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>2TiB external USB drive and WinXP? Of course!


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On 11/10/2020 at 12:08 PM, dencorso said:

And there's also a report by @SamirD himself, of having changed sucessfully the apparent sector size to 4 kiB on two different 10TB Bestbuy WD Easystore drives, but IIRR, at that time he hadn't tried to format either as a single 10TB partitions...

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Just before his passing, RLoew was investigating the WD Quick Formatter and he said he had figured out which SCSI commands are used for the "sector size change", but his results also pointed out to the fact that the only HDDs he found that implemented such commands were the external USB WD drives. He also found out, although that's just a curiosity, that the "sector size" might also be set to other values than 4 kiB, but that, in fact, the NT-family OSes can use only 2 kiB (besides 512 bytes and 4 kiB), Yet, his son did not yet find any material about that reseach, which, in fact, may have been all done inside a debugger, so probably only some handwritten notes or text documentation may exist, if any. And no, he also determined that XP (SP1-3) cannot handle internal 4 kiB drives, be them SATA or IDE. Only the USB stacks are able to do that. It's possible that NT-family OSes v. 6.x may do that (10 certaily does), but that's beside the point, of course, since this is the XP forum, after all!

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Thank you for the great summary. :)  Or should I say 'obrigado'. :D (I used to have a really close friend originally from Recife and she taught me some of the language.)

I'm pretty sure I could have easily formatted my 10TB to a single NTFS partition after the switch to 4kn, but since my reason to switch was to enable a large MBR to be able to create multiple FAT32 partitions, I never tried formatting the whole thing NTFS.

Fascinating research on the WD formatter--I bet there is a special command that is enabled on the drives.  And I think it isn't that special either as I believe some raid users on reddit have been able to run 4x shucked drives as 4kn after a format.

Yep, that's the same WD quick format I used to format my drives. :)

Please stay safe--we would hate to lose another forum member.  I lost my dad 2 months ago to covid and it still hasn't sunk in yet. :(

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On 11/12/2020 at 2:55 PM, dencorso said:

Well, while trying to do a condensed version of the main points in this vast subject (not all of them present in this thread alone), I realize I lost sight of the main post of my last two posts, which is: "There's a new, untested, generation of My Passport, which now has reached 5GB as their biggest USB external drive offer... so, does the old good WD format tool work with this generation, too?"
Although we know older WD My Books and Easystore drives exist in sizes bigger than 5GB, on which the old good WD format tool is known-for-a-fact to work, they're both physically bigger than the My Passports, which are much more portable, so a usable 5GB My Passport ought to be good news to the XP community. In fact, were it not the fact that Brazilian currency lost half its purchasing power since our current president's inauguration, and that Covid-19 ate about half the income of the least affected brazilians (all others lost more than that), I'd already have bought one 5GB My Passport, tested it myself and reported, but that's beyond me at the moment. [The last time I looked, São Paulo City, where I live, has already had 13128 people deceased due to Covid-19, more than most countries in the world will have till the end of this current pandemic. :( ].

As for the Paragon drive working with internal 4kiB drives, that's a welcome fact I had failed to notice, so thanks for the head's up!  :cheerleader:

I can confirm, that on a 6TB WD My Book the WD Formatter does work, I have bought that one 6 years ago and now I need an upgrade.I'll keep the WD Red as a backup and next month I'll buy the 14TB My Book and try, I'll keep you updated :)

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2 hours ago, Comos said:

I can confirm, that on a 6TB WD My Book the WD Formatter does work, I have bought that one 6 years ago and now I need an upgrade.I'll keep the WD Red as a backup and next month I'll buy the 14TB My Book and try, I'll keep you updated :)

The 14TB should work great. :D  7x FAT32 2TB partitions under MBR would be quite sweet and afaik, the record so far. :)

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22 hours ago, SamirD said:

The 14TB should work great. :D  7x FAT32 2TB partitions under MBR would be quite sweet and afaik, the record so far. :)

Why should I'll be running 7x2TB partitions, when now I run a single MBR NTFS partition (4TB, 6TB) and I believe I'll do the same to the 14TB one?

Edited by Comos
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  • 3 months later...

Im back with a results from a small research that I made meantime.

First test a made with a WD My Book 14TB encousure including controller and my WD 14TB RED.Attempt to incialize it in the disk management resulted,that the disk is not responding.

The WD formatter does not show any disk model, just empty column,however you can proceed with selecting the XP mode, but further formatting makes the application to crash.

Further investigation in conjuction with a WD information on their webside regarding the external drives,the result is that all drives in WD My Book are SED  (just a regular disk with a special FW) and works in conjuction FW which is stored in the SPI flash on the enclousure's controller.Based on the WD info I checked that the WD Easystore and WD Elements don't run any encryption at all.So my assumption was that the FW stored in these must contain only the indentification string and probably the LBA size of attached disk and maybe a disk model.Today the enclousure came,so I run second test.Under disk management the disk was inicialized  okay, so far good.The WD formatter is able to see the disk in full size and formatting in XP mode finished succesfully, viola 14TB under MBR!

I need to get a spare WD Easystore/Elements 14TB controller, that I can read out the SPI flash and decode the content,bcoz on this one I need to migrate stuff right now, but as we can see it's not locked to a disk model, not sure about the LBA size since it was a straight fit now (WD RED 14TB & enclousure from a 14TB Easystore).Since you can upgrade the FW in the controller (via the WD FW Updater), it might be handy to code a simple utility, that you can detect the LBA size of your connected disk and write it to the SPI flash, the easy way.

more to come, stay tuned.

