Windows 2012 Server Backup with 3TB External USB Drive

I have been aware of the fact that up to SBS2011(Windows 2008 R2), there is 2TB size limitation. In other words, if I have a 3TB external USB drive, SBS2011 won't back up to that 3TB Drive.

Has this limitation been lifted with Windows 2012 Server Standard (NOT 2012 R2)?

Related to that, say I have 3TB external USB and like to use as backup drive for SBS2011.
Can I go to Computer Management, create two partitions - one 2TB partition & one 1TB partition on 3TB USB drive and tell SBS2011 to use 2TB partition?
sgleeAsked:
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Patrick BogersConnect With a Mentor Datacenter platform engineer LindowsCommented:
Hi

In 2012 it has increased but it depends the partition style.

•MBR disks support a maximum volume size of up to 4 TBs unless they’re dynamic disks and use RAID.
•GPT disks support partitions of up to 18 exabytes (EBs) in size and up to 128 partitions per disk.
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Seth SimmonsConnect With a Mentor Sr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
there is no specific Windows 2008 R2 size limitation
the imposed limits are either with hardware or file system
standard MBR drives are limited to 2tb
should be able to connect that drive, setup as GPT (though it probably already is from the manufacturer) and just use it
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Brad BouchardConnect With a Mentor Information Systems Security OfficerCommented:
Related to that, say I have 3TB external USB and like to use as backup drive for SBS2011.
Can I go to Computer Management, create two partitions - one 2TB partition & one 1TB partition on 3TB USB drive and tell SBS2011 to use 2TB partition?
Since no one else answered this one yet too, yes you could do this.
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Cliff GaliherConnect With a Mentor Commented:
There are a few moving parts here so I want to try and be clear.

2008 R2 and earlier, including SBS, does have a source drive limitation of 2TB using windows server backup. This is because, under the hood, WSB writes the backup to a .vhd file which has a 2TB file size limit. This limitation also impacts the iSCSI target software and hyper-v.

2012 and later introduced the .vhdx format and resolves this limitation for all the products, including backups.

Now the destination is a other matter. Windows Server Backup does not particularly like drives that run an emulator to provide 512 byte support. Even though 512e is supposed to be transparent, WSB in particular seems to balk at most implementations.  2008 R2 in general doesn't have fill support for native 4k either, so those drives are out.

So with a 3TB drive, the question really becomes whether it is native 4k or is 512e, and if it is 512e, how well and how fast that emulator works. It doesn't matter of you make a 2TB partition or not, it is the drive itself and its internal stuff that can gum up the works. In most cases, for 2008 R2 and lower, I recommend simply avoiding larger drives since it isn't reliable anyways, and since you can't make larger backups anyways, there is not much to be lost. Even the way windows handles incremental backups is subject to the 2TB limit, so it isn't like you can have a longer backup history with a larger drive.

2012 supports 4k native drives, so again, as long as you make sure you are buying 4k native and not 512e, you'll almost always be fine.

Now on the software side, what others have said about mbr and got all hold true as well' but no need to rehash that. Just wanted to touch on the things others had not mentioned.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
It sounds like:
(1) I can use any size larger than 2TB on Windows 2012 server. So to backup VMs in HeperV in Windwos 2012, I know that I can use 3TB or 4TB external USBs.
(2) For any OS earlier than W2008R2, I will just stick to 2TB or smaller.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
1) On 2012 I have seen some 512e drives have issues. Hence my advice to ensure you are using "4k native" drives.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Thanks.
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