Support for Disk Drives Beyond 2.2 TeraBytes (TB) and 4K Advanced Format Sectors
Most legacy systems built before 2011 have a traditional PC BIOS. This type of BIOS uses a Master Boot Record (MBR). The MBR Partitions can define a disk drive capacity up to 2.2TB. Windows operating systems that boot from an MBR are therefore limited to 2.2TB per MBR. A 3TB disk drive in a legacy BIOS and Window system will need a DiscWizard device driver to access the full capacity of a 3TB disk drive. Two partitions will be necessary because of the MBR limitation. The device driver mounts the capacity above 2.2TB with another MBR which looks to the system as a second virtual "physical" device.
GUID Partition Tables (GPT) can define drives larger than 2.2TB. You can use GPT today on any Windows 10/ 8.1/8/7 and Vista system as a non-booting data drive. Windows can only boot a GPT partition on a new type of BIOS called UEFI.
UEFI BIOS desktop systems are new since 2011. Windows 10/8/8.1/7 64-bit and Vista 64-bit operating systems
support booting from UEFI and GPT without the need of a non-Microsoft device driver. This is the Windows native solution for booting a 3TB drive to a single partition.
Quick facts about Windows and 3TB drives:
- Windows 10/8/8.1/7 and Vista support GPT 3TB single partitions
- Windows 10/8/8.1/7 and Vista can only boot GPT on systems with UEFI BIOS
- Windows 10/8/8.1/7 and Vista can mount a GPT non-booting data drive
- Intel RST device drivers before v10.1 do not support 3TB disk drives
- Windows systems with Legacy BIOS and MBR boot drives are limited to 2.2TB partitions
- Windows XP does not support GPT
- Windows XP sees a 3TB drive as 800GB on boot or data drives
- DiscWizard software can install a device driver which opens the full capacity of a 3TB. You can use it to create a second partition for the capacity above 2.2TB