An increase in industry education is needed while we transition from the 512 to the new 4K storage standard. As more Advanced Format drives enter the market, it will take some time for the operating system, drivers, and applications to catch up with the new technology. So it is not surprising that here at Paragon we’ve seen an increase in calls this past year by IT pros seeking partition management software, specifically, partition alignment tools to aid in aligning their the new 4K drives — especially for virtual machines running VMware. Technical teams have been caught unaware of potential problems due to a lack of 512-to-4K transition awareness in the industry as a whole.
Although some vendors include a partition alignment tool with the new hard drives, there are still instances out in the marketplace that require a third-party partition management software solution.
At first, a new drive can show huge improvements in processing power; however over time, if there the drive’s partitions are not aligned, the system will experience degradation in performance due to the excessive read/write processes associated with the drive alignment problem. When a system’s reduction in performance, especially in servers, starts affecting productivity, the IT team is left scrambling for an explanation. Every IT department can potentially encounter this problem as they upgrade their systems.
Tom Coughlin, founder of Coughlin Associates (www.tomcoughlin.com) and organizer of the storage industry’s annual trade show, Storage Visions, is helping to create awareness with his most recent white paper, Aligning with the Future of Storage. He and Paragon held a recent Webinar as well to help bring more attention to the potential problems. Informationweek is in the forefront of covering the situation as well, spotlighted in Robert Mullins’ July article, “Upgraded Storage Standard Causes Headaches.”
Until the software and operating systems catch up with the new format, we can expect to have partition alignment problems pop up occasionally in the server room.
Paragon recently released an affordable partition alignment tool, the Paragon Alignment Tool (PAT) 3.0. The Paragon Alignment Tool is designed to resolve partition alignment problems associated with virtualization (such as systems running VMware, Hyper-V, or Citrix), 4K Advance Format HDDs, SSDs, RAID, SAN. The user-friendly partition management software will automatically determine if a drive is misaligned, and then properly realign all existing partitions, including boot partitions (and any data they contain) to new 4K sector boundaries. When the data protection settings are optimized for speed, PAT will process over 1GB of data per minute.