Initial encryption is much slower when using Advanced Format (AF) drives with Symantec Endpoint Encryption Full Disk v8.2.1


Article ID: 156569


Updated On:


Endpoint Encryption


With Advanced Format or AF drives installed, you notice a substantial reduction in the speed at which a drive's initial encryption occurs with SEE Full Disk 8.2.1.


In order to maintain compatibility with legacy computing components, many hard disk drive suppliers will support Advanced Format technologies on the recording media coupled with 512-byte conversion firmware. Hard drives configured with 4096-byte(4K) physical sectors with 512-byte firmware are referred to as Advanced Format 512e, or 512 emulation drives.

The translation of the 4,096-byte physical format to a virtual 512-byte increment is transparent to the entity accessing the hard disk drive. Read and write commands are issued to Advanced Format drives in the same format as legacy drives. However, during the read process, the Advanced Format hard drive loads the entire 4,096-byte sector containing the requested 512-byte data into memory located on the drive. The emulation firmware extracts and re-formats the specific data into a 512-byte chunk before sending the data to the host. The entire process typically occurs with little or no degradation in performance.

The translation process is more complicated when writing data that is either not a multiple of 4K or not aligned to a 4K boundary. In these instances, the hard drive must read the entire 4,096-byte sector containing the targeted data into internal memory, integrate the new data into the previously existing data and then rewrite the entire 4,096-byte sector onto the disk media. This operation, known as read-modify-write (RMW), can require additional revolution of the magnetic disks, resulting in a perceptible performance impact to the system user.

This info was collected from


This solution applies to SEE Full Disk, version 8.2.1 MP4 and later. This solution does not apply to Symantec Endpoint Encryption v11.0.0 with Drive Encryption functionality. Advanced Format drives are not supported with Endpoint Encryption v11.0.0.

This is a side effect of using Advanced Format drives in a 512byte environment.  Symantec Endpoint Encryption Full Disk Edition version 8.2.1 MP4 and later have the ability to optimize write-patterns for Advanced Format drives.

To enable Advanced Format drive optimization:
*Note* Symantec recommends backing up the Windows registry before making changes.

  1. Open the Windows Registry
  2. Go to the following key:
    "[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE]\SOFTWARE\Encryption Anywhere\Hard Disk\Initial Computer Data"
  3. Create a new DWORD value and name it as EnableOptimization
  4. To enable optimization set the value to 1. (To disable optimization set the Value data to 0)
  5. Restart the computer for the change to take effect

Applies To

Symantec Endpoint Encryption Full Disk version 8.2.1 MP4 and later (does not apply to Endpoint Encryption v11.0.0)