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Old 01-14-2011, 12:28 PM   #1
c627627
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Default Clearing up the confusion about Advanced Format and Windows XP

For dual boot Windows 7 / Windows XP systems where 2TB drives are not used for OS installs but for backing up files, do you recommend using the Advanced Format Hard Drive Utility for only 1 partition or the 7-8 pin or both, per http://www.wdc.com/global/products/f...d=7&language=1

Does Seagate use pins or software for Advanced Format on Windows XP? Does Samsung or Hitachi?



EDIT: Thank you mrpete for helping me figure all this out:


Western Digital Advanced Format technology hard drives use sectors with 4,096 bytes of user data. They are not optimized to be formatted under Windows XP or earlier operating systems. If possible, partition and/or format WD Advanced Format drives under Windows 7/Vista before using them under Windows XP. (Remember not to partition or format them under Windows XP after that.)

If you cannot partition/format them under Windows 7/Vista before using them under Windows XP:

• For a single partition: you have the option of placing a jumper on pins 7-8 which then allow these drives to be optimally used by Windows XP. [Once again, this is unnecessary if the drive was previously partitioned/formatted under Windows 7/Vista.]

• For multiple partitions under Windows XP: use WD Advanced Format Hard Drive Utility http://www.wdc.com/global/products/f...d=7&language=1 [Once again, this is unnecessary if the drive was previously partitioned/formatted under Windows 7/Vista.]


Drives made by other manufacturers using Advanced Format technology (such as Seagate SmartAlign drives) do not use pins or software. If possible, they should also be partitioned and/or formatted under Windows 7/Vista for later use on Windows XP.


For single partition Advanced Format WD drives under Windows XP, if you place a jumper on pins 7-8 and boot into Windows XP > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Storage > Disk Management >

A Wizard will pop-up in Windows XP to initialize the disk. CHECK the disk to be initialized but UNCHECK the disk when asked to convert it to a dynamic disk. Then right click on the Disk > New Partition... > Next > Next > Next > Next > UNCHECK: Perform a quick format > Next > Finish


Make sure they do not fail the Western Digital Extended Test using Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows:
http://support.wdc.com/product/downl...&sid=3&lang=en

So if you get a drive that appears to be working, make sure it doesn't fail the extended test.




Other manufacturers have their own utilities which also have extended tests. They usually need to run overnight since they take many hours to complete.


If you have no access to Windows 7/Vista for partitioning/formatting, unfortunately, even modern partition software installed under Windows XP may not be able to correctly partition/format Advanced Format Drives.

However, GParted can. Go to http://sourceforge.net/projects/gparted/
and get the GParted iso. Use it to create a boot CD. Try to only have the Advanced Format Drive connected to the system when you boot with it.

- a drive that came back from the manufacturer could possibly have a file system on it already

- if so delete that partition ... highlight partition ... partition > delete > edit > apply

- if it is new or has no partitions then you will need to create a partition table

- device > create partition table (choose msdos) > edit > apply


- CRPTN - select the unallocated portion of the disk (all of it)

- CRPTN - partition > new ... a dialog box appears

- CRPTN - create your partition(s) as NTFS... assign the partition name

- CRPTN - if you create only 1 partition the above will be the only 2 modifications you would need to make

- CRPTN - notice that "align to" is set to MiB ... there's your alignment

- CRPTN - click the add button > edit > apply


- FMT - highlight the partition you just created

- FMT - partition > format to > NTFS > edit > apply


- CHK - to check that all is well from within GParted ...

- CHK - highlight the partition you created ... right click and choose information

- CHK - If you see that "first sector" is 2048 (or any number divisible by 8), then the partition is aligned.

- CHK - If the first sector is not divisible by 8 then something has gone wrong and such unaligned partitions on Advanced Format drives will perform at reduced speeds.


[Note: If you used a jumper for pins 7-8 on the Western Digital drive, then a subsequent examination of the partition by GParted would show the first sector of the partition as 63. But actually the first sector would be 64 (because of the jumper) and would be aligned.]



* * *



Useful Western Digital links:

• Advanced Format Technology pdf:
http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/?id=216&type=87

• Advanced Format Hard Drive Download Utility:
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/produ...x?id=120#tab10

• Advanced Format Software
http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=805

• WD Align Chart:


• How to install a WD Advanced Format Drive on a non-Windows Operating System:
http://wdc.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5655




mrpete also suggests:

If you want to test the disk then ...

