A Brief Introduction of Advanced Format


The International Disk Drive Equipment Materials Association uses the “Advanced Format” to name a new data structure form. The advanced format technology defines the basic size of all disk sectors. And it also known as 4K Advanced Format.

Advanced Format

Advanced Format can help to greatly increase the storage space. It adopts the latest firmware to perfectly serve the operating system and other facilities. For a long time, the hard disk uses 512 byte sectors to read and store data. With the capacity of hard drive continues to increase, the hard drive manufactures decide to increase the sector capacity up to 4KB to meet demand. This technology utilizes the surface of storage media more effectively by combining data that would have been stored in eight 512-byte sectors into one single sector that is 4096 bytes in length.

Western Digital Corp. said Advanced Format technology can perfectly use the precious storage area on each platter and the storage capacity can be increased by up to 7% to 11 %. For compatibility reasons, WD will divide the 4KB physical sector into eight 512-byte logical sectors. Thus, as long as the partition is correct, there will be no performance problems.

WD Advanced Format drives are designed specially to optimize the Mac and the latest Windows operating system (For example, the new installation of Windows Vista and Windows 7). The Advanced Format technology is used by WD and other hard drive manufactures to improve the efficiency of formatting media to get a large hard rive capacity. After installing operating system and formatting the WD Advanced Format drive, users can run the WD Align software to adjust the partitions on this drive to ensure that it can provide a full performance for some configurations.


4K Advanced Format stipulates that the hard disk sector size is 4096 bytes, which can improve the formatting efficiency. In addition, it also provides the improved error correction capabilities. Here, 1T/3TB per platter hard drive must adopt the “4K Advanced Format” technology.

Manufactures' Situation

Hard drive manufactures launched the “4K Advanced Format” hard drive. But at the beginning of time these drives had many problems since the manufactures had not made a comprehensive study of this technology. What's worse, the manufactures left these matters to customers.

Manufactures' Solution

For the 4K Alignment problems, manufactures widely adopt 512 bytes virtualization. They used the 4K Alignment software. And most manufactures think that the 4K Alignment technology is no longer a problem along with the increased popularity of Windows 7/8. In Windows 7 operating system, the hard disk which cannot accomplish the 4K Alignment task will be marked with“31K-BAD”.

Tip: MiniTool Partition Wizard can be a piece of 4K alignment software and its “Align Partition” feature can do a help.

Seagate: the Seagate Barracuda 3TB hard disk provides the SmartAlign technology to complete 4k alignment without requiring any software. Besides, it will not damage the drive performance. Even partitions are unaligned, SmartAlign technology can help to automatically fix this problem.

Western Digital/HGST/Toshiba: it needs much time to realize the 4K-Alignment via software. And we encourage Windows 7/8 users to use this drive.