New External Hard Drive that works with Windows XP

I want to buy a Western Digital My Book External Hard Drive in 3 or 4 TB capacities. I just have one question. Would you please help me?
Is there any My Book External Hard Drive in your new products which works with Windows XP or not?
I appreciate your help in advance.

Windows XP® is an old version of windows series there could be multiple reasons by which higher capacity of the drive does not get detected by the XP series. you can use the WD® drive but eventually, you have to use any 3rd party software which will help to format the drive.

All WD Hard drives now use 4K (4096 byte) Sectors and GPT (GUID Partition Table)

Which is Not Compatible with Windows XP 32-Bit

The Only way to have a 3TB or 4TB Hard drive compatible with Windows XP 32-Bit is to purchase an OLD Hard drive (made around 2009) that uses 512 byte Emulation and supports MBR (Master Boot Record) Partitions.

To summerize your options:

  1. Upgrade to an OS that Supports large hard drives over 2TB and GPT (GUID Partition Table) eg. Windows 7,8,10

  2. Find an old hard drive that supports 512 byte emulation with MBR Partition Table.

  3. Limit your choice of new hard drives to a Maximum of 2TB and format/partition them MBR (Master Boot Record)

I am an XP user and can say that the 4TB My Book and Element drives are still working with XP.

The older 4TB My Book and Elements (model 107C) used to come with a MBR partition. They worked out of the box with XP. But the current My Book and Elements (model 25A3) have a GPT partition and need to be reformatted to work with XP.

To make the 4TB drive XP compatible, I connect it to a Windows 7 machine and format with the WD utility. I select XP Compatible in the format options and it creates a single 4TB MBR partition.

I then connect it to my XP machine and I can read and write to the the full 4TB partition, no extra software needed. The USB interface still contains the emulation needed for XP, even though WD now defaults to a GPT partition. Obviously, the external enclosure is needed for a 4TB MBR partition. If you removed the drive and put it into your computer it would not be recognized.

Please note I have tested this on the rounded My Books and confirm it works, but I have not tested the rectangular My Books. I confirm it works on both the older 107C Element drives from 2015 and the current 2017 model Element which is the 25A3.

Dear Frank
Thanks a lot for your help. Dose Windows XP recognize all 4 TB capacities? WD Support team will say windows XP just see 2 TB and no more.

Where are you getting those model numbers from? I don’t see them on Amazon. I really want to know if this method works with the one I decide to buy. Has to be at least 4TB. Can’t do less than that. I have too many files to back up.

Joey, yet on this thread Frank claims that it works with drives from 2015 and 2017

Frank2012 method works. The key is to use the WD utility WD_Quick_Formatter_Win_1_2_0_10. You then need to select the configuration option “XP compatible” before clicking the “Format drive” button. Once its has completed you can see that it has set the Allocation Unit size is set to 4096 by using the standard windows diskpart command “filesystems”.

I wanted a new drive to work on an old 32-bit Windows XP operating system, and as many people have discovered, XP can’t see hard drives bigger than 2.1TB. However, in the old days WD, Seagate (and others) got round that by including a cunning little chip in the “bridge” hardware in their external hard drive cases that fooled XP into thinking that 4MB clusters were 512K clusters and, well, short version is it allowed XP systems to see bigger volumes - like my 4TB drive that was failing.

So I swapped out the old 4TB drive inside that Seagate case with my new 8TB one, using the same connector bridge, and… hey, presto, my XP system is happy with its new 8TB hard drive!

The whole operation of swapping the drives inside their cases took less than 15 minutes; the trickiest bit was not snapping the plastic clips that hold the box together. There are a few good video guides on YouTube about how to do it.

I emphasise that this would only be possible using that generation of drive cases pre about 2016 that includes the little wonder chip. I’m hoarding mine like gold dust. This trick with that bit of tech should theoretically let XP see drives up to just under 17TB.

A couple of other bits that may or may not be relevant:

I did the actual disc formatting on a non-XP machine using Windows 7
Disc must use MBR and possibly NTFS – definitely not GUID

Hope that helps.


I can confirm that the Western Digital 8 TB Easystore (WDBCKA0080HBK), 12 TB Easystore (WDBCKA0120HBK), and 14 TB Easystore (WDBCKA0140HBK) external USB drives work correctly in Windows XP. Out of the box they may be configured with a 512 byte sector size and a GPT partition table which Windows XP doesn’t like. Use WD Quick Formatter to fix these problems.