Unaligned partitions on advanced format disks will only perform at ~50% speed on random 4 KB writes when the total amount of random write exceeds 4 times the amount of cache on the disk drive and no 4 KB write is to the same location. If you can implement such a test yourself then you are pretty good. Maybe one of the disk test suites could do this?

If you want to do a really useful test then here's a suggestion. Gather advanced format disks from WD, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi. Format them in the default way by XP. Do NOT jumper the WD disk. You now have 4 advanced format disks that have unaligned partitions (all start at LBA 63). The firmware on all the disks can handle this situation to a greater or lesser extent. Seagate claims that their firmware handles this situation by far the best and indeed that the performance of their advanced format disks in this situation will be quite close to that of a properly aligned partition. Test the performance of the group of disks while writing 25 KB (tiny Word doc) and 100 MB files.

The writing/rewriting of the 25 KB files should be done in such a way as to ensure that (1) each subsequently rewritten file is in a different track from the previously rewritten file and (2) the disk cache will be overflowed before the rewriting starts. The 25 KB test could be done in a butterfly fashion ... write files 1 - 5000 ... then rewrite 1, then 2000, then 2, then 1999, then 3, then 1998 ... etc. The time to watch is the rewrite time for files 1 through 2000. The cache will have been effectively voided by writing files 2001 through 5000 and you'll also get the effect of jumping from track to track. The controller might take the track jump as a signal to write out the cache.

All the unaligned partition disks should be able to handle the 100 MB file writes reasonably well by simply caching the disk writes and mostly avoiding the read/modify/write penalty of writing to an unaligned partition. If any of the disks give 50% speed performance on that test then that would be HUGE news. A comparison of the speed between the different disks would be interesting and will indicate the skill of the folks producing the firmware.

The random 25 KB file rewrites are a much more difficult test for the unaligned partition disks. On a percentage basis the firmware will not be able use caching nearly as much. Seagate is so confident their disks will perform well that they do not even offer an alignment tool.

Of course, in order to compare the results of the above tests you need to also repartition the above disks in a properly aligned way and then rerun the tests.

properly aligned = start LBA is evenly divisible by 8 [if WD has a jumper then (start LBA+1)/8]


Last edited by c627627; 03-26-2012 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:04 AM   #2
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In that dual boot system use Win7 to create the partitions on the advanced format drives. It will get it right. XP will misalign the partitions.

Since you have Win7 on the box do not use the WD pin 7+8 jumper method because you will end up with a partition that is permanently misaligned if Win7 creates it. AFAIK WD is the only one with a jumper fix for the XP problem.

WD has WD align. Samsung has Aligntool. You shouldn't need to use either of those programs.

Seagate has firmware in their drives called SmartAlign that mitigates the negative effects of misalignment to a large extent. They do not provide a tool to properly align a misaligned partition. However, on their disks an aligned partition will still be faster than a misaligned one.

As for Hitachi, do they have any advanced format drives currently shipping?
- OR Fujitsu? -

For Samsung the only advanced format drive I know of is the Spinpoint F4 HD240UI 2 TB.
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Old 01-22-2011, 10:01 AM   #3
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If you only have Windows XP, can you install something like Paragon Hard Disk Manager from 2011 or O&O partition manager from 2011 under Windows XP and partition/format without a pin to achieve the same effect as if you did so by booting into Windows 7?

Can you use Linux boot USB, or gparted freeware under Windows XP (I'm talking about all advanced format drives made by all manufacturers).
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:10 AM   #4
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Some tools are "4 KB sector aware" and others are not. Usually the older ones are not. The "aware" ones will only create partitions that are properly aligned.

Do some investigation and check out each of the tools you have mentioned. Go on their website and investigate in depth by downloading the user guide. ... or maybe someone will chime in here with a post with the right info.

I believe that some (or maybe all?) of the most recent Paragon tools are "aware."

You said "I'm talking about all advanced format drives made by all manufacturers."

It should work the same for all advanced format drives. In fact it should work the same for all HDDs. I suspect that up to date tools will all create the (1st) partition at sector 2048. I believe that that is how Win7 & Vista SP1 now do it.

