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Question Sector Size Confusion WD HDD

Mantrid-Drone

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Mar 15, 2014
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I have a 160GB WD HDD I installed as a secondary volume when I built a PC (Win7 Pro 64bit) which is partitioned approximately 40GB and 120GB.

On the first partition I installed WinXP as part of a dual boot set up. The other partition is used for general storage, primarily for the XP system.

Problem is the latter is now almost full so I decided to clone the whole HDD ie. both partitions, to a new 1TB WD HDD.

I formatted that using Windows disk management tools with default settings and partitioned it with a near matching 40GB size (actually slightly larger) for the WinXP partition and the rest for the new, far larger storage volume.

No trouble until I came to use EASEUS (Free) cloning program where it told me it can't clone to a HDD with a different sector size unless I swap to a paid for edition.

I checked using a small utility I have on this PC: DiskCountersView and was surprised to see it did show the main SSD and the other HDDs, internal and external (USB) are all using "512 Bytes Per Sector". Attached flash drives likewise. Even the 1TB Seagate HDD I bought last week for additional external storage and formatted using exactly the same default Windows tools in the same USB external housing is shown as using 512.

Only this new empty 1TB WD HDD was showing both partitions using 4,096 Bytes Per Sector.

This is obviously the cause of the problem but why? Is it a WD HDD thing do they format differently by default?* Is it OK to reformat it to use 512 to match the other drives and allow me to use the cloning tool?

I'd appreciate some explanation and advice.

* I've just checked a couple of other external WD HDDs I have, another 160GB and a 320GB and both those are shown using 512 too. So this new 1TB one is definitely behaving differently.
 
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VirtualLarry

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Sounds like you accidentally bought a "4Kn" SATA drive (server pull / surplus? Get it off of ebay?), HDD, rather than a more-normal "512e" HDD.

I would simply return it, and purchase a proper (consumer, non-server) HDD.

Where did you get a 160GB HDD? Those haven't been mfg'ed for like 15 years or so.

Edit: Even IF the cloning tool had worked, you would have had mysterious problems with your WinXP system and disk corruption, as it does not
(AFAIK?) fully-support 4Kn HDDs.
 
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Mantrid-Drone

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The 160GB one was installed at the same time as the PC was built so that would have been just under six years ago. Probably much older though as I bought the components for the build over about 2 years as I couldn't afford everything I wanted in one go. It was a compromise choice but it was a good one. Its worked perfectly but just proving a bit too small now.

The 1TB WD HDD concerned definitely reports as being brand spanking new, first thing I checked after opening the, what looks like, original factory sealed packing.

The HDD is, again what looks like, a pretty standard WDC WD10EZEX-60WN4A0 bought from Amazon EU. All I know about its origins is that it came via France to the UK, nothing unusual in that though.

If it is a surplus server HDD but still genuinely new just with the 4096 formating as default does that make it at all of a problem? If it can be formatted to use 512 instead surely it would still be good.
 

Insert_Nickname

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May 6, 2012
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Edit: Even IF the cloning tool had worked, you would have had mysterious problems with your WinXP system and disk corruption, as it does not
(AFAIK?) fully-support 4Kn HDDs.
XP doesn't support native 4Kn HDDs at all. Actually, 7 doesn't either. You need 8+ for that. With regular consumer 512e HDD you should make sure it's aligned, or performance will tank.

As far as I can tell the WD10EZEX isn't even an Advanced Format drive. So there really shouldn't be such issues with it.
 
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Mantrid-Drone

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The information I've found suggests than it simply won't be suitable for the purpose intended, cloning a WinXP OS unless 'aligned', because of the difference in reported sector size.

This links to someone who was having a related problem but, if correct, the explanation appears applicable. Whilst a 'normal' consumer level HDD does use 4096 physical sectors the HDD's firmware is reporting it as using 512 logical sectors. This is for compatibility with older OS which don't recognise the "4K" sector format.