You can use WD Quick Formatter in Windows 10. That’s the latest version of the tool as of this writing, available at . Run the app in Windows 7 compatibility mode and it will present the “XP Compatible” option on the format screen, which sets the sector size to 4096 bytes, creates an MBR partition table, and creates & formats a single partition filling the entire drive.

WD Quick Formatter works correctly in Windows XP and formats for Windows XP compatibility, but that’s an old version and I don’t think you can download it from Western Digital. WD Quick Formatter partially works in Windows XP: it successfully changes the sector size to 4096, but it fails to format. After it fails, disconnect and reconnect the drive, and then delete and recreate & format the partition yourself using Disk Management.

Technical details:

I hope I can be forgiven for reviving an old thread. When you’re looking for technical information it’s such a pleasure to come across posts as clear and detailed as those in this thread - especially those of balazer and Frank2012.

On the strength of your post, balazer, I’ve ordered a Western Digital 8 TB Easystore (WDBCKA0080HBK). But after ordering it I realized that the drive may have worked because you’re using 64 bit XP (I’m an authentic dinosaur still using the 32 bit version). I’ve been using several old WD external 3GB drives with XP and they’re still going strong after many years so I know the supposed 2 GB limit for XP is nonsense. They didn’t even need reformatting. But there’s other talk about a 4GB limit specific to 32 bit XP. If you can tell me that’s what you’re using it will be a weight off my mind.

Either way, I’ll let you all know how I get on. I found WD Quick Formatter online but I assume XP won’t even see the 8TB Easystore’s GPT partition and I’ll probably have to borrow a friend’s Windows 10 laptop to do the reformatting.

Supposing that there is a 4GB limit with XP 32 bit, does anyone know if the reformatted drive would still work but only 4TBs of space would be available, or would it just not work at all?


jaderunner, I use the 32-bit version of Windows XP with those Easystore 8, 12, and 14 TB drives. So you should be good. Most recently I used WD Quick Formatter in Windows 10 (in Windows 7 compatibility mode) on all of those drives and it worked fine. WD Quick Formatter also runs in Windows 7. I only tried WD Quick Formatter in XP on some of those drives, but it will probably work on all of them. WD Quick Formatter doesn’t need to see the drive’s existing partition table. It’s going to write a new one.

Windows XP is long out of support, and you need to take a lot of security precautions to run it now. Don’t browse the web on XP, don’t open documents from the Internet, and keep it behind a firewall appliance and ideally on a separate VLAN from the rest of your machines - or off the network entirely.

[quote=“balazer, post:12, topic:221582”]
WD Quick Formatter doesn’t need to see the drive’s existing partition table[/quote]

Many thanks for the quick reply, balazer. I’ve been away for a couple of days and forgot the URL, sorry.

I didn’t think I’d be able to reformat the external drive in XP as the new drives I tried a few years ago didn’t even show up in disc management. But as you wrote that the “WD Quick Formatter doesn’t need to see the drive’s existing partition table” I assume it works at some level below that of the OS and can recognise a drive that XP doesn’t see at all?

As for the dangers of XP, in my view they’re wildly exaggerated, especially virus-related threats. I’ve surfed everything except porn sites for more than a decade now without once encountering a virus. I don’t even have an anti-virus installed (like many security experts). I just have Cryptoprevent installed to protect against ransomware attacks. I do an occasional full online scan that uses 20 top anti-virus programs always come up clean. The last time I got a virus was on Windows 98.

I don’t do online banking and I make a new system image with Acronis True Image every few weeks. If I run into any problems I have only to restore from the image and the system is as good as new in a couple of minutes. It’s saved me more times than I can count and I haven’t had to reinstall Windows in a decade. The system is fast and never crashes. I got the shock of my life when I borrowed a friend’s Windows 10 laptop for the formatting. Compared to my XP system it’s unbelievably slow and cumbersome. I also have more than 100 programs installed. Many are old but indispensable and would likely never work on Windows 10, which I hate anyway.

My Western Digital 8TB EASYSTORE External HDD (WDBCKA0080HBK-NESN) arrived on Monday but stupidly I’d forgotten it would have a US flatpin mains plug so I had to wait until today for an adapter from Amazon UK.

