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Paragon Alignment Tool 4.0 Professional: A User-Friendly Software Utility for Partition Alignment





Paragon Alignment Tool 4.0 Professional: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?




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If you have a solid-state drive (SSD) in your computer, you probably enjoy its fast performance and silent operation. However, did you know that your SSD could be even faster and last longer if you align its partitions properly? In this article, we will introduce you to Paragon Alignment Tool 4.0 Professional, a user-friendly software utility that can help you align partitions on physical and virtual disks according to internal device's geometry without affecting the on-disk data. We will also explain why partition alignment is important for SSD performance and lifespan, how to check if your partitions are aligned, and what other tips you can follow to optimize your SSD in Windows.




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The Problem of Misaligned Partitions




What Are Partitions and How Are They Aligned?




A partition is a logical division of a hard disk or an SSD that allows you to organize your data into different sections. For example, you can have one partition for your operating system, another one for your personal files, and another one for your backup data.


Each partition has a starting location on the disk that determines where it begins and ends. This starting location should be aligned with the physical structure of the disk, which consists of small units called sectors. A sector is the smallest unit that a disk can read or write at a time.


There are two types of sectors: physical sectors and logical sectors. A physical sector is the actual unit that stores data on the disk surface. A logical sector is the unit that the operating system and applications use to access data on the disk.


The size of a physical sector depends on the disk technology and can vary from 512 bytes to 4 kilobytes (KB). The size of a logical sector is usually 512 bytes, regardless of the physical sector size.


Partition alignment means that the starting location of a partition matches the boundary of a physical sector. For example, if the physical sector size is 4 KB, then the partition should start at a multiple of 4 KB, such as 0, 4, 8, 12, and so on. This way, each logical sector corresponds to one or more physical sectors without overlapping or wasting space.


How Misalignment Affects SSD Performance and Lifespan




Misalignment occurs when the starting location of a partition does not match the boundary of a physical sector. For example, if the physical sector size is 4 KB and the partition starts at 2 KB, then each logical sector will span across two physical sectors, creating a gap of 2 KB between them.


This gap causes several problems for SSD performance and lifespan. First, it increases the number of read/write operations that the SSD has to perform to access data. For example, if you want to read or write 4 KB of data from or to a misaligned partition, the SSD will have to read or write two physical sectors instead of one, doubling the workload and reducing the speed.


Second, it reduces the endurance of the SSD by increasing the amount of data that has to be erased and rewritten. SSDs have a limited number of write cycles that they can perform before they wear out. Each time you write data to an SSD, you have to erase the previous data first. Erasing data consumes more power and generates more heat than writing data. If you write data to a misaligned partition, you will have to erase and rewrite more data than necessary, wasting your SSD's write cycles and shortening its lifespan.


How to Check If Your Partitions Are Aligned




There are several ways to check if your partitions are aligned on your SSD. One way is to use the System Information tool that comes with Windows. To use this tool, follow these steps:


  • Press Windows + R keys to open the Run dialog box.



  • Type msinfo32 and click OK to launch the System Information tool.



  • Expand Components and click Storage in the left pane.



  • Select Disks in the right pane and look for your SSD in the list.



  • Check the value of Partition Starting Offset for each partition on your SSD. This value indicates how many bytes from the beginning of the disk your partition starts.



  • Divide this value by 4096 (the size of a 4 KB physical sector in bytes). If the result is an integer (a whole number without decimals), then your partition is aligned. If the result is not an integer (a number with decimals), then your partition is misaligned.



Another way to check if your partitions are aligned is to use a third-party software utility such as DiskGenius. This utility can show you the alignment status of your partitions as well as other information about your disk. To use this utility, follow these steps:


  • Download and install DiskGenius from its official website.



  • Launch DiskGenius and select your SSD in the left pane.



  • Right-click on each partition on your SSD and select Check Partition Alignment from the context menu.



  • A pop-up window will show you whether your partition is aligned or not. If it is aligned, it will say "The selected partition is aligned". If it is not aligned, it will say "The selected partition is not aligned" and suggest you to align it with DiskGenius.




The Solution of Paragon Alignment Tool




How Paragon Alignment Tool Works




Paragon Alignment Tool is a software utility that can help you align partitions on physical and virtual disks in a single operation without affecting the on-disk data. It supports all types of disks, including SSDs, HDDs, RAID arrays, dynamic disks, GPT disks, and USB flash drives. It also supports all types of file systems, including NTFS, FAT, HFS+, Ext2/3/4, and others.


