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Troubleshooting Issues on Basic and Dynamic Disks

As a desktop support technician, you configure Dynamic disks and dynamic volumes in specific circumstances; you need to be aware when each is appropriate and be prepared to recover data should the disks or volumes fail.

If you upgrade a computer running Windows 2000 Professional that has hard drives configured as volume sets or stripe sets, you must back up all the data stored on each volume set or stripe set first because Windows XP Professional does not support volume sets or stripe sets on a Basic disk.

  • Under Windows 2000 Professional, volume sets and stripe sets are supported on Basic disks for backward compatibility to NT 4.0 workstations. However, you cannot create such sets on Basic disks in Windows 2000.

  • Under Windows XP Professional, volume sets and stripe sets are strictly not supported during installations. Windows XP Professional Setup does not allow an installation to complete if stripe sets or volume sets are present on Basic disks.

To migrate data on volume sets or stripe sets stored on Basic disks from Windows 2000 Professional to Windows XP Professional, perform the following steps:

  1. Under Windows 2000, back up the data.

  2. Under Windows 2000, use the Disk Management console to convert the Basic disks to Dynamic disks.

  3. Upgrade the operating system to Windows XP Professional.

Installing Windows XP on a Dynamic Disk

If you create a dynamic volume from unallocated space on a Dynamic disk, you cannot install Windows XP on that volume because Windows XP Setup recognizes only dynamic volumes that are in the volume's partition table.

(Partition tables exist on basic volumes and in dynamic volumes that are the result of an upgraded Basic disk. They do not appear on new dynamic volumes.)

Wait, there's more!

Let's say you are able to upgrade a basic volume to dynamic (by converting the Basic disk to a Dynamic disk). You can install Windows XP on that volume, but you cannot extend the volume because the volume information lives in the partition table.

You can install Windows XP onto a dynamic volume if

  • The volume was upgraded from Basic to Dynamic by Windows 2000.

  • The volume is one on which you've run diskpart retain to add an entry to the partition table.

  • The volume is a simple volume that is the boot or system volume.

Extending a Volume on a Dynamic Disk

After you convert a Basic disk to Dynamic, you can extend dynamic volumes that you create. In fact, you can extend volumes and make changes to disk configuration in most cases without rebooting your computer.

If you want to take advantage of these features in Windows XP, you must change or upgrade a disk from Basic to Dynamic status, as covered earlier in this chapter.

Therefore, if you want to create more than four volumes per disk or want to extend, stripe, or span volumes onto one or more Dynamic disks, and your computer runs only Windows XP, use Dynamic disks.

Upgrading from Windows NT 4 with Basic Disks

Windows XP Professional does not support volume sets or stripe sets on a Basic disk.

If you need to upgrade a computer running Windows NT 4 that has hard drives already configured as volume sets or stripe sets, you must first back up all the data stored on each volume set or stripe set.

To migrate data on volume sets or stripe sets from Windows NT 4 to Windows XP Professional, perform the following steps:

  1. Under Windows NT 4, back up the data.

  2. Delete the volumes.

  3. Upgrade the operating system to Windows XP Professional.

  4. Convert the appropriate hard disks from Basic to Dynamic disks.

  5. Create the appropriate volumes.

  6. Restore the backed-up data.

Diagnosing Hard-Disk Problems

As a desktop support technician, when a disk or volume fails, you want to know how to detect the failure and how to recover the data quickly.

The Disk Management snap-in makes it easy to locate problems. In the Status column of the list view, you can view the status of a disk or volume. The status also appears in the graphical view of each disk or volume, as shown in Figure 3.9.

Figure 3.9Figure 3.9 A failed drive affecting spanned and striped volumes but not a simple volume on a healthy drive. (Disk 3 is missing.)

To diagnose disk and/or volume problems, perform the following steps:

  1. Open Add Hardware in the Control Panel. Click Next. Windows XP tries to detect new Plug and Play devices.

  2. Click "Yes, I Have Already Connected the Hardware", and then click Next.

  3. Choose the device you want to diagnose and fix, and then click Next.

  4. The Add Hardware Wizard informs you of the device's current status. Click Finish to invoke the Hardware Troubleshooter as part of the Help and Support Center, or click Cancel to exit the Add Hardware Wizard.

