Windows SSD Alignment

White papers:

http://www.netapp.com/us/media/tr-3747.pdf

disk alignment best practices for SQL: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd758814.aspx

Description:

Why is disk Alignment needed ?  When the disks of a VM are not aligned, any reads or writes to the physical disk (chunk) on which the VM resides, have to be done more than once, which can cause as much as 40% overhead in disk I/O. In the unaligned disks, if the cluster in the operating system is read or written to, then both the blocks of the file system and three of the chunks of physical storage need to be accessed in order to complete the read or write. In the aligned disks,  if the cluster in the operating system is read or written to, then only one block and one chunk need to accessed in order to complete the read or write. The result of the problem causes the storage device to work harder than it needs to, which indirectly affects all servers using the storage device, even the aligned servers.

Objective:

The aim of this sysadmin task is to align all servers and associated storage, to achieve optimum performance on all storage devices and the virtual environment. Currently there is a windows process and a Linux process currently being used to correct the problem.

Windows Process:

a) Arrange a date and time with the application management teams and customer, when the application can be taken offline so the server can be powered down for the required length of time (several hours)

b) Record the server details and enquire if any amendment to the current storage layout are required

c) At the agreed date and time the server will be shut down and the Virtual Machines disks will be aligne

d) Upon completion of section 3, the server will be powered up and the customer will be requested to check if the application or service is still functioning correctly

e) The old disks will be kept for a period of 4 weeks, so if a roll back were required this could be performed

Checking SSD disk alignement on Windows:

To check the alignment of your SSD’s partition, it is quite simple.

In windows 7, run msinfo32 by typing it into the search box on your start menu and hitting enter.

click on: components => storage => disks

Look for your SSD and check the partition starting offset.

It needs to be divisible by 4096 (ie return a whole number when you divide by this) otherwise the alignment is not correct.

Using diskpart and wmic to check disk partition alignment:

http://www.sqlskills.com/blogs/paul/using-diskpart-and-wmic-to-check-disk-partition-alignment/

Basic Disk Partition Offsets: wmic.exe

Windows can be interrogated for disk-related information via Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). A straightforward method for obtaining partition starting offsets of Windows basic disks is this Wmic.exe command.

Command Line Syntax:

wmic partition get BlockSize, StartingOffset, Name, Index

The value for Index is the same as disk number in the Disk Management Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in (Diskmgmt.msc); wmic volume can also be used to map disk indexes and drive letters.
Dynamic Disk Partition Offsets: dmddiag.exe -v

The command-line utility Dmdiag.exe is used to determine the partition offsets of Windows dynamic volumes.

Important: Neither the output of the wmic command listed earlier nor any other tool designed only for basic disks reliably reports starting partition offsets of Windows dynamic disks.

The tool is available in the support tools folder of Windows Server 2003. In Windows Server 2008, the tool has been renamed diskdiag.exe.

To determine the starting partition offset of dynamic disks, execute the following command.

Command Line Syntax:

dmdiag -v

The output has several sections; the sections that are cogent to analyzing the starting partition offset of existing volumes are generated only if the -v switch is used. Those sections (and relevant columns) are:

Dynamic Disk Information (Rel Sec) 
LDM Volume Information (Rel Sectors)

Focus on these sections and columns. Subsequent sections of the output that report offsets can be misleading, and they are unlikely to be reliable for interpreting starting partition offsets of dynamic volumes. Note that Microsoft tools, including even dmdiag, may be unreliable for reporting starting partition offsets of dynamic volumes created by third-party vendors. For example, dmdiag does not report correct starting partition offsets of dynamic volumes created by Veritas Enterprise Administrator. In these cases, consult your vendor for the tools and techniques required for proper analysis.

great list of windows shortcut keys

great article I found regarding Windows Shortcut keys.

This articles claims that this is specific to HP computers, I think that most of these are applicable to most Windows PCs.

HP PCs – Using Keyboard Shortcuts and Special Keys

This document pertains to HP products with a Microsoft Windows operating system.

Enhance your efficiency in Windows by memorizing and using keyboard shortcuts to perform routine tasks.

Figure 1: A typical English keyboard layout (your keyboard might look different)

Typical keyboard layout

Number
Name
Feature or function
1
Caps Lock key
Activates/deactivates the Caps Lock feature.
2
Scroll Lock key
Activates/deactivates the Scroll Lock feature.
3
Num Lock key
Activates/deactivates the Num Lock feature.
4
Ctrl key
Use in combination with another key; its function depends on the application software you are using.
5
Windows key *
Opens the Start menu in Microsoft Windows. Use in combination with other keys to perform other functions.
6
Alt key
Use in combination with another key; its function depends on the application software you are using.
7
Application key*
Similar to the right mouse button, opens pop-up menus in a Microsoft Office application. May perform other functions in other software applications.
8
Editing keys
Includes the following: Insert , Home , Page Up , Delete , End , and Page Down .
Hold Ctrl and Alt while pressing Delete to restart the computer.
* Available in select geographic regions.

