Simple spanned or striped volume

In today’s edition of Geek School, we’re going to talk about just how to usage Disk Management… yet we’re going to go one step even more and also explain understand boot documents, partition tables, and also dynamic disks.

You watching: Simple spanned or striped volume

The Disk Management utility seems fairly basic at first glance. There’s a list of your tough drives unified through a graphical representation of the partitions on each one. You can produce and also modify partitions… but tbelow is a lot even more to execute. You have the right to create Spanned, Striped, or Mirrored volumes throughout multiple disks, or you deserve to produce and affix online tough drives.

If you dig a little deeper, you will certainly uncover that you deserve to switch your difficult drives in between MBR (Master Boot Record) and GPT (Guid Partition Table) as the partition system, and then you can specify whether to use Basic (the default) partitions, or to usage “Dynamic”, which is a distinct strategy to allow Windows to handle the partitioning.

Confused? Keep analysis and also we’ll attempt to define it in a method that everybody deserve to understand also.

Understanding the Interface

When you initially launch Disk Management (which have the right to be done with right-clicking on the Start switch in Windows 8.1 or the Computer symbol in Windows 7 and picking “Manage”), you’ll be presented through a two-pane interface. The list of quantities is on top, and the list of physical drives is on the bottom.

The bottom panel shows not just the list of physical drives, but a graphical representation of the partitions, or quantities, on each drive, including a bunch of helpful information.


In the screenshot over, you’ll notification that the drives have extra indevelopment shown – you can watch that the C: drive is the Boot drive, while the System Reserved partition is the Active one. Both partitions are Key. That System Reserved partition actually contains the boot records, so the BIOS for the computer initially boots from that partition, and then Windows loads via the C: partition.

If you either select a drive or a partition and usage the Action menu, you’ll see a list of many of the alternatives, including how to produce a spanned, striped, or mirrored volume, and exactly how to switch between MBR / GPT disk kind, or Basic / Dynamic. We’ll define that stuff shortly.


If you right-click on a partition, you’ll view a different list of actions – you have the right to adjust the drive letter or course for a drive (even more on that later), or you can shrink / extfinish the volume, format it, include a mirror, or delete it.


We’ll mention this aget later on, however it’s worth noting right away: Software RAID, as in mirroring, striping, or spanning, is not something you desire to execute if you have a choice. It’s always better to go through hardware RAID instead. It’s important to understand also partitioning though.

Initializing a Disk and also Choosing a Partition Style


Have you ever before inserted a drive into your PC just to be presented via a dialog asking you to Initialize Disk?

What’s actually going on is that Windows didn’t detect any type of partition table format, so it will ask you to “Initialize”, which really simply suggests create out a new blank partition table. In contemporary versions of Windows, that implies you’ll gain an option between MBR and also GPT.

Note: simply because Windows didn’t recognize any type of partition information doesn’t intend that your drive is empty. If you know that the drive works, it’s feasible that you are having a driver problem, or in some instances, if you plugged in an outside drive, you can rerelocate and also then plug it ago in aacquire. Of course, if you schosen GPT as the partition table, it’s additionally feasible that the PC’s BIOS can’t take care of it.

Using MBR (Master Boot Record)

If you are formatting a drive that you arrangement to plug right into various computers, it would generally have to use the MBR partition “style” because it’s a really old format that works almost everywhere, bereason any computer system with a constant BIOS has actually support for tough drives partitioned using MBR.

Modern computers using UEFI are going away from MBR assistance and also switching rather to the newer and much better replacement well-known as GPT (Guid Partition Table), because MBR has a variety of concerns and also constraints.

One of these restrictions is that MBR just supports up to 4 main partitions. If you desire to use even more than 4 partitions, you must set the fourth partition as an “Extended” major partition, which deserve to then home “Logical” partitions within it. Thankfully all of this happens behind the scenes in Disk Management these days, yet from a modern technology standsuggest, it isn’t the ideal way to manage things, and also has actually some weird compatibility problems.

Notice the logical partitions in brighter blue, while the extended partition is green.

The next limitation is that partitions making use of the MBR format have a maximum dimension of 2 TiB, which is substantially much less than what you can obtain from contemporary difficult drives, and specifically from what you can carry out via a hardware RAID using a pair of 2 or 3 TB hard drives.