You can also troubleshoot hardware problems using the Device Manager.

To access the Device Manager, right-click the My Computer icon from the Start menu and select Properties. Click the Hardware tab and then click the Device Manager button. Expand the hardware category that you need to troubleshoot and right-click the device that you want to inquire about.

Select Properties from the context menu to display the properties window for that device, as shown in Figure 3.10. All the pertinent information about the device is available from this window, including its device status as determined by the operating system.

Figure 3.10Figure 3.10 The properties sheet for a hard disk that shows its device usage as "disabled" in Device Manager.

Deteriorating performance is sometimes a precusor to hardware failure. You can monitor disk performance with the Performance console.

The Windows XP performance-monitoring tool, shown in Figure 3.11, consists of two parts: System Monitor and Performance Logs and Alerts. The MMC snap-in is simply named Performance. With System Monitor, you can collect and view real-time data about disk performance and activity in graph, histogram, or report form. Performance Logs and Alerts enables you to configure logs to record performance data and to set system alerts to notify you when a specified counter's value is above or below a defined threshold.

Figure 3.11Figure 3.11 The Windows XP System Monitor.

To open Performance, perform the following steps:

  1. Click Start, Control Panel.

  2. In the Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Performance. You use System Monitor within Performance to monitor disk activity.

For measuring disk performance, Windows XP maps physical drives to logical drives by applying the same instance name. For example, if a computer contains a dynamic volume that consists of two physical hard disks, the logical drives might appear as Disk 0 C: and Disk 1 C:, which denotes that drive C spans physical disks 0 and 1.

For a PC that has three logical volumes on one physical disk, the instance appears as 0 C: D: E:.

Detecting and Repairing Disk Errors

In the Windows 2000 operating systems, the ScanDisk utility detected and fixed disk errors. In Windows XP, desktop support technicians can use the Error-checking tool (chkdsk.exe) to check for file-system errors and bad sectors on your hard disk. To run the Error-checking tool, perform the following steps:

  1. Open My Computer and right-click the local disk you want to check.

  2. Select Properties.

  3. Click the Tools tab.

  4. Under Error-checking, click Check Now.

  5. Under Check Disk Options, select Automatically Fix System Errors, Scan for and Attempt Recovery of Bad Sectors, and click Start.

If the volume to be checked has files that are currently in use, such as some of the operating system files, you are asked whether you want to reschedule the disk checking for the next time you restart your computer. If you say yes, when you restart your computer, Windows checks the disk, as shown in Figure 3.12.

If the volume being checked is NTFS, Windows XP automatically logs all file transactions, replaces bad clusters automatically, and stores copies of key information for all files on the NTFS volume.

Figure 3.12Figure 3.12 Error-checking process running on drive C: upon a system restart. (This is a composite screen shot.)

Supporting CD and DVD Playback and Recording Devices

With Windows XP Professional, users can save information such as photos and software to a compact disc (CD) without installing third-party software. Because CD-recordable (CD-R) and CD-rewritable (CD-RW) drives have become standard parts of the desktop architecture, desktop support technicians need to understand their capabilities and limitations.

Writing Files and Folders to CD-R and CD-RW Media

To copy files or folders to a CD, follow these steps:

  • Insert a blank, writable CD into the CD recorder. (You need a blank, writable CD and a CD drive [CD burner] that has the capability of writing CDs.)

  • Open My Computer and then select the files and folders you want to write to the CD.

  • In the My Computer task pane under File and Folder Tasks, click Copy This File, Copy This Folder, or Copy the Selected Items.

  • In the Copy Items dialog box, click the CD recording drive and then click Copy.

  • In My Computer, double-click the CD recording drive. Under CD Writing Tasks, click Write These Files to the CD.


