Tutorial How to use a larger than 2TB Hard Drive on a Wii as a Single FAT32 Partition

ca032769

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*The Issue: [SOLVED] How can I use a larger than 2TB GTP Hard Drive on a Wii as one single MBR FAT32 partition? [SOLVED]


***
Make sure to see the potential issues with EmuNAND noted below ***


This is a twice boiled down version of a couple previous posts from several years ago. This question comes up from time to time and rather than constantly referring people to my 5 year old post that I have to hunt down and that is a bit convoluted talking about various drive sizes and processes, I thought maybe it would be better as an original tutorial that is more to the point and easier to find. One of those previous posts from 2016 can be found here: http://gbatemp.net/threads/usb-loader-gx.149922/page-1129#post-6662953

Here in this revision I focus mainly on using 5TB Western Digital drives because all NTSC Wii, NTSC GameCube & non-NTSC PAL/JAP titles will fit. You would be best to read through everything a couple times to understand the process before proceeding with the steps. While there are other tools and processes others may have come up with, the following is the process I have used myself many, many, many times over. Feel free to seek out other alternatives as you see fit.


My Wii:

Original Nintendo Wii (not a Wii U), however I did have a report that it works for the Wii U as well. While I do have a couple Wii U's, I'm lazy and have yet to finish modding them to try it myself.


What I Recommend:

I recommend Western Digital drives because there is WD software that indirectly converts the GPT drive partition to MBR. It has been found that most other drive manufactures do not work because they do not offer this ability, so my recommendation is to stick with using a Western Digital drive. This method has always worked for me on drive sizes of 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB & 10TB. I found there was no need to continue on with trying my 12TB & 18TB drives.

5TB is the sweet spot, but any size 3TB+ Western Digital drive should work. I have personally used MyBooks, Passports, and the P10 Game Drive. Others have told me their Essentials drive also worked. I will include additional information as needed for the different drive sizes I've used, but for me the sweet spot is the 5TB because it will hold all NTSC Wii, NTSC GameCube titles, PAL and Japanese titles that did not have a NTSC counterpart, and those that have various versions released.

I do NOT use EmuNAND off the HDD because it has always been installed to my 256GB SDXC card. There is a report that EmuNAND will NOT work on a 5TB+ HDD using this method. For more information in this issue see the "Potential Issues" area below.

Recommended External Drive (one of the following drives and a Y-cable):
or
These drives will most likely work with the regular cable, but you never know if your ports are weak on power, so for a few bucks it’s always nice to have a Y-cable on hand in case it is needed:


Potential Issues:
  1. EmuNAND - It has been reported by a user that EmuNAND does NOT work with this method using 64k or 256k cluster size. This would be a problem if you are trying to have EVERYTHING work off just the HDD and do NOT want to use an SD card. At the moment the only choices seem to be:
A) Use EmuNAND off an SD card large enough for your needs​
B) Use a 4TB or smaller HDD formatted with the 32k cluster size​


The Basic Steps (using a Western Digital Hard Drive):
  1. Merge all items on WD HDD into 1 partition
  2. Converting the GPT partition to a MBR partition
  3. Select the proper cluster size and format the entire drive as FAT32
  4. Optional - Set drive to as ACTIVE & PRIMARY
  5. Some of my programs and setting in use
  6. Links to Wii items I feel helpful
  7. Thanks to those over the years who have helped me with this quest
  8. Miscellaneous pictures


The More Detailed Steps:

1 -
Using EaseUS Partition Master check the drive:
-It is very important you merge any other partitions showing such as unallocated, hidden, marked with an ASTERIX, or ??
-Picture below shows what I am talking about on Drive C, all of these need to be merged
-Merge any and all into the main partition, you want just one partition showing and nothing else at all
-Link to free version of EaseUS Partition Master: http://www.easeus.com/partition-manager/epm-free.html
1.jpg


