How to reformat HDD & SSD to 512B Sector Size

I want to give credit to azev at Serve The Home for this tip, it really saved the day for me.

For those of you who have purchased OEM rebranded HDD or SSD from major storage vendor such as NetApp, EMC, or even HP, you might find out that the drive that you’ve purchased will not initialized in windows. The main reason is that the drive come formatted from the factory with a non standard sector size of 520B or 528B, and windows refused to initialized drive other than the normal 512B or 4Kb. I read online the reason that these drive are formatted that way is due to some proprietary software that these vendor uses needs the additional sector size for some fancy parity stuff.

Anyway, you probably think that you are SOL after trying every possible means to use the drive.
Luckily there is a way to change the drive sector back to 512B. It require that you install centOS linux and follow the instruction below

Look in /var/log/messages after reboot, and you will see useful information:

Mar 9 08:08:54 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:7:0: [sdh] Attached SCSI disk
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: …ready
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Unsupported sector size 520.
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] 0 512-byte logical blocks: (0 B/0 B)
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] 520-byte physical blocks
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Write Protect is off
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Write cache: disabled, read cache: enabled, supports DPO and FUA
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Unsupported sector size 520.
Mar 9 08:08:57 vhc-carthage kernel: sd 6:0:8:0: [sdi] Attached SCSI disk

# yum install sg3_utils

# sg_scan -i
/dev/sg8: scsi6 channel=0 id=7 lun=0
NETAPP X287_S15K5288A15 NA00 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]
/dev/sg9: scsi6 channel=0 id=8 lun=0
NETAPP X287_S15K5288A15 NA00 [rmb=0 cmdq=1 pqual=0 pdev=0x0]

Now you should format the offending drive using the “sg_format” command.
[[email protected] /]# sg_format –format –size=512 /dev/sg8

NETAPP X287_S15K5288A15 NA00 peripheral_type: disk [0x0]
Mode Sense (block descriptor) data, prior to changes:
Number of blocks=573653847 [0x22314357]
Block size=520 [0x208]

A FORMAT will commence in 10 seconds
ALL data on /dev/sg8 will be DESTROYED
Press control-C to abort

It is pretty simple, and after the format is completed, you should have no problem initializing the drive in Windows. However, per Patrick, some drive might require that you’ve bring the drive offline and then online before it would allow you to format it.

Some people argue that the custom firmware on the drive is set to work with sector size 520B or 528B, but during my benchmark, the drive performance was pretty much on par with the normal retail channel.

Hopefully you find this information useful next time you come across a drive with other than 512B sector size.