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Using Advanced Format hard drives w/o problems with Windows XP - best practices?

Posted on 2011-03-03
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I would like to use AF (advanced format) hard drives (like the Western Digital EARS series or some of the Samsung 1TB/ 2 TB drives - but without the headaches and risks associated with using teh Drive Align tool and possible data loss if improperly repartitioned - in a mixed environment where such drives are routinely used for system (boot) partitions or data partitions under both windows 7, server 2008 and XP Professional.

I read somewhere that if I partition orignally under with windows  7 (SP1)  or server 2008 R2 SP1 then all is taken care of- as long as I do NOT repartition later such drives. Is that correct ?
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Question by:XCLN
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by:tjdabomb
ID: 35033024
what is it that you are specifically trying to accomplish?
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by:XCLN
ID: 35033032
Figuring out whether I can start using AFD drives or if  I should stick with non AFD drives to avoid headaches and risky data loss.
If there is a set of simple rules to make sure all's going to be alright, then fine. Else I'll wait till all my XP systems are upgraded.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 35033057
Vista SP1+ and Win7+ are 4K sector aware and should install properly.  Otherwise, you could experience performance issues with these drives.  I believe AHCI needs to be enabled in BIOS as well.
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by:XCLN
ID: 35033104
keew: thanks - but what happens if i then use these win7+  formatted drives on my older XP systems? will there be any risk of data loss or only negligible (or not) performance hit ?
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Lee W, MVP earned 125 total points
ID: 35033132
Sorry, I just saw a presentation yesterday on this topic, but very little discussion on XP.  In general, I wouldn't use them at all with XP.  I'd also add, according to the person speaking on the topic (someone I'd definitely be inclined to believe knows his stuff), there is a LOT of wrong information out there and if it's not on WD/Seagate/Samsung/Microsoft's web site, I wouldn't take it as fact.
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by:garycase
garycase earned 250 total points
ID: 35033285
"... I read somewhere that if I partition orignally under with windows  7 (SP1)  or server 2008 R2 SP1 then all is taken care of- as long as I do NOT repartition later such drives. Is that correct ?  "  ==>  No.    The OS has to be "sector aware" ... which XP is not.

If you want to use EARS drives with XP, the easiest option is to install a jumper on pins 7 & 8.    Note that Western Digital says this only works correctly if you only have a single partition on the drive -- which may or may not be the case for your intended use.     If not, you'll need to use the more involved drive alignment tools and their associated "... headaches and risks."


WD-Advanced-Format-Jumper.jpg
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by:XCLN
ID: 35033331
leew: thanks - sounds like the safe way to go about it  ..
garycase: yep - problem is I would not use a 1 partition 2 TB drive .. (not into video..)

I fished out the note that got me thinking maybe  i could still play it safe *and* use large 2TB drives with XP as long as I don't repartition after the initial formatiing/ partitioning under Win 7: any specific feedback on that statement??

From Anandtech 's discussion  at http://www.anandtech.com/show/2888/2
"Initialize the new drive and create both partitions with Windows 7, then you do not need to do anything extra. Windows7 will care about all alignments. Then you can install XP into some partition, if you cannot just use "Windows XP mode" inside Windows7.  "
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by:garycase
garycase earned 250 total points
ID: 35033650
Personally, I don't use Advanced Format drives with XP -- but with the appropriate alignment (whether "faked" with the jumpers;  or forced with the drive alignment tool) the drives work fine.

Initializing and partitioning the drives under Windows 7 should indeed result in appropriately aligned partitions.   Re-reading your earlier comment, you're correct as long as you do NOT do any partition restructuring with XP.    But if you're accustomed to setting up multiple partitions on drives, it would be SO easy to forget this and do something in Disk Management that would result in misaligned partitions.

... Note (as I'm sure you know) that there's no "data risk" in using these drives with XP ==> it's simply a performance penalty from using misaligned partitions.
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by:noxcho
noxcho earned 125 total points
ID: 35034491
I do use WD Green AFD disk with both XP and Windows 7 (Dual boot on it). But I had to align the XP partition with Paragon Alignment tool to make it work with XP.
Normally, 4K sector disk emulates 512B sector layer for Windows XP support.
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Author Comment

by:XCLN
ID: 35060302
After a few inconclusive /bad attempts - even Samsung's own Drive Align wouldn't see its 1TB drive under XP SP3 -  and a "formatted" 1TB drive losing its second partition when mounted on a diff XP machine w/unrecoverable errors - I gave up on using AFD with XP.
Thanks all for your feedback
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