In this post I will talk about the differences between basic and dynamic disks, I think many of you heard about these terminology, that’s why I hope this post will clarify any misunderstanding.
A basic disk will use basic partition tables and will contain primary, extended and logical partitions. With a basic disk you can create and delete the primary and extended partitions, you can format partitions and mark them as active (the active partition will hold the OS). An Operating System will have only one active partition, but several partitions can host individual Operating Systems. An example would be a computer that uses a multi-operating system architecture, such as Linux on one partition and Windows on another. Basic disks offer support for USB removable drives and clustered disks. A partition stored on a basic disk can be extended, but only if it has been formatted as NTFS file system. The unallocated space must be adjacent to the partition needed to be extended and also on the same disk. A Basic disk can have a maximum of four primary partitions or three primary and one extended partition (the extended partitions can contain multiple logical partitions).
A disk can also be initiated as a dynamic disk. Dynamic disks have many features that do not exist on basic disks. You can create volumes that can be stored on multiple disks, create mirrored disks or even a combination between those two. Dynamic partitions can use GPT and MBT partition architectures (see here: http://www.ittrainingday.com/2013/02/the-difference-between-mbr-and-gpt.html). Dynamic disks use databases to track individual pieces of information. These databases are replicated between them so they can be recreated/rebuild if they get corrupted. The space need to extend/increase storage capacity of a dynamic disk must not necessary be on the same physical disk. You can convert a basic disk into a dynamic disk using computer management console. On a dynamic disk you can also create complex volumes such as spanned, striped, mirrored and other forms of volumes (you may have probably heard about RAID disks). Dynamic partitions can be recreated, extended, activated/deactivated etc.
I think these are the main differences between basic and dynamic disks. I will explain the main terminology used in this post:
A volume is a logical storage unit that can be created on one or more physical disks. This volume must be formatted using MBR or GPT partitioning styles and assigned a letter (C, D, E etc.). A simple disk is stored on a single physical disk while a spanned volume can be stored on multiple physical disks.
The boot volume contains the Windows operating system files. These are usually stored in C:\Windows and C:\Windows\System32. The system volume holds the hardware specific information needed to load Windows. Read more about boot and system volumes on Microsoft’s website: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314470.
On a mirrored volume data is replicated between two physical disks. This type of volume offers redundancy and protection for data (fault-tolerant). A mirrored volume cannot be extended, it is also known as RAID1 volume. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. In RAID1, if one disk fails, data can be recovered from the other disk and the RAID1 structure can be rebuild.
A spanned volume can be created from space allocated from multiple disks. Disk space is linked from one disk to another to form the whole storage block. A maximum of 32 disks can form a spanned volume. A spanned volume offers no protection against faults.
A striped volume writes blocks of data on multiple physical disks. Information is interleaved on disks that form the striped volume so that hardware resources are equally used. Striped volumes offers a fast way to manipulate data but does not offer fault protection. These are also known as RAID0. There are many types of RAID disks that offer a combination between these features. Read more about RAID disks on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID). Here you can also find images of the RAID disks and how they operate.
That’s it for now guys, I hope you will enjoy this.