Jump to content

Welcome to We Got Served Forums
Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. If you already have an account, login here - otherwise create an account for free today!
Photo

Wd Green 2Tb Drives - Should We Use Wd Align?

- - - - -

  • Please log in to reply
508 replies to this topic

#1
teq

teq

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 100 posts
  • Location:Tokyo
Hi all,

I came across a funky B) article on the German c't website about the WD Advanced Format being used in the WD 2TB Green Caviar drives. This format seems to store 4,096 bytes per sector instead of the standard 512. Some information from WD can be found here:

http://www.wdc.com/w...2579-771430.pdf

However, it seems that only Vista and Windows 7 are ready to use this advanced format. For Windows XP (and - I assume - also Windows Server 2003 aka WHS) they recommend using a special tool called WD Align before formatting the drives:

http://www.wdc.com/e...advancedformat/

So my question to everyone out there using WD 2TB Green Caviar drives on their WHS:
  • Have you heard about this? Is this necessary for WHS as well?
  • Have you tried the tool? Did it work? Advantages/disadvantage?
Thanks,
teq

(P.S. Yes, I did a search the forums, but didn't find anything - but if there already was a similar posting on this topic, then sorry for this!)
  • J1mbo likes this


Upgrade to a WGS Supporter Account to remove this ad.

#2
Drashna Jaelre (WGS)

Drashna Jaelre (WGS)

    Tinkerer

  • Lead Moderator
  • 14,509 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Diego, CA, USA
  • Interests:Computers, Home Server (obviously), math, science, good books, friends
Contributor
I've seen a couple reports of these drives not playing well, and this would explain why. And good find.

#3
ShadowVlican

ShadowVlican

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 10 posts
i just hope they update WHS to somehow auto-align 4k sector during partitioning

i don't want the hassle of manually aligning partitions

#4
GaPony

GaPony

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,055 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Columbus, Georgia (USA)
The WD20EADS works just fine without all this additional formatting.. So why bother with the new WD20EARS drive? You don't gain enough performance or storage to be worth the hassle.

#5
J1mbo

J1mbo

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,263 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:UK
Contributor
It's an interesting issue and a great find :)

#6
Headhunter3000

Headhunter3000

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
This article covers the topic and why these drives have problems with Windows 5.x kernels (XP, 2K3, WHS) very well: http://anandtech.com...doc.aspx?i=3691 (2 pages).

As I understand it correct in WHS we could run the alignment tool to realign the partition of such a drive without a problem as the tool does not kill the data, but shifts the whole data on the drive just some bytes to the left (or the right?).

The WDC site (http://www.wdc.com/e...advancedformat/) says: "Your WD Advanced Format hard drive may require you to run the WD Align software utility after you install your operating system or partition and format the drive as a secondary drive." This sounds like we first have to add such a drive to the pool (as it is formatted then) and THEN we have to execute the alignment tool. This should be tested to be confirmed. So If anyone already owns such a drive, it would be nice if he gave a report about this. :-)

Another option for data pool drives could be to set the jumper on pins 7-8 of the drive. This should work for data pool drives as they only have a single partition. But personally I would always go with alignment tool, as the jumper solution is only some kind of hack (XP thinks it's starting its partition on sector 63, but in real it's working on sector 64).

@GaPony: It looks like the EARS models will replace the EADS line. Some stores already only have the EARS drives in stock. So this topic might be more important than we thought. Also other manufacturers will follow soon.

#7
GaPony

GaPony

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,055 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Columbus, Georgia (USA)
My guess is that they are simply making a choice to carry a single model of the WD 2TB drive... or maybe they don't know any better. For me its simple. I won't use the drive on my WHS and all my other PCs either already have Windows 7 or will have it, as soon as I have the energy to install it. They apparently won't have any issues with the newer drives.

As for the WHS box, I'll either order from a vendor who does carry the EADS model, or will use the Samsung F3 2TB drives, which are at least as good as the WDs and maybe better for the WHS specifically, since it appears that the Samsungs run a little cooler than the WDs (comparing several "green" drives from each company, in the 1.5 TB family).
.
.

#8
Headhunter3000

Headhunter3000

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
Well, as ALL hard drive manufacturers will switch to 4KB sectors within the next year we cannot avoid this problem other than by switching to a new home server OS, which I really don't have planned in the near future (who knows when the next WHS version will be released and if I want that version -> hardware requirements???).

