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Identify Your Disk Storage Type: Basic or Dynamic Disks

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Basic disks and dynamic disks are two types of hard disk configurations in Windows. Most personal computers are configured as basic disks, which are the simplest to manage. Advanced users and IT professionals can make use of dynamic disks, which use multiple hard disks within a computer to manage data, usually for improved disk I/O performance or enhanced data reliability. You can use both basic and dynamic disks within one system. The only limitation is that you cannot mix basic and dynamic disks on the same hard drive.

Basic Disks

Basic disks are the storage types most often used with Windows. A basic disk uses primary partitions, extended partitions, and logical drives to organize data. Basic disks can have either a maximum of four primary partitions or three primary partitions and one extended partition.

Dynamic Disks

Dynamic Disk is a physical disk that doesn’t use partitions or logical drives. Instead, it contains only dynamic volumes. There are five types of dynamic volumes:

  • Simple Volumes: a volume uses free space from a single disk.
  • Spanned Volumes: a volume consists of free disk space that is linked together from multiple disks.
  • Striped Volumes: a volume the data of which is interleaved across two or more physical disks. It is also known as RAID 0.
  • Mirrored Volumes: a fault-tolerant volume the data of which is duplicated on two physical disks. It is also known as RAID 1.
  • RAID-5 Volumes: a fault-tolerant volume the data of which is striped across an array of three or more disks.
Dynamic disk storage can be particularly beneficial for large-scale businesses when dealing with many physical hard disks involving complex setup.

How to Identify Disk Storage Type?

The terms volume and partition are often used interchangeably. Therefore, some users may don’t know which disk storage type their hard disk is. Then, is there any way to distinguish between basic and dynamic disks? Of course, we can distinguish between them with Windows Disk Management snap-in:

To begin, you need to access Windows built-in Disk Management:

Click on the "Start" button in Windows 7 and Windows Vista (In Windows XP/2000/2003/2008/2011/2012, click on "Start" and then "Run"). Then, type "diskmgmt.msc" command in the text box and then click on "OK" or hit the "Enter" key.

Then, Windows Disk Management will open immediately.

The system above is configured as one single basic disk (disk 0) and three dynamic disks (disk 1, 2, 3).

Methods to identify basic or dynamic disks:

The followings are two methods:

Method 1: Identify disk storage type from the "Volume List".

As the screen shot shown, we can identify basic disk partitions and dynamic disks volumes from the "Layout" and "Type". For example, basic disk partition Tools (E:) is displayed with "Partition" in Layout and "Basic" in Type. However, dynamic disk volume Striped Volume (G:) is displayed with "Striped" in Layout and "Dynamic" in Type.

Method 2: Identify disk storage type from the "Graphical View".

It is very easy to identify disk storage type from the disk name. For example, Disk 0 is shown as "Basic", namely, it’s a basic disk. In like manner, Disk 1, 2, 3 are dynamic disks.

Besides, to help users differentiate between basic disk partitions and dynamic disk volumes, Windows Disk Management snap-in color codes them in graphical view. For example, basic disk primary partitions are color coded with a dark blue band and logical drives in extended partitions are color coded with a light blue band. The key for the color scheme is shown at the bottom of the Disk Management window.

Basic and Dynamic Disks Management

To optimize Windows Server and PC performance and maximize disk space usage, the following operations are necessary.

> Basic disks storage management – AOMEI Partition Assistant

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Note: AOMEI Partition Assistant ONLY applies to basic disks. If you want to manage dynamic disks storage, AOMEI Dynamic Disk Manager is recommended.

> Dynamic disks storage management – AOMEI Dynamic Disk Manager

AOMEI Dynamic Disk Manager is a full-featured and easy-to-use software which is especially designed to manage dynamic disks and dynamic volumes. It enables you to resize dynamic disks, extend dynamic volumes, shrink dynamic volumes, convert dynamic disk to basic, add drive to RAID, move volume slice, etc. Learn more features…

Note: AOMEI Dynamic Disk Manager ONLY applies to dynamic disks. If you want to manage basic disks storage, AOMEI Partition Assistant is recommended.

> Conversion from dynamic disk to basic disk – AOMEI Dynamic Disk Converter

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Note: Both AOMEI Dynamic Disk Manager and AOMEI Dynamic Disk Converter support convert dynamic disk to basic disk, besides, AOMEI Dynamic Disk Manager has many other features, such as resize dynamic disk, extend dynamic system volume, etc. Therefore, choose the right one according to your needs.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: support@aomeitech.com

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