2a -
Change the GPT drive partition to a MBR partition if your drive is 2TB or less:
-You can use the PAID version of EaseUS Partition Master
-My free version did not have this option but my paid version does since v12 and up
-Changing the WD drives partition above 2TB will not work using this method, it has the 2TB conversion limit, so go to step 2b
-If you find more recent versions offer more functionality please let me know and I will update this post
Convert GPT to MBR.jpg

2b - Change the GPT drive partition to a MBR partition if your drive is larger than 2TB) using WD Quick Format:
-Note: This most likely will not work on a hard drive that's not made by Western Digital, it scans for compatible drives automatically.
-If using another manufacturer you will have to search to see if they make tools for something similar
-WD Quick Format Link: https://support-en.wd.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/16241
-Used to convert a larger than 2TB HDD to be Windows XP compatible
-Important: In doing this conversion it formats the drive to one single NTFS partition and changes the partition table from GPT to MBR
-I'm on Windows 10, maybe it makes a difference what OS you are on when you run it
-Using this on my 4TB Passport & 5TB P-10 Black Game Drives I received an error about no recognizable file system on the drive, just click ok and let the format finish
-This process can take several minutes but it did finish so give it time
5TB Wii FAT32 64k Setup (4).png 5TB Wii FAT32 64k Setup (6).png 5TB Wii FAT32 64k Setup (7).png


3a-Use FAT32 GUI Formatter to format the drive to FAT32:
-Original links seem to be dead (http://ridgecrop.co.uk), so these are from my OneDrive
-32-bit Link: https://1drv.ms/u/s!Akr7GOOfRVh8g7knYUDd6gLYFAc50A?e=L3aAxX
-64-bit Link: https://1drv.ms/u/s!Akr7GOOfRVh8gvBW1-T1vTXicsUFpQ?e=K7U1HY

Cluster size will depend on the size of drive you are using. If you use a different cluster size the entire drive may not be accessible and I would recommend reformatting using my recommendations below:
  • 4TB and smaller drive: Select 32k clusters (Allocation Unit Size: 32768)
  • 5TB to 8TB drive: Select 64k clusters (Allocation Unit Size: 65536)
  • 10TB drive: 256k clusters (Allocation Unit Size: ????)
5TB Wii FAT32 64k Setup (14).png 5TB Wii FAT32 64k Setup (16).png 5TB Wii FAT32 64k Setup (17).png


4 – (Optional) Using EaseUS Partition Master set the drive as ACTIVE & PRIMARY:
-Some say this is not needed, but I always set my drives as ACTIVE & PRIMARY
-Worse case this has no effect so I still do it anyways
5TB Wii FAT32 64k Setup (8).png 5TB Wii FAT32 64k Setup (9).png


5 - Some of my programs and setting in use:
-My Wii: NTSC Wii (original Wii, not Wii U)

-Version #'s currently in use updated: 2019-05-21
-**My versions in use shown probably need to be updated
-CFG USB Loader v71beta51t3
-USB Loader GX v3.0rev1271
-WiiFlow Lite v5.3.0beta6
-Nintendont v5.486MMMOD
-All loaders set to use IOS249[57] D2X v8-final
-IOS249[base57]
-IOS250[base56]
-IOS251[base58]


6 - Links to Wii items I feel helpful:
-My Wii’s Modded with ModMii, Link: http://gbatemp.net/threads/modmii-for-windows-official-support-topic.207126/
-CFG USB Loader Link: https://gbatemp.net/threads/configurable-usb-loader.147638/
-USB Loader GX Link: http://gbatemp.net/threads/usb-loader-gx.149922/
-WiiFlow Lite Link: https://gbatemp.net/threads/wiiflow-lite.422685/
-Nintendont Link: http://gbatemp.net/threads/nintendont.349258/


7 - Thanks @element6, @GreyWolf, @Elliander, @XFlak & many others I probably have missed for help getting to this point


8 - Miscellaneous pictures: Yes I have about 32 Wii's just for myself (4 of each type plus my test Wiis) and over 210TB in external hard drive space I'm constantly fiddling with. It would seem that my OCD has ADD making me obsessively collect randomly.
IMG_20210222_224416095.jpg 4.jpg IMG_20180223_220406588.jpg 5.jpg IMG_20210222_224213708 2.jpg IMG_20210222_224233063 3.jpg
 
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ber71

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In short:

Buy a drive with 4k native sectors. WD drives are great for this, but you have to use their utility to reconfigure its sector size from 512e to 4k.