Last edited by mrpete; 01-22-2011 at 01:29 PM. Reason: Changed the partition start sector. Got it wrong the 1st time.
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:35 AM   #5
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All right, If I installed an Advanced Format drive under Windows XP, tell me which freeware tools could I use to test if they can do this under Windows XP and what exactly to do - to test if they did the job as good as if I booted into Win7 and formatted a partition there.
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Old 01-22-2011, 01:31 PM   #6
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Hey, c627627 ... I sent you a PM.
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:02 PM   #7
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As PM'sd I would be doing the testing on a Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2TB 64MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive, hoping that the results would also apply to other drives with Advanced Format techonlogy such as Seagate's SmartAllign and Samsung Advanced Format Technology Spinpoint F4 HD204UI.
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:07 PM   #8
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OK. We're talking about a WD WD20EARS 2TB green drive. That disk is an advanced format disk and really has 4096 byte physical sectors, but it does 512 byte emulation (512e). Which means that it reports to the OS that its sectors are 512 bytes in size. That's how all current advanced format drives work (EG Seagate ST2000DL003 & Samsung HD204UI).

The system is a dual boot Win7/XP system. In the posts above c627627 really wants to partition the new drive via a freeware method. It normally would make sense to use Win7 for the partitioning in that situation because it will do the job perfectly with a minimum of effort.

Since the drive is one of WD20EARS / WD15EARS / WD10EARS you have the option of jumpering pins 7+8 (leftmost pins) which will (in effect) bump all the 512 byte logical sectors (LBAs) up by 1. For XP this is the absolutely easiest way to go and WILL WORK PERFECTLY when you use XP to make one large partition. The drive will work great as long as you leave the 7+8 jumper on. You can take the drive to any Windows box (7/Vista/XP/2000/ME/98/95) and cable it up and it will work at 100% efficiency. Many technorati turn up their nose at this "kludgy" option ... but it is simple and works great. The "EURS" and "AARS" 3.5 inch drives from WD have this same jumper option.

But since a freeware method that can be replicated on non-WD drives is desired ...

GParted is an option. I'm sure there are many options. Below a bootable Linux CD is used. There probably is a way to get GParted to run from within Windows XP. I leave it to the reader to figure that option out. (FYI - for the GParted forum surf to gparted-forum dot surf4 dot info)

Any advanced format disk drive can be formatted for any Windows OS using the steps below. Non-advanced format disks could be done the same way.

- surf to sourceforge dot net

- on sourceforge search for GParted and then click on GParted / GNOME Partition Editor

- a page will appear with a download link to the 100+ MB gparted-live-0.7.1-5.iso (in a month the version will change)

- download the ISO and burn it to a CD

- it is safest if the new WD20EARS is the only connected disk drive in the case (recommendation)

- boot the GParted CD on the system with the WD20EARS

- accept all the defaults during the boot process ... just keep pressing Enter

- the 1st default to accept is to choose "GParted Live (default settings)" from the initial menu

- the other choices offered are for ... keymap, language, mode (use X windows) ... just press Enter

- the CD has booted and the GParted utility has started up ... it has a GUI interface

- select your device ... in case you have 2 or more disks connected ... get this one right or you could shoot yourself in the foot BIG TIME

- a WD20EARS that came back from RMA could possibly have a file system on it already

- if so delete that partition ... highlight partition ... partition => delete => edit => apply

- if it is wiped (most likely) then you will need to create a partition table

- if delivered wiped ... device => create partition table (choose msdos) => edit => apply

- if I've missed a move here, well, it's a GUI ... you can figure it out

- CRPTN - select the unallocated portion of the disk (all of it)

- CRPTN - partition => new ... a dialog box appears

- CRPTN - create your partition(s) as NTFS (file sys drop down) ... assign the partition a name

- CRPTN - if you create only 1 partition the above will be the only 2 modifications you need to make

- CRPTN - notice that "align to" is set to MiB ... there's your alignment

- CRPTN - click the add button => edit => apply

- if I've missed a move here, well, it's a GUI ... you can figure it out

- FMT - highlight the partition you just created

- FMT - partition => format to => NTFS => edit => apply

- FMT - the above doesn't seem to give any way to confirm that a "normal" 4 KB cluster size will be used ... check that in Windows XP later

- FMT - ALTERNATE - you could just wait and format the drive later in XP

- CHK - to check that all is well from within GParted ...

- CHK - highlight the partition you created ... right click and choose information

- CHK - If you see that "first sector" is 2048 (or any number divisible by 8) then the partition is aligned.

