How to reformat HDD & SSD to 512B Sector Size

azev

Active Member
Jan 18, 2013
733
203
43
For those of you who have purchased OEM rebranded HDD or SSD from major storage vendor such as NetApp, EMC, or even HP, you might find out that the drive that you've purchased will not initialized in windows. The main reason is that the drive come formatted from the factory with a non standard sector size of 520B or 528B, and windows refused to initialized drive other than the normal 512B or 4Kb. I read online the reason that these drive are formatted that way is due to some proprietary software that these vendor uses needs the additional sector size for some fancy parity stuff.

Anyway, you probably think that you are SOL after trying every possible means to use the drive.
Luckily there is a way to change the drive sector back to 512B. It require that you install centOS linux and follow the instruction below

Look in /var/log/messages after reboot, and you will see useful information:

Mar 9 08:08:54 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:7:0: [sdh] Attached SCSI disk
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: ...ready
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Unsupported sector size 520.
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] 0 512-byte logical blocks: (0 B/0 B)
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] 520-byte physical blocks
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Write Protect is off
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Write cache: disabled, read cache: enabled, supports DPO and FUA
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Unsupported sector size 520.
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Attached SCSI disk

# yum install sg3_utils

# sg_scan -i
/dev/sg8: scsi6 channel=0 id=7 lun=0
NETAPP X287_S15K5288A15 NA00 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg9: scsi6 channel=0 id=8 lun=0
NETAPP X287_S15K5288A15 NA00 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]

Now you should format the offending drive using the "sg_format" command.
[root@azev /]# sg_format --format --size=512 /dev/sg8

NETAPP X287_S15K5288A15 NA00 peripheral_type: disk [0x0]
Mode Sense (block descriptor) data, prior to changes:
Number of blocks=573653847 [0x22314357]
Block size=520 [0x208]

A FORMAT will commence in 10 seconds
ALL data on /dev/sg8 will be DESTROYED
Press control-C to abort

It is pretty simple, and after the format is completed, you should have no problem initializing the drive in Windows. However, per Patrick, some drive might require that you've bring the drive offline and then online before it would allow you to format it.

Some people argue that the custom firmware on the drive is set to work with sector size 520B or 528B, but during my benchmark, the drive performance was pretty much on par with the normal retail channel.

Hopefully you find this information useful next time you come across a drive with other than 512B sector size.
 

Jeggs101

Well-Known Member
Dec 29, 2010
1,484
222
63
Only 4 likes? This shouldn't be here. It should be on the front page.
 

chinesestunna

Active Member
Jan 23, 2015
516
106
43
53
Quick question just to keep out of trouble, is this like a "low level format" that you can do with some of the older SCSI drives directly from the controller firmware? In that case, the format takes forever and the drive can get bricked if the format is interrupted.

If this is the case we should recommend folks to only perform this on UPS backed up systems
 

azev

Active Member
Jan 18, 2013
733
203
43
hmm my honest answer is I don't know, however though formatting 450Gb 15K HGST drive only take a few minutes. Maybe Patrick can chime in on how long it took him to format the 3par SSD.
I remember having to do low level format in the past especially in good old SCSI days, but haven't had the need for sas or sata drives.
 

chinesestunna

Active Member
Jan 23, 2015
516
106
43
53
hmm my honest answer is I don't know, however though formatting 450Gb 15K HGST drive only take a few minutes. Maybe Patrick can chime in on how long it took him to format the 3par SSD.
I remember having to do low level format in the past especially in good old SCSI days, but haven't had the need for sas or sata drives.
That's my thoughts too, but given you did a 450GB in a few minutes doesn't sound like low level, I remember doing a 18GB and took like 3 hours in low level formatting
 

lmk

Member
Dec 11, 2013
128
20
18
@azev you win.

I decided to test it out for myself and everyone (who is waiting to do it): It works.

I used a 400GB 6Gbps SSD for the test. @chinesestunna It took roughly 16 minutes to perform the full format - so not akin to a normal "quick format".

Again, that was with a SSD, so I can imagine a HDD will take a long time - especially once you enter into the TB(s) size range.
 

alex1002

Member
Apr 9, 2013
518
18
18
Tried 4 different cards
onboard card SAS
LSI 9240
LSI 9260
Dell PERC H310

SAS HDD
Controllers see it as JBOD
 

JSchuricht

Active Member
Apr 4, 2011
163
53
28
Well that kinda worked... 2 of 4 drives are normal again. One I accidentally aborted (wrong keyboard) during the format and the other never started. Now both cannot be seen by either LSI or Marvell controllers.

If anyone has any ideas I am all ears. LSI doesn't even show a drive, Marvell says "pd not ready or unknown device type".
 

R.Zoli

Member
Sep 5, 2015
52
3
8
18
Well that kinda worked... 2 of 4 drives are normal again. One I accidentally aborted (wrong keyboard) during the format and the other never started. Now both cannot be seen by either LSI or Marvell controllers.

If anyone has any ideas I am all ears. LSI doesn't even show a drive, Marvell says "pd not ready or unknown device type".

I have Not the same but similar problem...

I have a HP HITX5541904-A SSD. This is truly a Hitachi HGST HUSSL4040ASS drive. I want to use it with my adaptec 71605 raid controller, but the controller initialize the drive as "not supported currently on this raid card". An LSI 9270 doesn't show the drive and freeze in the raid bios....

What can I do? Use it with a HP Raid controller? Is there any HP raid card what work in a a non HP system? Or can I flash a new firmware to the drive? Has anyone a good idea?