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(NOTE: The operating system (in this case Windows XP SP3 32 bit) we are using is not a choice.)

I am trying to setup a short term storage device.

First, I found a large 5 Terabyte NAS drive that would IMO fulfill my storage requirements.

Second, I also found that Windows XP seems to have a hard drive size limit (see 'Is there a limit to the size of a hard drive for Windows XP pre-SP1?'):

  • XP should handle up to 2 TB per volume after the service packs are applied.
  • You are correct. There was a 137gb limit on the orginal pre service pack windows xp. This was addressed/fixed in SP1.

My question is, will my Windows XP SP3 32 bit machine see the 5 Terabyte NAS and be able to read/write properly to the NAS drive?

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If it's Network Attached storage accessible from a network path, then it will be fine. – user3463 Nov 19 '10 at 21:37
I wasn't quite confident enough to say this before Randolph, but I think he's right - for a NAS drive, the local machines O/S doesn't deal directly with the filesystem, so limits built into the filesystem driver don't apply. But - if that's wrong... blame Randolph, not me! – Steve314 Nov 19 '10 at 21:41
lol... um. are you guys just "commenting"??? perhaps you could make your comments an answer with some explanation/links backing up your claim??? – Trevor Boyd Smith Nov 19 '10 at 21:57
I'd love to upvote and select one of your answers... but I can't select an answer if it is in the comments section. – Trevor Boyd Smith Nov 19 '10 at 21:58
@Steve314, NTFS has no issues with massive volumes, the problem is bootable volumes - MBR partitioning has a limit of 2TB. – Mircea Chirea Nov 23 '10 at 13:14
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, it will work, regardless of any file system size limitations within the client machine's operating system. Those limits only apply to disks which are controlled directly by the client machine itself.

A NAS drive, on the other hand, is essentially a mini-server which exists to make its disk(s) available over the network. As such, it has its own operating system which controls those disks and, presumably, is able to handle their capacity, since that's its primary purpose in life.

This is no different from 15 years ago when I was using samba to export ext2fs filesystems from Linux boxes to be mounted on Windows clients that didn't support ext2fs - the client is just talking to a network share and has no knowledge of the underlying filesystem or hardware, only the server's limitations matter at that level.

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Chosen b/c the answer explains "Why" rather than just "yes it will work". – Trevor Boyd Smith Nov 29 '10 at 21:11

If this is a NAS, (e.g. its shared using SMB, CIFS or similar), then it will absolutely work.

As in, I'm sitting at a computer running 32 bit XP with several connected NASes, including one which is 7.26 TB.

Other protocols, like iSCSI, I'm not so sure. It would probably work. (iSCSI is only for single user environments, though, so I doubt it's what you want).

Pics or it didn't happen (note, 32 bit windows XP simply fails to say "x64"): alt text

Yes, my computers are named after explosives.

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There is some anecdotal evidence that a Windows client can access a "share" that is greater than 2TB. See this 2006 samba discussion or this

EDIT: Storage Networking Industry Association CIFS specification and/or Microsoft's CIF Specification may be helpful in answering this.

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That is empirical evidence/material that this will work. I can't in good conscience accept an answer that is more or less just "I heard from this dude over here that he heard from this dude over here that 'xyz is true'". Do you have any "reference" material that says "this will work"? – Trevor Boyd Smith Nov 23 '10 at 0:34
If you have the time, you could scan this Storage Networking Industry Association CIFS specification – RedGrittyBrick Nov 23 '10 at 11:05

I have a 4 TB Nas attached to a Windows Network and the XP Systems see it just fine. (They are SP3) You should have no problem whatsoever.

For completeness we are using a QNAP TS-809U

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As long as you format the file system as Fat32 or even better, NTFS. Fat32 won't let you create a single file over 4GB in size however.

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The question isn't about "what is the max file size for Fat32/NTFS file system" the question is "can windows XP SP3 access a 5 Terabyte NAS drive?" – Trevor Boyd Smith Nov 19 '10 at 22:25

According to this Wikipedia article, it can handle 8 TB when you use 32KB clusters. So you'll have to select this option when you format it. So it looks like the answer is yes, Win XP SP3 will support a 5TB NAS.

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My machine at work is Windows XP, and it's connected to a 9 TB network share, from a Mac server. It works, but it's a little buggy...sometimes the system will hang when I right click the network at first, in order to Map the Network Drive I had to do so using the command line...although at the moment, it doesn't seem to be having that problem.

In short, it's not perfect, but it works.

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