Seagate 2TB drive will not do a Windows system image

August 20, 2014

Buyer beware!!

I purchased a Seagate 2TB Expansion external hard disk drive (HDD) on Friday. I tried to do a Windows 7 backup and system image on Sunday, as you do, but it failed with the error message below.


I then spent an hour or so hunting forums etc. to find out that the drive needs to be configured to a 512 byte drive not a 4 KB drive to do system images (Windows 7 backups seem to work OK if you uncheck the system image option). Problem: Even after installing the Microsoft hotfix (see links below), this drive cannot be configured to 512 bytes! (Yes, my friendly PC Guru people helped me with that, but to no avail as it’s a hardware issue.)

So on Monday, I called Seagate Support and they confirmed that this drive is configured as a 4 KB drive, cannot be configured to 512 bytes, and also confirmed that THERE’S NOTHING ON THE PACKAGING or in the box to tell consumers that Windows 7 backup/system image WON’T WORK ON THESE DRIVES but that I could purchase their drives with proprietary backup software installed. I don’t want to do that (I’ve been down that path with Western Digital [WD] drives – not pretty). So this drive is not fit for purpose! Who makes a drive that doesn’t work with the backup/system image utility provided by the world’s biggest operating system? Gee, that’d be Seagate!

I’ve now called the place I bought it from and I can get a full refund on the drive if I bring it back with the packaging and receipt. That’s a 50 km trip for me, so I might consider using it just for data storage and continue doing backups on the WD 1TB drive I’ve been using.

How does Joe Blow Public deal with these issues? He buys an external HDD from a name brand, plugs it in, tries to do the right thing by creating a backup and system image and it fails. And he doesn’t know why or how to find out, and if he finds the 512 bytes versus 4 KB stuff, his eyes glaze over and he realizes he just paid $100 for a door stop!

Some of the sites reporting this issue:

[Links last checked August 2014]


  1. I can relate…have given up on backups. Bought a new dell all in one PC last year – downgraded from Win 8 to Win 7, neither platform would do a standard ‘windows’ backup…had dell support online for hours…finally gave up. Kudos to you for at least figuring out more details!

  2. The ‘Average Joe Blow Public’ doesn’t do backups, so it probably won’t be an issue for them.
    I’d look at 3rd party backup software anyway, rather than the OS supplied version (not necessarily WD or Seagate, but I’d expect there to be some good alternatives out there).

  3. True, Simon. But when the average Joe is encouraged to do a backup and when Windows makes it a simple process these days, and the average Joe buys an external drive for that purpose, they can get thwarted by all this.

    I’ll continue to make backups onto my WD 1TB drive and probably use the 2TB for general data storage. I can use Good Sync to make that sort of backup.


  4. I’ve had almost the exact experience over the past 24 hours. I’ll pursue the commercial Imaging software option first though. Good luck!

  5. sad to say they probably don’t care. Microsoft nor Seagate

    thanks for the warning

  6. Hi,

    Have you tried formatting the drive under Windows Setup? Just place your Windows files from the Windows Setup DVD or ISO to the USB stick and boot from there. When booted, hit F10 to show the command prompt.
    Use the diskpart tool with format command specifier to format your drive, say:

    DISKPART> format fs=ntfs label=”System” unit=512 quick compress

    If you have a Windows 8.x system, you may opt for ReFS file system. It might be, the ReFS driver would handle the issues with Seagate drive better.

  7. Hi Exotic Hadron

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I’ve now returned the drive to the store and got a refund. Even if your solution works, this is way too difficult for the ordinary person to do, including me.


  8. Seagate are not that good anymore I got a 1tb drive will not do a lot you can not beat the old ex/hard drives

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