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Windows 7: special HDD formatting

26 Dec 2010   #1

Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1
special HDD formatting

I have switched to win7 64bit and have a serious question. My HD is a 500GB drive with 3 partitions. the first two are used for system restoration, one being 100MB and the other being 16GB. The third partition (C: drive) is what's left. I am wanting to reformat my C: partition to NTFS but using 512 byte sectors instead of 4K clusters. (Just to save as much space as possible, since I can reclaim about 5 or 6 GB by doing this)

I had seen a drive or two give an error about the drive being too large for that size cluster, but that was with a 32 bit system. Since this is 64 bit, it should handle it easily.

I want to know if I am in error on this, and if it is possible, I need to find a 3rd party tool that will let me format the drive to my specs instead of just handing out a default 4K cluster format.

Is this going to work for me? And what tool should I use to do the formatting? Hopefully it's a free tool, since I am only going to be doing this once.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Dec 2010   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

I think Partition Wizard Home Edition will do that. It's free.

Free Download Magic Partition Manager Software - Partition Wizard Online

How to:

I have no idea if you ultimately SHOULD do it or what might go wrong. Back up first, of course.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Dec 2010   #3

Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1

Oh, yes. I definitely have everything backed up. I have multiple restore points and several partition images so everything is safe and sound. If things go wrong, I can be back up and running in about 20 minutes.

And thanks for the information on the tool.

Has anyone else tried this or heard of doing it? I'm just trying to be prepared if something goes wrong with the formatting. Very curious to know if anyone has tried that formatting option yet.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

26 Dec 2010   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Can you do it in Windows 7 Disk Management directly?? I haven't checked.

I'm guessing you can't do this to an existing partition, but maybe you can make an image of your existing partition, save it on Drive X, delete existing partition, make a new partition with Disk Management using 512, and then restore the image from Drive X to this newly created partition with 512k clusters?

Create a New Partition on a Windows 7 Hard Disk | Pc Tips Box

where it says:

Allocation Unit Size Sets the cluster size for the file system. This is the basic unit in which disk space is allocated. The default allocation unit size is based on the size of the volume and, by default, is set dynamically prior to formatting. To override this feature, you can set the allocation unit size to a specific value. If you use many small files, you might want to use a smaller cluster size, such as 512 or 1,024 bytes. With these settings, small files use less disk space.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Dec 2010   #5

Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1

I'm certain it can't be done using the Disk Management. But I am taking a long look at the Partition Wizard mentioned earlier, and it looks like it can do the job "on-the-fly." Unfortunately, it looks like I will have to purchase it to get that particular option. But after reading about all of the features, I think I'm almost willing to actually buy it, since I would be able to use it on other drives when backing up data and restoring it to a healthy drive, etc.

And it's not really that expensive, either. Thanks for the heads-up on that tool!!!!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Dec 2010   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Hold your fire on the purchase at least temporarily.

Hope that others with more knowledge jump in here.

They may have pointers to free versions of apps from other outfits that can do this and are not crippled.


Investigate Paragon Software. They make well-regarded apps for partition diddling and may have the appropriate freebee??
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Dec 2010   #7
Ivan the SoSo

windows 10 pro 64 bit

If you put any data in a cluster all of the cluster is unless all/most of your files are very small you won't save much space...what will happen is you will have more clusters, so the drive slows down...will this be a good trade-off considering the cost of drives?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Dec 2010   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Have you looked at the "demo" version of the Professional version of Partition Wizard???

It may or may not be crippled in some way, but the "features" info says it supports cluster changing, unlike the Home Edition.

"Demo" version may just mean it is crippled only as to time and will work only for 30 days---but is otherwise fully functional??
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Dec 2010   #9

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE

Acronis Disk Director has the ability to change cluster size. I have not used it, but it appears that it can be done on a current partition without starting over. The program is not free, but they do have a demo download, and I "think" that it is fully functional for a limited time:

Hard disk drive management software, partitioning manager and partition recovery utility
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Dec 2010   #10
Odd Job

Windows 7 professional X 64

I cannot see the point in going to all that effort just to gain 5-6 Gb, especially buying software to do it. If space is that tight you will soon fill the 5-6 gained with other stuff. For 45 quid you can get a 1 Tb external drive to store your backups and data on and free up space on your hard drive that way.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 special HDD formatting

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