Archive for Drive Partitioning & Alignment

Paragon Software Survey Results Show That Performance Is the Most Important Consideration in Backup and Recovery Software

Additionally, Over 70 Percent of Respondents Are Still Utilizing Windows 2003 and Nearly 80 Percent Have Windows XP in Their Operating Environments

Disk drive partition misalignmentBy Tom Fedro

Paragon Software conducted a survey last quarter that consisted of both Paragon and non-Paragon customers. Respondents revealed a couple of interesting results: 1) a reluctance to upgrade older operating systems (OSs) with newer software platforms and 2) when considering a backup and recovery software solution, performance is more important than price or support.

Out of 580 respondents,

  • 70.8 percent of respondents are running Windows 2003 in their environment and 79.0 percent of the respondents are running Windows XP in their environment
  • In order of importance when selecting a backup and recovery solution, 77 percent of respondents rated performance as their highest priority (over price and support)

At first, the two do not seem related, but in fact they are. No matter the reason for keeping an older OS in operation (i.e., cost or functionality), system performance may become an issue due to the transition from the 512-byte sector to 4K-byte sector storage standard. As explained in Partition Alignment: Problems, Causes and Solutions written by storage guru Thomas Coughlin, “…older operating systems and utilities can misalign the logical sectors in the host device and the physical data on the HDD sectors resulting in a significant performance degradation…if there is misalignment of the 512 byte logical sectors to the 4K byte physical sectors, it forces the hard disk drive to perform an addition read operation…” Hence, if you use an older OS with a newer 4K disk drive, you will run into performance issues.

Luckily, Paragon Software has an easy solution to correctly align your partitions and eliminate redundant read/writes: the Paragon Alignment Tool (PAT). PAT is a powerful utility that automatically detects if the drive is misaligned and then properly realigns all existing partitions, including boot partitions (and any data they contain) to the 4K-sector boundaries. Additionally, if you are using virtual server technology or have recently upgraded to solid state drives, your partitions may be misaligned.

Without realignment, performance loss can range between 20 and 50 percent, which can cause catastrophic issues during peak times.

 

Fixing Partition Problems

By Tom Fedro

Partition Alignment by Tom FedroThe new Advanced Format, high capacity, 4K hard drives can suffer from a misalignment when a user’s operating system is Windows XP or an earlier version. This phenomenon occurs in both physical and virtual environments, effecting both servers and workstations. Essentially, the misalignment makes the computer perform redundant read/write operations.  In other words, the computer does twice as much work for the same task which obviously makes for slow processing and poor performance.

At Paragon, we developed the Partition Alignment Tool (PAT), which eliminates the misalignment problems in advanced drives by identifying any sector misalignments and then fixing them. The software has the ability to automatically determine if a drive is misaligned.  Its automated realignment of all existing partitions, including the boot partition, can substantially increase performance, sometimes by as much as 300 percent.  Versions of PAT are shipping with a number of high end advanced format drives like those from Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. who selected the Paragon Alignment Tool for use with the Toshiba Advanced Format (AF) hard disk drives. The product is also available from several very large PC manufacturers such as HP and Dell who have licensed the technology from Paragon.  The software not only corrects alignment but ensures, with the data protection elements within the program, that the alignment continues even after an unforeseen power interruption .  The alignment will thus remain in place even if the computer fails to boot.

When you head up a software company like Paragon, it’s always exciting to have the opportunity to see well-established industry giants choose your product.  We’ve been fortunate enough to see our software time and time again in the hands of consumers and businesses that got it pre-installed or shipped along with products from one of the big guys.

If you’re experiencing substantial performance issues and you operate with an older version of Windows, stop by Paragon’s download website for a comprehensive white paper and all the information you need to fix the problem, including a trial version.  Don’t let slow performance continue to hurt your output.  A tiny investment in a simple solution can pay great dividends.

While Transitioning from the 512 to the 4K Storage Standard, Watch for Partition Alignment Issues

By Tom Fedro

Tom Fedro discusses partition misalignment during storage transitionAt Paragon Software, we’re seeing an increase in calls related to partition alignment in the new 4K drives, especially for virtual machines running VMware. During the first six months of 2011, calls associated with partition alignment problems have more than doubled. 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.

At first, a new drive can show huge improvements in processing power; however over time, if there the 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. Paragon recently released an affordable solution for partition alignment, 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.  PAT is a user-friendly software utility that 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.

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.

 

 

Get Aligned

By Tom Fedro

With 4K hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD) gaining popularity due to performance and capacity, making sure that these advanced drives perform optimally in windows environments is key. To ensure the best performance of these drives, it’s important to verify that partitions are all aligned properly and that data can be written and accessed without any issues.

In many cases, however, partition misalignment problems have been identified, resulting in slow write times, inefficient disk operations and poor performance. This is of particular concern for SSDs, where misalignment leads to unnecessary read/write operations and a subsequent reduction in lifespan by as much as one third. Implementation of enterprise virtual environments and the use of different RAID technologies are also susceptible to misalignment.

To address these issues, Paragon has developed a unique technology that can properly realign all existing partitions to 4K sector boundaries. Called Paragon Alignment Tool (PAT), this solution enables next generation HDDs and SDDs to perform as billed.

To find out more about why/how partitions can be misaligned and the resulting problems, visit Paragon-Software.com; for PAT visit Paragon Alignment Tool.