Knowledge Base

How to Re-install an Operating System on an Advanced Format Hard Drive for Home Users

Article Summary:This article is an overview of Advanced Format hard drive technology and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

What Is An Advanced Format Hard Drive and How Am I Impacted?

The Hard Disk Drive (HDD) industry is moving towards supporting Advanced Format (AF) 4k sector hard drives to address the current technological limitations with 512-byte sector HDDs and for greater storage capacity.

The transition to Advanced Format HDDs will allow storage devices to more easily adopt larger capacities in both laptops and desktops. While hard drives that transition to 4k sectors will maintain backwards compatibility, current Advanced Format HDDs, also known as 512e HDDs, will emulate 512-byte SATA and will operate at 4k. Currently only Laptop hard drives on systems shipped after August 2010 may included an Advanced Format hard drive.

While the purpose of this transition is to easily achieve more efficient use of hard drive capacities, there is some risk of performance degradation under specific circumstances, especially with Windows XP. Users who have a need or desire to re-install or change the Operating System (OS) need to ensure the new Operating System will support Advanced Format hard drives and take the following steps:

  • Download and Install the Latest Storage Driver for Operating System Reinstallation on a Computer
  • Align the Partition(s) on an Advanced Format Hard Drive

For information on how to reinstall the Windows Operating System and align the partition, refer to:

Refer to the table below (Table 1) for information regarding the Operating System support for Advanced Format hard drives.

Operating System Advanced Format Aware
Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Yes
Microsoft Windows 7 Yes
Microsoft Vista SP1 Yes
Microsoft Vista No
Microsoft XP (all versions) No
Microsoft Windows PE 2.1 or Later Yes
Microsoft Windows PE older versions No

Table 1: Microsoft Operating Systems and their Advanced Format Awareness

For further information regarding Advanced Format byte hard drives, refer to the Dell Knowledge Base article: "Dell Notebook and Desktop System Image Support for Advanced Format Hard Drives" .

Determine if the Hard Disk Drive is Advanced Format or Not

Use Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) driver console to verify whether the drive is Advanced Format or not. The Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver must be revision or later and all the latest updates for the Windows Operating System must be installed from Windows Updates.

  1. Click Start, Programs, Intel, then Intel Rapid Storage Technology.
  2. Click the Manage icon.
  3. Click Advanced and then click the desired drive.
    • If the physical sector size is 4096 bytes, it is a 4K hard drive.
    • If the physical sector size is 512 bytes, it is a regular hard drive.
    • If both the physical sector size and logical sector size are 4096 bytes, the drive is a native 4K drive.

Operating System Reinstallation on a Computer

If the system is using RAID, the Storage drivers must be loaded during the Operating System reinstallation to avoid a Windows Setup could not configure Windows on this computer’s hardware error as defined in Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: '"Windows Setup could not configure Windows on this computer’s hardware" installation error on a Windows 7-based or a Windows Server 2008 R2-based computer'.External Link

To prevent this from occurring, users need a USB key and then need to download the latest Storage drivers.

  1. Click here to enter the Drivers and Downloads page.
  2. Click on Enter a Tag to use your Service Tag to find the driver, then click Go. If the Service Tag is not available, click Select Model, select the Product Family and Product Model, then click Confirm.

  3. Select the Operating System from the Operating System: dropdown box.

  4. Select SATA Drives from the Category: dropdown box.

  5. Click either Intel's RST driver version or later or other SATA Driver in the SATA Drives section for the system.
  6. Review the information on the page and take note of Installation Instructions, and Important Information. Click Download. You may receive a warning and an option to Run or Save the file.
  7. Click Run.
  8. The file will download and Dell wizard for the Serial ATA will appear. Click Continue.
  9. Either click OK to select the default file location or change the file location then click OK.
  10. Once the files have extracted, click Finish.
  11. If RAID is present on the computer and an Operating System reinstallation is going to occur, proceed to the next step. Otherwise, follow the on-screen wizard to complete the installation.
  12. Browse to the location in which the files were extracted. If this was left as the default, click Start, Computer, Local Disk C:, dell, drivers and then the folder name that was created from the install wizard.
  13. Copy all of the files in this folder to the USB key.
  14. Begin the reinstallation as described in Dell Knowledge Base Article: Win 8.1, Win 8, Win 7, and Win Vista

Quick Tips content is self-published by the Dell Support Professionals who resolve issues daily. In order to achieve a speedy publication, Quick Tips may represent only partial solutions or work-arounds that are still in development or pending further proof of successfully resolving an issue. As such Quick Tips have not been reviewed, validated or approved by Dell and should be used with appropriate caution. Dell shall not be liable for any loss, including but not limited to loss of data, loss of profit or loss of revenue, which customers may incur by following any procedure or advice set out in the Quick Tips.

Article ID: SLN289850

Last Date Modified: 04/14/2017 11:38 AM

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