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Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Convert a Basic Disk to a Dynamic Disk

Information
A disk is a separate physical hard drive. This will show you how to convert a basic disk to a dynamic, also known as "software RAID", disk in Windows Disk Manager or in a command prompt without losing anything on the disk. By default Windows uses Basic disks.

Basic and dynamic disks both support using MBR and GPT partition (volume) styles. When you convert a basic disk to a dynamic disk, any existing partitions or logical drives on the basic disk become simple volumes on the dynamic disk.

This procedure is applicable to Windows 7 but may be applicable to Windows XP as well.

Note
Differences Between Basic and Dynamic Disks:
Basic disks are supported (readable) by all Windows operating systems since MS-DOS.

Dynamic disks are only supported (readable) by Windows 2000, XP Professional, Windows Server 2003, Vista Ultimate, Vista Enterprise, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008.

Basic disks can have up to 128 GPT primary partitions, or 4 MBR primary partitions or or 3 MBR primary partition and 1 extended partition with up to 128 logical volumes in the extended partition.

Dynamic disks can have up to 2000 dynamic volumes that function like a primary partition used in basic disks.

Basic disks cannot share or split data with other primary or logical partitions, or basic disks. Each partitiion on a basic disk is treated as if it was a separate hard disk on the basic disk.

Separate dynamic disks can be combined into a single dynamic volume (spanning), split data among several dynamic disks (striping) for increased performance, or duplicate data among several dynamic disks (mirroring) for increased reliability.

Hard disks are basic disks by default, including removable disks and disks on a laptop (notepad).
Removable disks or disks on a laptop (notepad) cannot be converted to a dynamic disk.

Warning

VERY IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ THIS FIRST.

You must be a administrator to do this in Windows.
DO NOT convert a basic disk that contains a installed operating system to a dynamic disk. Doing so will cause you to no longer be able to boot or start that operating system.

If you are using a basic disk as a storage area for shadow copies (System Protection) and you intend to convert the disk into a dynamic disk, it is important to take the following precaution to avoid the loss of data in the storage area. If the basic disk is a non-boot volume (partition) and is a different volume from where the original files reside, you must first dismount and take offline the volume containing the original files before you convert the disk containing shadow copies to a dynamic disk. You must bring the volume containing the original files back online within 20 minutes, otherwise, you will lose the data stored in the existing shadow copies. If the shadow copies are located on a boot volume, you can convert the disk to dynamic without losing shadow copies. You can use the mountvol command with the /p option to dismount the volume and take it offline. You can mount the volume and bring it online using the mountvol command or the Disk Management snap-in.

When restoring a system image from a dynamic volume, the disks on your computer cannot be formatted to match the layout of the disks on the backup. To have full functionality, select a volume (partition) on a basic disk as your backup location instead.

After you convert a basic disk to a dynamic disk, you cannot change the dynamic volumes back to partitions. Instead, you must delete all dynamic volumes on the dynamic disk and then convert it to a basic disk. If you want to keep your data, you must first back it up or move it to another volume.

If you disable the Disk Defragmenter service, then you will get the error below when you try to do anything in Disk Management. If you get this error, then make sure that the Disk Defragmenter service is set to only Manual.

Through Disk Management

1. Open the Control Panel (All Items view), and click on the Administrative Tools icon, then close the Control Panel window.

2. Click on Computer Management in Administrative Tools, then close the Administrative Tools window.

3. If prompted by UAC, click on Yes.

4. In the left pane under Storage, click on Disk Management. (See screenshot below)

5. Right click on the disk (ex: Disk 1) that you want to convert to a dynamic disk, and click on Convert to Dynamic Disk. (See screenshot above)

6. Make sure that the box is checked for only the disk (ex: Disk 1) that you want to convert to
a dynamic disk, and click on OK. (See screenshot below)

7. Click on Convert. (See left screenshot below)

NOTE: 

To see more details about the disk being converted, click on the Details button first. Click on OK. when done with details. (See right screenshot below)

8. Click on Yes to confirm. (See screenshot below)

9. When done, you will notice that the disk is now a dynamic disk with your partitions from the basic disk now as simple volumes in Disk Management. (See screenshot below)

10. When done, close Disk Management.

This procedure is applicable to Windows 7 but may be applicable to Windows XP as well.

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