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Can someone explain the difference in Windows disk/layout options?

Posted on 2011-10-18
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We use Windows 2003, 2008, and 2008 R2.  I'm confused about the difference between Simple/Basic, Simple/Dynamic, Partitioned Basic, etc. disks.Although a drive could possible be physical, they are most often VMware virtual drives built from SAN space.  What is the appropriate way to initialize/format the drives (physical or virtual) in Windows?

Thanks
C Emmons
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Question by:apsutechteam
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
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Unless you require the additional features of Dynamic disks, format your virtual machine disks as Simple.

Article which explains difference between Simple and Dynamic

http://www.petri.co.il/difference_between_basic_and_dynamic_disks_in_windows_xp_2000_2003.htm
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by:apsutechteam
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I looked at both links and reviewed your comments - thank you for your responses.  The questions I still have are with the what the heading deems the Layout.  Sounds like for type Basic would usually be best.  I see on Windows 2008 R2 disks, I have Basic disk - layout Simple.  On Windows 2003, I have Basic disk with Partition layout, and Extended Partitions with Logical drives.  What is the difference in these? Are any additional partition on a given disk - extended or can there be multiple primary partitions.  If I right-clcik and select New Partition on an unformated area at the end of a drive- it seems to let me choose either (Windows 2003).  Is Simple specific to Windows 2008?  Are logical drives required to divide extended partitions? Thanks.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
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So is your question, what is a Primary Partition and what is an Extended Partition, Logical Drives?


A maximum of four partitions can be placed on any hard disk. These are sometimes called primary partitions. The limitation of four is one that is imposed on the system by the way that the master boot record is structured.

Only one partition may be designated, at any given time, as active. That partition will be used for booting the system.

DOS (and the operating systems that depend on it for booting, which includes all consumer Windows operating systems) will only recognize the active primary partition. Any other primary partitions will be ignored.

One of the four partitions may be designated as an extended DOS partition. This partition may then be subdivided into multiple logical partitions. This is the way that two or more logical DOS volumes can be placed on a single hard disk.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
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Also read DOS as Windows.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
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Also a nice link here with pictures

http://www.theeldergeek.com/hard_drives_01.htm
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by:arnold
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1) I believe the OS partition can not be dynamic.

The issue is dependent on what your hardware is like. I.e. if you have Hardware RAID controller.
Dynamic lets you span a single partition across multiple drives i.e. software RAID.

Usually you are limited to four primary partitions per hard drive.
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apsutechteam earned 0 total points
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The link is very good - in the picture - Disk 0 - D: is Primary Partition, and E: is an Extended Partition with a Logical Drive.  Why would you do one or the other?
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
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Well to be honest with you it's all rather legacy in this modern era. Back in the days of early DOS, partitions had a maximum size of 32MB, the limit was 4 Partitions, of 32MB each, so if you wanted to use up the rest of your disk space, if you had a larger hard drive, you would create Primary Partitions, and then Extended Partitions, and create Logical Drives in the Extended Partitions.

In this modern era, where partitions sizes are not limited, I think it's safe to say, today, we create Primary Partitions, and most of us would probably create Primary Partitions, and very few divide the disks up into more than 4 Primary Partitions, (that would be a C: D: E: and F:) when using Windows based OSes.

But if you wanted to create a G:. H: and I:, then you would use Extended Partitions and Logical Drives.

There may be still stome reasons, cannot think of many, maybe a Exchange or SQL installation, that you would use different partitions for Database, Logs, different mailstores etc

But maiinly, it's legacy......
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
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I mean if you wanted to create more than 4 partitions, you would then use Extended.

It's very easy now to allocate a drive letter to a partition.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
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and I mean Megabytes! (first hard drive I had was 10MB Winchester!)
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by:apsutechteam
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You've been very helpful -- thanks.
C Emmons
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