Create a single large fat32 partition. No need for MBR if you use it for USB loaders and nintendont only, as these can read gpt. However, with 4k sectors you can use MBR on disks up to 16TB, so better MBR if possible.

Profit.

All of this is caused by the Wii limitations, i.e. 32bit for sector adressing. With the common sector size of 512bytes, the Wii can't read beyond 2TB. 4K sectors are needed for reading past the 2TB mark.
 
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tech3475

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Wouldn't it be easier to just use the 'clean' command using diskpart and WD Dashboard to check the drive?

Maybe look at Minitool Partition Wizard Free.

IIRC this is using a 'fake MBR', so I'd be careful if you ever use any utilities on this.
 
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Extrems

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All of this is caused by the Wii limitations, i.e. 32bit for sector adressing. With the common sector size of 512bytes, the Wii can't read beyond 2TB. 4K sectors are needed for reading past the 2TB mark.
It's purely a software limitation, and I've done half the work necessary for 64-bit addressing.
 
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ber71

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It's purely a software limitation, and I've done half the work necessary for 64-bit addressing.

Agreed.
For the time being, there isn't any homebrew which can use more than 32 bits for addressing.
If you manage to get your patches into the main USB loaders and nintendont, that would be great, as large HD would be usable out of the box for most users.
Thank you for your efforts.
 
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ca032769

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Wouldn't it be easier to just use the 'clean' command using diskpart and WD Dashboard to check the drive?

Maybe look at Minitool Partition Wizard Free.

IIRC this is using a 'fake MBR', so I'd be careful if you ever use any utilities on this.

I welcome and am open to improvement of the process for the benefit of everyone. What you suggest might be easier, but I just use what I know does work and am sharing it with those who might benefit from it. My purpose is to share the information I know and if this post generates easier proven ways for others to try I am all for it.

Most of the basic steps needed are the same no matter which tools are used. If anyone can confirm a tool that makes any of these processes easier I would like to know, especially the GPT to MBR conversion of the 5TB drive. I would like something more mainstream. There was also someone mentioning commands that will do some of this. But if I can double click on a shinny Icon and run a program just as fast as entering command line parameters I'll take the shinny program that just needs a few clicks. Otherwise I'll try out the most recent version of MiniTool Partition Wizard the next time I make up a drive to see if there has been any advancement towards this since the last time I tried it.

The above steps are the best way I have found to do it for the last 5 years, it has worked every time and takes only a few minutes. As stated above I welcome proven advancements to the these steps.
 
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ca032769

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In short:

Buy a drive with 4k native sectors. WD drives are great for this, but you have to use their utility to reconfigure its sector size from 512e to 4k.

Create a single large fat32 partition. No need for MBR if you use it for USB loaders and nintendont only, as these can read gpt. However, with 4k sectors you can use MBR on disks up to 16TB, so better MBR if possible.

Profit.

All of this is caused by the Wii limitations, i.e. 32bit for sector adressing. With the common sector size of 512bytes, the Wii can't read beyond 2TB. 4K sectors are needed for reading past the 2TB mark.

Personally I do like being able to use the other loaders and not being limited to just one which I believe is USBLoader-GX that can read a GPT drive along with Nintendont. I myself am still a huge fan of the defunct CFG USB Loader.

For some a GPT setup just using those couple of apps will work just fine.
 
