Dynamic Disk Explained

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This Itechguide offers a detailed explanation of Dynamic Disk. Then, it explains the different types of Dynamic Disk and ends with its features and benefits.

What is a Dynamic Disk?

What is a Dynamic Disk?

A Dynamic Disk is a Windows Operating System disk storage scheme that allows you to create spanned, striped, mirrored and RAID-5 volumes.

Spanned and striped volumes are disk storage schemes that span multiple physical disks but they are not fault-tolerant. Meaning that when one disk in the volume fails, data is lost.

However, RAID-5 and mirrored volumes provide fault-tolerance – failure of one physical disk that make up the volume does not necessarily lead to a data loss.

The concept of storage scheme is different from disk partition styles. Partition styles refer to the structure of the disk layout type (MBR or GPT) selected when you initialize a Disk.

Dynamic and Basic Disk storage schemes support both MBR or GPT disk partition styles.

Types of Dynamic Disk

Types of Dynamic Disk

To further explain this Microsoft Windows disk technology, this section discusses the 5 types of Dynamic Disk.

Simple Volumes

A Simple Volume is a disk dynamic volume created from a single physical disk. This type of volume is similar to the basic disk’s primary partitions and logical drives.

Spanned Volumes

Unlike a Simple Volume, a Spanned Volume creates volumes from more than 1 physical disk. It combines free spaces from multiple physical disks into a single logical volume.

To create a Spanned Volume, you require a minimum of 2 disks. It supports up to 32 disks.

Striped Volumes

Striped Volumes are created from same-sized, free spaces on two or more physical disks. These volumes do not offer fault tolerance. However, they provide improved I/O (input/output) performance.

Improved *I/O is achieved by distributing I/O requests across all the disks that make up the volume. This is one advantage of Striped Volumes over Spanned Volumes.

*This means that when you open files or save/update files on your PC, it responds faster. I/O effectively describes Input (Data Write) and Output (Date Read).

Mirrored Volumes

A Mirrored Volume is a Dynamic Disk that creates a single “mirrored” volume from 2 or more disks. “Mirror” means that data is written across all the disks that make up the volume.

By its definition, you can deduce that a Mirrored Volume is fault-tolerant. If one drive that makes up the volume fails, you should be able to rebuilt the volume from information available from the other disks.

However, the way Mirrored volumes are setup also means that data write is slower – since data has to be written to all the disks at the same time.

RAID-5 Volumes

A RAID-5 volume is a Dynamic Disk that stripes data and *parity information across 3 or more physical disks.

*Parity is a calculated value built into the RAID configuration. If one of the drives in the RAID-5 volume fails, the parity information is used to rebuild the RAID.
You require a minimum of 3 physical disks to create a RAID-5 Volume.

This type of Dynamic Disk offers fault-tolerance – when one of the drives fails, the volume can be recovered.

Features and Benefits of Dynamic Disk

Features and Benefits of Dynamic Disk

This final section discusses the top features and benefits of this Microsoft disk technology.

Create and Delete Different Disk Volumes

The first benefit of this technology is that it allows you to create or delete the different types of volumes discussed in the last section.

Another benefit of a Dynamic Disk over a Basic Disk is that Dynamic Disks can create volumes that span multiple physical disks. This offers the additional benefit of more space, improved performance (in some instances) and in some dynamic volume types, fault-tolerance.

Ability to Extend Simple and Spanned Volumes

If your partition runs out of space, you will be able to add more space if your created a Spanned or Simple Volume.

The only limitation is that there must a free, unallocated space on the disk. The unallocated space must also be to the right of the the volume you want to extend.

Create Fault-Tolerant Volumes

As discussed in the last section, you can create Mirrored and RAID-5 Volumes in Dynamic Disks. These 2 volume types support fault-tolerance.

Fault-tolerance means that if one of the disks fail, you are able to recover the volume and your data. This offers great benefits in if losing you data has serious financial consequences.

I hope I was able to successfully explain Dynamic Disk? I also hope that you found it helpful. If you found it helpful, kindly vote Yes to the “Was this post Helpful” question below.

Alternatively, you could ask a question, leave a comment or provide feedback with the “Leave a Reply” form found towards the end of this page.

Finally, for more Storage tech Itechguides, visit our Storage & Disk Technology Explained page. You may also find our Work from Home page very helpful.


Victor Ashiedu is the Managing Editor of Itechguides.com. Before he started Itechguides.com, he worked in IT for close to 20 years. Having done all things tech all his career, he now focuses on making tech easier for others. Victor writes "How to" guides, "Fix it" guides, reviews and buying guides.

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