But who knows, perhaps MS will issue a fix for WHS that will align the partitions automatically when they are created through the OS. *sigh*

#9
crisscross

crisscross

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
Any luck with anyone using this on WHS? my vendor doesn't seem to have the older version of these drives.

#10
Headhunter3000

Headhunter3000

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
I now have two of the 1,5 TB EARS drives. One as an external server backup drive, one as an internal data pool drive. One drive was easily configured, the other one was very complicated, but one thing at a time:

The use as server backup drive is without problems, as you can create the partition on this kind of drives in another computer, e.g. in a Vista or Windows 7 PC. After this, when you add the drive as system backup drive to the WHS using the WHS console, WHS will NOT create a new partition, but will use the existing partition, which is already aligned and so has full performance. It is also possible to create a (misaligned) partition on the drive using the WHS drive management snap-in, then detach the drive from the WHS PC, attach it to a Vista/Win7 PC and run the WDALIGN tool there to get the partition aligned. After that re-attach the drive to the WHS PC and everything is fine. This is how I did it.

Quite complicated way, you might think. Why not use the WDALIGN tool from within WHS? Simply because WD does not allow you to install the WDALIGN tool on WHS!!! Now, this is an unexpected "pleasure"! Why WD chose this path - I don't know, but I have asked via support (no answer yet). I find it quite a trick, to release this tool only for XP, Vista and Windows 7 and not for Windows 2003 and WHS (where it is needed most and hey, those OS's are still supported by Microsoft, right?). In the current situation, you might say that the EARS drives are not fully supported in Windows Server 2003 and WHS. :(

So as you can not use the WDALIGN tool within WHS, this leads us to the problems with the data pool drive. The process of adding a drive to the data pool is a bit different from adding a server backup drive, as all partitions are wiped from the data pool drive before adding and a new (unaligned) partition is created, that has no drive letter (but exists as directory link under C:\fs\). I tried to use the same tactics as with the server backup drive: Add the drive to the pool, detach it from the WHS PC, attach it to a Vista PC, run WDALIGN and finally put it back into your WHS PC. This lead to a total mess in the WHS console. The console status was critical/red and said that there was a problem with the drive. The new drive had a drive letter(!) and was only "by half" part of the data pool (it was listed under the data pool drives, but its status was "Not added") - very strange! I also was not able to remove the drive from the data pool as the data store size calculation (the data storage size diagram on the right side) never completed. I only got it fixed again, after I detached the drive from the server and then removed it from the pool. So it seems, attaching a drive, that is currently part of a WHS data pool, to another PC is generally never a good idea, if you want to put it back to the pool afterwards! Perhaps some of you have experienced something similar.

So the only possibility to use this drive in the data pool was to set the jumper on pins 7-8. This is ok for data pool drives as they only have one partition, but I would have preferred the use of WDALIGN within WHS.

So finally, as long as WDALIGN does not support WHS, you can say, for a data pool drive use the jumper solution, for a server backup drive you can use the WDALIGN tool from within another PC. I don't know what happens if you use such a drive as system drive and want to align the partitions (there are two, so no jumper solution possible!) in another PC. I guess you will run into problems, as the SYS partition is a boot partition. At the end you might end up with an unbootable WHS server. :-O

But if you have a proper (aligned) partition, the drives are really fast for a green drive (see attached HDTach diagram - running through eSATA on an ICH10R controller).

Attached Thumbnails

  • HDTach_EARS.jpg

  • JeePee and bobbyc like this

#11
crisscross

crisscross

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
Thank you for your very detailed reply headhunter.. looks like I will have to wait for either Microsoft or WD to post a patch.

#12
teq

teq

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 100 posts
  • Location:Tokyo
Hadn't checked this site for a few days due to my vacation - wow, quite a lively discussion going on regarding this topic by now. :) Thanks for all your comments/replies.

@Headhunter3000: Thank you very much for your detailed posting. One question - you mention that "(...) WD does not allow you to install the WDALIGN tool on WHS!"

What do you mean exactly - isn't it possible to install the tool? If so, have you tried running the install program (assuming there is one) in XP compatibility mode? Or are you saying that WD restricts this tool from being installed on WHS?

Thank you very much.

Cheers,

teq

#13
Headhunter3000

Headhunter3000

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
When you try to run the setup, the installer says something like: "Your operating system is not supported." and quits. And to be honest, I didn't try to install the tool in XP compatibility mode, as I found it too risky to try this on my server (the tool restarts your machine and boots into a compatibility mode to execute its task - who knows what happens if this process is cancelled due to some strange reason). But if I had a test server I definitely would try this. Perhaps somebody has such a setup to try this.

