cam94z28

Why would a cloned, 4k aligned drive be slower than un-aligned?

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I had a Samsung HM250HI(250GB) in my Inspiron 1545. I recently upgraded to a WD Scorpio Black 750GB, a 4k sector drive. I cloned it by doing a windows system image backup from the Samsung. I restored this to the WD Black using a recovery CD.

I then expanded the volume in disk management, from the cloned 250GB size, out to the full 750GB. I ran a few HDTune/HdTach/CrystalDiskMark tests, and was very pleased with the results. 120MB+ Max, and around 95MB/sec average, with a very smooth looking HdTune graph.

I then downloaded the WD Align tool, which said the drive was not aligned. After successfully aligning the drive, I ran the same tests. The HdTune/HdTach tests suddenly had horrible dips, randomly, every 5% or so across the entire test, with a minimum dip down to about 0.3MB/sec. The general feel of windows became slower as well. The same thing actually happened on a Hitachi 5k750 (640GB) that I just RMA'd to newegg because I thought it was defective. Apparently that drive was fine too.

Why would there be such a huge difference in performance after aligning a drive? When I had the Hitachi I even tried a fresh windows 7 install, which would have automatically aligned the drive. Benchmarks were just as horrible out of the box.

FWIW, I tried testing in and out of safe mode, to rule out anything running in the background. Is this something that should be expected with benchmarks on a 4k drive? I would assume there should be a performance increase. I can post example images tomorrow if needed.

Edited by cam94z28

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Usually when cloning 4K drives, I only stick with software that is 4K aware to prevent this type of stuff from happening. Have you tried using a slightly more modern benchmarking application like CrystalDiskMark?

I would try doing the clean install on the WD drive, get your drivers setup, and run another benchmark to make sure things are in order. There will be some stuff running off the bat, but the impact should be minimal.

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Guest russofris

Can you paste the output of an fdisk -l /dev/sdN (where N = the drive in question). This will allow us to see the start sectors of the partitions. A number of things could be occurring, such as the WD tool aligning the "Hidden NTFS WinRE" partition, which bumpped your "NTFS" partition out of alignment.

Snag a live CD (almost any will be fine, I'd grab ubuntu 11.10 so that you are assured a browser and net access). Then run fdisk as described above. Paste the info in this thread.

Example of a toshiba-laptop drive I just rescued:

$ fdisk -l jrescue.img

Disk jrescue.img: 160.0 GB, 160041885696 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 19457 cylinders, total 312581808 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x85a142d8

     Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
jrescue.img1            2048     3074047     1536000   27  Hidden NTFS WinRE
jrescue.img2   *     3074048   297447423   147186688    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
jrescue.img3       297447424   312580095     7566336   17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS

The first partition is aligned.

The second partition is aligned (this is the actual windows partition) 3074048/2048=1501

Frank

Edited by russofris

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Usually when cloning 4K drives, I only stick with software that is 4K aware to prevent this type of stuff from happening. Have you tried using a slightly more modern benchmarking application like CrystalDiskMark?

I would try doing the clean install on the WD drive, get your drivers setup, and run another benchmark to make sure things are in order. There will be some stuff running off the bat, but the impact should be minimal.

Windows 7 is fully 4k aware, if the OS is installed from scratch. CrystalDiskMark gives an overall average. This falls in line with the average score I was seeing in HdTune. It's weird. The first boot after the clone, after extending the volume, I get good test results. After the first reboot, or possibly even after some amount of time, performance goes down the tubes.

Can you paste the output of an fdisk -l /dev/sdN (where N = the drive in question). This will allow us to see the start sectors of the partitions. A number of things could be occurring, such as the WD tool aligning the "Hidden NTFS WinRE" partition, which bumpped your "NTFS" partition out of alignment.

Snag a live CD (almost any will be fine, I'd grab ubuntu 11.10 so that you are assured a browser and net access). Then run fdisk as described above. Paste the info in this thread......

Frank

I am not at my Laptop at the moment. Will get this info for you in a few. I have the Ultimate Boot CD, and Hirens Boot CD. Both of which have a mini linux, and various tools that run in a linux gui environment. The only other thing I can think of is that there is a dell recovery partition (only about 39MB) that is on the 250GB, and getting cloned to the new drive. I wonder if this could misalign the entire drive if it overlaps sector 64. I will look for a tool that clones partitions only, so that I can leave the dell partition out. I tried to align this partition with wd align, and it said "resize impossible", yet it aligned the active system partition while in windows.

Edited by cam94z28

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Windows 7 is fully 4k aware, if the OS is installed from scratch. CrystalDiskMark gives an overall average. This falls in line with the average score I was seeing in HdTune. It's weird. The first boot after the clone, after extending the volume, I get good test results. After the first reboot, or possibly even after some amount of time, performance goes down the tubes.

I am not at my Laptop at the moment. Will get this info for you in a few. I have the Ultimate Boot CD, and Hirens Boot CD. Both of which have a mini linux, and various tools that run in a linux gui environment. The only other thing I can think of is that there is a dell recovery partition (only about 39MB) that is on the 250GB, and getting cloned to the new drive. I wonder if this could misalign the entire drive if it overlaps sector 64. I will look for a tool that clones partitions only, so that I can leave the dell partition out. I tried to align this partition with wd align, and it said "resize impossible", yet it aligned the active system partition while in windows.

Yup about Windows and 4K ;) I was just wondering if you tried that route yet with the new drive, since you only mentioned it with that first one with poor results. I would give it a few days to see if things settle down since there are a lot of "new install" activities that are humming along on a new system (indexing, reporting, etc) that calm down shortly after.

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Yup about Windows and 4K ;) I was just wondering if you tried that route yet with the new drive, since you only mentioned it with that first one with poor results. I would give it a few days to see if things settle down since there are a lot of "new install" activities that are humming along on a new system (indexing, reporting, etc) that calm down shortly after.

