Question Can anyone help with GPT Protective Partition problem?

Mar 28, 2021
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(Don't know if this is the right place. It could have been hardware or WIndows 10 too, as I can't determine if the issue is hardware or OS related.)

Backstory:
I bought several bare 4 TB HD's and a USB 3.0 dock for backup and archival purposes and have been using it for some months. Last week I decided to get a USB 3.0 dual-dock with built-in "pushbutton" cloning to use when any of the backup drives are reaching EOL.

So here's the problem:

A 4 TB HD, Simple, Basic, NTFS, shows a single healthy primary partition. It has been in use for months and contains lots of data. It was formatted in the single-slot dock. Now, when I move that disk to the other (dual-slot) dock it is recognized by Windows but is not assigned a drive letter. Checking with Window's Disk Management app it shows as Healthy (GPT Protective Partition) and, of course the data in inaccessible. Likewise, using a brand new 4 TB drive, formatted as simple basic NTFS in the dual-dock—with a few files added to make sure it will read and write—when unmounted from the dual-dock and mounted in the single dock, shows as Healthy (GPT Protective Partition) .

What I'm seeing is that a disk initialized in either of these docks can only be used in the dock in which it was initialized . Needless to say, with more than 2 TB of data on the disk , I can't change it to MBR to remove the protection without data destruction because MBR can't handle more then 2 TB of data. That means I need to mount the drive in the dock in which it was initialized, initialize an empty 4 TB drive in the other dock and then copy data from one to the other. I can live with that but I shouldn't have to…

Except I still have disks which are only accessible when mounted in the dock that initialized them.

Which means if the dock which made the disk goes tits-up down the line I am screwed.

So, I think my question is, how can I initialize an HD so it can be mounted on either (or any) dock and/or on any system, or put another way, how can I prevent an HD from becoming locked to a particular piece of hardware?

[Win10/64 1909 Build 18363.1379)]
[Single slot dock is branded Orico]
[Dual-slot dock is branded EZ-Dock 3.0]
[HD's are all HGST 2TB]
 
What I'm seeing is that a disk initialized in either of these docks can only be used in the dock in which it was initialized .
This.
Your docks use non-standard partitioning schemes, which locks use of the drive to dock, it was initialized/partitioned in.

how can I initialize an HD so it can be mounted on either (or any) dock and/or on any system, or put another way, how can I prevent an HD from becoming locked to a particular piece of hardware?
Connect the disk to a desktop pc with sata cables (without use of any docks).
Initialize, partition drive. It will have standard GPT partitioning and you will be able to use it on any desktop pc (without docks).

Which means if the dock which made the disk goes tits-up down the line I am screwed.
If you're worrying about this and still want to use your docks, then get multiple units of that particular dock model.
 
Last edited:

Karadjgne

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Ambassador
Get a bigger external drive, like an 8 or 16Tb. Hook direct to pc as explained above. Use the dock as is with the 4Tb drives for daily/weekly backup. Once a month, dump everything into the external then unplug it. Data safe.
 
Mar 28, 2021
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Understood. Is this the common practice for docks? Seems like an anti-competition measure. Having to shutdown, unrack, and open up a computer every time I buy a new HD is an absolute PITA.
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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Understood. Is this the common practice for docks? Seems like an anti-competition measure. Having to shutdown, unrack, and open up a computer every time I buy a new HD is an absolute PITA.
Different sector sizes are not an issue. Unless you try to swap drives between docks and internal, hoping to retain the data on them.

Backups are the key element here.

Having your data on only ONE device is a recipe for disaster, in more ways than one.
 
Mar 28, 2021
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Learn something new every day. It hadn't occurred to me the formatting was done by the controller rather than the OS and that the docks had their own internal controllers using proprietary/non-standard formatting. @USAFRet I use several backup methods, both local backups and remote backups using Backblaze. I do use the docks for archival off-line storage for an ever-growing collection of media files and bought the cloning dock to use when my monitoring app begins to show disk errors, to make a clone before data is lost. I buy 4 TB refurbs with 5-year warranties for about 60 bucks each. I use a modified backup profile for local storage: full back-up monthly, differential weekly, incremental daily.
 

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