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When talking about drives, we notice “512” and “4Kn”. What are they? What is different between 4Kn drives and 512 drives? This article will answer you all.

Part 1: About 512 and 4K

Traditionally, the 512-byte sector is the minimum storage unit of a hard drive. Yet, each sector cannot be fully used for data storage because some codes, such as ECCs and address marks, take up about 65 bytes. The actual usage of a 512-byte sector is not over 90% for data storage.
The increase of data storage capacities goes along with the drive technology. The manufacturers have achieved the transition from 512 bytes to 4K with the technology called “Advanced Format (AF)”. Such sector is eight times of a 512-byte sector with only one set of functional code, which means the great improvement of data storage. The space usage of a 4K drive has been greatly improved and has reached 97% and even more.
4kn drives with advanced format after 512 bytes sector

Part 2: About 512 and 512e

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Traditionally, the hard drive is configured around 512-byte sector boundaries. This default assumption includes a broad range of items, such as BIOS, operating systems and applications. Many manufacturers notice that it will be too sudden if the AF hard drive is introduced to the market directly. To maintain compatibility with computing components, the hard drive suppliers support AF technologies coupled with 512-byte emulation, called as 512e drive. This drive configured with 4K physical sectors but also emulates 512-byte logical sectors so that it can support more old systems and applications.


Logical sector

Physical sector


Part 3: What is 4Kn Drives?

“4Kn” is referred to 4K native, indicated as the original AF hard drive. Unlike the 512e hard drive, it doesn’t emulate 512-byte sectors. That is to say, it is incompatible with some operating systems and applications. Currently, the 4Kn drives still make up small minorities in the market, but it is the future of hard drive technology. Generally, the hard drive suppliers mark the format utilized in the hard drive on the package. You can decide as you need.
advanved format logo4kn drives logo
Though the 512e drives are still predominant in the market, more and more 4Kn hard drives are introduced, such as Seagate ST600NM004, ST600NM008 and ST1000NX0323, TOSHIBA MG04ACA400A and HGST HGS#0F27408.

Part 4: What is 4K Alignment??

As we mentioned above, the sector is the minimum storage unit of a hard drive. Each sector in traditional hard disk is 512 bits while 4Kn and512e drives are 4K. Thereby, 4K alignment becomes the basic requirement for mordern hard drives.
512 drives and 4kn drives
In fact, 4K alignment works between physical sectors and data clusters. If we create partitions on a non-4K-aligned drive, the partition will not start from a physical sector. That is to say, the physical sector is not be placed right with the data cluster, and then the drive has to get access to at least two sectors for data processing, which definitely slows down the drive accessing and wastes the drive space.
In other words, a non-4K-aligned drive should get access to two sectors when data is read and written; while a 4K-aligned drive can only go to only one sector because the minimum sector is right for a data cluster.

Part 5: How to Optimize SSD with 4K Alignment?

Regardless of 512e or 4Kn drives, if you format a drive’s partitions with the built-in tool in Windows 7 or later versions, the drive will be 4K aligned by default. No extra setting should be made. However, if your operating system is an earlier version, you can reinstall a later system, or effectively, achieve 4K alignment with the third-party software.
Defrag a hard drive
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1. Select [Clone] > [System Redeploy] in the main screen.
select system redeploy function in clone
2. Select the disk where the Windows system is installed and the other target disk. Click [Backup] to begin data transfer.
select target disk and desination in system redeploy function in renee becca
3. As it is finished, set the system to boot from the new drive in BIOS. Then the transfer is done!
change the boot order in hard disk in boot configuration in BIOS