How To's & GuidesUsing Advanced Format Drives with Windows Home Server V1

Using Advanced Format Drives with Windows Home Server V1

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More and more advanced formed drives are on the market, and if you want to use them with your Windows Home Server V1 Microsoft advise you against it. Here we will show you what you can do it safely use them.

What is an Advanced Format Drive?

Advanced Format is a generic term pertaining to any sector format used to store data on the magnetic disks in hard disk drives that exceeds 512 to 520-bytes per sector. Advanced Format is also considered a milestone technology in the history of hard drive storage, where data has been processed in 512 byte increments since the inception of the hard disk drive in 1956. Changing the sector format convention to larger data sectors such as the 4,096-byte structure used in the first generation of Advanced Format technologies, utilizes the storage surface area more efficiently while enabling the integration of stronger error correction algorithms to maintain data integrity at higher storage densities.

Read Tim’s Hard Drives Explained BYOB Supplemnt

I have a WD 2.0TB green drive – the WD20EARS drive that I want to add to my Windows Home Server.

IMG_3711

You can use the WD Align utility or you can do perform some separate steps (which is what we are going to do).

Download WD Align

Using wdidle3

The heads on these drives park after only a few seconds, which over time will shorten the life of your drive, so what you need to do is change this setting to a little over an hour.

WD provide a utility called wdidle3 to do this.

Here is how WD describe it:

This firmware modifies the behavior of the drive to wait longer before positioning the heads in their park position and turning off unnecessary electronics. This utility is designed to upgrade the firmware of the following hard drives: WD1000FYPS-01ZKB0, WD7500AYPS-01ZKB0, WD7501AYPS-01ZKB0.

Download wdidle3

Burn the ISO to a CD, unplug all hard drives from your computer and plug in the WD drive and boot up using the CD. When the tool has loaded just type wdidle3 /d to reset the time. Then just unplug the drive and that’s it.

Here is  a short video showing this in action.

Preparing a WD20EARS drive with wdidle3

Thanks Tim for the video!

Setting the Jumper

You need to set a jump on pins 7 and 8 (as shown below).

IMG_3707IMG_3709IMG_3710

If in the future you want to use the drive with an OS that supports advanced format drives (such as Windows 7 or Windows Home Server 2011) then just remove the jumper, but make sure you have copied your data off first as you will lose your data.

Adding the WD20EARS drive to Windows Home Server V1

Adding the WD20EARS drive to Windows Home Server V1 is no different than adding any other drive.

Put the drive into your WHS, and you will see it on the Server Storage tab as Not Added.

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Click on the drive and then click Add and follow the usual Add a Hard Drive Wizard:

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And now you will see it has been added and available to use.

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Final Thoughts

With these type of advanced format drives available now incredibly cheaply, more and more people are going to use them so if you want to use them in your Windows Home Server V1 you need to perform the above steps. If you are using Windows Home Server 2011 you don’t need to do the jumper setting.

The whole process only takes few minutes and should extend the life of your drive.

Are you using any advanced format drives? Have you had any problems? Let us know….

Andrew Edneyhttps://moviesgamesandtech.com
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks, Andrew (and Tim)

    I am a little confused as to what exactly is required. I also have 2 WD20EARS drives I would like to add to my WHSv1 MSS.

    You mentioned the WDAlign util or other steps…

    Are the “other steps” BOTH the wdidle3 process AND the 7-8 jumper?

    Or.. just the jumper?

    I’m a bit nervous about the “unplug all hard drives from your computer and plug in the WD drive and boot up using the CD” step.

    Thanks.

    • Sorry, I could have made it slightly clearer.

      You could use the WDAlign tool, but you don’t need to.

      The wdidle3 task is to change the “resting” period from about 6 seconds to about 63 minutes – this is designed to increase the life of your drive, so you should do it.

      The jumper setting is to make it compatible with older OS’s – such as WHS V1 (you dont need to do that if you want to use it on WHS 2011 or Windows 7 for example).

      The reason you unplug all the drives from your computer is so that you dont accidently do something to them. That way the tool only sees your WD drive and its simple.

      Hope that clarifys things?

      Andrew

  2. ah yes. Thanks. Will give it a try when time permits. My jumpers are in transit.

    Thanks again.

    • How does WHS 2011 handle have a mix of AF drives and standard drives?

      Can you back up a AF drive to a standard drive? What happens when you try and restore a standard drive a AF drive………..

  3. I recently (last night) attempted to jumper a WD 2t EARS drive. It worked like a charm for about 30 minutes. At that point WHS unmounted the drive from the drive pool. I then tried using the WD align utility and got the identical result – drive gets formated, added to the pool, and then gets dropped. Am i looking at a bad drive or is this simply not going to work for me? I’ve got two more EARS drives enroute and would rather not have to RMA them to Newegg and pay $30 more a drive for EAD drives. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    • I have 2 running in my WHS now and havent had any of the problems you are describing.

      did you do the wdidle3 steps as well as the jumpering? Both are required….

      if you did, then it might be a faulty drive?

