Windows XP supports two storage types for disks: Basic
and Dynamic disks both outlined below.
Basic disks support a maximum of 4 Primary partitions,
or 3 when an Extended partition exists. An Extended partition
contains one or more Logical drives. Each primary partition
and each logical drive is assigned a drive letter and are referred
to as basic volumes. Basic disks support several options
for combining disks to increase the maximum disk space for a volume
or to provide fault tolerance. Note that the following are not supported
on Windows XP, but may exist in Windows NT 4 systems, which then
must be converted to Dynamic disks before they can be used with
- Volume set
- Stripe set (RAID 0)
- Mirror set (RAID 1) - only available on servers
- Stripe set with parity (RAID 5) - only available
Dynamic disks contain volumes instead
of the traditional primary/extended partitions. Dynamic volumes
cannot be accessed by MS-DOS, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Millennium
Edition (Me) or Windows NT operating systems. People often incorrectly
refer to dynamic disks as being an NTFS feature, while both basic
and dynamic disks can contain any combination of FAT16, FAT32, or
NTFS volumes. Additionally, dynamic disks are not supported on the
IEEE 1394 (FireWire) disks
Disks in laptops
Disk configurations are named differently when
using dynamic disks. The following list shows the possible configurations
for dynamic disks:
- Simple volume - created from free space
on a single physical disk. A simple volume is not fault-tolerant.
If it is formatted with NTFS it can be extended to include unallocated
space from the same disk, or another disk, to create a spanned
- Spanned volume - created from free
disk space from 2 to 32 combined disks. Data is written to the
first disk until it is full, then it will write to the second
disk, and so on. If one of the hard disks in the spanned volume
fails, the entire volume set is lost and needs to be rebuild and
restored from backup. Thus, a spanned volume is not fault-tolerant.
- Striped volume (RAID 0) - created from
free disk space from 2 to 32 combined disks. When data is written
to a striped volume set with 2 disks, the first block is written
to the first disk, the second block to the second disk, and the
third data block is written to the first disk, and so on, spreading
the data evenly over all disks. A striped volume provides he best
performance for Windows XP systems. A striped volume is not
fault-tolerant and cannot be extended once it is created. If one
of the hard disks in the striped volume fails, the entire volume
set is lost and needs to be rebuild and restored from backup.
- Mirrored volume (RAID 1) - a fault-tolerant
volume only available on servers (Windows 2000 and Windows 2003).
Requires 2 disks allowing duplication of all the data on one volume
to another disk to provide redundancy. If one of the disks fails,
the data can still be accessed from the remaining disk. A mirrored
volume cannot be extended.
- RAID 5 volume - a fault-tolerant volume
only available on servers (Windows 2000 and Windows 2003) created
from 3 or more physical disks. When data is written to the RAID
5 volume, it is distributed over several disks, and parity information
about data blocks on one disk are stored on the other disks. In
case of a disk failure, the parity information can be used to
reconstruct the data from the missing disk. Because data is spread
out over several disks, a RAID 5 volume offers better read
performance than single or mirrored disks. But because every write
requires the parity calculation, write performance can
be slower. A RAID-5 volume cannot be mirrored or extended.
and volumes are managed by using the Disk Management console.
Right-click My Computer and select Manage to open Computer
Management. Under Storage click Disk Management.
The following list shows some of the common disk management tasks
on Windows XP:
Upgrading disks - A basic disk can be converted to a
dynamic disk without losing any of the data. To upgrade a disk
from basic to dynamic, right-click the disk (left from the partitions),
and select Upgrade To Dynamic Disk. You will need to
restart the computer after the upgrade.
disks - If you want to revert a dynamic disk back to a basic
disk, you first need to remove all the volumes, create
a full backup, and remove all data. After that, right-click the
disk and select Revert To Basic Disk.
Extending volumes - simple and spanned volumes formatted
with NTFS can be extended to included unallocated space from the
same disk(s) or from a new disk, without losing any of the data.
Only the new space will be formatted. The boot or system
volume cannot be extended. When a simple volume is extended to
include free space from another physical disk it will become a
spanned volume. To extend a volume, right click the volume you
want to extend, select Extend Volume and select unallocated
space from a dynamic disk.
a striped volume - To create a striped volume, right-click
unallocated space on a dynamic disk and select Striped Volume.
