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Terabyte-plus hard drives too much for SMS 2003

When Microsoft designed SMS, it did not foresee that one day it would be used to manage hard drives with capacities larger than one terabyte. Today its built-in limit is creating problems for administrators.

When system software does not keep pace with increasing disk capacities, it can cause problems. Take Windows Systems...

Management Server (SMS), a product that allows administrators to manage complex Windows configurations, including software deployment, patch management and related jobs, over a network.

When Microsoft designed SMS, it assumed that no one would use it to manage hard disks with capacities larger than one terabyte (1,000 GB). That was a pretty safe bet at the time, since back then 250 GB was a huge hard disk. Today, you find 250 GB on a middle-of-the-road desktop and a number of companies will soon be offering hard drives with capacities of more than 1 TB. Drives with that much capacity are most popular in large, complex installations. . .the kind of environment SMS was designed for.

However, SMS has a built-in limit. If you try to install an SMS mount point on a disk larger than 1 TB on a Windows Server 2003 system, it may fail. If the disk is larger than 1 TB, the PrimaryVolumeSpaceRemaining property overflows and the sign bit is set to negative.

When SMS attempts to install a mount point on a disk, Windows Server 2003 runs a check on the InstallExecuteSequence table in the Installer package. When it finds PrimaryVolumeSpaceRemaining negative, the check fails and so does the installation.

Microsoft has provided a hotfix for this problem. The hotfix requires restarting the computer.


Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80 K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last 20 years he has been a freelance writer specializing in issues related to storage and storage management.

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This was last published in February 2006

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