#14
Robbidoo

Robbidoo

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
I have signed up just to talk about this very issue. Hello.

I'm in the unfortunate situation of trying to build a WHS with two WD Caviar Green EARS (4k sector) disks.

I was under the impression that I could just get everything installed and then sort the partition alignments out later. From Headhunter's reply it seems this might not be the case.

Here's what I have currently:

A vanilla install of WHS on a 1.5TB 4k sector disk. So the installer has created the 20GB system partition and 1.4TBish data partition.

My next move is going to be to try WDalign, just to see what happens. if the same fate befalls me as HH then so be it, I can just re-install from scratch and try something else.

I do find it odd that there were issues after WDalign was run on a data disk. As far as WHS is concerned, it's just a partition that it's mounting and overlaying VSS and the clever tombstoning on top of... right? All I can think of is that it's hashing something to do with the partition table as means of identifying the disk itself, in case a user were to pull the wrong disk by mistake? Us re-aligning the partition is changing this hash and it's getting all confused. I know this is all speculation but in the absence of an MSFT WHS engineer I just want to start some discussion about why this didn't work for HH.

There isn't a lot of chatter on the internet about this issue as pertains to WHS so I really implore anyone who has this issue or has dealt with it to please register and post!

#15
Headhunter3000

Headhunter3000

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
I think the problem is not with WDAlign, but with the drive letter assignment when reinstalling the drive in to the WHS case.

As you are doing a clean install I suggest that you first try to install/run the WDALIGN tool on your WHS in Windows XP compatibility mode as teq proposed earlier.

If that fails you could try the following (always with the risk of having to reinstall from scratch if anything fails!):

Set a jumper on one of the two drives - namely on the drive that you want to use as data pool drive - as instructed on the WD website. Then install WHS to the "not-jumpered" drive, the jumpered drive will be used as data pool drive.

The data pool drive will already be aligned as it is "jumpered".

The system drive however will not be aligned. So you must put this drive into a Vista/Win7 PC and run WDALIGN there. This could be problematic as the drive has an active bootable partition, so you have to check that the Vista/Win 7 PC will not boot from that drive!

After aligning the drive put it back into your WHS case and start your engines! This could work, as both partitions (C: and D:) have a drive letter in WHS (the data pool drive did not have a drive letter and made problems).

#16
Robbidoo

Robbidoo

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
I thought about doing the jumper method that you describe, but the table on the Anandtech article http://anandtech.com...aspx?i=3691&p=2 put me off.

It specifically states that you need to use WDAlign if you're doing a clean install with more than one partition...

I'm not sure why this is exactly, perhaps every partition is continually misaligned. I will try everything I can to get WDAlign to work and then report back. :)

Edit: Oh actually it does say why you can't:

If multiple partitions are being used, then this offset (the jumper) cannot be used as it can negatively impact the later partitions. The offset can also not be removed without repartitioning the drive, as the removal of the offset would break the partition table.



#17
Headhunter3000

Headhunter3000

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
The jumper solution is only suitable for drives with one single partition on it, e.g. data pool drives in WHS (they are completely managed by WHS to only have a single partition). The system drive must NOT use the jumper solution. If you used the jumper solution, the first partition would be aligned (as it always starts at LBA 63), but the second partition would most likely be unaligned, as you can not predict, where that second partiton would start.

So: jumper solution ONLY for your second drive (the data pool drive)!

#18
speedboxx

speedboxx

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 49 posts
So does this mean you cant do a straight up Acronis or XXClone from an old EADS hard drive to the newer EARS? Im still unfamiliar with this new advanced format concept.

#19
Headhunter3000

Headhunter3000

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
After restoring a clone you have to run WDALIGN as the current releases of Acronis & Co. might not set the partition begin to a 4K sector.

All this would not be so complicated, if WDALIGN could be installed under WHS, but WD does not want that. My support ticket (I created one over two weeks ago) is still not answered yet. WD simply doesn't care. :-(

#20
speedboxx

speedboxx

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 49 posts
Ive found that WD takes forever to respond to emails. Maybe give them a call. Let us know if you get a response from them in regards to using these as system drives.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Upgrade to a WGS Supporter Account to remove this ad.