Standard CDs hold 650MB of information. High-density CDs hold at least 700MB of information. You must have enough space on your hard drive to temporarily hold the files you want to copy to the CD or the operation will fail. The local hard drive serves as Windows XP's temporary staging area for data being written to recordable or rewritable CD media.

When you are writing files, to optimize your computer for optimal writing speed, Microsoft recommends that you redirect the temporary files created by the write process to another local drive or partition, as shown in Figure 3.13.

When the process of copying is complete, the last page of the CD Writing Wizard, shown in Figure 3.14, enables you to create another CD like the one you just created.

Figure 3.13Figure 3.13 How to modify the location for temporary CD files.

Figure 3.14Figure 3.14 The CD Writing Wizard copying files to a CD.

To create multiple CDs with the same files, click Yes, Write These Files to Another CD, and insert another blank, writable CD into the CD recording drive.

To erase files from a CD, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the CD recording drive to display the content.

  2. Under CD Writing Tasks, click Erase This CD-RW.

  3. The CD Writing Wizard enables you to delete the content of the CD-RW.


Erasing a CD-RW deletes all the files on the CD. You cannot specify individual files. Not all CDs are erasable; a CD-R disc is not erasable.

Many software programs like Roxio's Direct CD and Copy-to-Disk use the Universal Disk Format (UDF), which is a standard published by the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA). Windows XP reads UDF versions up to 2.01 using the udfs.sys driver.

Windows XP writes data to CDs using the Joliet and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9660 CD File System (CDFS) formats. When Windows XP writes audio to CD, it uses the Red Book format. UDF is a successor to the ISO 9660 CDFS.

Therefore, if you are using a CD-RW disk, you can erase files and append files to a disk that already has files if the disk was originally formatted using Windows XP. However, to modify existing CD-RW disks formatted with UDFS, you need extra software.

Configuring CD-R/CD-RW Device Settings

You can limit a user's ability to burn CDs using Windows Explorer.

By configuring the group policy value User Configuration /Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Explorer/Remove CD Burning Features, you can prevent users from using the Windows Explorer CD burning features.

This setting does not prevent third-party CD burners.

If you are trying to troubleshoot reading and writing problems, you can stop the drive from automatically ejecting the CD and you can change the speed with which data is written to the drive. Each of these are hardware properties, shown in Figure 3.13.

Following is a list of other troubleshooting solutions:

  1. Don't interrupt the flow of data to the CD recorder.

  2. When creating a CD, the CD recorder must receive a constant flow of data from the hard disk. If the flow of data is interrupted, the CD continues to spin but the writing laser does not have any information to copy onto the disc. When this happens, the writing process stops and users end up with a useless CD. To maintain a constant flow of data, heed these guidelines:

    • Record at a lower write speed.

    • Close any other programs that are running.

    • Disable any screen savers that might begin suddenly during writing.

  3. Don't run out of available disk space for the CD recording process:

    • When creating a CD, Windows uses available free space on the hard disk to store temporary files.

    • To free up disk space, run the Disk Defragmenter tool, run the Disk Cleanup Wizard, delete unneeded data files, and empty the Recycle Bin.

    • If you have more than one partition or disk drive, select one for the temporary file storage area that has sufficient disk space.

  4. Ensure that the CD and the CD recorder are clean and dust free.

  5. If the CDs from one manufacturer keep failing, try a different brand.

Configuring and Troubleshooting Removable Storage

Pen drives, thumbnail drives, flash drives, and memory cards are all data storage destinations.

Windows XP provides numerable drivers for such devices; however, because they are relatively new, they might come with interesting "challenges."

For example, you can extend the Disk Quotas feature of Windows XP to apply to removeable media using a group policy. This might frustrate users attempting to store files, such as MP3 files, on removable media. The value is stored in Group Policies under Computer Policy/Administrative Templates/System/Disk Quotas/Apply Policy to Removable Media. Use gpedit.msc to edit the local policy.