      • I think it was a faulty drive. The two new drives showed up, and after thawing them out for a while (30 degrees in Baltimore yesterday), I plugged one in and ran Wdidle3 and then jumpered it and it has been working fine ever since. At this point the drive has lasted longer then the other one did so i’m optimistic. I’m think i’m going to let it run for a week or so before I migrate all of the data onto the 2tb, take out the 1tb drive that is currently part of the drive pool, and put in the second 2tb drive. Thanks for your help.

  4. Thanks for the information. I needed to put an WDC20EARS drive into my WHS V1 server. F.Y.I. The wdidle tool is already on “The Ultimate Boot CD” already, for those that want to download that as a bootle CD. http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

    The drive I had was as well defaulted to 8 sec, but when I disabled it, it reported back that it was disabled, rather than the 3720 seconds. I’m not sure if this exactly what I want though, as I do want it to go idle if I’m not using it. I set it to 300 sec. (5 min.) as tht was the maximum allowed on the timer.

  5. Great article Andy – for the benefit of other readers, to use Advanced Format Drives, we have two options:

    1) Run Wdidle3 + install the jumper, then insert the drive OR
    2) Run add the drive the pool, remove it, then WD align

    It’s important here to note the order of changes:

    • Jumper THEN Add to Pool, or
    • Add to Pool THEN run WD Align

    I ask because Alex Kuretz’s great article here http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2010/12/22/using-advanced-format-hard-drives-with-windows-home-server/ seems to imply that alignment is carried out *after* the drive is added to the pool (ie., you need to remove it to perform the align).

    BTW, the past five days I’ve been attempting to recover my server. I chose a WD10EARX (AFD) for the new Primary drive. Of course I jumpered it first. In discussion with HP Support, they insist that despite jumpering or aligning these disks, they will never be suitable as a primary drive – in fact they go onto say that there is a ‘white paper’ around somewhere on the subject. I can confirm that we’ve so far been unable to install WHS v1 on the WD Advanced Format Drive, despite the good guidance that you’ve provdided, and that HP are categoric that the drives are causing all sorts of problems in WHS v1.

  6. Great article Andy – for the benefit of other readers, to use Advanced Format Drives, we have two options:

    1) Run Wdidle3 + install the jumper, then insert the drive OR
    2) Run add the drive the pool, remove it, then WD align

    It’s important here to note the order of changes:

    • Jumper THEN Add to Pool, or
    • Add to Pool THEN run WD Align

    I ask because Alex Kuretz’s great article here http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2010/12/22/using-advanced-format-hard-drives-with-windows-home-server/ seems to imply that alignment is carried out *after* the drive is added to the pool (ie., you need to remove it to perform the align).

    BTW, the past five days I’ve been attempting to recover my server. I chose a WD10EARX (AFD) for the new Primary drive. Of course I jumpered it first. In discussion with HP Support, they insist that despite jumpering or aligning these disks, they will never be suitable as a primary drive – in fact they go onto say that there is a ‘white paper’ around somewhere on the subject. I can confirm that we’ve so far been unable to install WHS v1 on the WD Advanced Format Drive, despite the good guidance that you’ve provdided, and that HP are categoric that the drives are causing all sorts of problems in WHS v1.

  7. Brilliant article and very informative, however, I am facing the same problem with a Samsung 2Tb F4 (HD204UI).
    I have read numerous forums on adding this drive but am finding myself in a vicious loop (add then align = drive missing or align then add = alignment destroyed).
    Is there a walk-through for this type of drive?
    Possibly add, align and then registry tweaks ?
    Please help, and sorry to hijack this thread but i’m at my wits end, with 1.8Tb of my data stored on an external drive that I use daily and I’m scared to lose it !!!
    Thanks in advance.

  8. Great article for western digital users,but I just bought a Seagat Momentus 500GB 2.5″ internal hard drive. I went to update Windows and an error occurred, Geek Squad told me it was because of the Advanced format drive. The only problem was I wasn’t a tech support member so they told me I had to google advanced format drive and figure it out on my own. I was wondering if the western digital align would work for my seagate or if you, or anyone else, knew the solution. Seagate is to difficult to navigate for a solution

  9. Great artical I have WHS V1 But I have Done all the tricks here and Still does not work, I am using the WD Caviar Green WD20EARX 3.5″ Hard Drive – 2TB, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64MB, 3.5″ I run the wdidle3.exe as shown above and it only turns it off you can not change the park time. It defults to 8 sec or off!! So add the jumper to the 7-8 pins and add it to the pool and it failed every time. If I put it in to any other computer it formats and works great!! Why will it not work in WHS?

  10. I currently have multiple WD20EARS drives in my setup and they have been working flawlessly for over a year. I recently purchased an additional WD20EARS drive to add to the pool, but the new drive that I received does not have the jumpers setting on the label and the only thing I found on the WD web site is to use the WDAlign tool. Does anyone know if the jumper settings are still valid for newer EARS drives?

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