I have been having a lot of problems connecting different kinds of SATA drives to my PCs using SATA to USB adapters and the problems seem to boil down to sector size mismatches: sometimes the original sector size is 512 but the adapter "presents" a sector size of 4096, thus rendering the contents of the drive illegible to the OS, or vice versa, showing 512 instead of 4096 with the same results. I recall looking into this a couple years ago and found out the problem is in the adapters themselves, because of a "thing" related to the SATA version or SATA mode supported by the adapters, however I don't seem to find much information about this these days. What exactly is this "thing" I'm looking for when buying an adapter, so I know it won't mess with my drives?

These are the most relevant places and questions I've looked up so far, but don't exactly address what is the "thing" that's missing:


There is something regarding the SATA version or some SATA mode that makes some adapters mess up sector sizes on some drives, making the illegible but not unusable, i.e.: I can create a new partition table and use them just fine, except the next adapter I try may or may not force me to do the same. What is it?

  • Maybe some manufacturers just choose to implement this. Compare this answer and comments below. – Kamil Maciorowski Sep 19 '17 at 3:50
  • That's exactly what I was looking for, thank you. – arielnmz Sep 19 '17 at 4:42

What exactly is this "thing" I'm looking for when buying an adapter, so I know it won't mess with my drives?

As it's stated in this answer:

The enclosure exposes the drive to the computer as an Advanced Format 4Kn device, allowing the use of MBR for compatibility with Windows XP systems.

(which this blog post further expands):

Advanced Format was adopted by drive manufacturers to increase the size of a physical sector on the drive from 512 bytes to 4 kiB (i.e. 8 times larger).

the problem lies in a feature that's known as Advanced Format, that translates 512 bytes per physical sector into 4096 ones to improve efficiency; which some adapter manufacturers don't implement in their hardware, resulting in the wrong sector sizes being exposed to the OS.

And as to how to look for that feature in an adapter: You just have to know how to identify the drives' and adapters' capabilities and maybe have one or two lying around just in case.

  • You should quote and cite the relevant information from the answer and the blog you linked to so all relevant information is contained within the body of your answer – Ramhound Sep 24 '17 at 23:20

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