High-Capacity Hard Drive Information

As hard drives are introduced with capacities greater than or equal to 2.2TB, the industry works to resolve known capacity addressing limitations that date back to the original design of the PC. These limitations are caused by 32-bit definitions used for partition sizes and logical block addresses (LBAs) resulting in a maximum addressable capacity size of 2.199TB.

The most direct way to resolve this issue is to use Long LBAs. However, Long LBAs are only supported in 64-bit operating systems, like Windows™ 7 and Windows Vista™. Users wishing to use these high-capacity drives will need to implement a combination of operating system, BIOS, drive partition tables and hard disk drive (HDD) drivers that support high-capacity drives in order to gain full access to the high capacities offered. When working in legacy environments, more effort will be required to ensure all components are capable of supporting high-capacity drives.

HGST high-capacity Deskstar Retail Kits include access to HGST GPT Disk Manager, an easy to use software application designed to overcome the 2.2TB limitation of Windows® systems, so no additional hardware is required to overcome the 2.2TB limitations of Windows systems.**

PC Configurations


In a typical PC configuration, a drive may be connected as a primary boot drive, or as a secondary “data drive” (a second internal SATA drive or an external drive like a USB device).
When installed as a boot drive, it will house an operating system such as Microsoft™ Windows™, Linux™, or Mac® OS X®. The operating system is required in order to start the computer from the hard drive. When installed as a data drive, it does not contain an operating system.

Learn more

For more detailed information about the using high-capacity hard drives, select the link below to read our technology brief.

Download the High Capacity (≥2.2TB) Tech Brief

Using High-capacity Hard Drives

How you plan to use your high-capacity drive will determine the steps you must take to ensure access to the full capacity.

As a Data Drive

A data drive greater than or equal to 2.2TB requires an operating system that supports long LBA addressing, such as Windows 7, a GUID partition table (GPT) and HDD drivers that support 2.2TB drives.

As a Boot Drive

In addition to the requirements for a data drive, a Windows boot drive requires an EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS and a 64-bit version of Windows Vista or Windows 7. Linux does not require an EFI BIOS.

As a USB Drive

USB drive enclosures must be configured to work with high-capacity drives so it is important to confirm with the manufacturer that the enclosure will support capacities greater than 2.2TB. The enclosure may require a driver or firmware update to support the larger capacity.

HGST High-capacity Hard Drives

Other Resources

Configurations that work

** HGST Deskstar 3TB and 4TB 3.5” internal hard drive retail kits include access to the HGST GPT Disk Manager, an easy to use software application designed to overcome the 2.2TB limitation of Windows® systems. Works with 32bit and 64bit Win- dows® XP, Windows Vista®, and Windows® 7 operating systems. Not required for Mac OS® and Linux® systems. The HGST GPT Disk Manager for HGST Deskstar 3TB and 4TB 3.5” internal hard drive does not support RAID configurations and the resulting hard disk drive volume cannot be used as boot volumes.