We have got several Captiva SATA to USB 2.0 external enclosures which used to work fine with 1 and 2 TB Hitachi drives. Now, Hitachi is gone so we had to switch to a different manufacturer and choose Seagate, especially their Barracuda 1 TB and 2 TB (ST2000DM001 / ST1000DM003) drives.

We partition and format drives by connecting them on an SATA controller in a Windows XP box and also copy data on them using SATA directly. Afterwards they are supposed to be put into the external enclosures to be shipped to customers.

This used to work fine with the Hitachi drives, but with the Seagates (both 1 and 2 TB variety) Windows XP claims that they are not formatted when connected via USB. (Linux also shows a rather weird partition table.)

If I put these drives into the external enclosures and partition and format them there, they seem to work fine, but copying 2 TB of data via USB 2.0 is not really an option. If I then connect the drives formatted in the external enclosure directly to an SATA controller, Windows claims that there is a small, unformatted partition on them and quite a lot of unpartitioned space.

The drives work fine in a USB 3.0 enclosure, so there must be something weird with this particular combination. My guess is that the USB SATA bridge controller does something stupid, like remapping the sector numbers but apparently only with the Seagate drives. So the only option is probably to get different drive enclosures.

Any other hints?

(I tried to use more descriptive tags but usb-sata does not exist and SuperUser does not allow me to create new tags.)


I wonder if your "Captiva SATA to USB 2.0 external enclosures" are perhaps not compatible with 2TB drives. I have seen many drive enclosures with surprisingly low HD capacity limits (I assume some fundamental limitation with the adapter chipset).

You could check the actual sector count of both brands of 2TB HDs, and see if the Seagates have a higher sector count than the Hitachis. If they don't, that eliminates this theory.

You could also try partitioning them as 1.9TB instead of 2.0 (anything that stops perhaps 500MB short of the end of the drive.)

Lastly, you could try partitioning it either on a Vista/Win7 machine (using traditional MBR style partition tables, not GPT which XP doesn't support), and then proceed. Vista/Win7 use the 2048 sector / 1MB offset for the 1st partition which also helps with drive alignment in case you have 4K physical sectors on your drives. One alternative if you want to use straight XP is something like the free EaseUS Partition Master software to create your drives. That allows you the freedom to define the start and end of your partitions, so you can give it 2048 sector / 1MB / SSD-style alignment just to be safe, and end the drive 500MB short of the actual end.

It would help to diagnose your drives if you looked at them with the EaseUS Partition Master software under XP to view what the actual drive characteristics are being represented as. Another tool that can do this is the tiny standalone freeware BOOTICE.EXE program. (A much less capable tool, but it will display partition values under Windows XP). There also is a way to use XP built in diskpart.exe to display certain partition values.

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  • Thanks for the answer, but for me it no longer matters. We got rid of these drive enclosures years ago (the question is from 2012) and are now only using USB 3 ones. – dummzeuch Sep 28 '16 at 14:31

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