Tech Tips / Windows 2000 Professional / Hardware and Drivers

Basic versus dynamic disks

Windows 2000 added a new feature called dynamic disks that provides for a different disk structure than the four-partition-maximum scheme that has been around since the early days of DOS. Windows 2000 calls the old type of disk a basic disk, while the new type of disk is called a dynamic disk. As you're probably aware, basic disks are limited to no more than four partitions, one of which can be an extended partition containing multiple logical drives. Dynamic disks don't have that limitation, enabling you to create as many volumes on the disk as needed.

The other difference is that Windows 2000 doesn't support creating striped, spanned, or mirrored volumes on basic disks. While you can use these types of volumes on basic disks if they were created under NT, you'll need to convert to a dynamic disk if you want to create these types of volumes in Windows 2000.

You can convert a basic disk containing data to a dynamic disk without losing any data, although it's always a good idea to have a full backup before doing any wholesale operation on a disk. All you need is at least 1 MB of free space on the disk, then open the Disk Management branch of the Computer Management console. Right-click the disk in either Disk List or Graphical View and choose Upgrade To Dynamic Disk. Windows 2000 takes it from there. Be forewarned though: If you want to revert to a basic disk, you'll have to back up all volumes on the disk, remove the volumes, revert the disk, create partitions, and restore the volume data.

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