back to article Seagate launches XP-supporting 3TB drive

Being third in line after Hitachi GST and Western Digital, as Seagate is, to announce a 3TB drive does give you the option to improve its legacy BIOS and operating support. The Barracuda XT and its attendant DiscWizard software provides bootability from non-UEFI motherboards and Windows XP. Neither Hitachi GST nor Western …

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Flame

32-bit OS? How quaint....

...FLAME ON!

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Boffin

... mmmmm ....

and data recovery from under / behind / within Disc Wizard ?!!

Further more, who needs so much storage space for a humble desktop ?

We know quite well that if you provide storage space, cupboards or HDDs, then folks just fill it up with their crud.

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Overlays

These sorts of drive overlays have been around for decades without major problems. I used an IBM one to get around the 2Gb limit when those drives first started coming out, and another for the LBA limits (138Gb or so? I can't remember).

Basically, they locate the sectors that Windows XP *tries* to boot from (sometimes the first sectors but not in this case, it seems). They copy the normal boot sector somewhere ease and in its place they they insert a small "TSR"-style program that override the normal BIOS controls for accessing the drive. When the machine is booted from that drive, the overlay runs BEFORE anything else and from that point on, the drive is "supported" by the BIOS overlay, not the BIOS itself. If you have a multi-drive system, the overlay is installed on the boot drive only (even if that doesn't need an overlay itself).

When executed, the overlay installs transparent support, then "jumps" to the *real* boot sector, which is normally shifted further down the drive somewhere. Yes, if you trounce your boot sector, you lose the overlay and get back into a "non-bootable" configuration. But then you just run the software again (usually a FreeDOS boot disc that jiggles the boot sectors and installs the overlay program in the right place) and all is well again.

Data recovery consists of either re-running the tool (and thus shifting 512bytes of boot sector which is easily replaced later on, with an FDISK / MBR if necessary - once the overlay is loaded, FDISK just "sees" the modified boot sector location as the "real" one) or putting it into a machine that doesn't *need* the overlay at all (i.e. any 64-bit OS by the sound of it), or installing it as a second drive in any machine that has the overlay installed. All that happens on other machines is the overlay detects it's not needed and stops loading, or just loads anyway when you boot the disk and only intercepts those calls that are necessary. Some boot-sector tools (e.g. system rescue CD's, LILO, etc.) will jerk on not having an MBR they expect if you want to recover only the DATA but you can install one temporarily for those programs if necessary. The data is still in the same places and still readable, it's just that the boot sector "bootstraps" a real BIOS that can see the large drive.

I've installed and managed several computers with them, as growth meant that the drive capacity outstripped the BIOS capacity of the machines several times. DDO (disk drive overlays) are common and even supported under Linux (initially with specific boot-time flags but now with slightly more obscure commands, like adding 1kb to every offset) when you install LILO etc. on the disk, but always documented where supported. Those machines ran flawlessly and you could do anything on them and move their discs into their replacements without hassle. Worse that happens is you would tape a floppy disc to the front of the machine to remind you that it has to follow that drive until BIOS's start supporting it.

A LOT less hassle than upgrading a BIOS (if even possible) and installing a 64-bit OS, though.

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Happy

thnx Lee

for your splendidly comprehensive explanation. I imagined trickery of this sort was going on, but your detailed account brought real clarity to the hardware fog in my mind. (must be age).

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I think

this isn't a built-in limitation of 32-bit operating systems, but of the 32-bit operating systems cthat we happen to have. It happens that UEFI boot and > 2 TB boot and non-MBR partition table boot are typically only provided for 64-bit OS. Of course in practice this will all amount to the same thing - if you want hassle-free > 2TB boot device access then you need a 64-bit OS, and maybe a motherboard made in 2012 or later.

