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Thread: Formatting a large external hard disk

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Question Formatting a large external hard disk

    It seemed easy enough, I needed to save tons of backups and grabbed a couple of WD My Book Essentials 3TB external drives from a local store. Came home to start copying my files and spent the next 3 hours trying to format the damn things. Unsuccessfully.

    I must warn you that although I have been using Linux for a long time, the last 2 years or so have been not very hard core and my skills must be rustier than I'd like to admit. I started using cfdisk at first, before realizing that something is fishy, looking up online and finding out that I should use parted instead for a drive this size.

    I found this easy looking tutorial http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/fdisk-...eater-2tb.html and proceeded, only to have parted crash and burn on me when I issue command: mklabel gpt Some kind of stack error. Long error log. I fire up gparted instead and that refuses to open up at all, leaving, among other things, a message:
    Warning: Device /dev/sdb has a logical sector size of 4096. Not all parts of GNU Parted support this at the moment, and the working code is HIGHLY EXPERIMENTAL.

    Not sure if that was the reason it crashed, but it's the only thing I could make sense of.

    I'm running karmic, if that matters. Updated the system, restarted, did not help. Any ideas how to tackle this would be appreciated.
    Last edited by bluebelle; October 17th, 2011 at 05:15 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Question Unable To Format 3TB WD Mybook

    Hello everyone!

    I'm hoping the gurus here can help guide me.

    Here's what I did:
    -boot PC to usb flash drive and clicked on Try Ubuntu
    -plugged in new external usb 3TB Western Digital Mybook
    -launch Disk Utility and selected Format Drive
    -Selected Scheme: GUID Partition Table and then clicked on Format

    After several seconds, I get a pop up with this message:

    Error creating partition table: timeout (10s) waiting for change
    What did I do wrong?

    TIA

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    London, UK
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    Ubuntu UNR

    Re: Unable To Format 3TB WD Mybook

    There's been a bit of talk about trouble with drives over 2.2tb, looks like partedmagic's latest version isn't having any issues with it, so maybe try using that to format? then run the installer again and just mount the ext4 partion(s) as you want them?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    110

    Re: Unable To Format 3TB WD Mybook

    I'm feel sorry that I'm hijacking this thread but jjex22, does this only concern the disk-utility of ubuntu, or does this also affect fdisk & mkfs in the terminal?

  5. #5
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    Oct 2010
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    Ubuntu UNR

    Re: Unable To Format 3TB WD Mybook

    I'm not completely sure - as far as I knew fdisk was fine, it was the installer and gparted that were having issues, but I'd not read anything on it for a while so assumed support had been improved in recent releases.

    Perhaps we can get mreos to confirm after install?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Re: Unable To Format 3TB WD Mybook

    Thanks for the info jjex22.

    I guess it was a bad decision on my end to buy a 3TB drive thinking it would be easy to use in Ubuntu (11.10 64bit) like any other drive. To make matters worse, all the technical details out there about large drives makes it more confusing.

    Can anyone confirm if my steps above are correct? I just want to be able to format it so that it is clean and can be used for storage on windows and ubuntu PCs.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2011
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    Re: Formatting a large external hard disk

    I saw your post and was wondering if you found a solution. I also have a 3TB WD Mybook.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    UK
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    Distro
    Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf

    Re: Formatting a large external hard disk

    @mreos, I notice that bluebelle has not logged in since posting or since shortly after posting, so you may or may not get a reply.

    I have no experience of drives > 1TB but I wonder if the OP's problem is a combination of a drive with 4k sectors (which a 3TB drive would have) and using partitioning tools from an obsolete version of Ubuntu which would probably only cope with 512-byte sectors. The OP was right in trying to create a GUID partition table but was using the now-obsolete Ubuntu Karmic.

    Which version of Ubuntu are you using and have you created a GUID partition table?
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  9. #9
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    Mar 2011
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    Re: Unable To Format 3TB WD Mybook

    From the information I gathered here. You could split your drive in two by making two partitions. these partitions can be formatted into the fs of your choice.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    110

    Re: Unable To Format 3TB WD Mybook

    Might have drawn my conclusion a but to quick. Let me ask this first.

    What is it that you want to do with your external hd? Is it only for storage or do you want the to install anything on it?

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