Paragon Alignment Tool works by moving the starting location of a partition to the nearest physical sector boundary. For example, if the physical sector size is 4 KB and the partition starts at 2 KB, Paragon Alignment Tool will move it to 0 KB or 4 KB, whichever is closer. This way, the partition will be aligned with the physical sector size and avoid the gap that causes performance and lifespan issues.


Paragon Alignment Tool does not modify the size or the content of the partition. It only changes its offset on the disk. Therefore, it does not affect the data integrity or the bootability of the partition. However, it is always recommended to backup your data before using any disk utility.


What Are the Benefits of Paragon Alignment Tool




Paragon Alignment Tool offers several benefits for SSD users who want to optimize their disk performance and lifespan. Some of these benefits are:


  • It boosts performance of disk subsystems up to 300%. By aligning partitions, Paragon Alignment Tool reduces the number of read/write operations that the SSD has to perform, resulting in faster data access and lower latency.



  • It increases endurance of SSD drives and minimizes wear. By aligning partitions, Paragon Alignment Tool reduces the amount of data that has to be erased and rewritten on the SSD, saving its write cycles and extending its lifespan.



  • It aligns partitions inside virtual containers and the host. Paragon Alignment Tool can align partitions not only on physical disks but also on virtual disks that are used by virtual machines or hypervisors. This way, it ensures optimal performance and compatibility for both the guest and the host systems.



  • It supports Windows 8 and above. Paragon Alignment Tool is compatible with the latest versions of Windows operating system, including Windows 8, 8.1, 10, Server 2012, and Server 2016. It can also align partitions on disks that use UEFI/GPT scheme or BitLocker encryption.



How to Use Paragon Alignment Tool




Using Paragon Alignment Tool is easy and straightforward. You just need to follow these steps:


  • Download Paragon Alignment Tool 4.0 Professional from its official website. You can choose between a free trial version or a paid full version.



  • Install Paragon Alignment Tool on your computer. You will need administrator privileges to do so.



  • Run Paragon Alignment Tool from your Start menu or desktop shortcut. You will see a simple interface with a list of disks and partitions on your computer.



  • Select the disk or partition that you want to align. You can select multiple disks or partitions by holding Ctrl key while clicking.



  • Click Align button at the bottom of the interface. A pop-up window will show you a summary of the alignment operation and ask you to confirm it.



  • Click Yes to proceed with the alignment. Paragon Alignment Tool will start moving the partitions to their optimal locations. Depending on the size and number of partitions, this process may take from a few minutes to several hours.



  • When the alignment is completed, you will see a message saying "Alignment has been successfully completed". Click OK to close the message and exit Paragon Alignment Tool.



  • Restart your computer to apply the changes and enjoy your optimized SSD performance and lifespan.




Other Tips for SSD Optimization




Adjust Your Power Plan




Another way to optimize your SSD performance and lifespan is to adjust your power plan settings in Windows. By default, Windows may put your SSD to sleep or downclock it when it is not in use, which can affect its speed and responsiveness. To prevent this, you can change your power plan settings to keep your SSD running at full speed at all times. To do this, follow these steps:


  • Press Windows + X keys and select Power Options from the menu.



  • Click Change plan settings next to your current power plan.



  • Click Change advanced power settings.



  • Expand Hard disk and then Turn off hard disk after.



  • Set the value to 0 minutes for both On battery and Plugged in.



  • Expand PCI Express and then Link State Power Management.



  • Set the value to Off for both On battery and Plugged in.



  • Click OK to save the changes and close the window.



Enable Write Caching




Write caching is a feature that allows your SSD to store data temporarily in a buffer before writing it to the disk. This can improve the performance of your SSD by reducing the number of write operations and increasing the speed of data transfer. However, write caching may also increase the risk of data loss or corruption in case of a power failure or a system crash. Therefore, you should only enable write caching if you have a reliable power supply and a backup system. To enable write caching for your SSD, follow these steps:


  • Press Windows + X keys and select Device Manager from the menu.



  • Expand Disk drives and right-click on your SSD.



  • Select Properties from the context menu.



  • Click Policies tab.



  • Check the box next to Enable write caching on the device.



  • If you want to enable advanced performance, check the box next to Turn off Windows write-cache buffer flushing on the device. This option will disable the flushing of data from the cache to the disk, which can improve performance but also increase the risk of data loss or corruption. Use this option with caution and only if you have a backup battery or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).



