Dynamic and basic disks

This tip discusses some differences between the new Win2K dynamic disks and the old basic disks.

Dynamic and basic disks
Curt Simmons

Windows 2000 has introduced several new features for disk management. This tip, by Curt Simmons, the author of Configuring Windows 2000 Server, discusses some differences between the new dynamic disks and the old basic disks. This tip is excerpted from InformIT.


Windows 2000 Server now provides support for dynamic disks as well as basic disks. A dynamic disk is not restricted to four partitions per disk, and several disk-management tasks discussed later in this article can be performed only on dynamic disks. A basic disk is simply partitions and logical drives (and volumes) that were created with Windows NT 4.0 or earlier, such as volume sets, stripe sets, mirror sets, and stripe sets with parity. In Windows 2000, these volumes are now called spanned volumes, striped volumes, mirrored volumes, and RAID-5 volumes.

Dynamic disks in Windows 2000 Server offer you more management flexibility without the partition limitation of basic disks. Dynamic disks can contain an unlimited number of volumes, but they cannot contain partitions or logical drives.

Also, once you upgrade to Windows 2000 Server from Windows NT Server, Windows 2000 Server further limits what you can do with a basic disk. The following list tells you what you can and cannot do with basic disks in Windows 2000 Server:

  • You can check disk properties and run most administrative tools.
  • You can view volume and partition properties.
  • You can change drive letters for disk volumes or partitions.
  • You can share information and establish security restrictions.
  • You can create new primary partitions or extended partitions.
  • You can create and delete logical disks within an extended partition.
  • You can format a partition, and mark it as active.
  • You can delete volume sets, stripe sets, and stripe sets with parity.
  • You can break a mirror set.
  • You can repair a mirror set or stripe set with parity.
  • You cannot create new volume sets, stripe sets, mirror sets, or stripe sets with parity.
  • You cannot extend existing volumes and volume sets.

Basically, Windows 2000 Server allows you to keep your disk configuration when you upgrade from Windows NT 4.0. Although you can manage your basic disks and repair fault-tolerant solutions, you are limited to the current configuration. You really cannot make any significant changes to the disk or establish new volume or stripe sets, and you cannot implement new fault-tolerant solutions.


To read this entire tip, click over to InformIT. You have to register there, but the registration is free.

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This was first published in June 2001
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