What is difference between basic and dynamic disk?

From Windows 2000 onwards, started to introduce the concept of dynamic disks, and as early as in the DOS era began to use basic disks. However, they have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here is a detailed article to discuss the difference between basic disk and dynamic disk in Windows 2000/XP/2003/2008/2011/2012/Vista and Windows 7, 8.

Overview

Basic Disk
Basic Disk uses a partition table to manage all partitions on the disk, and it is supported by DOS and all Windows versions. A disk with installed OS would be default initialized to a basic one. A basic disk contains basic volumes, such as primary partitions, extended partition, and all logical partitions are contained in extended partition. To manage basic disk partition, we recommend AOMEI Partition Assistant which is an ALL-IN-ONE partition manager software and disk management utility. It allows you to resize/move partition, extend system/boot partition, merge partitions, split partition, copy disk and copy partition based on basic disk storage environment.

Dynamic Disk
Dynamic Disk is supported in Windows 2000 and later operating system. Dynamic disks do not use a partition table to track all partitions, but use a hidden database (LDM) to track information about dynamic volumes or dynamic partitions on the disk. With dynamic disks you can create volumes that span multiple disks such as spanned and striped volumes, and can also create fault-tolerant volumes such as mirrored volumes and RAID 5 volumes. Compared to a Basic Disk, Dynamic Disk offers greater flexibility. To manage dynamic disk partition, we recommend AOMEI Dynamic Disk Manager which is a complete solution for dynamic disks and dynamic volumes management. It enables you to resize dynamic disk, extend dynamic system volume, increase mirrored (RAID 1) volume, expand RAID-5 volume, add drive to RAID and remove drive from RAID based on dynamic disk storage environment.

Detailed differences

  • Essential difference
    Basic Disks use a Partition Table to manage all partitions on the basic disk.
    Dynamic Disks use a hidden LDM database to manage all volumes on the dynamic disk.
  • Support for each Windows
    Basic Disks is supported by all Windows and include MSDOS, Win95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP/2003/2008/Vista/Windows 7, 8.
    Dynamic Disks is supported by Win2000/XP/2003/2008/2011/2012/Vista and Windows 7/8, but isn't supported by MSDOS, Win95/98/Me/NT and Windows XP Home Edition.
  • Change capacity for partitions
    Basic Disks once create a partition, you can not change its capacity, unless use third-party tools.
    Dynamic Disks without restarting system expand the capacity of volumes, and don’t loss of data.
  • Disk space limited
    Basic Disks, the maximum capacity of a partition (volume) can be limited to 2TB.
    Dynamic Disks can well handle the large partition of more than 2TB.
  • The number of partitions
    Basic Disks, at most can have 4 the primary partition, and usually the best is 3 primary partitions and 1 extended partition.
    Dynamic Disks, you can create unlimited number of partitions.
  • Volumes type
    Basic Disks only can create any primary or logical partition.
    Dynamic Disks can create simple volume, spanned volume, striped volume, mirrored volume and RAID-5 volume.
  • Mutual convertibility
    Basic Disks can easily convert to a dynamic disk without any losing-data. Do not even need to restart the computer during the conversion.
    Dynamic Disks convert to a basic disk, which need to delete all volumes on the dynamic disk, unless use third-party tools such as Dynamic Disk Converter.
  • Installation operating system
    Basic Disks, any operating system can be installed to a basic disk.
    Dynamic Disks, for the moment, all operating system can't be installed to a dynamic disk.

Similarity

  • Supported file systems
    Basic Disks and Dynamic Disks all support FAT, FAT32 and NTFS file systems. May be in individual operating systems, can not directly create a FAT32 dynamic volume, but after creating a NTFS dynamic volume, you could re-format it as FAT32.
  • Have a partition table
    Dynamic Disks have a partition table too, but this partition table is not the same as one of Basic Disk. Its main function is to let Windows and Other Partition Manager can know the disk is a dynamic disk instead of an empty disk.
  • Label and Drive Letter
    On Basic Disks and Dynamic Disks, you can set label and assign drive letter for all volumes or partitions such as "system (C:)".
  • Adjust partition size for Vista and later OS
    Both Basic Disks and Dynamic Disks, you can extend and shrink the partitions (volumes) size, but don't move its location for any partitions in Vista/2008 and Windows 7, 8.
  • Convert file system from FAT to NTFS
    If your partitions (volumes) are a FAT file system, you could convert FAT (FAT32) to NTFS by using "convert C: /FS:NTFS" in command line.

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