So my 1TB WD HDD whilst good for a lot of external storage purposes it could cause performance and other problems if used for purposes other than that. :(

 

Jimminy

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May 19, 2020
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I don't know if this will help, but I have a WD WD10EZEX. I bought it from western digital's online store a little over a year ago. It shows up as having 512 byte sectors.

If you can't send it back or exchange it, then I would be tempted to clean and reformat it using diskpart.
 

VirtualLarry

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I don't know if this will help, but I have a WD WD10EZEX. I bought it from western digital's online store a little over a year ago. It shows up as having 512 byte sectors.

If you can't send it back or exchange it, then I would be tempted to clean and reformat it using diskpart.
That's what I don't get, "sector size" (as seen by the host PC), isn't a function of host partition / filesystem-formatting. It's a function of the drive, and any DCO (drive configuration overlay) set on the drive.

Try connecting it to a SATA port, boot a "live" Linux usb, and follow instructions around the web for "Disabling a DCO on a HDD in Linux", using hdparm and command-line commands. It's a tiny bit non-trivial, but I have a feeling that that, along with a subsequent DISKPART / CLEAN in Windows, following by a filesystem format, will fix the issue.

Unless the drive has been really munged by the reseller, or it's a re-label of another drive, and it's not "really" an EZEX drive.
 
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Mantrid-Drone

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It reports as never having been used ie. 0 days by two different system reporting tools. As said it looked to me like the original factory sealed packaging. Its not a fault or something that can be fixed because it is a firmware and OS support issue.

There's plenty of information out there about "Advanced Format" and 512e HDDs using 4096 physical sectors but with 512 firmware. Having looked at my other HDDs and flash drives they all report as 512 but actually use 4096 sectors. So I guess they're actually the norm now.

It looks like I just bought a 4Kn ie. 4096 native HDD. As the wiki link describes such HDDs have been around since 2014 with Windows 8 onward and Server 2012 (both 2012) both support it. Win7, which I'm using on the PC concerned, doesn't.

Its currently still in the external USB housing and its late here so I'm not minded to get my screwdriver out and check. So I don't know if it has the 4Kn sticker/logo somewhere which would confirm that is what it is.

Not being aware of such matters before today I obviously didn't check when I received it.
 

VirtualLarry

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Its currently still in the external USB housing
Well then, that's something again different entirely.

I thought that you had this connected native SATA.

The USB Bridge chip may be doing sector-size translation.


That ebay listing refers to it as an "RE3", which is a server / enterprise drive.
 
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Mantrid-Drone

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I've taken it out of the external enclosure and there is nothing indicating it is a 4Kn. The model, serial number and other info that I can see does not include "RE3". There is a QR code sticker on the underside but I do not have a QR reader.

I've contacted WD about this, asking if the WDC WD10EZEX-60WN4A0 l bought could be a 4Kn and if not why is it reporting as such ie. faulty?

Also, if it is 4Kn, if there is any solution that can be applied to allow me to use it for the cloning purpose I bought it for.

What you ^ suggest about the USB external housing seems unlikely - all the other three HDDs tested (160GB WD, 320GB WD and 1TB Seagate) were used in the same housing and only this 1TB WD HDD is reporting as 4096 both physical and logical sector size. They all report as 512 despite using 4096, as do all my flash drives and the internal SSD, ITB Seagate and the 160GB WD I wanted to clone.
 
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fzabkar

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Can you retrieve the drive's 512-byte Identify Device information using CrystalDiskInfo? One of the 16-bit words contains the drive's physical sector size. This information comes directly from the drive rather than the USB bridge firmware.
 
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Mantrid-Drone

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Probably but I'm not sure how to do that.

I have CrystalDiskInfo but I can not see anything about sector sizes. I did a bit of research and found you can use CrystalDiscInfo to copy "IDENTITY DEVICE" info to the clipboard. Is that what you mean?

I've had response from WD and they've confirmed the 'Blue' HDD is an Advanced Format type. It is actually marked as AF on the HDD itself so I now know definitely what it is.



