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walking right

Dynamic Disks

The single most overused feature of Windows disk management is the ability to create dynamic disks.

Before you create a dynamic disk, think twice. Then think again. If you're still convinced a dynamic disk is the answer, bash your head against the desk until you pass out or you change your mind.

If you are running Windows XP, there is no reason to ever create a dynamic disk, ever. No, really. You might think there is but there isn't. If Windows blows up and it's on a dynamic disk, you're pretty much hosed. Reinstalling Windows on a dynamic disk will destroy ALL of the partitions on that disk. Yes, that means your data partition as well. (You did create a data partition, didn't you?)

If you have hardware RAID, there is no reason to ever create a dynamic disk, ever. If your dynamic disk fails (and they do - frequently!) you're hosed, hardware RAID or no hardware RAID. Your data is probably gone. MS will help you try to get it back for $250 per incident if you call during regular business hours and even then there's no guarantee so good luck with that. Also, learn to use your RAID controller. If you can see more than one disk in Windows, you're doing it wrong.

If you are running a massive direct-attach disk array or a SAN, there is no reason to ever create a dynamic disk, ever. What, are you crazy? You definitely have hardware level redundancy on this beast. USE IT. If you're creating massive partitions on your disks, think about what you're doing. You lose a lot of disk space to overhead if you're creating massive partitions. You would probably be better served by making a bunch of smaller partitions. As an added bonus, you will never, ever need to create a dynamic disk to make use of your full storage capability. If you insist on creating massive partitions, use GPT disks and you will never, ever need to create a dynamic disk.

At least three times a week we get calls from people who have had a dynamic disk blow up in their face. Save your data. Save your money. Save your sanity. Don't use dynamic disks.

Stay tuned for my next rant on why RAID is not a backup strategy!

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walking right

January 2009

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