Posted by: kurtsh | June 22, 2011

INFO: Microsoft support policy for large sector drives (with 4K sectors) in Windows

[Note:  4K sector drives are not a new thing however what IS new is that OEMs are starting to ship them in enterprise class systems and unbeknownst to some IT folk, these drives are not supported with older operating systems.]

imageOEMs have started shipping HDDs with 4K sectors. Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, or Windows XP are not supported on HDDs with 4K sectors.  If the HDD you receive has 4K sectors and you install one of these older versions of Windows on it, you will have an unsupported configuration.

For Windows 7 and Windows 2008 Server R2, Microsoft only supports the hardware 512 emulated mode 512e.

Support for Hard Disk Formats based on OS Version

Common Name(s)

Physical sector size

Logical sector size

Windows Version with Support

Legacy 512 Native, 512 Native, Legacy

512 bytes

512 bytes

All Windows versions

Advanced Format, 512-bye Emulation, 512e, 4k/512e

4 KB

512 bytes

Windows 7 with MS KB 982018
Windows 7 SP1
Windows Server 2008 R2 with MS KB 982018
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

4K Native, 4k/4k

4 KB

4 KB

Not supported as of Windows 7 SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. Microsoft is conducting an investigation into the feasibility of supporting these kinds of disks in the future and will issue the necessary KB articles when it is appropriate.


Not 4 KB or 512 bytes.

Not 4 KB or 512 bytes.

Not supported

Microsoft released an update to several SDP Diagnostic Packages adding support to detect Advance Format Disks.

This KB also links to a hotfix that resolves a list of the known issues related with these disks on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Some of the OEMs are using the same part numbers as the HDDs with 512 byte sectors, so please keep that in mind when you are spec’ing out your hardware.


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