 

deustroop

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Dec 12, 2010
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AFAIK all consumer sold system drives are advanced format and all use 512e to translate the efficiency of 4k sectors back into 512 byte sectors. Did WD not advise you on what the issue may be for the drive ? Did WD offer an exchange ?

If the problem remains, then like others have suggested, return the drive for a replacement.
 

Mantrid-Drone

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Mar 15, 2014
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AFAIK all consumer sold system drives are advanced format and all use 512e to translate the efficiency of 4k sectors back into 512 byte sectors. Did WD not advise you on what the issue may be for the drive ? Did WD offer an exchange ?

If the problem remains, then like others have suggested, return the drive for a replacement.
It was a non-specific reply unfortunately, they didn't directly address the matter. They confirmed that all WD Blue HDDs are AF types and seem to be saying there's nothing wrong with it and pointed me at its PDF manual on their web site.

I'm beginning to wonder now if it might be the USB external housing which is involved in it reporting as 4096/4096 unlike my other HDDs including other make 1TB ones and different size WD Blue HDDs too ie. 160GB and 320GB which all report as 512/4096 ie. 512e AF HDDs. I suppose I'm going to have to try it using internal SATA connections just to be certain.

I would never have even known there was a difference, if it was not for the fact I intended to use it for cloning purposes. I've tested it thoroughly with copying and downloading stuff and it appears to work perfectly for that.
 

Mantrid-Drone

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Mar 15, 2014
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I did some testing with the 1TB WD HDD attached via SATA and compared the results with when it was attached via the USB external housing.

It does look as though that is the issue which affects this make of AF HDD (2018) in particular. I don't have any other 1TB WD HDDs marked specifically as AF to compare it with. But the fact is it reports differently depending on how it is attached to the PC.

1TB WD SATA - USB Sector Comparison.png



After it had been mounted in both cases it was only recognised as a RAW volume so had to be reformatted too. I used default Windows NTFS settings.

Any idea why a WD AF HDD would behave like this in a USB housing?

All other HDDs I've tested, most not marked AF, but including the two 1TB Seagate (2020) ones which are clearly marked as AF I bought a few weeks ago all report as 512/4096 in exactly the same external housing.

1TB Seagate AF HDD (USB).png
 

VirtualLarry

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Any idea why a WD AF HDD would behave like this in a USB housing?

All other HDDs I've tested, most not marked AF, but including the two 1TB Seagate (2020) ones which are clearly marked as AF I bought a few weeks ago all report as 512/4096 in exactly the same external housing.
That's actually the expected behavior for a USB external housing that works with XP and does sector translation to 4096 bytes per sector.

It's also pretty normal, for a HDD with data on it, to show up as RAW, when added or removed to/from said enclosure, due to the sector translation applied.
 
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Mantrid-Drone

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As a post script I bought a new Seagate Baracuda 1TB HDD too. Again its marked as AF and unlike the other Seagate's mentioned earlier that behaves exactly like the WD one in the external housing.

It would seem that there is a mix of AF firmware being used by HDD manaufacturers, its not just the external housing involved.

On which subject: it is a bit of a faff connecting up the HDD I originally wanted to clone by SATA. I've not got any spare SATA MB sockets left. So I got to thinking about other solutions: what about an eSATA housing used with a eSATA PCIe card?

Would that behave like it was connected by SATA and 'fool' the AF HDD so it could be used to clone from the 512K WD 160GB, described in the first post in this thread?

EDIT 07 July 2021

Went ahead and bought an eSATA housing but it also has USB 3.0 support so I tried that first.

With the same WDC HDD it reported 'correctly' as 512(e) and I'm not getting the same refusal to clone message either.

It is confirmation that the external housing being used is a factor in these matters but, despite the extra expense, I was right to try using a different one.
The new housing with USB 3.0 as well as eSATA support copies stuff noticeably quicker so I'm not complaining.
 
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