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.

1 Like

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 and 12 TB Easystore WDBCKA0120HBK 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.

WD Quick Formatter is the only way to change the sector size on external USB WD drives between 512 bytes and 4096 bytes, as far as I know. The USB adapter must be doing some translation to create one of those sector sizes virtually. Since Windows XP only supports MBR partition tables and they support a maximum of 4 billion sectors, with a 512 byte sector size you can only partition the first 2 TB of a drive. With a 4096 byte sector size, MBR partitions can use up to 16 TB of a drive.

I’m guessing that all external Western Digital Easystore drives over 2 TB can be formatted for Windows XP compatibility using the WD Quick Formatter tool, and possibly other WD external drives such as Elements and My Book.