- CHK - If the first sector is not divisible by 8 then something has gone very wrong. (See Note 1 Below)

- power off the system with the WD20EARS in it ... either "pull the plug" ... or start a terminal window by clicking on the terminal icon and then issue this cmd (no quotes) "sudo shutdown -hP now"

- FMT - ALTERNATE (continued) - boot XP and format the partition

(Note 1) This does not apply to you're test situation, but ... if someone were to jumper 7+8 on the WD EARS, EURS or AARS drives and partition the typical way in XP then a subsequent examination of the partition by GParted would show the first sector of the partition as 63. But actually the first sector would be 64 (because of the jumper) and would be aligned.

You are done!

If you want to test the disk then ...

Unaligned partitions on advanced format disks will only perform at ~50% speed on random 4 KB writes when the total amount of random write exceeds 4 times the amount of cache on the disk drive and no 4 KB write is to the same location. If you can implement such a test yourself then you are pretty good. Maybe one of the disk test suites could do this?

If you want to do a really useful test then here's a suggestion. Gather advanced format disks from WD, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi. Format them in the default way by XP. Do NOT jumper the WD disk. You now have 4 advanced format disks that have unaligned partitions (all start at LBA 63). The firmware on all the disks can handle this situation to a greater or lesser extent. Seagate claims that their firmware handles this situation by far the best and indeed that the performance of their advanced format disks in this situation will be quite close to that of a properly aligned partition. Test the performance of the group of disks while writing 25 KB (tiny Word doc) and 100 MB files.

The writing/rewriting of the 25 KB files should be done in such a way as to ensure that (1) each subsequently rewritten file is in a different track from the previously rewritten file and (2) the disk cache will be overflowed before the rewriting starts. The 25 KB test could be done in a butterfly fashion ... write files 1 - 5000 ... then rewrite 1, then 2000, then 2, then 1999, then 3, then 1998 ... etc. The time to watch is the rewrite time for files 1 through 2000. The cache will have been effectively voided by writing files 2001 through 5000 and you'll also get the effect of jumping from track to track. The controller might take the track jump as a signal to write out the cache.

All the unaligned partition disks should be able to handle the 100 MB file writes reasonably well by simply caching the disk writes and mostly avoiding the read/modify/write penalty of writing to an unaligned partition. If any of the disks give 50% speed performance on that test then that would be HUGE news. A comparison of the speed between the different disks would be interesting and will indicate the skill of the folks producing the firmware.

The random 25 KB file rewrites are a much more difficult test for the unaligned partition disks. On a percentage basis the firmware will not be able use caching nearly as much. Seagate is so confident their disks will perform well that they do not even offer an alignment tool.

Of course, in order to compare the results of the above tests you need to also repartition the above disks in a properly aligned way and then rerun the tests.

properly aligned = start LBA is evenly divisible by 8 [if WD has a jumper then (start LBA+1)/8]
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:54 PM   #9
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I have two of those 2TB WD20EARS drives. I just set the jumper to 7-8 as I am using them in my file server as storage drives. WinXP and one big partition. It doesn't get much easier than that.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:16 PM   #10
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He wants to start a comparative test of drives from more than 1 manufacturer. He's avoiding the use of the jumper because he want to be able to replicate the procedure with any advanced format disk regardless of manufacturer.

If you want a large capacity advanced format disk for the WHS storage pool then a jumpered WD EARS drive is pretty much the only game in town because of the way WHS works.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:36 PM   #11
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Thank you kindly.

Yes, for other brands of Advanced Format drives which use no pins, your post in most helpful detail outlines how to do this for users of single boot Windows XP systems.


Perhaps we could simplify it even further and see if this freeware could be installed directly under Windows XP, then the Advanced Format Drive could be partitioned and/or formatted directly under Windows XP w/o need to reboot into other environments:
http://www.********************/download.htm

I understand that if I then go to this TAB
http://www.overclockers.com/forums/a...1&d=1295277543
and if the First Physical Sector is 2048 - then I would know that the freeware could do it directly under Windows XP, correct?

Last edited by c627627; 01-23-2011 at 07:41 PM.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:40 PM   #12
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I have no personal experience with Easeus Partition Master Home Edition 7.0.1 (freeware). If it does create a partition that starts at sector (LBA) 2048 then that partition is not only aligned, but has its starting point in the exact same place that Win7 & Vista SP1 would put it.

