The current hard drives formatted with 512-byte sectors will go out of circulation. Starting this first quarter of 2010 the new format will be the "4k advanced format" which was launched late last year by Western Digital.
The whole industry is supportive of this transition due to several advantages over the old format such as, enhanced data protection and increased data reliability, greater efficiency because of more space for additional data and increased performance.
A sector is the basic unit of data storage on a hard disk and for several decades the 512-byte sector has been the standard. With this new replacement the 4k (4096 bytes) advanced format poses a challenge for older operating systems particularly Windows-based operating systems.
Hardly hit by this transition is Windows XP and the computing public in general. Windows XP has been the most popular operating system in used for more than a decade and while Microsoft has announced the retirement of Windows XP as early as 2008, still a lot of users are reluctant to change to a new one. With the failed promises brought about by Windows Vista end users seemed to have enough of it. Windows 7 has its share of bad reports and reviews as well. Being a new kid on the block it is always expected until all issues and problems have been threshed out by subsequent releases and versions.
So how would an unknowing end user do about it without compromising the promises of the advanced format and still be able to use old reliable operating system such Windows XP?
Western Digital had announced the new drives are optimized with Windows 7, Windows Vista, MAC OS X Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard which follow a standard procedure. For older operating systems such as Windows XP, and for users using cloned software, users must run an Align utility to achieve the full performance of the drive, we termed this as the emulation mode.
Should an end users ran out of old hard disk with 512 format, the only remedy is to switch to a new operating system, buy a new PC with Windows 7 which automatically installed with the 4k advanced format in it.