Brian

The Impact of Misalignment

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Solid state drives (SSDs) are becoming more common place now in desktop and mobile computers. The advantages of these drives are obvious the first time they are used. They are much faster and give a user a much better experience accessing data on their computers. When people upgrade their own hardware and include an SSD to their PC, care must be taken during the data migration process to make sure the new hardware is aligned correctly at a software level so data will be accessed in the most optimal way. IT administrators face a different set of problems with the introduction of 4K sectors. This will be compounded as storage systems increase inside companies and new drives are added.

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An interesting article, but could you please clarify something for me?

The article states that:

"All Windows operating systems before Vista use a factor of 512 bytes to create volume clusters. Thus they place a partition start aligned to 512b sectors and not to 4K sectors. This will cause an issue with anyone using earlier versions of Windows and installing a new hard drive."

Does this mean that versions of Windows from Vista onwards handle the sector alignment automatically and thus this isn't an issue, or are there settings that should/can be changed to optimise performance and/or lifespan?

I don't own a Mac, but I'd imagine there are some Mac people that are considering a SSD upgrade and would also be interested to know if there's any settings that they need to adjust to take full advantage of their SSD.

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Most AF drives, read 4k, come with software to make sure the partitions are aligned. It happens that Paragon makes that software for WD and I'm pretty sure Seagate as well. So if you're an XP user, you definitely need to be running the alignment tool and even if you're Vista or beyond, it's probably not a bad idea.

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Does this mean that versions of Windows from Vista onwards handle the sector alignment automatically and thus this isn't an issue, or are there settings that should/can be changed to optimise performance and/or lifespan?

Vista and later handle sector alignment automatically, that is correct. They were designed with maximum compatibility with large sector drives (e.g. 4K) in mind. They natively support 4K drives and align partitions optimally for large-sector drives without needing any alignment tool.

Windows 2003, XP, and earlier put the first partition on sector 63 (by default, you can get around yourself this without needing any "alignment tool", I've already detailed in the past (many years ago) how you can do this for 16-64K "sector" drives), Vista and later start the partition on sector 2048 IIRC, so it isn't an issue.

I don't know what Macs do, but here's hoping they're not as stupid as a nearly one decade old MS operating system.

Edited by qasdfdsaq

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Vista and later handle sector alignment automatically, that is correct. They were designed with maximum compatibility with large sector drives (e.g. 4K) in mind. They natively support 4K drives and align partitions optimally for large-sector drives without needing any alignment tool.

Does anyone know if this is also the case in GNU-Linux userland?

I vaguely recall reading it's auto-supported, but I need to refresh my memory.

Edited by jedH

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