Otherwise a 64-bit OS becomes useful when you have 4 GB RAM or greater (or 64-bit applications, but basically see above). I did read an amusing "Windows tips" article that explained that 64-bit Windows uses twice the RAM for everything it does, I don't think they were being intentionally funny... they also had separate tips recommending that you enlarge the page file and that you delete it. I think some of the other advice may have been helpful.

I say that if 4000 MB (yes, 4000) is more than your RAM and much much less than your disk space then you should fix the page file size at that, and put it on a volume other than C, so that if you drive-image C then you aren't copying an entire DVD's worth of random detritus. 4000 MB also is a legal file size on a modern FAT32 filesystem, which you may be using for dual-boot or drive sharing. Some people recommend keeping at least 300 MB page file size on C to receive crash dumps in case you ever want to do that, but I think you can set that up only when you want it, although that's likely to be at a bad time to be fiddling around. The hibernation file you are stuck with on C, but you can disable hibernation and then enable it again later. You can also alternatively use an imaging program that recognises and ignores these stupid big files. For that matter, I may be wrong in assuming that bloating your backup of C by 4 GB or 8 GB troubles you in the least.

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Back To The Future?

"...and maybe a motherboard made in 2012 or later." ?! :)

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FAIL

Last I checked

Last I checked, a UEFI motherboard could be had before the end of 2010. Now, with Sandy Bridge, most of the decently-equipped motherboards are shipping with UEFI.

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From my reading,

the outlook for NON-BUGGY UEFI motherboards was pessimistic. But I'll be happy to be wrong.

Then of course there's proprietary hardware from Dell, HP, etc., which is liable to be idiosyncratic as always.

I recently bought an HP TouchSmart TM2-1010 tablet/laptop with 4 GB RAM, 64-bit Windows 7, and EFI diagnostics provided on the hard disk... which is formatted MBR. As I understand it, GPT partitioning allows around 127 primary partitions per disk, MBR of course 4. Windows rather dementedly includes a recovery partition, a "system partition" from which the PC boots, and a "boot partition" which contains the full operating system. The fourth is "HP TOOLS", a suite of EFI programs. The "system partition" may or may not be equivalent to the EFI standard "system partition", Microsoft clearly likes to make names deliberately inconsistent - consider Windows "Basic" and "Starter" editions, which you may not have heard of anyway. And apparently, when you use GPT partitioning with Windows, it creates an unreasonable number of additional redundant partitions, unless that's out-of-date information. Otherwise, Windows 7 creates separate "system" and "boot" partitions during installation onto an MBR disk that doesn't already have an active Windows operating system partition, or something like that. Apparently the "system" partition is also used to implement BitLocker, but only very special users get to have BitLocker.

Volume conversion isn't available apparently, you have to wipe everything to go GPT - unless GParted 8 (no relation) suddenly got very clever. Instead, I'm planning to create a new copy of "HP TOOLS", which you can download separately, which will be on an SD card, and kill the one that lives in an MBR hard disk partition, to allow creation of a D partition on the hard disk for data alongside a shrunk C. But I don't know if this will work, so I'm going to be careful with backups. Evidently it depends on HP having proper (U)EFI and/or supporting SD cards with it. But I can boot certain Linux (SystemRescueCD 2.0.0) from SD, other Linux support is questionable, I think I had to mutter something about framebuffers to get an Ubuntu 10.10 flash device (not the CD) to boot.

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Why would you want to use

a 3TB drive for booting anyway? Shurely Shome Mishtake.

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Why not

Whilst it might be preferable to have your OS on a smaller/faster drive with your bulky data hived off onto a seperate larger drive, this isn't always practical - I can see HTPC builders getting quite excited about the prospect of being able to kit out their small form-factor boxes with almost 3TB-worth (after knocking off a few GB for whichever media-centric OS they've chosen to install) of internal media storage capacity.

Also, it gives the box shifters the opportunity to stick a single 3TB drive into their PCs to woo the general public who don't care about partitioning of OS and data but who do care that "this 'ere PC has three terrywotsits of memory for the same price as that PC which only has two"...

