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Bunch of Hard Drive Questions

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a b G Storage
September 16, 2009 7:39:07 PM

Hi, I just had a few hard drive questions, becuase I couldn't find any answer after searching all over the internet.

-When windows xp installs itself, it automatically makes the sectors or blocks or clusters or whatever you want to call them on the hard drive 4kb. I was wondering, is there anyway to resize the clusters or install windows with larger clusters like 64kb?

-What are the largest size sector/block/cluster that Windows XP supports?

-What is the largest sector/block/cluster cluster that Windows 7 supports?

-Whats the largest sector size that NTFS supports?

-Please tell me how to resize so that my whole drive is on larger clusters, I dont care if I need to reformat and reinstall my OS or if i can do it without reinstalling, I just want to find a way how to do it.

-Thank you for any instructions on how to do this, because all online ways give undetailed explanations or offer trial applications to do it. Please provide a detailed way of doing this for windows xp and how big i can make my clusters because I heard that 64k was the largest but not sure, please clarify for me.

-If you are curious why i want to do this then here is your answer: I am well aware that sectors are seen as either full or empty and can only fit 1 file so in would be really inefficient because I could lose lots of space on my hard drive, however, I have a 250GB Hard Drive and I currently only a little bit over 30GB. Most of my files are pretty large so I wont lose much space anyway and I have plenty of it to spare, however I heard doing this will increase performance so I want to try and see for myself. And yes I am well aware that compression will be disabled but I never use it so I dont care about that.

-Thank You.
a b G Storage
September 16, 2009 7:56:05 PM

I would get a second drive to put all your large files on. You can format this drive to what you want without worrying about reinstalling windows.

And yes you are correct in the larger files work best with larger cluster sizes where as small files on smaller cluster sizes are better and waste less space.
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September 16, 2009 8:03:49 PM

attach the HDD to another machine and format it to the desired block size. when you install(OS), choose the partition that you created.

but the bigger question is why?(your answer makes no sense to me) it is not wise to try to muck with the c:, it is better to create another partion that meets your needs. most applications are not written to read and write at such large block size. the only reason for making such block sizes would be to house a 1-2 TB SQL database and you don't want to use GPT. (also SQL writes at 4k, Exchange reads at 32k) find out at what block size your application reads and writes at, then tune.

64k is the largest block, this is a function of NTFS. not the OS. we were promised a new file system with vista, but was put to the side as it was rushed.

some times defaults are defaults for a reason.
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a c 415 G Storage
September 16, 2009 8:07:41 PM

To the best of my knowledge there isn't any way to change the default cluster size from within the Windows installation process. The cluster size you'll get is the default for the size of drive you're using. This MS Knowledge Base article shows the default cluster sizes for various sizes of drives.

The maximum cluster size is 64KBytes for any version of Windows.

To Windows installed on a disk with a larger cluster size than the default, I think it might work if you partition and format a disk with an NTFS file system with a large cluster size (doing this within an installed, running Windows system). Once you have the partition set up, boot from the Windows DVD and install it onto that disk, selecting the option which allows you to install it into an existing partition without formatting it.

I agree with the other posters that you're unlikely to see much, if any difference in performance.
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a b G Storage
September 16, 2009 8:22:36 PM

"I agree with the other posters that you're unlikely to see much, if any difference in performance."
^Well lets leave that to me in order to decide :) , I just want to try it out, I am curious person and I really like to experiment with things like these. I am still very young and just trying to learn and see for myself.

-Oh and thanks for the replies, i cannot believe myself I did not think of something so simple like this.
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a c 415 G Storage
September 16, 2009 10:12:25 PM

blackhawk1928 said:
^Well lets leave that to me in order to decide :) , I just want to try it out, I am curious person and I really like to experiment with things like these. I am still very young and just trying to learn and see for myself.
"Curiosity killed the cat". :D 

But seriously, the best way to learn is by trying. Good luck, and let us know what your results are!
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a b G Storage
September 16, 2009 11:02:15 PM

^Thank you, I already have everything back-up so I can just do it whenever I feel like it, most likely on the weekend but maybe today, just gotta get my hard drive out and connect it as slave to my other PC to format it :) 
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a b G Storage
September 17, 2009 1:17:33 AM

Sorry for double post but I was also wondering, do Solid State Drives also have "Sectors" that can be changed in size?
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a b G Storage
September 17, 2009 2:39:16 AM

Check out Highpoint's RAID controllers:

http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA/series_4300.htm
http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA/series_3500.htm


I believe they do permit enlarged clusters
e.g. to allow partitions larger than 2TB under XP x32.