It's very odd. If Easeus Partition Master creates aligned partitions then they are keeping very quiet about it. When I use Google to search their website for any of the terms below I get no hits.

align
aligned
alignment
"advanced format"

It appears that Easeus Partition Master has only just come out with a new edition. I would hope that new tools would create aligned partitions. Experiment, let us know what you find. Create multiple partitions that have unusual sizes. A tool that only creates aligned partitions will put some padding sectors between the unusually sized partitions in order to align the partitions. Check that the starting sector for each partition is divisible by 8.

Again, "if the First Physical Sector is 2048" then the partition IS aligned. Any number divisible by 8 is aligned. Specifically 63 is not aligned ... that's the normal XP first physical sector.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:51 PM   #13
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Thank you again for clear instructions, I will find out after making single and multiple partitions if I get "any number divisible by 8."

If I do, certainly freeware installed directly under Windows XP would be the easiest way to deal with Advanced Format drives for WindowsXP-only users.
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Old 01-24-2011, 02:12 PM   #14
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I have bad news about Easeus Partition Master Home Edition 7.0.1.

I installed and partitioned a drive using that software and it created a partition that started at sector (LBA) 63. That's the normal XP start point for the 1st partition. For most advanced format drives that would be the kiss of death for write performance. An alignment tool would have to be used to get the write performance back to normal. The whole point here was to remove the need for the alignment tool.

Now, I took the defaults that the tool presented to me. There may well be some way to get the tool to create aligned partitions, but it doesn't do it by default. With that tool you cannot simply tell it what sector to use for the start point of the partition. You would have to calculate out an offset in MiB. But, if you have an odd start point (it starts at sector 63) then you just have a frustrating situation.

BTW ... in order to delete a partition that tool required me to reboot my machine. That's a really nasty requirement for such a simple operation. It absolutely refused to do the delete without an immediate reboot controlled by the program. It then further auto-rebooted TWICE during its deletion of the partition after which it brought the OS back up so I could login. That program needs some work ...

The tool, Easeus Partition Master Home Edition 7.0.1, does appear to have some nice features, but correct partitioning of advanced format drives is NOT one of them.

I you have an advanced format drive then I do not recommend using Easeus Partition Master Home Edition 7.0.1. Instead use the GParted procedure above. I guarantee that it will align partitions on advanced format drives properly (and USB flash drives, too). The best procedure would be to use Win7.
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:26 PM   #15
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I inquired with them about why their program does not create a partition that starts at sector (LBA) 2048 so that Advanced Format hard drives can be used at 100% performance efficiency under Windows XP. (since creating aligned partitions is the most important new requirement in the age of Advanced Format technology hard drives.)

I also asked them why a reboot or two are required after deleting a partition when it isn't required when native operating system tools are being used.


If anyone knows of any other freeware program which can be installed under Windows XP, please post, so we can test it. The thread question has been effectively answered for dual boot situations (always use Windows 7 to partition and/or format) and single format situations (follow mrpete's detailed instructions how to do this outside of Windows XP).



Is there any down side for making all new partition software partition and format *all* drives as they would be partitioned and formatted under Windows 7?
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Old 01-28-2011, 01:37 AM   #16
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Hello,

My 2cts. For freeware ideas, I always check http://www.techsupportalert.com/cont...tition-Manager

Paragon was mentioned in this thread. They have a FREE edition of Partition Manager. However, the version comparison chart explicitly states that "Paragon Alignment Tool: aligns partitions according to physical disk sectors" is only for the PRO version. http://www.paragon-software.com/home/pm-express/

Minitool Partition Wizard, http://partitionwizard.com/comparison.html, doesn't seem to offer alignment neither.

"Acronis Trueimage WD edition", available "freely" on the Western Digital site, may be an option for some who need to migrate and copy their disk content anyway.

Thank you for all the info in the thread
Cheers

O.

PS: It is a shame that Western Digital is not more specific about the exact reference of the drives that implement Advanced Format. They simply state that "some drives" in this and that range are concerned...
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Old 01-28-2011, 09:21 PM   #17
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I just received my replacements. I am standing by to test any of the freeware but we know Easeus cannot do it and as you noted the other freeware which can be installed under Windows XP does not have the option we are looking for.

It appears that mrpete's instructions in post #8 is the only freeware option, but they work outside of Windows XP, we don't know of any freeware program which can be installed under Windows XP.


