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Appeared on: Thursday, March 11, 2010
Windows XP Could Make Upcoming Hard Disks Work Slower

There has been a lot of talking lately over the impact of hard drive manufacturers transitioning to 4K sectors by January 2011 and it?s impact on users primarily hanging on to Windows XP.

By early 2011 all hard drives will use an "advanced format" that will store data on sectors of 4K, instead of the smaller 521KB sectors used today.

Moving to 4K sectors will allow hard disk makers to offer higher capacities with more usable disk space as well improved data integrity with larger Error Correction (ECC) block sizes.

However, Windows XP is not designed to handle 4K sectors and creates drive partition that are not aligned to the 4K format. Furthermore, many popular HDD imaging utilities result in the same problem ? unaligned drive partitions, even on Vista or Window 7.

Users wanting to stretch their IT dollar by upgrading Windows XP systems will have to rely on 4K emulation software built into the drive. Basically the drive is able to pretend it?s using 512K block sizes. This works great when hard drive partitions are aligned. But if you encounter and unaligned situation (XP or Utility created) your system could suffer a performance hit.

According to the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association (Idema) all hard drive makers have committed to adopting the 4K advanced format by the end of January 2011.


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