Windows 7 and external hard drives larger than 2TB

Started 4 months ago | Questions thread
Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,803
Re: Windows 7 and external hard drives larger than 2TB

ggeinec wrote:

Does Windows 7 recognize the full capacity of external hard drives larger than 2.2TB without any special formatting or partitioning needed?

Yes, Windows 7 works fine with large volumes, both internal and external.  I run both internal and external 4TB volumes on Windows 7 for a few years and now I'm running an internal 8TB volume with it.  You need to use GPT partitions rather than MBR partitions, but the Disk Management tool in Windows 7 will do this seamlessly and automatically.  Once partitioned, you can format the volume using the standard NTFS file system.

The only complication you'll run into is if you want to use a boot volume that's greater than 2TB.  In that case you need to have a UEFI motherboard that understands GPT-partitioned disks.  Since you're asking about external hard drives, this shouldn't be an issue for you.

Windows 7 also handles "advanced format" volumes with large sector sizes without breaking a sweat.

One wrinkle that you might run into with external drives is USB support for large volumes.  Older USB drivers and chipsets wouldn't support this, but anything you buy today should be fine with it.

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