This limitation stems from the reality that tright here is a 32-little bit list of sectors, and tough drives typically have 512 bytes per sector. So 512 * 2^32 = 2 TiB, and also therefore you’ll constantly read that MBR partitions have actually that limit.

The good news is that tbelow is a workapproximately have to you need one. If you have actually one of the newer difficult drives that usage 4k sectors, the actual theoretical limit is 16 TiB rather, considering that 4096 * 2^32 = 16 TiB. Realistically, but, it would certainly be much better to just migrate to GPT partitions instead, which have no such limitations.

Using GPT (Guid Partition Table)

The more recent GPT partition table “style” is forced on your boot drive by more recent computer systems that usage UEFI instead of BIOS – while some of them assistance a “tradition BIOS” mode to manage booting the older style, you would mostly simply usage GPT rather.

Due to the fact that Windows Vista, you have the right to primarily usage GPT partitions on a documents drive for a computer that provides a more recent version of BIOS, but you can’t use them as a bootable drive. And 32-little bit Windows XP doesn’t assistance it from all the documentation we’ve ever before read.

None of that “Extended” or “Logical” partition nonfeeling on a GPT drive.

GPT supports up to 128 partitions on the very same hard drive, and each partition can be 9.4 zettabytes, which is 1 billion terabytes, which is a somewhat ridiculous number in today’s terms. Rather than just storing a single copy of the partition table the means MBR does, tbelow is both a main and backup copy, and they have cyclic redundancy checks to validay against data corruption.

All GPT disks contain a “Protective MBR” at the beginning of the drive, which is basically a fake MBR at the start of the drive where an old-institution MBR drive would put it… and also the fake partition table shows the whole drive as having a single partition. This protects you against older devices breaking your drive bereason they don’t have GPT support. It does not, but, make the file mechanism readable on older computers.

Bootable GPT drives need a couple of points. First, you’ll require an EFI System Partition, which is at least 100-260 MB depending upon your drive, and that partition will contain the boot loader and other indevelopment.

To better understand also the difference between MBR and also GPT, we found this graphic buried deep within the Microsoft documentation and also determined to display it right here for you also. Notice the LDM information partition stuff, which we are going to cover in a minute.


You deserve to actually switch back and forth in between MBR and also GPT partition types by right-clicking the drive in Disk Management. The difficulty is that before you carry out, you’ll need to delete all of the partitions on the disk, which does make the feature slightly less valuable.

See more: How Can You Fix Invalid Ms Dos Function Windows 10 Fix : Invalid Ms

Choosing a Disk Type: Basic or Dynamic


One of the other ideas in Disk Management is the incredibly confusing “Dynamic” disk instead of the default “Basic” disk. What renders this more confmaking use of is that you deserve to likewise select between MBR and also GPT Disk on the exact same menu.

When you produce a disk making use of either MBR or GPT partition formatting, you have the right to create continual partitions making use of the MBR or GPT specification. For MBR that would be a selection between the Primary and Extended / Logical partitions, and also for GPT it would certainly simply be continual Guid partitions. Windows refers to this as a “Basic” disk.

The various other alternative in Windows is to usage a “Dynamic Disk”, which permits Windows to take control of your partitioning fairly than utilizing the partitioning specifications. These are dubbed Volumes fairly than partitions (in reality, Windows always refers to either form of partition as a volume).

What happens behind the scenes is that Windows creates a constant MBR or GPT partition structure that fills the whole drive, and also then Windows will permit you to control the “Volumes” on that drive, which act like partitions, and also provide extra attributes. Because Dynamic Disks are still reliant on the underlying MBR or GPT framework, you must choose between them wisely – if you require a huge drive, GPT is most likely the way to go.

Windows offers the Logical Disk Manager (LDM) database to store the volume kinds, drive letters, and every one of the various other information, and also it even replicates this database to every dynamic drive on your computer for backup. On an MBR drive, this data is stored in the last 1 MB on the drive, and in a GPT drive, Windows will produce a 1 MB covert partition dubbed the LDM metadata partition.

