Data Storage industry is nowadays witnessing the transitioning of the physical format of hard drives from 512-byte sectors to 4,096 byte sectors- commonly called as 4K or 4KB sectors. So, for those who are willing to experiment a bit with 4K hard drives, here’s an update.
It is being practically observed that not all operating systems from Windows support the 4K sector drives. Disc cloning software of Windows 8 and the new OS Windows 10 supports the said technological drives. Windows 7 OS doesn’t support 4K sector hard disk drives.
Technically speaking, hard drives generally store 512 bytes of data per sector. This means, the operating systems will write data in chunks of 512 bytes. For instance, if it is a 3GB file, the OS will divide it by 512 and look for the nearest free space on the HDD. Then it will write the sectors which could not support more than 512 bytes at a time. The issue with such writing is that the disk head should always check for each 512 bytes for error connection. Thus, for every 512 bytes, there would an error connection bit that would tell the operating system that the data was written correctly.
But simultaneously, this process will take up more space on that data drive because essentially it would mean after every 512 bytes, there would be a sector separation bit preceded by an Error Correction (EC) bit. It also results in heavy defragmentation while writing huge files to disk as they would be scattered as 512 bytes’ chunks across different tracks and disks.
Note- Hard Disks are nothing but a system of magnetic disk platters that are placed in a container and divided into tracks and sectors.
Coming to 4K sector hard disks, the physical structure of the hard disks will not change. It would only be that instead of 512 bytes, the operating systems would be dealing with larger chunks of data. It would be reading and writing 4K bytes at a time. This would not only save on time but also decrease fragmentation of files. Also, the hard disk sectors would require EC bits once only for 4KB. That would result in attaining further compact hard drives.
The 4K sector hard disks have been in paper and concept for years. Only that, the operating systems and disk cloning software wouldn’t support them, they were not rolled out for manufacturing.
But Windows 8 and the new Windows 10 OS both have the ability to handle 4KB chunks at a time.
Thus, Windows 8 and Windows 10 will be able to support 4K drives without the need to create logical sectors of 512 bytes.
So, if you bought a reputed branded 4K hard disk drive, you can use it without any problems. You can even use the 4K disk as your primary boot disk as both Windows 10 and Windows 8.1/8 support booting from 4K hard disk drive.
For Windows 7, the operating system will still create logical chunks of 512 bytes and the user will still be able to use the 4K sector hard drives in Windows. But will not enjoy the real motive of what 4K drives bring in.