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Linux: creating partition lager than 2 TB

Why can I only use 2 TB (TeraByte) of my 2+ TB drive in linux? The answer is really simple. I guess you formatted the drive using “fdisk” which use a ms-dos partition table. MS-dos partition table (MBR) is 32 bit, and thereby it can’t handle anything above 2 TeraBytes.

To fully use your 2+TB harddrive, you have to use a partition table that supports it. We now know that the MS-DOS partition table (MBR) does not, so what should you use instead? GPT. GPT supports up to 9.4 ZB (ZetaByte). That’s 9895604649984 GB (GigaByte)!. It’s pretty safe to say, that you will not hit this limit in the near future.

You need a program called “parted”. It’s the easiest way to create the partition table and create a partition of the desired size. It might be installed already on your Linux system. If not then you have to install it using your favorite package manager.

apt-get install parted

Run the program you installed earlier in this guide called “parted” by running the following command parted /dev/<your harddrive name here>.

In my case, the example would be:

parted /dev/sdb

The output will look like this:

GNU Parted 2.3
Using /dev/sdb
Welcome to GNU Parted! Type 'help' to view a list of commands.

Type in the following and hit enter to create a GPT partition table:

mklabel gpt

The output will look like this, after you types “yes” and pressed enter to the warning stating that this will delete all files on the harddrive:

Warning: The existing disk label on /dev/sdb will be destroyed and all data on this disk will be lost. Do you want to continue?
Yes/No? yes

Set the unit to GB

Now set the unit to GB to make it easy to specify the partition size later on. Type the following and hit enter. This will not give any output:

unit GB

Create the partition

To create the partitoion, you simply type the following syntax and press enter mkpart primary <from GB> <to GB>.

In my example with the 4TB (4000GB) harddrive, this would be:

mkpart primary 0.0GB 4000.8GB

The above command will not give you any output.

View the partition table

To view the partition table and partition you just created, type the following and press enter:


Now type the following and hit enter to save and quit parted:


Create the filesystem

Create the ext4 filesystem using the following command mkfs.ext4 /dev/<your drivename and partition number here>. In my example it would be:

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdb1
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