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ca032769

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Agreed.
For the time being, there isn't any homebrew which can use more than 32 bits for addressing.
If you manage to get your patches into the main USB loaders and nintendont, that would be great, as large HD would be usable out of the box for most users.
Thank you for your efforts.

@Extrems - Any progress is good progress, I should have asked, what app are you working on for 64-bit addressing?
 
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mikefor20

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I looked in to this recently, am I correct that this will leave the drive useless for most homebrew? I would like a setup to be pretty much 100% HDD. Going this route, can emulators see ROMs for NES,SNES,N64 etc.? What is the solution that is compatible with EVERYTHING? I had a 1TB until it died recently. I run UNEEK,RawkSD, all emulators. What is the 1 HDD no SD solution compatible with all of it? 2TB is the biggest i have made to work with everything. I went MBR with XP compatible cluster. I think. I also have a 5TB setup how you have it here IIRC. None of the homebrew sees it. How do we get an actual viable HDD setup that has 100% compatibility?

My goal is complete romsets for Wii, Gamecube and all available emulators as well as UNEEK and RawkSD compatibility. (I have all the songs from every rock band and guitar hero all working in rockband 2. It's awesome)

How can we do that? is it possible?

I even tried multiple partitions but most homebrew can't see the second partition.
 
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ca032769

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I looked in to this recently, am I correct that this will leave the drive useless for most homebrew? I would like a setup to be pretty much 100% HDD. Going this route, can emulators see ROMs for NES,SNES,N64 etc.? What is the solution that is compatible with EVERYTHING? I had a 1TB until it died recently. I run UNEEK,RawkSD, all emulators. What is the 1 HDD no SD solution compatible with all of it? 2TB is the biggest i have made to work with everything. I went MBR with XP compatible cluster. I think. I also have a 5TB setup how you have it here IIRC. None of the homebrew sees it. How do we get an actual viable HDD setup that has 100% compatibility?

My goal is complete romsets for Wii, Gamecube and all available emulators as well as UNEEK and RawkSD compatibility. (I have all the songs from every rock band and guitar hero all working in rockband 2. It's awesome)

How can we do that? is it possible?

I even tried multiple partitions but most homebrew can't see the second partition.

I'm using a 256GB SD card where I keep all my apps, emulators, EmuNAND, etc. Why don't you want to use an SD card?

It's been soooo long that I don't remember if I ever had them on the USB drive. I want to say I probably did at one time, in the beginning, have the games for the emulators on the HDD (emulator apps always on the SD) and they worked fine, but I've always used SD for emuNAND. I think I mainly used the SD card for these items because it was easier to pop in and out from the Wii to PC compared to always having to unplug the drive and move it over when I was working on things.

I've never felt that I had to go SD Card-less so it's never been an issue. Try it and see what happens, then let us know.
 
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mikefor20

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I'm using a 256GB SD card where I keep all my apps, emulators, EmuNAND, etc. Why don't you want to use an SD card?

It's been soooo long that I don't remember if I ever had them on the USB drive. I want to say I probably did at one time, in the beginning, have the games for the emulators on the HDD (emulator apps always on the SD) and they worked fine, but I've always used SD for emuNAND. I think I mainly used the SD card for these items because it was easier to pop in and out from the Wii to PC compared to always having to unplug the drive and move it over when I was working on things.

I've never felt that I had to go SD Card-less so it's never been an issue. Try it and see what happens, then let us know.

Yes everything can reside on a HDD. It's even an option in ModMii. I don't need to try it. With all due respect I have tried it. I am not a noob. I don't want to rely on an SD for anything. Reasons are:
  • SD cards are more volatile.
  • My Rockband setup with every song from every Guitar Hero and Rockband game and all DLC and some Frets on Fire stuff split up in to multiple EmuNANDs. There is a limit so I did A-D E-J and so on. Those take up close to 256GB alone. Using strictly USB loader GX to load the EmuNANDS is an option but I like NEEK2o and THAT's finicky.
  • I have romsets for every emulator, including PS1. That costs more than 256.
  • HDDs are cheaper per GB
  • I use the SD for moving files between PC and the Wii and so the kids can have their own SD's for their own EmuNANDS. Young kids 1 SD, Teens another and mine on another. It's the best solution.
I have a SD. I used to have a 1TB with all the games i like but it crashed. Now I am gonna do it right with Wii and GC romsets.