Look for this phrase in their product data sheets:

"64bit LBA support greater than 2TB per volume"

-and-

"64bit LBA for over 2TB partition support"

-and-

"VSS (Variable Sector Size) for over 2TB single volume in 32 bit OS"


There is a Windows RAID Management program which is
described in the RocketRAID 3120 User Manual as follows:

Enable VSS (Variable Sector Size) and MAID (Spindown Idle Disk):

The RR3120 already support both features in BIOS and drivers.

VSS is supported in Windows XP and Win2000 only. If users want over 2TB single
volume in XP or Win2000 they need to use the VSS feature to support it.

Variable Sector Size (VSS) Values

512B - RAID storage is greater than 2 Terabyte
1K - RAID storage is greater than 4 Terabyte
2K - RAID storage is greater than 8 Terabyte
4K - RAID storage is greater than 16 Terabyte


MRFS


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a b G Storage
September 17, 2009 2:54:48 AM

p.s. I would predict that a streaming application
will benefit a lot from an enlarged sector size:
just from years of experience, I can generalize
by saying that sequential I/O is greatly accelerated
by large sector buffering. A very similar efficiency
happens when LAN switches support "Jumbo Frames".


MRFS
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a c 415 G Storage
September 17, 2009 3:51:49 AM

blackhawk1928 said:
Sorry for double post but I was also wondering, do Solid State Drives also have "Sectors" that can be changed in size?
The firmware in an SSD goes to a lot of trouble to map "logical" 512-byte sectors into flash memory pages dynamically so that writes to the same logical sector don't always go to the same physical page. This is known as "wear levelling" and it's important because flash memory devices have a limited number of write cycles before they die.

There's no technical reason one couldn't write the firmware to use a different logical sector size, but I strongly doubt that any manufacturer has actually done it. The industry has pretty much settled on 512 bytes and there seems to be hardly any demand for anything else.
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September 17, 2009 3:38:48 PM

Wouldn't you lose a lot of space, as Windows has thousands of 4KB files?
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a b G Storage
September 17, 2009 7:28:48 PM

amnotanoobie said:
Wouldn't you lose a lot of space, as Windows has thousands of 4KB files?


-Yes you would.
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Best solution

November 9, 2009 10:25:15 PM

The choice of cluster size has an impact on real-world performance, though for most people it is not all that significant. In a nutshell, larger clusters waste more space due to slack but generally provide for slightly better performance because there will be less fragmentation and more of the file will be in consecutive blocks. This occurs because when clusters are larger, fewer of them are needed than when they are small. A 10,000 byte file would require three 4 kiB clusters but only one 16 kiB cluster. This means this file will always be in a contiguous block if stored in a 16 kiB cluster, but could be fragmented if stored in a 4 kiB cluster size partition. The slack tradeoff is a waste of 4 kiB more storage in the case of the 16 kiB clusters, but, this is hardly an issue now with the gargantuan sizes of hard drives nowadays. Small cluster sizes also have a negative effect on partition because they require larger file allocation tables, to manage their much larger numbers of clusters.

Due to this advantage on real world performance of larger cluster size, many have tried to install windows on partitions with cluster sizes larger than 4kb but to no avail. Windows will not allow installing itself on a partition with a cluster size larger than the default allocation size of the NTFS file system... but there is a way around this. Though you cannot use anymore system restore and windows backup, and the installation disk for repairs but who uses them anyway. And who cares when your drive works like RAID.

Five years ago, I have tried for weeks to install Windows XP on a drive formatted with 64KB cluster size with no success. I have searched the net for related articles on how to install Windows on a 64KB cluster size drives or partitions and I found nothing. Okay, let’s cut to the chase, I know you’re itching to do this. Here’s how it works: visit http://windowsinstalllargecluster.blogspot.com/
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a b G Storage
November 17, 2009 1:57:17 AM

Thanks for the answer but I already figured it out, I connected the hard drive to a another computer and used a partition manager to format it into a 64KB clusters and then when i installed windows i chose the option to install into existing partition with no changes to the filesystem. Right now i am running Windows XP on one of my machines with 64KB clusters, it actually gives me a heck of lot less fragmentation and defragmentation is 10x faster. The performance gain is a litle bit, apps open a tiny bit faster but the main thing is less fragmentation. And thanks for the link and info to.
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November 17, 2009 8:33:39 AM

Glad you did it, but you might wanna check where your system files are. If you did as you have stated it is possible that your system files are on another drive with default cluster size and if something happens to that drive then you cannot boot up your OS
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