Keyboard shortcuts in Windows

The following table lists shortcuts to use in Windows.

Keystroke
Result
Windows key
Opens the Start menu.
Windows key + E
Opens Windows Explorer to My Computer.
Windows key + F
Searches for a file or folder.
Windows key  + Ctrl + F
Searches for computers.
Windows key + L
Locks the computer.
Windows key + M
Minimizes all windows.
Windows key + Shift + M
Restores all minimized windows.
Windows key + R
Opens the Run dialog box.
Windows key + F1
Opens Help .
Windows key  + Ctrl + F
Finds a computer.
Windows key  + Ctrl + Tab
Moves focus from Start , to the Quick Launch toolbar, to the system tray. Use right arrow or left arrow keys to select items on the Quick Launch toolbar or system tray.
Windows key + Tab
Cycles through taskbar buttons.
Windows key + Break
Views the System Properties dialog box.
F1
Opens Help .
F10
Activates Menu Bar options.
Shift + F10
Opens a shortcut menu for the selected item. This is the same thing that happens when you right-click the mouse.
Ctrl + Esc
Opens the Start menu. From here, use the arrow keys to select an item, or press Tab to select the taskbar, or press Shift +F10 for a context menu (equivalent to right-clicking the mouse).
Ctrl + Shift + Esc
Opens Task Manager .
Ctrl + Tab
Switches to the next child window of a Multiple Document Interface (MDI) program.
Alt + F4
Closes the current window.
Alt + Esc
Switches between open items.
Alt + Tab
Switches to another open software program. Press and hold the Alt key and then press the Tab key to view the task-switching window. With the task switching window open, press Shift + Tab to cycle through the open programs in reverse order.
Alt + Space
Views the main window’s System menu (from the System menu, you can restore, move, resize, minimize, maximize, or close the window).
Alt + underlined letter in Menu
Opens the specified menu.

Special key symbols meanings

Many keyboards come with extra keys. The following table shows special key symbols and functions.

Symbol
Meaning
 

Displays apps side by side for simultaneous viewing.
 

Switches between open apps.
 

Shows the commands available in an open Windows 8 app.
 

Lists recently used apps in Windows 8.
 

Begins, pauses, or resumes playback of audio or video discs.
 

Plays previous section or track of audio or video discs.
 

Stops playing audio or video discs.
 

Plays next section or track of audio or video discs.
 

Opens Search.
 

Opens Share charm to share pictures, files, or web pages.
 

Opens Device charm to set up printers and sync data with other devices.
 

Opens Settings charm to personalize the computer.
 

Copies selection to clipboard.
 

Mutes sound.
 

Decreases sound volume.
 

Increases sound volume.
 

Puts the computer in sleep/suspend mode.
 

Opens help content.
 

Decreases screen brightness.
 

Increases screen brightness.
 

Switches to another display mode when an external display is connected.
 

Enables or disables Wireless networking.
 

Locks the computer.
 

Opens the Internet browser.

Keyboard shortcuts in Windows 8

Use the following information to navigate in Windows 8 using keyboard shortcuts.

NOTE: Many of the keyboard shortcuts from previous versions of Windows also work in Windows 8.
Keystroke
Result
Windows key
Switches between Start Screen and the Desktop (or the last full screen application).
Windows key + C
Shows the Charms and the clock.
Windows key + H
Opens the Share charm.
Windows key + I
Opens the Settings charm.
Windows key + K
Opens the Devices charm.
Windows key + O
Turns the screen orientation lock on or off if your computer can detect screen orientation.
Windows key + W
Opens the Search charm with Settings selected.
Windows key + F
Opens the Search charm with Files selected.
Windows key + Q
Opens the Search charm with Apps selected.
Windows key + X
Opens the advanced menu on the Desktop or the Start Screen.
Windows key + Z
Opens commands for the current app.
Windows key + Tab
Shows the most recently used running apps and Start. Hold the Windows key and press Tab to move from app to app.
Windows key + Page up
Moves the Start screen to the left monitor in multi-monitor setups.
Windows key + Page down
Moves the Start screen to the right monitor in multi-monitor setups.
Windows key + Left arrow
On the desktop, moves a desktop app to the left half of the screen.
Windows key + Right arrow
On the desktop, moves a desktop app to the right half of the screen.
Windows key + Up arrow
On the desktop, maximizes the current window to full screen.
Windows key + Down arrow
On the desktop, minimizes or restores a current window.
Windows key + E
Opens File Explorer to Computer.
Windows key + R
Opens the Run dialog box.
Windows key + Pause/Break
Opens the Systems page.
Windows key + D
Shows or hides the desktop – minimizes or restores all windows.
Windows key + F1
Launches Windows Help and Support.
Windows key  + Prt Scr (Print Screen)
Takes and saves screenshots instantly. Windows saves the screenshot to your Pictures folder as a PNG image file.
Alt + Tab
Shows all open apps. Hold Alt and press Tab to move from app to app.
Alt + F4
Closes the software you are currently using. If the Windows desktop is selected, the Windows Shut Down menu displays.
Ctrl + mouse wheel
Zooms – Hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard while using the mouse wheel to grow or shrink an item on the screen.
Ctrl + . (period)
Moves one Start screen group to the right.
Ctrl + , (comma)
Moves one Start screen group to the left.