Finally, it could also be useful for the rest of us to have this ability just in case our boot drive went tits up and the only other drive we had available to install a temporary OS onto was the 3TB beast.

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basically, single hd guys

Believe or not, for some individuals, C: and D: drives, putting os to seperate disk and user data to other(s) is sort of "sci fi" way of computer usage.

They go with the case to some weird computer shop, they say "upgrade this to largest -memory-", yes they call it memory and get away with it.

Seagate and Nokia like companies really follow these markets very closely.

Also there is also some sort of market for very large and non raid/complex drives for win xp. That is security systems. It is very hard to make these guys take systems offline and move to win 7. If MS wasn't so disconnected from real world, they could start a program to upgrade windows xp for legacy hardware edition to some kind of windows 7 fundementals, e.g. Starter edition.

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hmm

I could see the point in the old days when good old 8gb came knocking. But seriously. How many people are going to want to use a cutting edge 3tb drive on a non supported MB and 32bit XP?

Oh and have teh savvy ability to fool in the bios, reinstall in a fancy way and download a fix.

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Pirate

Windows XP users

That's who

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Maybe

When your hard disk breaks, there -aren't- any replacements < 2.1 TB still manufactured and on sale.

Just as today it's pretty hard to buy an SD card - that is, not SD HC or otherwise fancy.

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Here is the fun fact (!), disc wizard has problem with win 7

I downloaded disc wizard just yesterday on a 1mbit line, whole 120 MB and guess what? It wasn't compatible with windows 7!

Ended up having to reinstall a windows 7 on new seagate drive, glad the activation still worked.

Funny is, it fails so bad at setup step that even windows core figures something is wrong.

Obvlously as a Unix user, I didn't really buy the horrific ms implementation of "sudo" so I couldn't even hope to fix it old school.

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Go

The problem is not one of the motherboard or BIOS...

...it's the simple fact of the matter that the MBR partition scheme simply runs out of steam past the 2TB mark. Having been to the 3TB line a few years back (using a real hardware RAID controller and doing entertaining things with it), I can say that 32-bit Windows XP will only recognize the first 2TB of any volume that is larger than 2TB.

A BIOS isn't likely to care as long as it can properly figure the disk geometry calculations and can pass control over to something that will take the system through the booting process.

What you need is another partition scheme, and that doesn't necessarily require a 64-bit operating system. A number of 32-bit operating systems will support disks over 2TB without incident, but Windows is not one of them. 64-bit Windows (XP x86-64 and newer) supports the GUID partition table (GPT), which can support really large volumes.

It seems that 32-bit XP and Windows 2000 before it are "aware" of a GPT volume but unable to mount and access it.

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Future boot drives will be SSD, surely???

and the ONLY reason I can see shops selling a PC with *one* drive is to save money, so they can sell more...

[pcshop]

Who cares about the customer, they just want 'an internet' and loads of space to save their pron on!!!! :D

If we put TWO disk drives in it will cost more for labor, connectors, power, even customer support( trying to get the idiot user to check *which* drive may have gone wrong...)

[/pcshop]

face it, geeks... these stooopid drive sizes are only for sellers and others that love large numbers....

If you ARE a seller, I hope you realise you can sell it good, on having a 'wisper quiet drive', i.e, SSD...

believe it or not there are shops that WILL cater for the more demanding customer!! :)

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Deja Vu

I remember all this before. The problem is not XP but the BIOS.

A million years ago we used to stick a tiddler drive that BIOS understood on Primary and NOT INSTALL on BIOS the 2nd LARGE drive at all. NT3.51 and NT4.0 Diskmanager could see them. It's supposed to deal with Exabytes...

Anyone tried this with the > 2 Tbyte drives?

There were various bios updates and various size limits. But none ever applied to Drives that BIOS didn't know about, but Disk Manager did.

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