SSD Storage Demands Proper Partition Alignment

Storage system performance is dependent on many factors, one of which is a properly aligned partitioning scheme. Misaligned partitions cause a significant reduction in the I/O performance of a disk drive through redundant read/write operations and a subsequent reduction in an SSD lifespan by as much as one-third. The introduction of 4K sectors in the latest disk drives creates even more alignment problems for a large proportion of IT administrators. Implementation of enterprise virtual environments and the use of different RAID technologies are also susceptible to misalignment. In most cases, a mismatch between actual physical and logical representations of data causes a significant decay in overall system performance and hardware longevity.

What is Partition Alignment?
A hard drive can be dissected into different sections or partitions for many reasons – such as to segment data or because an operating system typically sits on one partition while applications and files sit on others. These partitions are positioned on the hard drive to optimize the way data is read and written to them. With new hard drives that rely on a different sector base than legacy drives, computers may not be able to recognize this change, effectively reducing the performance of hard drives and in some cases decreasing the lifespan of the drives dramatically.

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Why Misaligned Partitions are a Problem for SSD.

The Misaligned partitions problem is even more important for SSD drives than for traditional hard disk drives. Many modern SSD drives have an internal memory page size 4096 bytes or larger accordingly to 4K size, which are some analogue for 4K sectors. Thus all previously mentioned problems are the same for SSD partitions alignment.

This issue of SSD misalignment was highlighted in a recent OCZ forum where it was stated:

Take note here, partition alignment with SSD is the most important factor you have to deal with when installing your new drive. Tuning the drive’s alignment can add 30 to 50% more performance so failing to apply the correct alignment could ruin the experience you have with the drive.

There is one crucial SSD issue besides file system speed decline (which is not so noticeable in comparison to traditional HDD). It is the SSD memory cells degradation after some amount of write operations. So if partitions on SSD are misaligned beside downgraded system speed you put your solid state drive in danger. After partitions alignment, PAT eliminates all redundant read/write operations and thus provides speed boost and grants the SSD a longer lifetime.

Is SSD alignment an issue for you? Find out here. Continue reading Why Misaligned Partitions are a Problem for SSD.