Edited by Comos
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Let me understand clearly what you're reporting:

You 1st tried to reformat (using the WD formatter and having selected XP mode) a WD My Book 14TB  and failed.
Then, you bought a 14TB WD Easystore (or a WD Elements?).
Then you tried to reformat your newly bought WD Easystore (or Elements?) 14TB, and had success, because the FW inside those models isn't encripted, as oposed to the novel My Books, which have it encrypted.
Is that right?

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23 hours ago, Comos said:

Im back with a results from a small research that I made meantime.

First test a made with a WD My Book 14TB encousure including controller and my WD 14TB RED.Attempt to incialize it in the disk management resulted,that the disk is not responding...

Hi , I do not know if you care about the warranty . If you don't , you may just detach WinBonds' chip pins 7 and 8 from the board , it is located near the USB . The first pin is marked by a dot . So the number eight is right across . This will allow to bypass the uplink directly to the controller. This is intended for people with at least some skills , I'm sure you have them , but I'm not responsible for any damage . I did that with mine and it worked . It now shows as generic storage device with the right amount of capacity , I can format it and if I remove the HDD from the enclosure and plug into sata of my PC - all info is there . Though you will loose some "power saving" features and the drive will not stop spinning if you click safely remove. Don't worry , it will safely park itself (retract).

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8 hours ago, dencorso said:

Let me understand clearly what you're reporting:

You 1st tried to reformat (using the WD formatter and having selected XP mode) a WD My Book 14TB  and failed.
Then, you bought a 14TB WD Easystore (or a WD Elements?).
Then you tried to reformat your newly bought WD Easystore (or Elements?) 14TB, and had success, because the FW inside those models isn't encripted, as oposed to the novel My Books, which have it encrypted.
Is that right?

Correct. WD Easystore/Elemenrs have no encryption, no SED drives and probably running identical FW in the SPI Flash.

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8 hours ago, Dixel said:

Hi , I do not know if you care about the warranty . If you don't , you may just detach WinBonds' chip pins 7 and 8 from the board , it is located near the USB . The first pin is marked by a dot . So the number eight is right across . This will allow to bypass the uplink directly to the controller. This is intended for people with at least some skills , I'm sure you have them , but I'm not responsible for any damage . I did that with mine and it worked . It now shows as generic storage device with the right amount of capacity , I can format it and if I remove the HDD from the enclosure and plug into sata of my PC - all info is there . Though you will loose some "power saving" features and the drive will not stop spinning if you click safely remove. Don't worry , it will safely park itself (retract).

I got used empty enclousures for the testing, doing  this with brand new drives would be quite expensive.The whole intention is completely different than simply removing the SPI Flash chip and making a bare USB-SATA bridge out of it.

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1 hour ago, Comos said:

Correct. WD Easystore/Elemenrs have no encryption, no SED drives and probably running identical FW in the SPI Flash.

Interesting.  At one point (not sure if I documented it here in this thread) I attempted to format a 10TB HGST enterprise drive to xp mode (aka 4kn) and was given a message that the drive was not supported.  Interesting you were able to get a regular red drive to format, although those are more much similar to the easystore drives than the HGST that I tried.

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11 hours ago, SamirD said:

Interesting.  At one point (not sure if I documented it here in this thread) I attempted to format a 10TB HGST enterprise drive to xp mode (aka 4kn) and was given a message that the drive was not supported.  Interesting you were able to get a regular red drive to format, although those are more much similar to the easystore drives than the HGST that I tried.

Which controller you have used? If the model is not shown in the WD Formatter ,you won't be able to reformat it to XP mode at all.

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  • 6 months later...
On 2/26/2021 at 2:21 AM, Comos said:

Which controller you have used? If the model is not shown in the WD Formatter ,you won't be able to reformat it to XP mode at all.

Sorry for the delayed reply!  Never saw the post notification via email until now. :(

I put the drive in an easystore enclosure that I obtained from someone that didn't need it.  Ironically, since this post, I have successfully formatted both an 8TB WD Red and a 6TB WD Black to 4kn and are using them with a large mbr partition.  Both drives also mount perfectly when connected to my WD nas. :)

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  • 4 months later...
On 9/18/2021 at 5:47 PM, SamirD said:

Sorry for the delayed reply!  Never saw the post notification via email until now. :(

I put the drive in an easystore enclosure that I obtained from someone that didn't need it.  Ironically, since this post, I have successfully formatted both an 8TB WD Red and a 6TB WD Black to 4kn and are using them with a large mbr partition.  Both drives also mount perfectly when connected to my WD nas. :)

Sry for a late reply too :) I don't get any email notifications, just today I saw it when I logged in.

Easystore enclousure does work fine.Im not sure if the onboard flash fw coveres all sizes upd to 16TB automatically or it's updated with every released hdd size.

Do you recall from which hdd size the enclousure come from?

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12 minutes ago, Comos said:

Sry for a late reply too :) I don't get any email notifications, just today I saw it when I logged in.

Easystore enclousure does work fine.Im not sure if the onboard flash fw coveres all sizes upd to 16TB automatically or it's updated with every released hdd size.

Do you recall from which hdd size the enclousure come from?

I think the enclosures cover multiple sizes since after 2TB, the next logical limit is 16TB.  I'm going to try it with a 18TB drive I recently obtained, but I don't know what the original drive was in any of the enclosures I got from others.  I know mine that I bought and reformatted 4kn are 14TB easystore.  The 8TB and 6TB were also easystore enclosures and the 8TB is a Red and the 6TB is a black.  The 18TB I'm going to try is also going to be an easystore enclosure and this drive is a WD/HGST datacenter drive, which last time when I tried a 10TB HGST version of this drive, it would not change to 4kn.  It will be interesting to see if the 18TB will allow me to use 4kn and if so, to make 2x MBR partitions to use the whole space or if it will simply be limited to 16TB.  Either way I'll hopefully remember to post my results here. :)

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