I have a 3 TB drive. Windows 7 Ultimate won't format more than 2 TB in a partition. How do I get the entire drive in a single partition?

The drive is installed as an internal hard drive in my system. It is not the system drive and will only hold data.

 

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Last updated October 27, 2018 Views 242,928 Applies to:
Answer
Let me clear this up:

To use any drive over 2.19 TB you will need:
  • A computer using Windows Vista or later (Windows XP isn't compatible with GPT formatted disks, so it can't see them)
  • A sata controller that is compatible (to find out if it is compatible, find out what motherboard or add-on board SATA controller you have and google it-e.g.  Intel ICH8 3TB )
  • A drive that is larger than 2.19 TB
So, if you know that you meet all three of the above requirements, follow proper installation procedures with installing a new drive and just hook it up.  Depending on where you bought the drive and if it is OEM or Retail it may or may not come pre-formatted with an NTFS partition of 2TB (this is for convenience to keep people from getting upset when they hook the drive up and it doesn't appear in My Computer).

Now, go to Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management.  Choose Disk Management on the left and you should see in the lower portion of the screen a list of your installed drives.  The larger drive should appear in the list with a capacity displaying on the left.  Note, a 3TB drive will only have a storage capacity of LOWER than 3TB (read: when you add formatting and a file system, both of those require space on the drive, so you will not have a full 3TB of space to use-this is the nature of hard drives-you will never have the full stated capacity-ever since it is required to make the drive useable).

Now, assuming you're using it as a data storage drive, ensure that nothing is still stored on it and right click on the partition on the right, right click the partition (if there is one on the drive already) and click "Delete Volume".

Next, right click on the name on the left "Disk #" and choose "Convert to GPT Disk".  Now this should allow you to right click on the unformatted  space on the right and to create a new partition which can hold the full available capacity of your drive.

This should work with all versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 (with the only exception being a starter edition *may not*).

With the variety of systems now sold using UEFI instead of BIOS, you can today on those systems install Windows directly onto a drive greater than 2.19TB in size.  Just ensure that your computer actually is using it before attempting to run Windows on a drive that large.  It's also probably not a great idea just due to the fact that if Windows fails you will likely lose all the data on that partition.

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Answer
I guess you missed the part:

Even if you have a supported OS (Windows Vista, Windows 7, and most flavors of Linux) that recognizes GPT, you won't be able to boot to a drive of that size unless you also have a motherboard running UEFI—something that, as of this writing in late 2010, very few do. All current Intel boards support UEFI, but almost no other major manufacturer has yet followed suit. So, under most circumstances, if you don't have a UEFI motherboard (and you probably don't), you'll have to use your extra-large hard drive for storage only. (There are worse things.)

Finally, your system's SATA controller must also be designed to recognize 4KB blocks. This isn't necessarily a big deal: As we discovered when we reviewed Western Digital's new 3TB Caviar Green hard drive, the company is including with all its above-2.19TB drives a PCI Express x1 Host Bus Adapter that lets Windows use a known driver to communicate with the drive.


Best,
Andre
Windows Insider MVP
MVP-Windows and Devices for IT
twitter/adacosta
groovypost.com

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