Since Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows offer two types of disk storage: basic and dynamic.
Basic storage uses normal partition tables supported by MS-DOS and all version of Windows. A basic disk contains basic volumes, such as primary partitions, extended partitions, and logical drives. Additionally, basic volumes include multidisk volumes that such as volume sets, stripe sets, mirror sets, and stripe sets with parity.
A dynamic disk contains dynamic volumes, such as simple volumes, spanned volumes, striped volumes, mirrored volumes, and RAID-5 volumes. Dynamic disks offer greater flexibility for volume management because they use a database to track information about dynamic volumes on the disk and about other dynamic disks in the computer.
Basic partitions and dynamic volumes differ in one crucial respect. The basic partitions are confined to one disk, and once you set their size, it's fixed. Dynamic volumes overcome this limitation because you can adjust their size and you can add more free space to them, either from the same disk or another disk.
This makes it extremely easy to store large files especially ones that increase in size. For example, database file of a company’s contacts. By putting the growing file on a dynamic volume, you retain the option of adding free space to it later, as needed. This flexibility means you can use your disk space much more efficiently. In addition, dynamic disks offer advanced fault-tolerance options. With dynamic storage, you can even perform disk and volume management without restarting Windows.
Windows built in disk management tool is not designed to efficiently handle dynamic volumes. It cannot shrink dynamic volumes without deleting it, and cannot resize all types of dynamic volumes – only simple and spanned volume on data partition. Also unallocated disk space is needed for the operation.
The alternative is to use a third party program such as Aomei Dynamic Disk Manager.
Aomei Dynamic Disk Manager is a new program that makes managing dynamic disk and dynamic volume easy and safe. It allows users to resize dynamic disk without losing data, extend dynamic system/boot volume when they run out of space on primary partition, convert dynamic disk to basic with all data protected, convert GPT disk to MBR and ensure data integrity, move volume slice from one disk to another, add drive to RAID and remove drive from RAID.
Key features of Aomei Dynamic Disk Manager
Dynamic Volume Management
- Create all types of dynamic volumes for different usages on your Servers.
- Delete/Format dynamic volume for better disk configuration.
- Resize dynamic disk without losing data to optimize Servers performance.
- Shrink dynamic volume to free up unallocated space for rational utilization.
- Increase Striped (RAID0)/Mirrored(RAID1)/RAID5 Volume with unallocated space
- Extend dynamic system/boot volume to fix low disk space on C drive problem
- Move slice to change the location of volumes on the same disk.
- Change drive letter and volume label for easier recognition.
- Convert dynamic disk to basic with all data protected.
- Convert basic disk to dynamic with safe and simple steps
- Convert GPT disk to MBR and ensure data integrity.
- Convert MBR disk to GPT for creating volumes larger than 2TB.
- Convert GPT disk to MBR to change the partitioning scheme.
- Initialize disk as MBR or GPT based on your needs.
- Create Volume Wizard simplifies the steps of dynamic disk configuration.
- Add Drive to RAID enables you to extend software RAID0, RAID5 volume
- Remove Drive from RAID allows you to shrink software RAID0, RAID5 volume
- Move Volume Slice Wizard can migrate volume slice from one disk to another
Aomei Dynamic Disk Manager is available in three editions – a free to download Home Edition, and two commercial Professional and Server Edition.
Being free, the Home edition comes with a few limitations such as:
- Cannot convert dynamic disk to basic disk without losing data
- Cannot convert GPT disk to MBR
- Step-by-step wizard for adding, removing RAID is absent
- Doesn’t support Windows Server 2003 and 2008
- Cannot use in business environment