Saving files to removable media can create other challenges, as shown in Figure 3.15. For example, to avoid errors when writing to media, don't disconnect FAT16-formatted removable storage devices prematurely. If a user ejects a FAT16-formatted removable-storage device, problems could be caused by the 8-second write-flush delays—a delay originally created on those file systems for performance reasons.


FAT16 partitions range from 16MB to 2GB. This size was once common for hard disks and has become popular again as removable-storage sizes increase. (FAT12 volumes do not have this problem because they are primarily used for floppy disks and are not designed to use a write-behind delay.)

Figure 3.15Figure 3.15 The CD Writing Wizard—unable to write to a disc.

If a removable-storage device is formatted with the FAT16 file system and users eject the device approximately 5–8 seconds after data was written to the device, they will have abandoned the write-flush delay on FAT16 file systems. This can lead to unexpected consequences:

  • A user's storage device might remain in a "nonflushed" state.

  • Users might lose data that is stored on their removable-storage device.

  • Users might experience problems or receive error messages when they insert the removable-storage device into other host devices.

In short, don't eject removable media prematurely.

In addition, not everyone is permitted to format and eject removable media. The local policy Computer Configuration/Windows Settings/Security Settings/Local Policies/Security Options/Devices:Allowed to Format and Eject Removable Objects controls those privileges. By default, only administrators are allowed to format and eject removable objects.

When users work with disks, disk-reading problems can occur when they try to open a file, execute a program from disk, or switch disks while using programs that require multiple disks. They might receive error messages referring to problems reading the disk or copying specific files. Following are examples of Microsoft error messages:

  • A device attached to the system is not functioning.

  • Unable to read drive letter.

  • A required file, kernel32.dll, was not found.

  • Application name is not a valid WIN32 application.

  • An error reading from file [Installer Error 1305].

  • Insufficient memory.

Other problems users might experience include the following:

  • When they insert the disc in the drive or read a disc, the computer freezes or hangs (see "dies").

  • The disc does not eject from the drive.

  • Reading from the disc takes an unbelievably long time.

As a desktop support technician, what can you do? The following troubleshooting guidelines might provide some ideas:

  • Don't forget the obvious. If you experience problems with a DVD disc, make sure that you insert the DVD into a DVD drive, not a CD-ROM drive.

  • Examine the disc for obvious physical damage such as warping or large scratches. If the disc is damaged, contact the manufacturer for a replacement CD.

  • Clean the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM disc using a disc cleaning kit or gently wipe the silver side of the disc with a soft, lint-free cotton cloth. Do not use paper cloth because it can scratch the disc. Resist the temptation to use a circular motion because it also can scratch the disc. Wipe the disc from the center outward.

  • Clean the disc by using a water-dampened cloth or a commercial CD cleaning solution or DVD cleaning solution. Dry the disc thoroughly before you put it into the drive.

  • If your computer has multiple CD-ROM drives, CD-R drives, CD/RW drives, or DVD drives, test the disc in another drive. For DVDs, make sure that the drive has a DVD logo. If the disc works in another drive, the original drive might be faulty.

  • If the disc appears clean yet does not work in another drive, it is probably damaged and must be replaced.

  • You can clean the disc drive by using a CD-ROM drive cleaning disc or DVD drive cleaning disc.

If users are experiencing problems with a CD-ROM drive in Windows XP, you can also consider the following actions:

Verify that the hardware is compatible with Windows XP by making sure that the CD-ROM drive is listed on the Windows hardware compatibility list (HCL).

  • For a SCSI CD-ROM drive, make sure that the SCSI controller is listed on the Windows HCL.

  • If the CD-ROM drive or SCSI controller is not listed on the Windows HCL, contact the device manufacturer, obtain a Windows-compatible device driver, or consider replacing the device.

You should also verify that the CD-ROM drive is installed according to the manufacturer's specifications. Don't forget to open the case and check master/slave/cable-select jumpering on the drive and for the proper cabling.

If it is a SCSI CD-ROM drive, check the following:

  • Is the SCSI bus is terminated correctly? On a SCSI bus, the last SCSI device needs a special terminator.

