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New standard to curb data corruption on drives

By storing data in larger blocks, the bad ones are easier to find.

The International Disk Drive, Equipment and Materials Association has finalized a standard that, ideally, will make it easier to find errors on hard drives.

The standard, called Long Block Data, essentially will compartmentalize data in blocks consisting of of 4,096 bytes of data rather than 512 byte blocks of data, the standard for years. The problem is that, with the rapid increases in density, the 512 byte segments occupy too little space on the surface of a platter of a hard drive. There are also way too many of them.

By quadrupuling the size of the segments, the errors can be detected by the error correction mechanisms of a drive, according to IDEMA president Joel Weiss.

"You know on average that errors exist, but it is tough to predict where they are,"

As an added bonus, the new standard fits well with Windows Vista. A page size in Vista is 4,000 bytes, said Weiss.

The organization will promote the standard with both drive makers and software makers.