Another drive dock question: “compatibility” with greater than 3 TB drives

Started 3 months ago | Discussions
Billiam29 Senior Member • Posts: 2,098
Another drive dock question: “compatibility” with greater than 3 TB drives

I came across an issue mentioned in user reviews of two different docks I was looking at. Excerpts from both are quoted below. Is anybody aware of an independent resource that explains this particular concern? I’m posting this not only to find such an explanation but also to raise awareness of this potential issue for anyone that’s looking into a dock for creating backups.

One of my issues was the the dock was not recognizing drives formatted by a Sabrent dock I also have. This turned out to be because the Plugable dock supports Advance Formatting for 3TB+ drives whereas many other docks support sector emulation. While Plugable has chosen a more standard way, there is still a population of existing docks that do not do this. It turned out that the Sabrent dock had a firmware update to fix this.

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A lot of other enclosures will let you format 3tb ^ drives as gpt while in the enclosure but then you can't put the drive directly into a windows machine and have it work due to the file structure block size. Same thing if you format in windows then try to pop it in an enclosure. This one works flawlessly without those problems.

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I’ll admit that the explanation is at least somewhat self-evident from what’s stated in the quotes. However, I’m not really comfortable basing decisions about the products I use for backups on assumptions I might make from user reviews I see on retail sites.

OP Billiam29 Senior Member • Posts: 2,098
Re: Another drive dock question: “compatibility” with greater than 3 TB drives

For anyone interested in further reading...

https://kb.plugable.com/data-storage/understanding-large-sata-drive-compatibility

My gut tells me a small portion of the info may be outdated, however.

Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson Forum Pro • Posts: 14,868
Re: Another drive dock question: “compatibility” with greater than 3 TB drives

Billiam29 wrote:

I’m not really comfortable basing decisions about the products I use for backups on assumptions I might make from user reviews I see on retail sites.

There were issues with early USB drive docks because the USB mass storage protocol of the time didn't support 64-bit logical block numbers and therefore the drives were logically limited to only 2TB or less. There were a number of mutually incompatible schemes that got around this limitation which led to various issues.

But USB protocols were upgraded a long time ago, and anything you buy on the market these days shouldn't be an issue.

When I upgraded from USB 2 to USB 3 drive docks one of the tests I did was to format and copy files to a 4TB drive in the dock and then attach it to a SATA port inside the system to make sure it was properly readable - that was my "acid test" to make sure the backups I was creating weren't somehow tied to that specific drive dock. If you have any doubts about your USB configuration I'd suggest doing the same.

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