What Is Dynamic Disk [MiniTool Wiki]

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Basic disk and dynamic disk are two types of hard disk configurations in Windows. All Windows editions and DOS support basic disk. Only Windows Server edition and Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8 support dynamic disk.


Basic disk and dynamic disk can support various file systems including FAT and NTFS. And, users can change the dynamic disk volume without rebooting the OS. In addition, users can convert a basic disk to dynamic disk with Windows built-in tool. However, this isn't a two-way process. If users want to convert the dynamic disk to basic, they need to turn to some disk tools like Partition Magic.
Basic disks are the storage types most often used in Windows. Basic disk contains primary partition, extended partition and logical drive. With primary partition, Windows NT system can support bar code and software RAID. But, Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003 basic disk doesn't support the bar code and software RAID. 

Volume Styles

On dynamic disk, users can create different kinds of volumes, including simple volume, mirrored volume, striped volume, spanned volume and RAID-5 volume. 

Simple Volume

Dynamic Disk 1

Simple volume equals to primary partition or logical drive on basic disk. A simple volume can consist of a single region on a disk or multiple regions of the same disk that are linked together. If there is one disk, users can only create simple volume. Although a simple volume can be extended, it doesn't provide fault-tolerance. 

Spanned Volume

Dynamic Disk 2

Spanned volume combines unallocated space on 2 or more disks (up to 32 disks) to one volume, and each unallocated space can be different. However, this kind of volume doesn't provide fault-tolerance. Spanned volumes formatted with NTFS file system can be extended by unallocated space on all disks. However, it can't be mirrored. 

Striped Volume

Dynamic Disk 3

Striped volume, also called RAID 0, is created by unallocated space with the same size on 2 or more disks (32 disks at most). When users write data into striped volume, data are divided into data block of 64KB and saved to each disk, which can enhance data storage speed. However, this kind of volume doesn't provide fault-tolerance.

Mirrored Volume

Dynamic Disk 4

Mirrored Volume, also called RAID 1, is the technique of writing the same data to more than one drive. Each drive in a mirror contains an identical copy of the data. Therefore, this kind of volume just enjoys 50% disk use ratio. However, it offers fault-tolerance by imaging data on the volume. 

Tip: If the mirrored volume is corrupted or the important data have been lost from the mirrored volume, you can use MiniTool Power Data Recovery to recover data from mirrored volume easily.

RAID is also called Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks. RAID 5 requires at least three disks. And, it provides features mirrored volume and striped volume have. It not only provides fault-tolerance but also can help to improve read and write speed. 

Note: Windows XP does not support mirrored volume and RAID 5 volume.

Recommend: This post tells how to recover data from RAID by taking RAID 5 recovery as an example.

Converting a Basic Disk to Dynamic

Users can convert a basic disk to dynamic without data loss. However, if users want to convert a dynamic disk to basic disk, they should backup anything that they do not want to lose on that dynamic disk. Here, we take Windows Server 2003 for example to show how to change a basic disk into dynamic.

  1. Right-click “My Computer”, and then choose “Management”, and click “Disk Management”.
  2. In the Disk Management, right-click the basic disk you want to convert, and then choose “Convert to Dynamic Disk”.
  3. In the “Convert to Dynamic Disk” dialog box, you can see all basic disks which can be converted. At this time, select the target disk in the “Disk” list and click “OK” button.
  4. If the disk does not include any disk partition, the conversion will be done automatically. If not, you will see the “to convert the disk” box which displays the selected disk and all volumes in the selected disk. After confirming that all operations are correct, you should click “Convert” button.
  5. In the Disk Management, you need reconfirm all operations. After the conversion, earlier versions of Windows like Windows 98/Me operating system cannot boot from any volumes in this disk. After that, click "Yes" button.
  6. After conversion, if the hard disk contains Windows directory, you will be asked to restart the computer. If not, all of the work has been done.
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