Although XP couldn’t see the drive the WD Quick Formatter detected the drive immediately just as you said balazer. There were no “XP compatibility” or any other options, just two choices, “exit” or “format”. Of course I selected the latter and in a couple of minutes the job was done and the drive immediately showed up in disc management with a NTFS partition and 8 GBs of free space! I didn’t even need the laptop I borrowed. I’ve moved a few GBs on to it and all is working well.

I really can’t thank everyone enough for all the great info in this thread. Without it I’d have paid a higher price for an inferior Seagate Expansion 3 TB (No: STBV3000200} which works right out of the box but has less than half the capacity and only lasts for a few years (All my WD “Elements” external drives are still up and running after 7 years of use, 24/7). WD rules!

First - THANKS to all for this excellent thread.

I just bought a 3TB WD Elements external drive on Amazon for use on this old XP 32bit laptop. Unfortunately I do not have any newer PCs with Windows 7,8, 10 etc.

I assumed this PC would work with XP since the listing on Amazon mentions nothing regarding OP SYS requirements (only says “PC”), several users there said it was working with XP, working with USB 2.0 etc.

Unfortunately I have discovered that this is not actually the case, and working with support has been a huge exercise in frustration to say the least.

I’d like to try to explain what I have been through trying to get this to work and see if it is correct or not as far as what you experts think. I may have this working now but am not 100% certain yet. If not then I guess my next option is to try to find WD Quick Formatter from somewhere and see what that does.

Initially connecting the new drive XP “noticed” it and said it was doing something or other, then that it was ready for use.

However both My Computer and Disk Management failed to show it.

I then contacted WD Support & asked if it supposed to work in XP or not, and if so what was going on, did I need to reformat it in some way etc, and how could I get it even be seen for me to format it.

Their confusing reply was kind of like a form letter, not directly answering my question if it even works or not, directing me to various links on their website on supposedly how to use the drive with XP, which suggested to me that it was at least possible to work with XP.

Long story short, going through the links, doing a lot of reading etc, it seemed to me that I needed to download & run the WD Quick Formatter as per one of their links/pages.

I did that and found what at first looked good in that that program (which turned out to be version was that it saw my drive and even displayed the serial number for it. OK, cool…

I then selected the button etc to format it, expecting the next screens to come up as documented, giving me the option to format as “Factory Default” vs “XP Compatible” (the latter choice being what I need) but that did NOT happen. Instead the program just aborted with an error of “WD drive external drive format failed”.

I was not sure what to do next other than to contact Support again but b4 doing that I noticed that by “magic” the drive now was showing up in both My Computer and Disk Management.

In Disk Management it had a status of “not initialized”.

In My Computer if clicking on it it came back with message of drive not being formatted and asking me if I wanted to do that. I told it to go ahead. It showed the capacity as being 2.72 TB.

That was taking an extremely long time to run so I contacted support to update my incident/question & ask if what I was doing was correct or not.

I let the format run all night. This morning it completed and the drive appeared to be usable.

However not knowing for sure if what I did was correct or not, I contacted support again, updated my incident, & told them that the format appeared successful.

I wondered if now that WD Quick Formatter might run correctly and give me the option of XP compatible etc so I tried it again for the hell of it but it behaved exactly the same as b4, tried to format, did not give me the option of XP etc, and failed with the same error msg as the previous evening.

At that point I was back to where I was last night, the drive shows up but appears to be not initialized/not formatted. In the meantime a different support person got back to me and simply said something like “XP is no longer supported” and completely abandoned me from my perspective.

I have started the formatting again and it has been running for several hours now. The option to format is NTFS and allocation unit size is set to “default”.

Seems to me that this might be OK - how can I check the allocation unit size to verify this later? From reading above it sounds like the probs with these drives now is that the allocation table size and partition type are the big issues.

Did running even a failing version of WD Quick Formatter change the partition type from “GPT” to a type XP 32 bit likes (what is that?).

Does then formatting it in XP’s My Computer use the correct allocation/sector size from 512k to 4096?

Or am I wasting my time and need to find a friend with Windows 10 who lets me run the latest WD Quick Formatter on this drive to fix it “correctly”? Or perhaps do I just need to find the older versions mentioned above which work with XP?

