New WD20EARS in 2TB Elements enclosure: FORMAT ISSUES


I bought a WD20EARS Advanced Format HD from Dell. I got an empty WD Elements 2TB enclosure from a guy who’d removed his WD 2TB HD. I placed my new unformatted WD20EARS in the Elements enclosure (no jumper across 7-8) and attached it to one of my Lenovo T60 Windows XP Pro laptops and formatted it in the Disk Management utility using 4096kb allocation units, single partition. This was proceeding evidently normally at a pace that would conclude after about 5 hours but the process seemed to stall quite a bit around 67%. It wound up taking ~7 hours. I then started WD Align (I thought I had to do this to optimize usage with XP). After 3-4 minutes or so an error message popped up saying “BAD BLOCKS” and the process halted. I ran LifeGuard for Windows Extended Test and got the message “Too many bad sectors.”

I RMAed the drive and got another. I formatted the drive in the same way I formatted the first one and instead of running WD Align, I went straight to LifeGuard for Windows Extended Test. Again, the message was “Too many bad sectors.” and I RMAed that drive as well. This time I decided to use my Windows 7 64bit Ultimate Lenovo T61 laptop to format the drive. I’d read some information about Advanced Format HDs doing better with Vista and Windows 7. This time the format process instead of projecting out to an approximate 5 hour process, looked to be about 5 times as long, i.e. over 24 hours! The Windows 7 Disk Management utility looked exactly as it did in Windows XP Professional and I ran the process exactly as I had using the XP Pro machine, using 4096kb allocation units. Why did it take 5 times as long (25 hours)? Well, after the format completed I ran WD LifeGuard for  Windows Extended Test on the external 2TB HD, again using the Windows XP Pro laptop. It was about an 18 hour process. This time it was a “PASS.”

Why did Windows 7 take 5 times as long to format the HD?

Were those first two HDs indeed “bad?”

Should I run WD Align on the drive? It will be used mostly with Windows XP Pro machines, occasionally with the Windows 7 laptop.

I’d read WD’s information online about formatting the drive. It did say that I should contact the manufacturer for help in using the drive with a 3rd party enclosure, but this was not 3rd party, this is Western Digital’s own 2TB Elements enclosure. I didn’t see any information specific to how to format a WD drive in WD enclosures.


The first two drives were more than likely fine.  The issue was that XP may have “perceived” the out-of-alignment blocks as bad.  That’s just a guess. The reason it took so long to format was because you didn’t use the quick format feature. 

Those drives are advanced format drives, as you know.  Windows XP cannot format them correctly.  You needed to use WD Align to partition the drive before formatting, or jumper 7-8, to align the partition on that drive in XP.  I personally don’t trust aligning the drive after the partitioning and formatting the drive.  That’s just me.  Once the partition is aligned, which Vista and 7 do automatically, you can do a quick format, which you unfortunately didn’t.  And, yes, it can take quite a long time to fully format a 2 TB hard drive.

Sometimes, from what I’ve heard, 7 has issues with formatting done in XP.  So, in the end, you actually may have done a good thing by just formatting the drive in 7.


So, is the drive correctly aligned for XP by virtue of having been formatted from a Windows 7 machine?

I didn’t use Quick Format at all in this sequence of events. So, why did XP “format” drives 1 and 2 in 5-7 hours and Windows 7 did drive 3 in 25 hours?

I wasn’t aware that WD Align was supposed to be run BEFORE formatting. WD’s info online never hinted at that. I didn’t know it would even work. I’d already installed WD Align on one of my laptops.

So, what do I do now? Is the drive aligned correctly for XP by virtue of Windows 7 having formatted the drive. WD Align hasn’t been run on this drive, to reiterate. Should I run WD Align on the drive from one of my XP laptops? Thanks for the information!