Keyboard shortcuts for Windows software programs

The following table lists shortcuts to use in Windows software programs.

Keystroke
Result
Ctrl + C
Copies selection.
Ctrl + X
Cuts selection.
Ctrl + V
Pastes selection.
Ctrl + Z
Undoes last action.
Ctrl + B
Bolds selection.
Ctrl + U
Underlines selection.
Ctrl + I
Italicizes selection.
F2
In Windows Explorer , renames the selected file.
F3
In Windows Explorer , opens Search.
Shift + Del (or Shift + Delete )
In Windows Explorer , deletes selected file without first moving it to the Recycle Bin.
Alt + Enter
Views the selected item’s Properties .
* (asterisk) on the numeric keypad
In Windows Explorer , expands everything under the current selection.
+ (plus sign) on the numeric keypad
In Windows Explorer , expands the current selection.
– (minus sign) on the numeric keypad
In Windows Explorer , collapses the current selection.
Right arrow
In Windows Explorer , expands the current selection if it is not expanded, otherwise go to the first child folder.
Left arrow
In Windows Explorer , collapses the current selection if it is expanded, otherwise go to the parent folder.

Mouse clicks with key presses

Keystroke
Result
Shift + right click
Views a shortcut menu containing more commands.
Shift + double click
Runs the alternate default command (the second item on the menu).
ALT + double click
Views the selected item’s Properties .
Press and hold down the Ctrl key while you drag a file.
Copies a file to another folder. You can also do this in the original folder.
Press and hold Ctrl + Shift while you drag a file to the desktop or a folder.
Creates a shortcut on the desktop or in a folder.

Using keyboard shortcuts with Remote Desktop Connection

You can set up the remote computer to recognize Windows keyboard shortcuts that you type (for example, Alt + Tab ), or you can use Terminal Server keyboard shortcuts.

To use Windows keyboard shortcuts, follow these steps:

  1. Click to open Remote Desktop Connection .
  2. Click Options , and then click Local Resources .
  3. Under Keyboard , select On the remote computer to make the remote computer recognize the Windows keyboard shortcuts that you type.
    NOTE: If you use Remote Desktop Connection in full-screen mode, you can choose In full screen mode only to get the same result. This is the default setting.

Figure 2: Remote Desktop Connection – Local Resources tab

Remote Desktop Connection - Local Resources - Keyboard

To use Terminal Server shortcuts, refer to the following table:

Keystroke
Result
Alt + Page Up
Switches between programs from left to right.
Alt + Page Down
Switches between programs from right to left.
Alt + Insert
Cycles through programs in the order that they were opened.
Alt + Home
Displays the Start menu.
Ctrl + Alt + Break
Switches between a window and full screen.
Ctrl + Alt + End
Displays the Windows Security dialog box.
Alt + Delete
Displays the Windows menu.
Ctrl + Alt + Minus sign (- ) on the numeric keypad
Places a copy of the active window, within the client, on the Terminal Server clipboard. This key combination provides the same functionality as pressing Alt + Print Screen on a local computer.
Ctrl + Alt + Plus sign (+ ) on the numeric keypad
Places a copy of the entire client window area on the Terminal Server clipboard. This key combination provides the same functionality as pressing Print Screen on a local computer.
Ctrl + Alt + Right arrow
“Tabs” out of the Remote Desktop controls to a control in the host program such as a button or a text box. This is useful when the Remote Desktop controls are embedded in another (host) program.
Ctrl + Alt + Left arrow
“Tabs” out of the Remote Desktop controls to a control in the host program such as a button or a text box. This is useful when the Remote Desktop controls are embedded in another (host) program.
NOTE: Ctrl + Alt + Break and Ctrl + Alt + End are available in all Remote Desktop sessions, even when you have set up the remote computer to recognize Windows keyboard shortcuts.