We bought some new PCs in my company with the new iCore 7 and 8GB memory and the following hard disk: WESTERN DIGITAL WD8000AARS 800GB CAVIAR GREEN SATA2

The problem we have is that after installing windows XP64 SP2 the write speed of the hard disk is extremely low!.

The windows system monitor shows that the Average Disk queue length is always at 100% and a winzip extract of 350mb takes about 8min.

Is there any idea on where to start looking for the cause of that?



That drive isn't really compatible with Windows XP as it uses a larger 4K sector size - it should explain the performance problems.

There's a special alignment tool from WD for Advanced Format drives you need to use or set the correct jumper if it's only going to host one partition.

matrice of OS and how to get them to work http://www.wdc.com/en/products/advancedformat/images/WD-Align_chart_r2.jpg

It's really time to upgrade from Windows XP as this kind of workaround from drive makers probably won't be provided in the future.

  • What about Windows Server 2003? It's largely the same codebase as Windows XP, but with an longer planned lifetime, and in an environment where upgrading is harder (servers). How does it handle 4K sectors? – Jay Bazuzi Apr 29 '10 at 17:44
  • Good question, about the expected EoL cycle. Server 2003 doesn't handle 4K sectors, just as the old Windows Home Server doesn't either. They need the align utility or the one partition jumper trick right now and how the future will pan out, well, I have no clue - except for upgrading. I also saw someone saying the utility won't run on 2003 or WHS - if someone want to confirm or deny it, be our guest ^^ – Oskar Duveborn Apr 29 '10 at 18:36

First of all: BIOS. How is the SATA controller configured? And, BTW, is the motherboard BIOS up to date?

Second: drivers. Did you install Intel's chipset and controller drivers?

Third: maybe you actually got a faulty drive; this can help diagnosing it.


I would certainly check to see what the sata mode is in the BIOS - with Linux certainly I have seen night & day performance differences between the modes. It MAY hose your install though - don't do this without a backup first.

I don't think this is one of the 4k blocksize drives, AFAIK they all have "EARS" in the model ID?

Edit: i'm right: http://www.pcper.com/comments.php?nid=8113

  • I think the new 800GB AARS is a 1TB EARS drive with 200GB of sectors disabled: support.wdc.com/product/… – Oskar Duveborn Apr 27 '10 at 11:23
  • I think Oskar is right. I see WD8000AARS listed here: is.gd/bKAFC – Chris Apr 28 '10 at 0:06
  • Ah, apologies - my research inaccurate, I was on a train, and the pages were slow to load, so I only got as far as proving my theory, rather than disproving the other ;) – Tom Newton Apr 30 '10 at 12:52

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