Watch these Windows dynamic disk restrictions

Dynamic disks are one of Windows 2000's most useful features for storage managers. By using dynamic disks you can perform operations like volume expansion without having to reboot the system. However there are limits on some dynamic disk expansion.

Dynamic disks are designed to operate with the NTFS file system. However volumes created using the older FAT file system can also be extended or spanned across multiple physical disks using the dynamic disk features -- sometimes.

However if the FAT disk existed before the disk was upgraded to a dynamic disk, it can not be extended or spanned. The system can still use the disk but to extend or expand it, it would have to be deleted and recreated on the dynamic disk. The other major limit is that even if a FAT disk is created on a dynamic disk it can be spanned when it is created, but it cannot be extended or spanned afterwards.

Generally, simple disks found in Windows 2000 installations are legacy disks that were created under Windows NT. It is worth considering carefully whether you want to keep simple disks in a dynamic disk environment of whether it is worth converting them to dynamic disks.

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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This was first published in June 2003

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