Mirroring Your System Drive

You deserve to conveniently convert your device drive to a dynamic disk in order to mirror it. All you need to execute is begin the mirroring wizard by right-clicking your device drive and also picking Add Mirror.


You will certainly be triggered to convert the disks to dynamic instead of Basic, and provided a warning that you can’t boot any type of other operating units. That’s best, dynamic disks break dual-booting scenarios.


Once you’ve configured the mirror, your computer will sluggish dvery own to a crawl as every one of the information from your device drive is copied over to the other drive. From that moment on, your data have to stay in sync on both drives.


You have the right to right-click the mirrored drives to either “break” the mirror, which will certainly soptimal mirroring however leave every little thing alone on each drive, or you have the right to rerelocate the mirror.

Note: You can’t mirror an MBR drive to a GPT drive.

Types of Volumes for Dynamic Disks

When you are functioning with a volume on a Dynamic Disk, you have the right to pick to extfinish or expectations that volume across multiple drives, you can stripe or mirror, or in server editions you deserve to also usage RAID 5. There’s additionally not a genuine limit on the number of quantities you can have, although it wouldn’t make sense to have a vast variety of them.

Here are the types of quantities you have the right to produce on a Dynamic Disk:

Simple Volume – this is a constant “partition”. If the disk form is “Basic”, this creates an actual partition.Striped Volume – information is striped across multiple hard drives so that eexceptionally various other segment of data is staggered between the drives for maximum performance. Tright here is no redundancy.Spanned Volume – information fills up on one drive and then fills up the following drive as it gets more full. Two or more drives are basically taped together to make a bigger disk. Tright here is no redundancy below either.Mirrored Volume – for home individuals, this is the just form of redundancy that you will certainly get through software alternatives. Read performance should be much faster, however create performance will maybe be slightly sreduced, because Windows has to compose to both drives for everything.RAID5 Volume – only functions on server editions, but it have the right to stripe throughout 3 or even more tough drives and also encompass a parity stripe to proccasion data loss if a drive was to fail.

Note: you can’t use a Dynamic Disk for a removable / portable drive.

Windows 8 Changes Everything

RELATED: How to Use Windows 10"s Storage Spaces to Mirror and Combine Drives

One of the many amazing attributes in Windows 8 is a feature called Storage Spaces, which entirely relocations Disk Management and every one of this required understanding for a very basic to use system that offers you RAID-favor use for your data drives.

You can’t use Storage Spaces for your boot drive, yet utilizing it is a snap – and it supports redundancy, so if one of your hard drives dies, you won’t shed whatever.

To access it, head into Control Panel and search for Storage Spaces. Then click the “Create a brand-new pool and also storage space”.


Once you pick the drives on the following display screen, click the Create pool alternative.


You deserve to select from a number of alternatives and also then create the storage pool. The exciting point is that as soon as you’ve done so, it will certainly actually report to Disk Management as if it was a solitary drive – the same method that hardware RAID would certainly perform.


We sassist it earlier, and we’ll say it again: You need to always attempt and also invest in hardware RAID if you deserve to quite than usage software application substitutes. But isn’t it great to learn something new?

Mounting Volumes as Drive Letters or Folders

One last point prior to we go: you can readjust the mount allude for any kind of drive except your mechanism drive by right-clicking, and then selecting “Change Drive Letter and also Paths” from the menu. From this dialog you can either change the drive letter, or you can even include a route to a folder on your drive, and the partition will be installed right into that folder, simply favor on Linux.


This is a really good way to include more space to your device without having actually to move points around to the D: drive or usage symlinks – just mount your second drive right into your user folder.

What Else?

You deserve to likewise produce a VHD (online hard drive) file and also mount it as a drive letter – it’s a lot favor mounting an ISO image. You can expand and shrink partitions, although it doesn’t work all that well in Disk Management.

You have the right to likewise accessibility all of the exact same regulates, and also a lot even more, utilizing the command-line diskcomponent.exe utility. It’s exceptionally effective, and we didn’t have actually time to gain to it today, but we’ll talk about it in a future leschild.

See more: Knowledge Base

And if you desire to format your hard drives, and also you aren’t sure which format to pick, you should most likely simply stick through NTFS.