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Hard drives are about to undergo one of the biggest format shifts in 30 years.
By early 2011 all hard drives will use an "advanced format" that changes how they go about saving the data people store on them.
The move to the advanced format will make it easier for hard drive makers to produce bigger drives that use less power and are more reliable.
However, it might mean problems for Windows XP users who swap an old drive for one using the changed format.
By contrast, Windows 7, Vista, OS X Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard and versions of the Linux kernel released after September 2009 are all 4K aware.
To help Windows XP cope, advanced format drives will be able to pretend they still use sectors 512 bytes in size.
When reading data from a drive this emulation will go unnoticed. However, said Mr Burks, in some situations writing data could hit performance.
In some cases the drive will take two steps to write data rather than one and introduce a delay of about 5 milliseconds.
"All other things being equal you will have a noticeable hard drive reduction in performance," said Mr Burks, adding that, in some circumstances, it could make a drive 10% slower.
If I had written a formatting program, clusters would definitely have been aligned.
Partition 0, hard disk 0
File system: NTFS
Drive letter: C:
Sectors / boot: 8
Sectors / cluster: 8
First: 63 (Cyl 0, Hd 1, Sec 1)
Last: 73725119 (Cyl 4875, Hd 239, Sec 63)
My system would therefore suffer from double sector writes if I would ever replace this disk with a new 4K version without realigning the partition.If you used a sector-copying program to copy to the new hard disk, maybe, but would you really do that - I don't think so.
The main problem is that NTFS is aligned at (virtual) heads and cylinders, not on sectors. My disk reports 63 sectors per cylinder with 240 heads and 5169 cylinders.If this is true, a 4K hard disk would merely have to report 32/64 sectors per track and everything would be fine - problem solved, absolutely no need to change anything in XP whatsoever.