Windows XP HDD Size Limit and RAID?

By louisberry ·
Hi All and thanks in advance for the help.

I'm a little confused regarding the Windows XP SP2 disk drive size limit (2TB per physical disk) and RAID Arrays.

I am running into storage issues on my pc, and have certain files that I CANNOT afford to lose, so I am currently backing them up across multiple HD's. I am considering implementing an external RAID solution, using RAID 10 and 5 external HD's in a hot-swappable enclosure.

I'm pretty sure that Windows XP will see this as a single logical drive....am I right? And, if so, does the same 2TB limitation apply? Am I stuck with 4/500GB HD's, or 5 approx 400GB drives. Can the RAID array total more than 2TB? And, if so, how will Windows see it?

Sorry for the ignorance, but I've never had to deal with RAID's before, so it's something I've never really paid attention to, at least not as far as this is concerned.

At least I know WHERE to turn to for HELP....!!!


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RAID Types

by TheChas In reply to Windows XP HDD Size Limi ...

First off, here is a link to a basic RAID tutorial.


Since your primary concern is keeping your files safe and easy to recover, you do NOT want to use a type 0 RAID array. While this gives you the most file storage space, it has no error recovery. A full redundant RAID array would have a storage capacity of less than 1/2 of the total capacity of all of the drives in the array.

As to the drive size limitations of XP, most storage servers are broken down into multiple logical drives. At a business level, one advantage of this is breaking up storage volumes by user and database type. It also allows for multiple small backups rather than a single large backup for the entire array.

The next question you need to ask is how are you going to implement your RAID solution?

Are you using a storage appliance? Or, some sort of server configuration?

Most of the consumer level storage appliances have a number of limitations. Not the least of which is limiting how the array can be configured.

If you are looking for maximum data protection and storage reliability, you might be better of with a server configuration.


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Part 1 of my reply

by louisberry In reply to RAID Types

It was my intention to use an external eSata enclosure (5 hot-swapppable HD's), with a RAID 10 configuration.

I originally wanted a NAS, but couldn't quite find anything that had everything I wanted, specifically, RAID 10 and the hot-swap capability.

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part 2 of my reply

by louisberry In reply to RAID Types

So, if I'm reading you right, then Windows has the same 2TB limit with logical drives as well as physical drives, right?


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Dynamic Volume

by TheChas In reply to part 2 of my reply

Looks like if you set up the logical drives as dynamic volumes, you can link multiple volumes as a single drive.

"The maximum size of an NTFS volume is limited by the maximum size of a disk that can be used on the current versions of Windows. This limitation is external to the file system and is not an NTFS limit.
The largest hard disk drive that can be used on the current version of Windows is limited to 232 sectors. Using the sector size of 512 bytes (available on current hardware) the maximum possible size of a disk is (232?512) bytes=2 terabytes.
A basic volume is limited to one disk. So the maximum size of a basic volume is 2 terabytes.
A dynamic volume (striped or spanned) can span up to 32 disks. So the maximum size of a dynamic volume is 32?2 terabytes=64 terabytes."


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