4K alignment refers to a new hard drive technology which is called “Advanced Format”. In a traditional hard drive, each sector is 512 bytes by default. But as time goes by, the hard disk capacity is expanded, and sector size is changed to 4096 bytes per sector (also called “4K sector”) from 512B per sector. After NTFS becomes the standard file system on disk, each cluster size is 4096 bytes by default. 4K alignment is also called the alignment of 4K cluster and 4K sector. 4K alignment often refers to align Solid State Drive (SSD) and advanced formatted Hard Disk Drive (HDD).
In Windows 7 and more recent operating systems, the partition is aligned automatically. It aligns hard disk sector to the integer times of 2048 sectors by default, that is to say, 512B * 2048 = 1048576B = 1024KB, is also called “1M alignment”.
In SSD, to consider the compatibility between the disk and operating system, some manufactures still set a 4k sector to be 8*512-byte sectors, so 4K cluster and 4K sector are not aligned.
Just like the above picture, a 4K cluster spans two 4K physical sectors. In other words, if 4K is not aligned, the speed of reading and writing data will be reduced and disk space is wasted. Therefore, it is essential to align 4K for SSD to optimize computer performance.
When creating partitions on SSD in some old versions of operating systems, such as Windows XP and Windows 2000, or when copying system to SSD/HDD, you need to align your partition to achieve SSD optimization.
Before you perform 4K alignment on SSD, you should check whether your partitions are aligned by using AS SSD Benchmark or entering Msinfo32.
1. Right click “Start” menu to select “Run”, then type “msinfo32”.
2. Then you can enter System Information. Go to “Components” > “Storage” > “Disks”. You can see all your partition information. Using the value of “Partition Starting Offset” to divide by 4096, if the result is an integer, it means that 4K is aligned. In the following screenshot, partition 0, 2, 3 are in 4K alignment, but partition 1is not aligned.
If your SSD partition is not 4K aligned, you should align your partition. How to achieve SSD alignment? Don’t worry. MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition is your good assistant. As a partition and disk management software, it can be used to resize/move/extend partition, migrate OS to SSD/HDD, rebuild MBR, recover partition, etc. In addition, it can be used as an alignment tool to align 4K on SSD/HHD for the best computer performance and make full use of disk space. Just do partition alignment as the following steps.
Step 1: First you need to download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition and launch this application.
Step 2: Then go to its main interface. Right click the partition which is not aligned and select “Align” feature. Or click “Align Partition” in “Operations” after selecting a target partition, then start to do SSD 4K alignment.
Step 3: Then you can click “Apply” to perform the operation.
Here is a point you should know:
MiniTool Partition Wizard only allows to align a partition which is in FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS file systems.
With the help of MiniTool Partition Wizard, it is easy for you to do 4K alignment on SSD. In order to optimize your SSD performance and improve your hard disk reading and writing speed, just try this freeware now.