Learn Windows XP Professional: Using the Disk Management Tool (Page 3) Page 3

Dynamic Disks

The dynamic disk format can be accessed only by Windows 2000 and Windows XP Professional operating systems.

You convert basic disks to dynamic by using the Disk Management snap-in or the DiskPart command line utility. When you convert a basic disk to dynamic, all existing basic volumes become dynamic volumes.

Dynamic disks provide features that basic disks do not, such as the ability to create volumes that span multiple disks (spanned and striped volumes) and the ability to create fault-tolerant volumes (mirrored and RAID-5 volumes).

NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - Windows 2000 Servers and the up and coming .NET server line provide fault tolerance on dynamic disks in the form of software-based (operating system) disk mirroring (RAID-1) or striping with parity (RAID-5).

Windows XP Professional does not provide fault tolerance.

Hardware devices that support fault tolerance, such as RAID controllers, can make a Windows XP Professional fault tolerant, but it is this third party hardware solution that is providing the fault tolerance, not the Windows XP Professional operating system.

Windows XP Professional supports dividing dynamic disks into volumes, which can consist of a portion, or portions, of one or more physical disks.

There are five types of dynamic volumes: simple, spanned, striped, disk mirroring (RAID-1) and striping with parity (RAID-5). Mirrored and RAID-5 volumes are fault tolerant and are available only on computers running the Windows 2000 Server family of operating systems.

When you have converted a basic disk to dynamic storage, you can create Windows XP Professional volumes, of which there are three different types that can be utilized on the local system:

Simple volumes. All of the disk space from a single disk is used and it is not fault tolerant.

Spanned volumes. Includes disk space from multiple disks up to a total of 32. Data is written to a spanned volume on the first disk, completely filling the space, and continues to the next until it is full and then the next, and so on, through each disk that you include in the spanned volume. These volumes are not fault tolerant either. If any one single disk in the whole entire spanned volume fails, all the data in the entire volume is lost.

Striped volumes. Combines areas of free space from multiple hard disks (up to 32) into one logical volume. In a striped volume, Windows XP Professional optimizes performance by adding data to all disks at the same time in succession, a direct contrast to spanned volumes. If any one single disk in the whole entire striped volume fails, all the data in the entire volume is lost.

Some of the properties and characteristics of dynamic storage are outlined below.

  • Extend a simple or spanned volume.
  • Reactivate a missing or offline disk.
  • Check disk properties, such as capacity, available free space, and current status.
  • View volume and partition properties such as size, drive letter assignment, label, type, and file system.
  • Establish drive letter assignments for volumes or partitions, optical storage devices, and/or removable drives.
  • Establish disk sharing and security arrangements for volumes and partitions formatted with NTFS.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - Do not modify the structure of dynamic disks with the DiskPart command line tool because you might damage your partition table within the dynamic disk structure.

This article was originally published on Jun 24, 2002
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