Sd should be an extra option not required. It's a much cleaner versatile setup.

I will probably just have 2 HDD since GX can see both slots. Could try multiple partitions... GX and nintendont seem to have an option to pick partitions. Not sure how to have 1 partition GPT and the other MBR on the same HDD though... I'll check it out.

So I assume you don't know how to make it work with all homebrew then?
 
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ca032769

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Yes everything can reside on a HDD. It's even an option in ModMii. I don't need to try it. With all due respect I have tried it. I am not a noob. I don't want to rely on an SD for anything. Reasons are:
  • SD cards are more volatile.
  • My Rockband setup with every song from every Guitar Hero and Rockband game and all DLC and some Frets on Fire stuff split up in to multiple EmuNANDs. There is a limit so I did A-D E-J and so on. Those take up close to 256GB alone. Using strictly USB loader GX to load the EmuNANDS is an option but I like NEEK2o and THAT's finicky.
  • I have romsets for every emulator, including PS1. That costs more than 256.
  • HDDs are cheaper per GB
  • I use the SD for moving files between PC and the Wii and so the kids can have their own SD's for their own EmuNANDS. Young kids 1 SD, Teens another and mine on another. It's the best solution.
I have a SD. I used to have a 1TB with all the games i like but it crashed. Now I am gonna do it right with Wii and GC romsets.

Sd should be an extra option not required. It's a much cleaner versatile setup.

I will probably just have 2 HDD since GX can see both slots. Could try multiple partitions... GX and nintendont seem to have an option to pick partitions. Not sure how to have 1 partition GPT and the other MBR on the same HDD though... I'll check it out.

So I assume you don't know how to make it work with all homebrew then?

If by homebrew you mean having the emulators and roms stored on the HDD I can not tell you for sure without trying, it's been too long.

If you have tried it and it does not work let me know. I will put a note above mentioning that they might not work off the HDD alone (no SD Card) and will check myself over the weekend or next to confirm.

Your original comment seemed like a question of "can" they work, so it seemed like you had not tried it. If you have not tried it and are asking if it will, I would think they should work just fine. While my loaders and WiiMC apps are stored on my SD, they access the files stored on the HDD just fine so I would not on the surface see why the rest of the homebrew apps would have a problem.

I know I had apps stored on the HDD that worked without problems at one time, I just can't remember what apps they actually were. I do have all the emulators and a few homebrew games so it makes sense that I probably did use them off the HDD before deciding the SD card was easier for me.
 
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mikefor20

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It depends how old the apps are. It depends if they've been updated. And I'm talking about running everything off of the HD. Some apps can't even read ROMs and things like that off of a GPT drive. It depends on a dev kit. I can probably recompile some of it but I'm not going to do that. I want everything to function the same if you take out the SD card. And yes you can do that with a MBR Drive.
 

ca032769

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It depends how old the apps are. It depends if they've been updated. And I'm talking about running everything off of the HD. Some apps can't even read ROMs and things like that off of a GPT drive. It depends on a dev kit. I can probably recompile some of it but I'm not going to do that. I want everything to function the same if you take out the SD card. And yes you can do that with a MBR Drive.

Yes, most apps cannot access GPT drives and that is why they are the issue for the moment. I have heard that if you ONLY use Nintendont & USB Loader-GX it is possible to use a NTFS GPT drive. But like you I don't want to be limited to just those two applications and must use a FAT32 MBR drive to have everything compatible.

Seeing the above steps make the Western Digital drive MBR you should have no problems using a 5TB or larger drive to keep everything on it.
 
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