Nope, I have not tried a fresh install on the WD Black as of yet. It didn't make a appreciable difference on the Hitachi, which I am now confident is a perfectly fine drive, physically. I always disable indexing, all but critical event logging (useless writes), and several other tweaks on a new install.

Edited by cam94z28

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One suggestion might be watching the performance monitor while the benchmark is running. If the application is using all the bandwidth then great, but if another thing comes up and takes over for a bit that is your culprit.

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I am about to get the other info, but wanted to go ahead and post this. This is after deleting the dell partition from the WD Black. I didn't do anything else, other than aligning the other 2 partitions (14GB system, and 683GB boot). Might just be a fluke, but I'm crossing my fingers. I didn't think it would boot after wiping out the partition, and leaving 40MB unallocated. The second image is the worst result I got, out of about 5 tests. I wish I had a screenshot from before for comparison. The dips went almost to 0.

Are there any cloning programs that can do partition to partition, rather than disk to disk? So that I can select only the system and boot partitions?

To reply to russofris: (this is the aligned wd black, with dell partition deleted)

root@PartedMagic:~# fdisk -l /dev/sda

Disk /dev/sda: 750.2 GB, 750156374016 bytes
16 heads, 63 sectors/track, 1453521 cylinders, total 1465149168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 4096 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 4096 bytes / 4096 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xa2d7bbc9

  Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda2   *       81920    30801919    15360000    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda3        30801920  1465145343   717171712    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT

Doesn't list any hidden partitions

post-75128-0-54069300-1322007685_thumb.j

post-75128-0-38787800-1322008444_thumb.j

Edited by cam94z28

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I actually haven't mailed the hitachi for RMA yet, so I opened the box back up.

Here is fdisk -l of the hitachi, after also wiping the dell partition. Before doing so, under the dell partition it said "Partition 1 does not start on a physical sector boundary." Stupid me just edited my post and overwrote it.

Could this have been causing a problem? Also, the two drives have the exact same start sector for the other partitions. The WD has been aligned, the Hitachi has NOT. What gives?

root@PartedMagic:~# fdisk -l /dev/sda

Disk /dev/sda: 640.1 GB, 640135028736 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 77825 cylinders, total 1250263728 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 4096 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 4096 bytes / 4096 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xa2d7bbc9

  Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda2   *       81920    30801919    15360000    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda3        30801920  1250260991   609729536    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT

Edited by cam94z28

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Guest russofris

Your situation is definitely odd, as the old drive was aligned as well. I'd be really interested to see what the 750 had on it after the imaging was complete, but prior to the resize and re-alignment. The symptom (dropping in performance once per 5-10 seconds) is not evident on the included graph. I imagine that they are averaged out when the graph is scaled.

I do not know what to suggest other than to repeat the process and see if the partitions are already aligned on the 750. Then simply skip the WD alignment.

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Your situation is definitely odd, as the old drive was aligned as well. I'd be really interested to see what the 750 had on it after the imaging was complete, but prior to the resize and re-alignment. The symptom (dropping in performance once per 5-10 seconds) is not evident on the included graph. I imagine that they are averaged out when the graph is scaled.

I do not know what to suggest other than to repeat the process and see if the partitions are already aligned on the 750. Then simply skip the WD alignment.

Those graphs are on the seemingly now fixed wd black. I will try to get a graph of the hitachi (which is still acting up) before I send it back.

The second fdisk -l output is the 640GB Hitachi after align. Sorry for not noting that. It had the same sector counts before aligning, so I'm not sure what, exactly, the Hitachi/WD align programs did. I believe the 750GB also had identical numbers before and after aligning.

For kicks, I am cloning my 1/2 full 1TB desktop drive (Samsung Spinpoint F3) to the hitachi using ghost 4 dos from Hiren's Boot CD. I don't want to mess with the WD unless it starts acting up again. I will run some more tests there, to see if maybe it has something to do with the SATA contoller in my laptop. It's an Intel ICH9M-E/M, so it should be adequate.

Edited by cam94z28

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I just wanted to give an update. The WD Black appears to be working ok now. Windows speed has improved, and benchmarks are smoother. Apparently the Dell partition had something to do with it. Simply deleting it smoothed everything out. I can't say the same for the Hitachi, though.

There is definitely something wrong with the Hitachi. I installed a fresh copy of win7 on it while connected to my Desktop. After the initial install it did it's normal initial startup stuff. Filled up system restore, and installed various things that thrashed the HD pretty badly.

After about 15 minutes of this, it was still too active to attempt a benchmark, so I rebooted. I noticed that the drive was still making heavy read/write/seek noises, even at the POST screen, with the HDD activity light OFF. I went into bios setup and let it idle to see how long it would continue to do this. After 5 or 6 minutes the drive quieted down.

I'm not sure if it has a bad cache Algorithm or what. It's almost like the drive was swapping it's own cache to/from the disk. It wasn't making click-of-death type sounds. But normal activity noises when there was no data being requested from the drive.

Anyway, I wanted to thank everyone for their help. Just for future reference I have attached a graph of the Hitachi.

post-75128-0-55907000-1322089290_thumb.j

Edited by cam94z28

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Guest russofris

I just wanted to give an update. The WD Black appears to be working ok now. Windows speed has improved, and benchmarks are smoother. Apparently the Dell partition had something to do with it. Simply deleting it smoothed everything out. I can't say the same for the Hitachi, though.

I find that a number of OEM automagic alignment tools do a great job of aligning the first/only partition on the disk. It is when you have multiple partitions that they seem to run into trouble. In addition, logical volumes tend to throw them off as well. Heck, logical volumes within a partition throw all of us off from time to time.

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