What is Dynamic Disk?

Concept of Dynamic Disk

Many people have this question, "what is dynamic disk?" this article will give you the answer. The volumes of Dynamic Disk are managed with the help of LDM database, which is the short form of Logical Disk Manager. It has 1 MB hidden at the end of the Dynamic Disk. The little 1MB amazingly owns all the information records of the disk as well as some relevant information about each dynamic disk, for instance, the Drive Letter, Label, the size and file system of the volume and which volume is dynamic, etc.

If there is more than one dynamic disk on the computer, each one will have the information mentioned above, which means they all have inner relevance. It is exact the relation that makes you able to see a "missing" disk in Windows Disk Management if you remove a dynamic disk or a disk goes wrong. All these information are conserved in LDM database, which indicates that the LDM database is of great significance just like the Partition Table of the basic disk. (See the picture below)

In the picture above, there are two blue areas. The one preceding the Dynamic Volume 1 is the MBR, which records the partition information on the disk. From MBR, the operating system or other partition software can identify whether the disk is dynamic or not. The second one is the LDM database.

Dynamic Disk and Basic Disk

With the Windows snap-in Disk Management, you can easily convert basic disk to dynamic. However, the dynamic disk does not support some operations, for example, in Win7 Home Edition, the operating system can not be installed. Therefore, you must convert it back. The Disk Management can reach the goal only by deleting the dynamic volumes, which makes the data backup very complicated. So here the Dynamic Disk Converter is firmly recommended for you in order to convert without deleting any volume. You can get more information at http://www.dynamic-disk-converter.com/

Dynamic Disk Partition Management

The volume of the dynamic disk can be grouped into five: Simple, Spanned, Striped, Mirrored and RAID-5 Volume. They possess their own drive letter and volume label to make a distinction.

Simple Volume

The simple volume is just like the primary or extended partition on basic disk. If you have only one dynamic disk, you can only create simple volume. However, the volumes can be discontinuous. (See the picture below)

Spanned Volume

You can create spanned volume if you have more than one disk. It can combine the unallocated space on two or more disks (32 disks at most) into one volume. About the data writing, when one volume is full, Windows will automatically write data to the volume on the next dynamic disk, which help you make the best of the space use. However, it is not fault-tolerant, that is to say, when one of the disks containing a spanned volume fails, and all the information in the spanned volumes will be inaccessible.

Striped Volume

Just the same as Spanned Volume, it can be created if there are two or more disks. Also, it has the advantage of improving the disk performance. It can not be extended of mirrored, and it is not fault-tolerant as well. The size of the striped volume on each disk is the same. Different type of volume is labeled with different color.

Mirrored Volume

You can simply regard it as a copy of Simple Volume. It is created on two disks: one is used to save data; another is just a duplicate of the first one. When one fails, you can use the data on the second disk. It indicates that the mirrored volume is fault-tolerant.

A RAID-5 volume

It needs at least three disks. It possesses the superiority of both Spanned and Mirrored volumes: performance improvement and fault tolerance. If one disk fails, the RAID-5 volume on that disk can be rebuilt again with the help of volumes on other disks. The size is calculated as the total amount of all the volumes minus the RAID-5 volume size on one disk.

Windows support for Dynamic Volume or not

The following table describes the support case for each Windows.

Operating System Simple, Spanned and Striped Volume Mirrored Volume RAID-5 Volume
Windows 9x/Me, DOS
Windows 2000 Professional
Windows 2000 Server
Windows 2000 Advanced Server
Windows XP Home
Windows XP Professional
Windows Server 2003 Standard
Windows Server 2003 Enterprise
Windows Vista Ultimate
Windows 2008 Server
Windows 2008 Web Server
Windows 7 Ultimate

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