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Cluster Size on my new WHS V1 build


PINKTULIP
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Hi

 

I am expecting delivery today of my new kit list for a new WHS1 I need to build as my old one, has just died (RIP it served me well)

 

I have gone with an Intel H55 mobo with a CoreI3 530 and 4Gb DDR3 1333 Ram

 

I have one Seagate Barracuda 500Gb 7200 drive, and two WD Caviar Green 2TB 64mb 7200 drives

plus a new 24x DVD drive.

 

My old box did all my DVD ripping and streaming, so i am expecting to see a great improvement in performance in that department, but my question is with regard to the cluster size on the drives.

 

I have read and listened to some comments with regard to using a 4K cluster on the drive which has an improved performance when using large files (Video). Does this only apply in a media centre PC where the files are stored locally or will this also help in a Home Server, and if so.....how do i format the drives with a 4K cluster when first building the box?

 

Hope you can help... the courier is on his way and i am itching to get started..

 

Pete

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Here's some stuff to read: http://usingwindowshomeserver.com/2010/08/25/windows-home-server-and-advanced-format-hard-disks/

 

quote "it is critical that you make sure that the drive you are purchasing is not an Advanced Format drive if you are running Windows Home Server v1."

 

it is suggested that you do not use these drives on WHS v1. Vail/Aurora will support the drives.

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The issue here is the drive you bough is an EARS drive and can only be used in the storage pool with a jumper on it if you want to use it. The cluster size for the WHS1 format is controlled by DE and can't be changed. Support for advanced format is not available in WHS 1 but will be supported in Vail.

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Uh Oh!!

 

I went ahead and installed them before i got your eplies, i know i dont expect any sympathy.

 

But thank you very much for your swift answers.

 

The drives did have jumpers which were available to use for advanced format, but out of the box they were set to 'any os'

 

It all seems to be working fine.

 

I will keep you posted.

 

Next time i think i will check with you guys before i go ahead and pull the trigger on a hardware order!!!!

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I have read and listened to some comments with regard to using a 4K cluster on the drive which has an improved performance when using large files (Video).

 

I think there might be a bit of confusion here. There are two different sets of concepts being intertwined. Block/sector size is something set by the disk manufacturer and cannot be changed. The long time standard in the desktop market has always been 512 bytes, but Western Digital and other manufacturers are starting to release drives with a 4K (4096 bytes) sector size. The marketing indicates that this helps them build larger capacity drives that are more efficient. The use of a jumper and/or an align tool (e.g. WD Align) will help to ensure that older OSes like WHSv1 can properly use the new sector size by emulating the old 512 byte standard.

 

Cluster size, on the other hand, is not set at the hardware level, but it is set at the OS level. When formating a drive in Windows, you can specify the cluster size using the "Allocation Unit" dropdown. By default, this is set to 4K. If you troll through the SageTV forums, you'll encounter a lot of chatter about using a 64K cluster size for storing media files. There are even threads on how to change the allocation unit in WHSv1 for better streaming performance. Much of the logic behind this is used in a similar fashion within large enterprises. Systems admins will often tune the cluster size for their large file servers, database servers and the like.

 

The big take-away from all this is you should go ahead and use the drives as-is with all the defaults. If you start to encounter stuttering during video playback, I'd first check to make sure your network is healthy and invest in a good defragmentation utility (PerfectDisk or Diskeeper). Changing the cluster size of your NTFS formatted partitions should be a last resort.

 

If you can, I'd also confirm that you really have an EARS drive (green drives come in two flavors, EADS and EARS). If you do have EARS drives, I'd systematically remove each from them pool, wait for DE to migrate all data off, remove the drive, jumper it, and then re-add it. This will put you in the safest position.

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I think there might be a bit of confusion here. There are two different sets of concepts being intertwined. Block/sector size is something set by the disk manufacturer and cannot be changed...

Well, that sent me off on a 2 hour link following session starting with a wiki about sectors and clusters and somehow ending up at Windows Hardware Developers Central reading about kernel patch protection. It was an interesting journey but I'm not sure I understood a single word. :blink:

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It was an interesting journey but I'm not sure I understood a single word. :blink:

 

Just wait till we start talking about stripe sizes and partition alignment...

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