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New Tool: Advanced Format Drives April 29, 2011

Posted by keithga in Troubleshooting, Uncategorized, Windows 7.

Been slacking lately (Working on MDT 2012).

Advanced format drives are coming!


This hasn’t been much of a problem until recently, now that most of the major hard drive manufacturers have started to switch over to full Advanced Format.

When you have an Advanced format drive, you should format with an operating system that can format the drive aligned on the advanced 4k sectors rather than the 512 byte sectors found on older drives.

If  you do not format an “Advanced Format” disk aligned on the 4k sectors, then you may experience performance degradation. Windows 7 SP1 has been updated to address Advanced Format Drives, and WinPE 3.1, contained in WAIK 3.1 has been updated as well.

But how do you know if you need WinPE 3.1?

I have just written a new tool: IsAdvancedFormat.exe, that can detect if there are *any* advanced format drives present on the local machine. It will return errorlevel 0 if there are no advanced format drives, and errorlevel 42 if there *are* advanced format drives.

Source code is included.

Sample Output!

C:\> IsAdvancedFormat.exe
Enumerate all detect all Advanced Format Drives.
Enumerator: IDE Found: Maxtor 6L160M0
  Physical sector size is 512 bytes.
Enumerator: IDE Found: Maxtor 6L160M0
  Physical sector size is 512 bytes.
Enumerator: IDE Found: WDC WD10EADS-11M2B2
  Emulated sector size is 512 bytes.
  Physical sector size is 4096 bytes.
C:\> @echo %ErrorLevel%



Update! (7/24/2011)

It appears that Dell has taken this tool and enhanced it! Their new tool can detect if an Advanced Format drive was partitioned/formatted incorrectly.  Cool Stuff.

Since Dell’s tool is now a superset of my tool, I would recomend theirs first:  http://del.ly/afhdd 

I will continue to provide my tool here as a reference.

Thanks Dell! (and thanks Warren Byle)



1. Nalin Uduwawala - September 5, 2011

Hi Keith,

You have some excellent and pertinent bits of information here on MDT 2010. We TRY to use SCCM at our school but is plagued with numerous snags with the platform ( or lack of understanding the innards or both !).

we used sccm to deploy win 7 to about 900 machines last year and being a school they have to be regularly refreshed due to various user issues. however our refreshes are a hit and miss most times. We want any machines that are being refreshed to be completely Fresh – meaning no retention of user data. I understand that computer refresh scenario using MDT 2010 integrated SCCM platform is something that MS didn’t test thouroughly and is prone to lot of problems ?

So some questions for you if you don’t mind please.
1. How does one figure out the version of MDT 2010 / SCCM that is running ?
2. Does MDT2010 update 1 automatically upgrade all TSs when you install it on an existing mdt 2010 / sccm platform ?
3. How do you debug a TS ? meaning how can you get to the value of TS variables like USMTLOCAL within and during a TS ?
4. I also want to tie various sections of a TS to see which ones take long times so that I can possibly modify the WIM to include them. Is this possible ?

For now I have resorted to deleting the System resource entry in all collections, importing it back in to SCCM using direct method and then running an existing TS against that collection. Since we have to retain the old machine name ( I give it a new name at direct import and the old name( using a vb script) within the TS before Network setings and windows settings). Even this is hit and miss certain times.

I want to get this platform working reliably but I am slowly losing my will to live with all my struggles with it.

I have done the MS SCCM course and it’s doesn’t even scratch the surface of various issues one faces in real life. Worse, you can’t find good knowledgeable SCCM consultants to help out. I know of only two yourself and Mark Arwidmark.
I would be really grateful if you provide some pointers. I can put the effort in to understand and do what is necessary.

Many thanks for all the EXCELLENT information you have posted.

Kind Regards

2. Advanced Format Hard Drives – The “Low-Down” - Chris Nackers Blog - May 17, 2011

[…] Xtreme Consulting: New Tool: Advanced Format Drives […]

3. Les disques Advanced format (AF) sont là : Préparez votre infrastructure ! - Jean-Sébastien DUCHENE Blog's - May 1, 2011

[…] bien des outils mais le plus simple que j’ai trouvé est fourni par Keith Garner : http://deployment.xtremeconsulting.com/2011/04/29/new-tool-advanced-format-drives/ Published 05-01-2011 12:01 by Jean-Sébastien DUCHÊNE Filed under: SCCM, System Center […]

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