  • Verify the CD-ROM SCSI ID. The SCSI ID of the CD-ROM drive is normally set to SCSI ID 2 or higher. Ensure that the CD-ROM drive is not configured to use a SCSI ID already assigned to another device.

  • Verify that the SCSI ID of the SCSI controller is set to SCSI ID 7.

  • Verify that no other adapters are configured with settings that conflict with the SCSI controller's settings.

  • Search the Windows XP Event Viewer for error messages related to the CD-ROM drive or SCSI controller.

  • Open Device Manager to see whether it detects the SCSI controller and the CD-ROM drive. Does Device Manager indicate that the devices are working properly?

If users have installed an IDE CD-ROM drive, make sure they are using a device driver that is designed for the IDE controller to which the CD-ROM drive is attached.

If the manufacturer does not provide a specific driver for the IDE controller, install the IDE controller driver that comes with Windows XP. This driver is compatible only with IDE CD-ROM drives that are Advanced Technology Atachment Packet Interface (ATAPI) 1.2–compliant. By contacting the CD-ROM's manufacturer, you should be able to verify the ATAPI compliance level of the CD-ROM drive.

If you are trying to install a CD-ROM drive that uses a proprietary, non-SCSI interface, check the following:

  • Make sure that the correct device driver is installed by running Windows XP Setup and selecting Add/Remove SCSI Adapters on the Options menu.

  • Review the Windows XP "read me" file (readme.wri) and the Windows XP catalog, available online at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/catalog/.

Users might report that Windows does not recognize their CD-ROM drives. Start Windows Explorer and look for a drive letter assigned to the CD-ROM drive.

If the CD-ROM drive does have a drive letter, try to view a folder by using the CD-ROM drive. Make sure that you insert a data CD into the CD-ROM drive.

If AutoPlay is enabled on a drive, there might a short delay of up to 10 seconds before the CD or DVD is recognized and displayed in My Computer. Try disabling AutoPlay on the drive.

If you can read a data CD but cannot play a music CD, use one of the following strategies:

  • In Control Panel, start Sounds and Audio Devices, click the Hardware tab, and then make sure that the CD/DVD drive is listed along with Audio Codecs.

  • If these items are not listed, use the Add/Remove Hardware program in Control Panel to reinstall necessary drivers.

  • If the system is configured to dual-boot to another operating system, check whether the CD-ROM drive functions in the other operating system. If the CD-ROM drive does not function properly in MS-DOS or in another operating system, contact the drive manufacturer.

The desktop support technician needs a few tricks up his or her sleeve to test the CD further. Here are a few sleights of hand:

  • Turn off all other programs. Software might be interfering with reading the disc. This problem can occur with anticrash software, antivirus software, or firewall software running in the background. Starting the computer without unnecessary software might enable you to read from the disk.

  • To eliminate interfering programs, do a clean boot of XP and quit any remaining programs:

    1. Close all programs that are running.

    2. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del. In the Windows Security dialog box, click Task Manager.

    3. In Windows Task Manager, click Applications.

    4. No programs should appear under the Task list. If any programs appear, click the program name, and then click End Task.

Again, attempt to read from or write to the media.

If a user installed the Windows XP upgrade over Windows 95, 98, or Me, and the DVD-ROM stopped working after the upgrade, it might be that the drive is being treated as DMA (direct memory access). Switch the CD-ROM drive or DVD drive to DMA mode from Programmed Input/Output (PIO), as shown in Figure 3.16.

Figure 3.16Figure 3.16 Drive configuration changes, mode options: DMA and PIO.

PIO is a method of moving data between devices that sends data through the processor. DMA is a newer alternative to PIO in which data from an attached device goes directly to memory, bypassing the processor. To switch between PIO to DMA mode, follow these steps:

  1. In Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then click Computer Management.

  2. Click System Tools, and then click Device Manager.

  3. Click to expand IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers.

  4. Click the specific controller for which you want to configure DMA/PIO settings.

  5. Click the Advanced Settings tab.

  6. In the Transfer Mode box, click either PIO Only or DMA if available.

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