Managing and Troubleshooting Hard Disks

A Dynamic disk is a new type of disk under Windows 2000. It does not use partitions, but instead volumes, and does not have a maximum number of volumes per disk. Volumes on dynamic disks can be extended on the fly, as well as support new instances of RAID 0, 1, or 5 that you might configure. In order to use Dynamic disks, you must first convert existing Basic disks, on a disk-by-disk basis. This is done using the Disk Management tool in Computer Management.

In order to upgrade the disk to dynamic, it must have at least 1 MB of unallocated space available. While Windows 2000 will allow for this when you format a disk, other operating system-created partitions may not. Only Windows 2000 can access a Dynamic Disk locally, so if you have a dual boot, other OSes will not be able to read the disk. By default, Windows 2000 creates Basic Disks during an installation. Changing a Basic disk to Dynamic is a one-way operation. Note that there is also an option available called Revert to Basic Disk, but what this really involves is deleting all volumes, and then changing the disk back to Basic. If you upgrade a disk from Basic to Dynamic that contains the boot or system partition, or the active page file, you will need to reboot. A couple of additional quick notes on what happens when you upgrade from Basic to Dynamic Disks:

  • Both types of disk support the FAT, FAT32 and NTFS file systems.
  • All existing, regular partitions (including logical drives) become Simple volumes (areas on only one physical disk).
  • A mirror set (RAID 1) becomes a Mirrored volume. (not available on Pro)
  • A stripe set (RAID 0) becomes a Striped volume.
  • A Stripe set with parity (RAID 5) becomes a RAID-5 volume (not available on Pro)
  • A Volume set becomes a Spanned volume (areas on more than one physical disk).

Any Simple or Spanned volume formatted with NTFS can be extended, as long as it does not contain system or startup files, or the active paging file. The same rules apply for deleting a volume or partition.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.