Manage Hard Disks in XP

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Before you start

Objectives: learn how to create new partitions, extend partitions, create logical drives, convert from Basic to Dynamic disks, and create new and extend existing Volumes in Windows XP.

Prerequisites: you have to know what is file system.

Key terms: partition, volume, create, disk, extend, space, dynamic, basic, logical, drive, hard, free, primary, spanned, upgrade


Configure Partitions

Storage on Basic disks is organized into partitions and logical drives. We can use Disk Management which is located in Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > Administrative Tools > Computer Management, to manage partitions and logical drives. Notice that Disk 2 (E:) is Basic disk.

 Basic Disk

Image 253.1 – Basic Disk

To create new partition, we have to right-click the unallocated space and select ‘New partition’ to open ‘New Partition Wizard’.

New Partition

Image 253.2 – New Partition

New Partition Wizard

Image 253.3 – New Partition Wizard

Click ‘Next’. We can create a Primary partition or an Extended partition. A Primary partition is a partition from which an operating system can start (it must be marked as Active, and is usually represented with drive letter C:). Only one partition can be marked as ‘Active’. We can create up to four primary partitions on a single disk, or we can create three primary partitions and one Extended partition. An Extended partition allows us to create more than four partitions on a Basic disk. Extended partitions actually contain Logical drives. If we create an Extended partition, then we will have to add Logical drives to that Extended partition. To recap, we can only create one Extended partition on single disk, but we can create multiple Logical drives on that partition. Those drives will have their own drive letters in Windows. Let’s select ‘Primary partition’.

 Select Partition Type

Image 253.4 – Select Partition Type

Click ‘Next’. We need to enter the partition size. In this example we will use 1 GB of space.

 Specify Partition Size

Image 253.5 – Specify Partition Size

Let’s click ‘Next’. We will use the E drive.

 Drive Letter or Path

Image 254.6 – Specify Drive Letter

Click ‘Next’. We will use NTFS and perform a quick format.

 Format Partition

Image 253.7 – Format Options

Click ‘Next’. Click ‘Finish’ to create partition. As you can see we now have a new partition.

 New Partition

Image 253.8 – New Partition

Now, let’s create an Extended partition. Right-click the unallocated space, select ‘New partition’, and click ‘Next’.

 New Partition

Image 253.9 – Right-click Unallocated Space

This time we want to create an Extended partition, so we will select ‘Extended partition’ option.

 Extended Partition

Image 253.10 – Extended Partition

Click ‘Next’. Let’s use the rest of the space on the disk.

 Partition Size

Image 253.11 – Partition Size

Click ‘Next’ and click ‘Finish’. Notice that the Extended partition exists, but there aren’t any drives in it.

 Extended Disk

Image 253.12 – Extended Disk

At this point we need to create Logical drives. Let’s right-click ‘free space’ on our extended partition and select ‘New logical drive’. Click ‘Next’ on the Wizard. We have only one option – to create a Logical drive.

 Logical Drive

Image 253.13 – Logical Drive Option

Click ‘Next’. We need to specify the size of the Logical drive. In our example we will enter 1 GB again.

 Size

Image 253.14 – Size Options

Click ‘Next’. We will accept the F drive.

 Drive Letter

Image 253.15 – Drive Letter

Click ‘Next’. We will perform a quick format on an NTFS volume.

 Formating

Image 253.16 – Formatting Options

Click ‘Next’ again and then click ‘Finish’. At this point we have one Primary partition and one Extended partition which contains a single Logical drive. We still have some free space left, so we can use that free space to create additional Logical drives.

Logical Drive Created

Image 253.17 – Logical Drive Created

Configure Disk Types

Before we can create Volumes to take advantage of the new volume features in Windows XP, we must upgrade our Hard Disk to a Dynamic disk. To do that, go to the Disk Management utility. Let’s take a look at Disk 2.

Disk 2

Image 253.18 – Disk 2

Notice the Disc 2 is currently configured as Basic disk. It contains a Primary partition and Extended partition with one Logical drive. We also have some free space on our extended partition. We can upgrade new, clean disks or we can upgrade a disk that already contains data. To upgrade the disk to Dynamic, in our case we will right-click Disk 2 and select ‘Convert to Dynamic Disk’.

 Convert to Dynamic Disk

Image 253.19 – Right-click Disk 2

Notice that we can select multiple disks for conversion. In our example we will only check Disk 2. Click OK.

 Disk Selection

Image 253.20 – Disk Selection

On the next screen we can see all the disks that are going to be converted. Click ‘Convert’.

 Disks to Convert

Image 253.21 – Disks to Convert

We will get a warning. If we convert this disk to Dynamic disk, we will not be able to start other installed operating systems. Let’s click ‘Yes’ to continue.

 First Warning

Image 253.22 – First Warning

Again we have a warning. The disks being converted will be dismounted. Click ‘Yes’ to continue.