If anyone knows of any, speak now before I fill my drive up, I'm willing to test any suggestions.
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:24 PM   #18
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Hi,

I've quickly read through most of the posts here. I've been using 1 WD10EARS for about 9 months, and I now have another one, and a WD20EARS, and I was just snooping around for the same general information, and ended up at this thread.

I've tried Easeus Partition Manager. I had problems with it with the 2TB drive (I don't know if it had to do with the drive size, but the program hung at 99% of a partition resize -- in any case, I don't think it aligns on a 4K boundary, and I'd recommend not using it.

MiniTool Partition Wizard works well for creating/moving/resizing partitions, but it doesn't align on 4K boundaries (at least the version available today doesn't).

As someone mentioned, only the paid version of Paragon aligns on 4K boundaries.

I haven't tried Gparted (yet). (I have a question for mrpete, if you read this: what makes you think that alignment of MiB would equate to 4K? Did the documentation say that? I don't see how MiB would imply a 4K alignment. Am I missing something? ***edit 6-mar-2011: MiB aligns at MiB -- sector 2048 -- i.e. at 1MB boundary [which, of course, is also a 4KB boundary]. They just throw away the whole first MB. I guess when you get to terabytes, megabytes just don't mean much any more. In 1982, a 5MB hard drive cost $5000; the times, they are a changin'.)

For WD AFD drives, you can download the WD align tool (Acronis), which is very nice, but only works for WD drives. You download the .iso and burn it to disk, then boot from that disk (it's small -- you can do it very quickly). The program has a GUI and is very straightforward and easy to understand. If you don't want to do things outside of the Windows environment (as I think was a goal), you could still use this tool just to quickly confirm that all WD drives and partitions are aligned to 4K boundaries. This tool works well, the UI is clear, and if the drive is fairly empty, it can realign partitions very quickly (as I suppose any utility could -- the issues are the same for everyone, there's no magic fix; if there are files in the partition to be realigned, they will need to be moved -- that can take a lot of time if there are a lot of files; similar to a defrag of a lot of files).

As for the jumper... personally, I go without it. The most important things to know about the jumper are: what exactly it does (which mrpete mentioned above -- the jumper adds 1 to the address of each sector on the disk, a simple fact that for some reason WD makes it very difficult to find), and what are the implications of that when changing something (changing to Windows 7, repartitioning, etc.) If you don't understand exactly what you should do about the jumper when you're going to make a change, don't use the jumper. Even for the simple Windows XP case. (And if you do understand, you don't need the jumper, anyway.)

---------------------
On a subject related to initializing these drives before using them (important if you're thinking about using the jumper solution): there is a substantial difference in performance on these big Western Digital drives between access at the beginning (outer edge) of the drive and the end (inner edge) (which you can see for yourself by running HD Tune or Sandra benchmarks).

I just ran the Sandra Disk Read Performance benchmark on the 2TB drive. From the results:

Performance at position 0%: 128MB/sec
Performance at position 50%: 101MB/sec
Performance at position 100%: 56.5MB/sec

The drive is 100% faster at the beginning of the drive than at the end!

It's been many, many years since I've advocated partitioning hard drives (or done it myself, for that matter) but because of this substantial disparity in performance, I would strongly recommend partitioning the disk into at least 3 partitions:

-- A relatively small partition first (maybe 100GB) for operating system files and large and often used programs.
-- A partition last that is big enough to hold accumulated files that aren't accessed very often (a good rule of thumb would be 1/3 to 1/4 of the drive; this will keep more often used files away from the lowest performing portion of the disk.
-- One or more partitions in the middle.

If you're a newcomer to these big disks, they can take forever to scan, back up or defrag; partitioning them can reduce the time for these tasks and make them more manageable.

I can tell you from experience that it's a lot easier (and faster) to partition and align these drives first, when they're empty, than when they're full.

If you do choose to partition these drives, remember that WD suggests that you not use the jumper solution (I suppose because there's no guarantee that subsequent partitions would be aligned properly, depending on what software was used to create the partitions.)
---------------------

Anyway, there's a lot of really great information about Advanced Format Disks in this thread. I wish I had had all this information when I got my first AFD. Thanks to all.

Last edited by sneakrnet; 03-05-2011 at 11:14 PM. Reason: Added WD disk performance information
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:28 AM   #19
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Good thread. Lots of useful information.

