Over the next few years, the data storage industry will be transitioning the physical format of hard disk drives from 512-byte sectors to 4,096-byte sectors (also known as 4K or 4KB sectors). This transition is driven by several factors. These include increases in storage density and reliability. This transition causes incompatibility issues with existing software (including operating systems and applications).
This article describes the current Microsoft support policy for these new drive types on Windows operating systems. Applications and hardware devices may have reliability and performance issues when they are connected to these new kinds of drives. Contact your application and hardware vendors about their support policies for these new drive types.
There are three drive types that we will discuss here. Because Microsoft support policy differs for each, you should verify the drive type that you have installed before you read any further.
|4K native (4K logical sector size)||Supported on the following operating systems:|
- Windows 8
- Windows Server 2012
|Advanced Format or 512E (4K physical and 512-byte logical sector size)||Supported on the following operating systems:|
*Except for Hyper-V. See the "Application support requirements for large-sector drives" section.
- Windows Vista
- Windows 7
- Windows Server 2008*
- Windows Server 2008 R2*
- Windows Server 2012
- Windows 8
Specific requirements are listed in the following section. Run only applications and hardware that support these drives.
|512-byte native (512-byte physical and logical sector size)||Supported on all platforms.|
To verify the kind of drive that you have, follow these steps:
- Install http://support.microsoft.com/kb/982018.
- Run the following command from elevated command prompt:
Fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo x: (where x: represents the drive that you are checking)
- Use the values for "Bytes Per Sector" and "Bytes per Physical Sector" to determine the kind of drive that you have. To do this, use the following table:
|Bytes Per Sector" value||"Bytes per Physical Sector" value||Drive type|
|512||4096||Advanced Format (also known as 512E)|
Specific requirements for Microsoft support by operating system version
Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
The below list summarizes the new features delivered as part of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 to help improve customer experience with large sector disks. For more detailed description for each item, visit following Web site:
- Builds upon the Windows 7 SP1 support for 4K disks with emulation (512e), and provides full inbox support for disks with 4K sector size without emulation (4K Native). Some supported apps and scenarios include:
- Ability to install Windows to and boot from a 4K sector disk without emulation (4K Native Disk)
- New VHDx file format
- Full Hyper-V support
- Windows backup
- Full support with the NT File System (NTFS)
- Full support with the Resilient File System (ReFS)
- Full support with Storage Spaces
- Full support with Windows Defender
- Inbox application support
Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2
- Install Service Pack 1 (SP1), or install the update that is described in the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
An update that improves the compatibility of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 with Advanced Format Disks is available
- Make sure that the drivers and firmware for your storage controller and other hardware components are updated. Also, make sure that the drives and firmware support large-sector drives.
- Use the updated Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) for SP1 that will be released as part of the updated pieces of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) Supplement for Windows 7 SP1 and of the Windows OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK). Or, embed update 982018 into Windows PE.
To download the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) Supplement for Windows 7 SP1, go to the following Microsoft website:
Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008
- Install the hotfix that is described in the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
A hotfix rollup that improves Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 compatibility with Advanced Format disks
- Make sure that the drivers and firmware for your storage controller and other hardware components are updated. Also, make sure that the drivers and firmware support large-sector drives.
Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP
Any large-sector disks, such as 4K native, 512E, or any non-512 native disks, are not supported by Microsoft on any Windows XP-based version of the operating system. This includes but is not limited to the following:
- Windows Home Server 1.0
- Windows Server 2003
- Windows Server 2003 R2
- Windows XP 64-bit Edition
- Windows XP Embedded
- Windows Small Business Server 2003
- Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2
Many storage vendors shipping 4K disks provide some form of in-drive mitigation for many of the potential performance issues arising from unaligned I/O on unsupported Windows platforms. Contact your application and hardware vendor for their support policies for these kinds of drives in these environments and the type of mitigation present within the drive to support your customer and workload scenarios.
Application support requirements for large-sector drives
In addition to Windows operating system support, administrators and users should make sure that their applications support these large-sector drives. Scenarios and issues to be aware of include performance, reliability, backup, and recovery. Support statements for some Microsoft applications and products include the following:
- Hyper-V: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2515143
- Microsoft SQL Server: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/psssql/archive/2011/01/13/sql-server-new-drives-use-4k-sector-size.aspx
- Windows Home Server v1: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2385637
- Microsoft Exchange Server: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee832792.aspx#Phys
- Third-party applications and hardware: Applications and hardware devices may have reliability and performance issues when they are connected to these new drives. Contact your application and hardware vendors about their support policy for these drives.
Known compatibility issues
The following are known compatibility issues that may occur when you use large-sector drives:
- If your Windows partitions were created using a version of Windows PE (or Windows Setup) based on a Windows codebase prior to Windows Vista SP1 (including Windows Vista RTM and all versions of Windows XP), the default partitions will be unaligned. Therefore, all I/O issued to the volume, even with the hotfixes (if applicable to your platform), will by nature be unaligned. It is recommended that you create the partitions using a Windows PE version based on the Windows Vista SP1 codebase or newer.
- On Windows 7 and on Windows 2008 R2, installation will fail with the error "Windows Setup could not configure Windows on this computer's hardware" if the conditions that are outlined in the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
"Windows Setup could not configure Windows on this computer’s hardware" installation error on a Windows 7-based or a Windows Server 2008 R2-based computer
- If you are using a logical sector drive of a size other than 512 bytes, Windows system image backup and restore operations may fail, and you receive the following error message:
One of the backup files could not be created.
Details: The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error.
Error code: 0x8078002A
- If you create a virtual hard disk (VHD) on a native 4K sector drive by using Disk Management or Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2, the operation fails with an "Incorrect Function" error.
- In Disk Management, the following error message is generated:
Virtual Disk Manager Incorrect function
- In Hyper-V, the following error message is generated when the New Virtual Hard Disk Wizard is used:
The server encountered an error trying to create the virtual hard disk. The system failed to create ‘I:\Disk0.vhd.’ Error Code: Incorrect function.
- In Hyper-V, the following error message is generated when the New Virtual Machine Wizard is used:
The server encountered an error while configuring hard disk on TestVM. The system failed to create 'I:\TestVM\TestVM.vhd.' Error Code: Incorrect function.
- If fsutil.exe continues to display "Bytes Per Physical Sector : <Not Supported>" after you apply the latest storage driver and the required hotfixes, make sure that the following registry path exists:
HKLM\CurrentControlSet\Services\<miniport’s service name>\Parameters\Device\
Value: 1: Enable
If your storage device and operating system are noted as unsupported, Microsoft Support will offer troubleshooting tips if the customer requests them. Microsoft does not guarantee that a resolution will be found for problems that involve unsupported storage devices. If no resolution is found, the cost of investigating the incident is not refunded. If it is not agreed that a solution is not guaranteed, Microsoft Support will not troubleshoot the issue and will refund the cost of investigating the incident.
Microsoft Support will use standard troubleshooting processes to isolate the storage issue. Some typical troubleshooting methods that Microsoft Support will use include the following:
- Consulting the Microsoft Knowledge Base. The Microsoft Knowledge Base is available to customers through Microsoft TechNet and through the following Microsoft website:
- Determining whether the problem can be replicated on supported storage (when this is possible).
Note If the storage is unsupported, there is no hotfix support available. Microsoft Support will be unable to determine whether the problem is caused by a hardware incompatibility or by unwanted software behavior.
If there is no solution to the problem, Microsoft Support may recommend some constructive alternatives. These may include the following:
- Asking the customer to reproduce the problem on a supported storage device
- Asking the customer to work with the storage provider for a solution