Remember that you need at least two physical disks to create a
disks - When you add a disk to a Windows XP computer you
may need to use the Rescan option from the Action
menu in Disk Management. If the computer cannot find
or initialize the disk you may need to restart your computer.
The Rescan command updates information about the hardware
configuration of storage devices.
Foreign Disks - When you add a dynamic disk moved from another
computer, you need to import the disk. You can do this by right-clicking
the disk that is marked as Foreign, and select Import
Foreign Disks. When you want to import a disk that is part
of a striped or spanned volume, you will need to move all the
disks that were part of the volume.
- The Refresh option, also located on the Action
menu, allows you to refresh the displayed disk and volume information
about drive letters, file systems, volumes, and removable media.
The Action option also checks to see if previously unreadable
volumes are now readable.
- When you create a new partition or volume, or want to reformat
a current volume, you can format it with either FAT, FAT32 or
NTFS. In addition to selecting the file system you can enter the
volume name, allocation unit size, opt to perform a quick format,
and enable the file and folder compression.
a partition as active - When the computer boots it will read
the MBR (Master Boot Record) from the active partition. On a Windows
XP computer this should be the system partition which
contains the files needed to boot Windows (NTLDR, BOOT.INI, etc).
Disk Management - In addition to local disk management, Disk
Management can be used to manage disks on a remote computer running
Windows 2000/XP/2003. You have to be a member of the Administrators
group on the remote computer.
volumes - When a basic or dynamic disk is formatted with
NTFS it can be assigned a drive path instead of a drive letter.
The disk can be mounted to an empty NTFS folder allowing it to
be accessed like any ordinary folder. To mount a volume to a folder,
create an empty folder on an NTFS volume, right-click the new
volume and select Change Drive Letter and Paths, click
Add. Select Mount in the following empty NTFS folder
and enter the path to an empty folder on an NTFS volume.
XP also offers a command-line tool to manage disks called Diskpart.
You can use the command-line tool to perform the tasks you would
normally perform in Disk Management, including creating
volumes or upgrading disks to dynamic. The main advantage of this
command-line tool is that it allows you to create scripts to automate
tasks. Click the following link for more information about the Diskpart
Description of the Diskpart Command-Line Utility.
Windows XP supports a wide variety of removable
storage devices such as CD-ROM/DVD-ROM and tape drives. Removable
media devices are labeled Removable in Disk Management.
Disk Management allows you to create a primary partition
on removable media if necessary. A primary partition on removable
media cannot be marked as active and cannot be removed.
The Removable Storage console allows you to manage the
libraries, such as changers and jukeboxes that contain removable
media. Right-click My Computer and click Manage to open
Computer Management. Under Storage click Removable
Storage. If you select Full in the View menu you will
have several extra options, including creating Media Pools.
Software utilities such as Windows Backup are used to manage
the data stored on media in a media pool.
they are more often found in servers, a tape device can also be
found in Windows XP desktop computers, typically for writing backups
to tape. There are several different types of tape devices (and
tapes), both external and internal. External
tape devices for example, can be connected to an SCSI, USB or IEEE
1394 interface on the computer. Most USB and IEEE 1394 devices are
plug and play, and do not require special software or configuration.
For others you may need to install the manufacturers software. If
the device is properly installed it should turn up in the Removable
Unless you installed Windows XP using RIS or system imaging software,
the computer will already have a CD or DVD drive installed. When
you do add a new CD/DVD-drive, it will probably be auto-detected
by Windows XP. In some cases, when you have a CD/DVD recorder
for example, you may need to install additional drivers.
Windows XP introduced built-in CD recording software. This feature
allows you to write data to a CD-R or CD-RW without using third-party
CD recording software. To write files or folders to a CD simply
drag them to the DVD/CD-R(W) drive icon or copy your files and folders
and right-click the recorder and select Write these files to
CD. On the Recording tab of the CD-recorder's Properties
you can disable/enable CD recording, specify the temporary drive
location, and select the recording speed. You cannot duplicate a
CD using the built-in recording software.
In addition to setting security (Use, Control,
and Modify permissions) on individual items such as libraries
and media pools, you can configure a local security policy setting
that prevents users from formatting and ejecting removable media.
There is also a policy setting you can use to limit access to a
CD-ROM or floppy drive to locally logged-on users only.