 Second Warning

Image 253.23 – Second Warning

That’s it. Notice that the Primary partition, Extended partition, and Logical drive have been converted to Simple volumes. Notice that the free space, that was located on the Extended partition, is now unallocated.

 Resulting Volumes

Image 253.24 – Resulting Volumes

Let’s say that we have a Dynamic disk and we want to convert it to a Basic disk. To do that first we have to delete all the volumes on the disk. Let’s right click on every volume and select ‘Delete Volume’. All data on the Volume will be lost. Of course, we have to backup our data before we delete Volumes. Click ‘Yes’ on the warning message.

 Warning Message

Image 253.25 – Warning Message

Now we can convert Disk 2 to Basic disk. Let’s right-click Disk 2 and select ‘Convert to Basic Disk’.

Convert to Basic Disk

Image 253.26 – Right-click Disk 2

Notice that the Disk 2 is now a Basic disk.

Basic Disk

Image 253.27 – Basic Disk

Create Volumes

Storage on Dynamic disks is organized by Volumes. We can use Disk Management to create new Volumes. In our example we have one Basic disk, and two Dynamic disks.

 Disks

Image 253.28 – Disks

Let’s create a new Volume. To do that, in our case we will right-click Disk 2, start the ‘New Volume Wizard’, and click ‘Next’. The following window appears.

 Volume Type

Image 253.29 – Volume Type

First we need to specify the type of Volume that we want to create. Options that are available depend on the disks that we have in our system. For example, if we have only one disk with free space, we’ll be able to create a Simple volume. Simple volume uses one disk. In our example, we have two disks with free space, so we can create a Spanned or a Striped volume. Spanned and Striped volumes require two disks with free space. Let’s select ‘Spanned’.

 Spanned

Image 253.30 – Spanned Volume Selected

Click ‘Next’. Now we need to select disks.

 Disk Selection

Image 253.31 – Disk Selection

On the left we see a list of available disks and on the right we see a list of disks that will be used in our Spanned volume. Notice that Disk 2 is already selected. That’s because we have selected Disk 2 when we started the wizard. Let’s select Disk 0 and click on the ‘Add’ button. We can also change the amount of space for our Volume. We can do that on both disks. In our example we will use all available space for our Volume. Let’s click ‘Next’.

 Drive Letter

Image 253.32 – Drive Letter

We will use the drive letter ‘E’. Let’s click ‘Next’.

 Formating

Image 253.33 – Formatting Options

Because we are using Dynamic disks we can only use NTFS. We can also change the allocation unit size. Allocation unit is the smallest amount of space that can be allocated to store a file. The smaller the Allocation unit size, the more efficiently we store information. Let’s click ‘Next’, and ‘Finish’. Now we have a Spanned volume on Disk 0 and Disk 2.

 New Volume

Image 253.34 – New Volume

Extend Volumes

Let’s say that we have a following situation. We have three disks. Disk 1 is Basic disk, Disk 0 is Dynamic disk and we have created a Volume on it. Disk 2 is also a Dynamic disk, but it is now unallocated.

Disks

Image 253.35 – Disks

Let’s say that we have run out of space on Disk 0. We can extend Disk 0 with free space on Disk 2. To do that, right-click the Disk 0 and select ‘Extend Volume’. The Wizard will appear, so click ‘Next’.

 Right-click

Image 253.36 – Right-click

Now, we have to select the disks to extend to. Let’s select Disk 2 and click ‘Add’ button. We will use the maximum available space.

 Selected Disks for Extension

Image 253.37 – Selected Disk

Let’s click ‘Next’, and click ‘Finish’. Notice that we have extended our volume E to the Disk 2.

 Extended Volume

Image 253.38 – Extended Volume

Remember

Storage on Basic disks is organized into partitions and logical drives. A Primary partition is a partition from which an operating system can start (it must be marked as Active). Only one partition can be marked as ‘Active’. We can create up to four primary partitions on a single disk, or we can create three primary partitions and one Extended partition. An Extended partition allows us to create more than four partitions on a Basic disk. Extended partitions actually contain Logical drives. If we create an Extended partition, then we will have to add Logical drives to that Extended partition. We can only create one Extended partition on single disk, but we can create multiple Logical drives on that partition. Storage on Dynamic disks is organized by Volumes. Before we can create Volumes we must upgrade our Hard Disk to a Dynamic disk. We can upgrade new, clean disks or we can upgrade a disk that already contains data, to Dynamic disk. To convert Dynamic disk back to Basic disk, first we have to delete all Volumes on the disk. Simple volume uses one disk. Spanned and Striped volumes require two disks with free space. With Dynamic disks we can only use NTFS as our File System. We cannot extend Basic disks, or Volume from which the operating system boots from.

Paths that are mentioned in this article

  • Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management – utility which we can use to manage Hard Disks in XP