Upgrading a basic disk to a dynamic disk

Increase the manageability of your workstations and servers with dynamic disks.

You may have a number of Windows 2000 computers in your shop that have their disks configured as basic disks. There

is another alternative in Windows 2000, called dynamic disk. If your disks are dynamic disks, then you can employ more management tools and better manage the workstations and servers you have. How to upgrade? This tip, excerpted from InformIT, shows that it's a pretty simple procedure.

Curt Simmons is the author of Configuring Windows 2000 Server.


Windows 2000 Server keeps your disk configuration if you upgrade from Windows NT 4.0, so your disk will be a basic disk. You can choose to upgrade the basic disk to a dynamic disk so that you have full access to the disk-management tasks available in Windows 2000 Server. The next question is naturally, "Should I upgrade?" There is one basic rule to determine whether or not you should upgrade your basic disk to a dynamic disk. If your computer also runs MS-DOS, Windows 98 or earlier, or Windows NT 4.0 or earlier, you should not upgrade your disk because these operating systems cannot access dynamic volumes. If your system only runs Windows 2000, you should upgrade the basic disk to a dynamic disk. This action will allow you to more effectively manage your disk in Windows 2000 Server.

Any disk that you upgrade to dynamic must have at least 1MB of unformatted free space at the end of the disk. If there is not, the upgrade will fail. Disk management uses this free space when creating partitions or volumes on a disk, but partitions or volumes created with Windows NT may not have this free space readily available. Once you perform the upgrade, your Windows NT partitions become dynamic volumes, which you cannot change back to partitions. If you have Windows NT volume sets, mirror sets, striped sets, or striped sets with parity on your disk, the upgrade will change those to Windows 2000's spanned volumes, striped volumes, mirrored volumes, or RAID-5 volumes. Remember that the disk cannot be accessed by operating systems other than Windows 2000 after the upgrade is complete. Also, before performing the upgrade, the following issues should be taken into consideration:

  • You can upgrade a basic disk containing the boot partition to a dynamic disk. The boot partition becomes a simple boot volume after the upgrade is complete.
  • You can upgrade a basic disk containing the system partition to a dynamic disk. The System partition becomes a simple system partition when the upgrade is complete.
  • You cannot upgrade removable media to dynamic volumes.
  • If a basic disk contains any volumes that span multiple disks, as in a stripe set with parity, you must also upgrade the other disks that contain the parts of the volume.
  • You cannot upgrade a basic disk to a dynamic disk if the sector size of the disk is greater than 512 bytes.
  • You cannot change a dynamic disk back to a basic disk without deleting all the volumes first. This action deletes all the data on the disk. Once the volumes have been deleted, you can right-click on the disk, and choose Revert to Basic Disk.

To upgrade a basic disk to a dynamic disk, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, Programs, Administrative Tools, Computer Management. The console window opens.
  2. Expand the Storage tree and double-click Disk Management. The Disk Management interface appears in the right pane with a display of your disk(s).
  3. Right-click the disk you want to upgrade. Make sure that right-click the disk, not a partition of the disk. Click Upgrade to Dynamic Disk.
  4. The upgrade takes place, and you are prompted to reboot your computer. You must reboot your computer for the upgrade to complete the boot and system partition upgrades.
  5. Once the upgrade is complete, Disk Management will display the disk as dynamic.

You can read this entire tip at InformIT. You have to register to see it, but the registration is free.


This was first published in October 2001

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