  • Click OK to save the changes and close the window.



Disable Hibernate Mode




Hibernate mode is a feature that allows you to save your current session on your disk and turn off your computer completely. When you turn on your computer again, you can resume your session from where you left off. This can save you time and energy, but it can also consume a lot of space on your SSD. Hibernate mode creates a file called hiberfil.sys on your system partition that is equal to the size of your RAM. For example, if you have 8 GB of RAM, hiberfil.sys will take up 8 GB of space on your SSD. This space could be used for other purposes or left free to improve your SSD performance and lifespan. Therefore, if you do not use hibernate mode frequently, you can disable it and delete hiberfil.sys from your SSD. To do this, follow these steps:


  • Press Windows + X keys and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu.



  • Type powercfg -h off and press Enter. This command will disable hibernate mode and delete hiberfil.sys from your system partition.



  • Close the Command Prompt window.




Optimize Your SSD on a Schedule




Another way to optimize your SSD performance and lifespan is to use the Defragment and Optimize utility that comes with Windows. This utility can run a trim function on your SSD regularly, which tells the SSD which blocks of data are no longer in use and can be erased. This can improve the speed and efficiency of your SSD by freeing up space and reducing the number of write operations. To use this utility, follow these steps:


  • Press Windows + E keys to open File Explorer.



  • Right-click on your SSD and select Properties from the context menu.



  • Click Tools tab.



  • Click Optimize button under Optimize and defragment drive.



  • Select your SSD in the list and click Analyze button to see how fragmented it is. If it is more than 10% fragmented, click Optimize button to run the trim function.



  • Click Change settings button to schedule the optimization on a regular basis. You can choose how often, what day, and what time you want the optimization to run.



  • Click OK to save the changes and close the window.



Conclusion




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In conclusion, Paragon Alignment Tool 4.0 Professional is a powerful and easy-to-use software utility that can help you align partitions on your SSD and improve its performance and lifespan. By aligning partitions, you can reduce the number of read/write operations, increase the speed of data access, and extend the endurance of your SSD. Paragon Alignment Tool works with all types of disks, file systems, and Windows versions, and does not affect the data integrity or the bootability of your partitions. You can download a free trial version or a paid full version from its official website and start optimizing your SSD in minutes.


If you want to further optimize your SSD performance and lifespan, you can also follow some other tips, such as adjusting your power plan settings, enabling write caching, disabling hibernate mode, and optimizing your SSD on a schedule. These tips can help you keep your SSD running at full speed and avoid unnecessary wear and tear.


We hope you found this article helpful and informative. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!


FAQs




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Here are some frequently asked questions and answers related to the topic of this article:


  • What is the difference between Paragon Alignment Tool 4.0 Professional and Paragon Alignment Tool 4.0 Free?The main difference between Paragon Alignment Tool 4.0 Professional and Paragon Alignment Tool 4.0 Free is that the Professional version supports alignment of partitions inside virtual containers and the host, while the Free version does not. The Professional version also offers more features and options for advanced users, such as alignment report, alignment script generator, alignment over network, etc.



  • How long does it take to align partitions with Paragon Alignment Tool?The time it takes to align partitions with Paragon Alignment Tool depends on several factors, such as the size and number of partitions, the speed of your disk and CPU, the amount of data on your disk, etc. Generally speaking, it can take from a few minutes to several hours to complete the alignment process.



  • Do I need to backup my data before using Paragon Alignment Tool?Paragon Alignment Tool does not modify the size or the content of your partitions. It only changes their offset on the disk. Therefore, it does not affect the data integrity or the bootability of your partitions. However, it is always recommended to backup your data before using any disk utility, in case of any unexpected errors or failures.



  • Can I use Paragon Alignment Tool on other types of disks besides SSDs?Yes, you can use Paragon Alignment Tool on any type of disk, including HDDs, RAID arrays, dynamic disks, GPT disks, and USB flash drives. However, partition alignment is more important for SSDs than for other types of disks, because SSDs have more limitations in terms of read/write operations and endurance.



  • Can I use Paragon Alignment Tool on other operating systems besides Windows?No, Paragon Alignment Tool is designed for Windows operating systems only. It supports Windows 8 and above, including Windows 8.1, 10, Server 2012, and Server 2016. It can also align partitions on disks that use UEFI/GPT scheme or BitLocker encryption.



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