the need of a non-Microsoft device driver. This is the Windows native solution for booting a 3TB drive to a single partition.
Quick facts about Windows and 3TB drives:
- Windows 10/8/8.1/7 and Vista support GPT 3TB single partitions
- Windows 10/8/8.1/7 and Vista can only boot GPT on systems with UEFI BIOS
- Windows 10/8/8.1/7 and Vista can mount a GPT non-booting data drive
- Intel RST device drivers before v10.1 do not support 3TB disk drives
- Windows systems with Legacy BIOS and MBR boot drives are limited to 2.2TB partitions
- Windows XP does not support GPT
- Windows XP sees a 3TB drive as 800GB on boot or data drives
- DiscWizard software can install a device driver which opens the full capacity of a 3TB. You can use it to create a second partition for the capacity above 2.2TB
- The startup process is delayed on a computer that has a large hard disk installed and is running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.
DiscWizard with support for 3TB drives is now available.
- For a Flash tutorial: Cloning your old drive to a 3TB using DiscWizard. Part 1, Part 2.
- For a Flash tutorial: How to use the Seagate DiscWizard application to utilize the full capacity of a three terabyte or larger drive in a Windows 7 and a Windows 8 Operating System.
For Downloads and DiscWizard User Guides please visit our DiscWizard support page.
Product support for disk drives greater than 2.2TB is rapidly evolving. Please contact your suppliers directly for the latest status and capacity support limitations of their products.