I just picked up a 2TB WD20EARS for use as a big data-only drive (no OS or partitions) on a dual-boot Windows XP/Windows 7 system.

I see a lot of confusing information and different recommendations, but if I understand correctly, the main issue is that Windows XP cannot properly create the partitions (unless jumpered, which has downsides, especially when using the drive in a dual-boot environment with Windows 7).

mrpete suggests that once the partitions are properly aligned, XP can possibly format the partitions without issues. Is that right?

Anyway, for myself, I concluded that the best solution is to partition and format the drive in Windows 7 or with Gparted.

I just formatted with Gparted 0.8.0 running on a BootCD (SystemRescueCD). I wasn't sure about it, but it was a snap and seemed to work just fine. I followed mrpete's guide above, plus I found some notes elsewhere that showed these Gparted settings (specifically for WD20EARS 2TB) for a single partition filling the disk:

Free space preceeding (MiB): 1
New Size (MiB) 1907728
Free space following (MiB): 0
Align to: MiB

And the first sector was 2048, so properly aligned.

I did both partition and format in Gparted, even though mrpete suggested you might only partition in Gparted then format in Windows.

For standard, NON-RAID use I recommend (I could be wrong):
+ partition and format in Windows 7 or Gparted (on many Linux LiveCDs)
+ use the latest version of Gparted (or at least version 0.6+)

Avoid the following:
- don't use the jumper (unless it's only for use in windows XP and will never move - and never remove the jumper once you have data on it)
- don't partition in XP
- try to avoid using the WD, Paragon or Acronis alignment tools. Because it's easier to do it right in the first place with Gparted, and some people have reported problems with these alignment tools.

*** These recommendations are only for using the drive as an individual drive, not as part of a RAID or other array. I'm not running an array, so I didn't make careful notes on the subject, but I did come across mentions that in certain arrays (such as in WHS v1.x) even correctly aligned drives might not work properly. In the case of WHS, I saw recommendations to jumper the drives rather than align them. ***

*** Another potential issue: External enclosures. Doing the initial partition/format of the drive in an external enclosure may be a problem (depending on the enclosure controller). I have seen reports that some drives cannot be properly partioned/formatted inside the enclosure (even with Windows 7 or Gparted). So the choices are: 1) partition and format the drive plugged directly into an internal motherboard SATA port or 2) jumper the drive and format in the enclosure (but then you're stuck with the jumper). If you first format the drive directly connected to your PC, it sounds like it should work inside the enclosure after that (without a jumper). ***

There's really a lot of complicated-sounding and seemingly conflicting info out there, but it's really not that bad if the drive is to be used as a standard, single drive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sneakrnet
It's been many, many years since I've advocated partitioning hard drives (or done it myself, for that matter) but because of this substantial disparity in performance, I would strongly recommend partitioning the disk into at least 3 partitions
That's probably has a good suggestion about dividing the drives into several partitions. Personally, I made one large partition because this is only a data drive in my system and I have some extremely large files (multi-100GB). However, my non-Advanced Format OS drive does have multiple partitions, which is essential for a dual-boot system and helpful for performance and backups.

Last edited by manko; 03-06-2011 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:16 AM   #20
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Thank you mrpete for helping me figure all this out.
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:59 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpete View Post
- CHK - to check that all is well from within GParted ...

- CHK - highlight the partition you created ... right click and choose information

- CHK - If you see that "first sector" is 2048 (or any number divisible by 8) then the partition is aligned.

- CHK - If the first sector is not divisible by 8 then something has gone very wrong. (See Note 1 Below)
When creating (and formatting) two partitions on a WD WD20EARS 2TB Caviar Green drive using GParted, is alignment correct if the "first sector" upon selecting the second partition is any number divisible by 8?

Thanks.
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:46 AM   #22
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Excellent Post of information.
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Old 03-24-2013, 05:55 AM   #23
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Best source of information!!!
After "formatting" with GParted-Win XP still said "needs to format"-but quick format did the trick!
WD Align still shows AVF drives as "not WD ADV drives-but "all drives correctly aligned"...!!!
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Old 03-24-2013, 05:12 PM   #24
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Default XP says needs to format

After using Gparted to format appantly successfully-with first sector 2048, Win XP still says "needs to format"

I have Win 7-so that is best option for me-but I'd like to get the Gparted way to work properly...

Cheers

SRS
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