tune2fs and green disks

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Hey folks,
old news I’m sure, but if you get tempted into buying the new WD Caviar “Green Power” disks there is something you need to know about them: they fake 512-byte blocksizes while in reality having 4096-byte blocks! The move to 4K blocks is reasonable considering we just busted the 2 terabyte barrier, but the disk firmware is faking 512-byte blocks in the name of compatibility (read: so windows xp won’t shit itself).

Unfortunately, running in bs512 mode makes the disk exactly 3x slower than it should be!
The fix: line up your partitions at 4k boundries, so start partition one at block 64, 1024 or even 2048 (the win7 start block) not the default, 63, in most partitioning software. Start fdisk with the -u parameter and carefully specify the start block. In gparted you’ll have to unhook the “snap to cylinder boundries” checkbox, and then I suppose you could even move a partition to the right block, but expect this to take an inordinate amount of time!

On a related note, fsck’ing an ext filesystem on boot is a drag, and fsck’ing 2TB file systems is a huge drag. Sure you should be running the fsck but it has a nasty tendency to happen on your workstation precisely when you can’t afford the extra 5 minute delay!

I bump the default 10 mounts count to 0 (disabling mount count fscking) and auto-fsck my disks every 99 days, staggered so not all disks get checked on the same day. Do this with the tune2fs command:

wasp:~# tune2fs -c 0 -i 99d /dev/sda1
tune2fs 1.41.12 (17-May-2010)
Setting maximal mount count to -1
Setting interval between checks to 8553600 seconds

out.

PS I recently managed to achieve sustained throughputs of 110MB/s with these WD disks and properly aligned partitions:

7516192768 bytes (7.5 GB) copied, 68.4392 s, 110 MB/s
115+0 records in
114+0 records out

yes that’s disk-to-disk with ext4 and one large file, no fragmentation.

PPS the defaults have nowadays changed to 120 days and 39 mounts, to which I say -1 mounts is better anyway!

edit: Now that your files are aligned, you can specify a block size to mkfs as well, which might avoid unaligned fragments: mkfs.ext4 -b 4096 -L gigantor -O sparse_super /dev/sdb1

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