I have a computer with old 500GB and 1TB drives I want to replace with shiny new 3TB drives. I do not know the requirements to make 3TB drives work, but I know I've heard of other problems (Chipset, OS, controller, BIOS, etc) as drive sizes have passed lower threshholds.

The documentation in my motherboard (BFG680i) and SATA cards' (Promise SATA300 TX4) manuals say nothing about their supported capacities; only that they support SATA300. The computer is a 64-bit machine running Windows Server 2008 x64, but I can get 2008 R2 if that's a problem.

What might limit or prevent me from installing 3TB drives successfully?


If the motherboard supports 48-bit LBA (as they pretty much all do since the turn of the century) then you'll be ok from a hardware standpoint. As long as the BIOS and drive controllers support >2.199TB partitions, you're good.

Invariably it's the software layer you have to deal with - 64bit versions of Windows Vista/Server 2008/7 (and OSX, with EFI) moved away from the 32-bit Logical Block Addressing method of handling data on disks.

32-bit LBAs impose a limitation of 2.2TB of addressable storage; the latest Windows (and OSX for some time) deal with >2.2TB partition sizings by using GPT (GUID Partition Table) as opposed to plain ole MBR - and GPT uses a 64-bit LBA (which, according to a bloke down the pub, defines a largest addressable partition size - with 512-byte sectors - of 9.4 Zettabytes.

  • 1
    512 bytes. Psh who uses that!!?? Oh wait. . . – surfasb Jul 22 '11 at 22:12

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