Thanks for any helpful hints…

Wait - sorry for my long ramble above…

Re-reading all the discussions above I believe balazar has actually answered my question above with this paragraph. Can’t believe that did not register with me at first…

*"WD Quick Formatter works correctly in Windows XP and formats for Windows XP compatibility, but that’s an old version and I don’t think you can download it from Western Digital. WD Quick Formatter partially works in Windows XP: it successfully changes the sector size to 4096, but it fails to format. After it fails, disconnect and reconnect the *
drive, and then delete and recreate & format the partition yourself using Disk Management."

I do want to ask, since the My Computer formatting has been going on now a long time again. Should I either abort that, or once it finishes, go and delete the partition and recreate it in Disk Management? Or is the My Computer format good enough?


Dave, if Windows XP is able to see the drive and the partition (there is a drive letter), then you should be good. There would be no need to repartition in Disk Management. Formatting the drive with the default allocation unit size is always fine. A quick format would have sufficed. A full format does take many hours.

Windows XP is so long out of support that running today is fraught with peril. For the home user without particular expertise, really the only valid use case for running XP is on a machine that is not connected to any network and will not be used to open documents from other people or from the Internet. Windows XP and the applications that run on it are full of security vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited by attackers. You might be thinking that your trusty old machine is good enough and you shouldn’t be forced to upgrade it. That’s true if the machine is used in total isolation, just to view and edit things you create yourself. But if you want that machine to connect in any way with the rest of the world, its software needs to be up to date. Running out-of-date software is like having an immune system that stopped learning how to defend against new virus strains. Sooner or later an attack will succeed, and it will mean data loss, identity theft, or extortion. These aren’t theoretical risks. They happen all the time. It’s organized crime, executed on a huge scale using automation, and Windows XP is one of the most popular targets.

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NetMarketShare claims worldwide, 3.72 percent of machines are still running XP

Organized Crime don’t sound very organized if they are targeting a teeny weeny percentage of computers :wink:

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Thanks for the comments balazer. I think your are right in that I should be OK.

I have been doing a lot of research/reading, and even worse for me, thinking about things (!) since I posted above.

Found some interesting info concerning the disk layouts of 512 vs 4096, physical vs logical sector sizes, problems that can result with XP partitioning not properly aligning sectors, things like in these links:

I find this paragraph reassuring from the first link because I just checked this on my newly formatted (yet again) drive:

** "Windows XP works just fine with modern drives that have 4096 bytes per physical sector. The main issue is that a drive with 4096 bytes per physical sector and 512 bytes per logical sector (512-byte emulation or “512e”) will perform sub-optimally if the partitions aren’t aligned with physical sectors. Windows XP’s built-in partitioning tools don’t do the proper alignment for these modern drives. To partition a drive with proper alignment, do the partitioning in a newer operating system, or using a modern 3rd-party tool or a tool provided by the hard drive vendor. This is advised regardless of whether the drive uses 512 or 4096 bytes per physical sector.*

** You can check the alignment of existing partitions using msinfo32 (Windows XP and later):*

** msinfo32.exe > Components > Storage > Disks > Partition Starting Offset (make sure it’s a multiple of the physical sector size, or a multiple of 1,048,576 bytes for SSDs)"*

According to msinfo32 for my new WD drive it IS showing an offset of 1,048,576 and 4096 bytes/sector.

Still since I haven’t started using it yet, I might try to be 100% safer and find a friend with windows10 etc and try running the new version of WD Quick Formatter which did not run to completion on this PC. Failing that I have found the older version that is supposed to work right in XP on the 'net (but in keeping with your data security warning I know I cannot simply trust that that download from an unknown site - some type of utility download site in France no less? - and I prefer not to risk running that even though scanning the exe with multiple anti-malware scanners has found no known issues with it).

I have run a My Computer/Properties/Tools/Error Check Now on it and that had no problems.

Haven’t yet decided exactly what I am going to do next, if anything, other than just start using it…thx again…


The WD Quick Formatter tool aligned your partition correctly. In any case, your drive is over 2 TB and has been configured for XP compatibility, which means the logical sector size at the USB interface and the physical sector size are both 4096 bytes. There’s no alignment issue when the logical and physical sector sizes match, regardless of how the drive is partitioned. I wrote the answer you quoted from superuser.

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