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Dynamic Volumes

What were once called sets (such as mirror sets and stripe sets) under earlier operating systems are called volumes (such as mirrored volumes and striped volumes) in Windows XP.

Dynamic volumes are the only type of volume you can create on Dynamic disks.

Dynamic disks eliminate the four partitions per disk limitation of Basic disks. You can install Windows XP Professional onto a dynamic volume; however, the volume must already contain a partition table. (It must have been converted from Basic to Dynamic under Windows XP or Windows 2000.)


You cannot install Windows XP onto dynamic volumes that were created under Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows Server 2003 from unallocated space.

Only computers running Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000, or Windows Server 2003 can access dynamic volumes. The five types of dynamic volumes are simple, spanned, mirrored, striped, and RAID-5. Windows XP Professional supports only simple, spanned, and striped dynamic volumes, shown in Figure 3.7.

Figure 3.7Figure 3.7 Simple (E, G); spanned (F); and striped (H) dynamic volumes displayed in Disk Management.

By default, Disk Management uses solid colors to represent the five different types of dynamic volumes. Table 3.2 lists the colors Disk Management uses by default.

Table 3.2 Colors Used by Disk Management to Represent Drives





Extended partition


Logical drive


Mirrored volume

Brick (server only)

Primary partition

Dark blue

Striped volume

Cadet blue

RAID-5 volume

Cyan (server only)

Free space

Light green

Simple volume


Spanned volume


You must be an administrator or a member of the Administrators group to create, modify, or delete dynamic volumes.

Simple Volumes

A simple volume consists of disk space on a single physical disk. It can consist of a single area on a disk or multiple areas on the same disk that are linked together.

To create a simple volume, perform the following steps:

  1. Open Disk Management.

  2. Right-click the unallocated space on the Dynamic disk where you want to create the simple volume and then click New Volume.

  3. Using the New Volume Wizard, shown in Figure 3.8, click Next, click Simple, and then provide the volume's size and formatting details.

Figure 3.8Figure 3.8 Using the New Volume Wizard for Dynamic disks to create different types of dynamic volumes.

Spanned Volumes

A spanned volume consists of disk space from more than one physical disk. You can add more space to a spanned volume by extending it at any time.

To create a spanned volume, perform the following steps:

  1. Open Disk Management.

  2. Right-click the unallocated space on one of the Dynamic disks where you want to create the spanned volume and then click New Volume.

  3. Using the New Volume Wizard, click Next, click Spanned, and then follow the instructions on your screen.

Here are guidelines for spanned volumes:

  • You can create spanned volumes on Dynamic disks only.

  • You need at least two Dynamic disks to create a spanned volume.

  • You can extend a spanned volume onto a maximum of 32 Dynamic disks.

  • Spanned volumes cannot be striped.

  • Spanned volumes are not fault-tolerant.

Extending Simple or Spanned Volumes

To extend a simple or spanned volume, perform the following steps:

  1. Open Disk Management.

  2. Right-click the simple or spanned volume you want to extend, click Extend Volume, and then follow the instructions on your screen.

In general, you cannot extend a volume that maintains its entries in the partition table. This includes the system and boot volumes of the operating system used to convert the disk from Basic to Dynamic.

Here are guidelines for extending a simple or a spanned volume:

  • You cannot extend volumes formatted using FAT or FAT32. You can extend a volume if it is formatted using NTFS or contains no file system.

  • You cannot extend a volume that was converted from Basic to Dynamic by the Windows 2000 Disk Management tool.

  • If you extend a simple volume across multiple disks, it becomes a spanned volume.

  • After you extend a Windows XP dynamic volume onto multiple disks, you cannot stripe it.

  • You cannot extend a system volume or boot volume.

  • After a spanned volume is extended, deleting any portion of it deletes the entire spanned volume.

  • You can extend both simple and spanned volumes onto a maximum of 32 Dynamic disks.

  • Spanned volumes write data to subsequent disks as each disk volume fills up. Therefore, a spanned volume writes data to physical disk 0 until it fills up, then writes to physical disk 1 and so on. If a single disk in the spanned volume fails, only the data contained on that failed disk is lost.

Striped Volumes

Striped volumes store data in stripes across two or more physical disks. Data in a striped volume is allocated evenly and across (in stripes) the disks of the striped volume. Storing files in this manner increases the write/read speed to and from your disks.

To create a striped volume, perform the following steps:

  1. Open Disk Management.

  2. Right-click unallocated space on one of the Dynamic disks where you want to create the striped volume and then click New Volume.

  3. Using the New Volume Wizard, click Next, click Striped, and then follow the instructions on your screen.

Here are the guidelines for striped volumes:

  • You need at least two physical, Dynamic disks to create a striped volume.

  • You can create a striped volume onto a maximum of 32 disks.

  • Striped volumes are not fault-tolerant and cannot be extended or mirrored.

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