How-To Align an Advanced Format (4k sectors) HDD for use with the NMT Apps
|Applicable only for the following:|
|PCH NMT models:||A100/110/B110|
From the December 2010 firmware/apps update the 200 series now correctly align Advanced Format (aka 4k sector) HDD's. If you have a 4k sector HDD in your NMT and installed the NMT Apps prior to the firmware 02-04-101206-21-POP-408-000 (C200) or 02-04-101208-21-POP-411-000 (A200/210) then you will need to reinstall the NMT Apps via a Fresh Install thereby erasing your content but aligning the partitions correctly.
HDD manufacturers are moving to Advanced Format for their new models of HDD. This Advanced Format is a move from 512k to 4KB sectors. There is a good article and guide on this move and how it can lead to as much as a 50% performance hit on Toms Hardware
You only need to consider using this Guide if you have a 4k Sector aka Advanced Format HDD. Presently that means the Samsung F4 and the Western Digital EARS and PVT models. However they will become the norm so you should check your manufacturers website.
You also only need to consider the Guide if you have the NMT Apps installed on your HDD. If you install the NMT Apps to USB or a non Advanced Format HDD then you don't have to worry about alignment.
If you use an Advanced Format HDD solely for storage then if it is NTFS formatted you must ensure that you have used Vista or Windows 7 to do the NTFS formatting. There are manufacturers instructions on how to format with Mac OSX and Linux on their websites.
Things we won’t cover here;
- This method is designed for new drives with no user data or partitions on the drive. We are not trying to correct a loaded drive.
- This works with “Advanced Format” drives up to 2 TB in size. Using a drive larger then 2 TB will render the extra space inaccessible to the user.
A bootable Linux CD. You can use most of the Linux Boot CD's such as:
- GParted ISO - http://sourceforge.net/projects/gparted/files/gparted-live-stable/0.7.0-4/gparted-live-0.7.0-4.iso/download
Use version 0.7.0. or later.
- Parted Magic ISO - https://sourceforge.net/projects/partedmagic/files/partedmagic/Parted%20Magic%205.7/pmagic-5.7.iso/download
We shall use Gparted in this Guide.
- Follow the instruction on how to burn your Linux Boot CD ISO and how to boot using a CD located on the NMT WIKI HERE.
Install the NMT Apps on the HDD
- Install the drive in your NMT and go to Setup -> Maintenance -> NMT setup wizard. It matters not if you use the online or USB method. Installing the apps is best covered in other places.
- After the apps are installed and the unit has rebooted, go to Setup -> NMT Applications and start either, NFS, SAMBA or FTP. Use whatever service is best for you and copy off all files and folders from the user’s data partition to a safe place on computer. I’m not sure if this step is required yet, but best be safe.
- Shutdown the NMT and remove the drive.
Move HDD to PC & Boot using the CD
Now we are going to install the drive in a computer. It would be best if this is the only drive in the computer, so there is no mix up in drive selection. If you leave another HDD connected please make sure you know exactly which HDD is the one you have just connected. I’m going to assume it is the only drive.
- Connect the drive to the computer via SATA or USB. Power up the computer and boot from the ISO. See Starting Up GParted.
- The startup defaults for both ISOs, work for most people. The GParted ISO will start GParted. The Parted Magic ISO requires running the “Partition Editor” icon.
- Now that GParted is running you will have a hard drive “sda” and three or four partitions called “sda1”, “sda2”, “sda3” and maybe “sda4”. The number of partitions depends on the NMT, the drive is being used in. The highest number partition is the “user's data” partition.
- Select and then right click the highest partition number (this will be sda3 or sda4) and select “delete” and then “apply”. Yes, we are deleting this partition. Good thing you don’t have data on this drive yet. This will allow us to align the drive in an hour, rather then a day or days.
Correctly Aligning the Partitions
- So now we have only 2 or 3 partitions with a lot of free space at the end of the drive. We are going to work with each partition. One at a time.
a) Select and then right click your highest numbered partition. This brings up a pull-down and select “resize/move”. This brings up a box and we are going to change the “Free Space Proceeding” from 0 to 2. Click “resize/move” and then “apply”. b) Select the next lower numbered partition and do like #a above but when your setting the “Free Space Proceeding” keep increasing the value until there is no “Free Space Following” c) Proceed as in #b above for any remaining partitions.
- Ok, we have done the first stage and now we are going to put things back but they will be correctly aligned this time.
a) Select and right click your lowest numbered partition (sda1). This brings up a box and we are going to change the “Free Space Proceeding” from it’s current setting to the smallest number (should be 0 or 1) . Click “resize/move” and then apply. b) Do the same with all remaining partitions, working from sda2 up. You don’t want any unallocated space between the partitions.
- Almost done. You should have one large hunk of unallocated space at the end of the drive. We are going to partition and format that space. Select the
“unallocated” area, right click and “new”. This brings up a box. We want the defaults except change the file system to “ext3”. Click “add” and then “apply”. This step will take the longest, of all the steps we've done.
How to Check the Alignment
- The following is not necessary unless you want to check your work.
- Start up a shell. Both disks offer one. Sometimes called a terminal window.
a) At the prompt, type “parted /dev/sda” without the quotes. b) Type “u s” <- change the units to sectors. c) Type “p” <- displays the partition table. d) You should see something like this; Model: ATA WDC WD1001FALS-0 (scsi) Disk /dev/sda: 1953525168s Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B Partition Table: msdos Number Start End Size Type File system Flags 1 2048s 509951s 507904s primary ext3 2 509952s 1523711s 1013760s primary linux-swap(v1) 3 1523712s 1953523711s 1952000000s primary ext3 e) Take each [b]start sector[/b] number and divide by 8. eg.- 1523712/8=190464. '''There should be no remainder''' for any partition. f) Type "q" <- to quit
- Finally shutdown the computer, remove the hard drive and reinstall in the NMT. Start up the NMT.
- That should be just about it. The only thing you might have to do is copy back the files and folders, we copied off to the desktop. I did this on an A-110 and the NMT recreated them for me. No need to copy anything back.
Yes, it looks like a lot of work but it really does not take long. You can't mess anything up because there is no data on the drive. Worst case, you start from the beginning again.
- Thanks to the following NMT Forum members: Nuke12 for developing the Guide and PeterB/BanditRider for assists.
Video Tutorial & Download Link
- Here's a video to show the process in action:
- Download of video HERE.