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Managing File Systems and Drives

from Chapter 10, Microsoft Windows 2000 Administrator's Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek.

A hard disk drive is the most common storage device used on network workstations and servers. Users depend on hard disk drives to store their word-processing documents, spreadsheets, and other types of data. Drives are organized into file systems that users can access either locally or remotely as follows:

  • Local file systems Installed on a user's computer and don't require remote network connections to access. An example of a local file system is the C drive available on most workstations and servers. You access the C drive using the file path C:\.

  • Remote file systems Accessed, on the other hand, through a network connection to a remote resource. You can connect to a remote file system using the Map Network Drive feature of Windows Explorer.

Wherever disk resources are located, it's your job as a system administrator to manage them. The tools and techniques you use to manage file systems and drives are discussed in this chapter. Chapter 11 looks at volume sets and fault tolerance. Chapter 12 tells you how to manage files and directories.

Adding Hard Disk Drives

Before you make a hard disk drive available to users, you'll need to configure it and consider the way it will be used. Microsoft Windows 2000 makes it possible to configure hard disk drives in a variety of ways. The technique you choose depends primarily on the type of data you're working with and the needs of your network environment. For general user data stored on workstations, you may want to configure individual drives as stand-alone storage devices. In that case, user data is stored on a workstation's hard disk drive, where it can be accessed and stored locally.

Although storing data on a single drive is convenient, it isn't the most reliable way to store data. To improve reliability and performance, you may want a set of drives to work together. Windows 2000 supports drive sets and arrays using RAID (redundant array of independent disks) technology, which is built into the operating system. RAID arrays are usually installed on Windows 2000 servers instead of workstations.

Physical Drives

Whether you use individual drives or drive sets, you'll need physical drives. Physical drives are the actual hardware devices that are used to store data. The amount of data a drive can store depends on its size and whether it uses compression. Typical drives have capacities of 2 GB to 25 GB. The two drive types most commonly used on Windows 2000 are SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) and IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics).

The terms SCSI and IDE designate the interface type used by the hard disk drives. This interface is used to communicate with a drive controller. SCSI drives use SCSI controllers. IDE drives use IDE controllers. In general, you'll find that SCSI drives are more expensive than IDE drives but are faster and offer more options.

Note: You'll see lots of acronyms associated with SCSI and IDE drives. Don't let these acronyms confuse you. For SCSI drives, you'll see references to Ultra SCSI, Wide SCSI, SCSI-2, and SCSI-3. The SCSI-2 and SCSI-3 are successors to the original SCSI specification. These newer versions use the ultra or wide SCSI interface and offer performance enhancements over standard SCSI. EIDE, on the other hand, is an enhanced version of IDE that offers performance enhancements over standard IDE. One of the more recent specifications for enhanced IDE is the Ultra DMA (ATA-4) specification. So, ironically, references to EIDE, Ultra DMA, and Ultra ATA may all refer to the same type of drive. The focus here is on the standard SCSI and IDE interfaces.

SCSI Drives

With SCSI you can connect up to seven drives to a single controller. Each drive connected to the primary controller is given a numeric designator from 0 to 6. This designator is the drive's SCSI ID, meaning drive 0 is SCSI ID 0, drive 1 is SCSI ID 1, and so on. The drive controller itself is usually designated as SCSI ID 7. Designators for drives on secondary controllers start where the first controller leaves off. For example, if the first controller has seven drives, the first drive on the second controller would normally be SCSI ID 8.

Generally, you set a drive's SCSI ID number before you install it. You do this by using the jumpers on the back of the drive. Instead of jumpers, some drives have a push button or similar mechanism for setting the SCSI ID. If you change the ID of a SCSI device, you must turn the drive off and then back on. This ensures that the change takes effect.

SCSI devices are connected to the controller in a daisy chain, with each device serially in a single line. The first and last device in the chain must be terminated properly. Typically, the SCSI controller terminates the first device itself, and the last device in the chain uses an actual terminator.

Before you can use a hard disk drive, it must be low-level formatted. With SCSI, the manufacturer normally performs this task before shipping the drive. If you need to do a low-level format on site, you'll usually find that the manufacturer has supplied a utility for this. If necessary, use this utility to format the drive.

IDE Drives

With IDE you can connect up to two drives to a controller. Each drive connected to the primary controller is given a numeric designator from 0 to 1. The first drive has a designator of 0. The second drive has a designator of 1. Designators for drives on secondary controllers start where the first controller leaves off. For example, if the first controller has two drives, the first drive on the second controller normally would have a designator of 3.

As with SCSI drives, you should set an IDE drive's designator before you install it. If this is the first IDE drive on a controller, you must set it up as the master device. If there are two drives on a controller, you must set up one drive as a master device and the other as a slave device. Generally, if you're installing a new drive, the existing drive becomes the master device and the new drive becomes the slave device.

Note: Generally, you can't perform a low-level formatting of an IDE drive. The manufacturer performs this task before shipping the drive.

Preparing a Drive for Use

Once you install a drive, you'll need to configure it for use. You configure the drive by partitioning it and creating file systems in the partitions, as needed. A partition is a section of a physical drive that functions as if it were a separate unit. After you create a partition, you can create a file system in the partition.

Using Disk Management

You'll use the Disk Management tool to configure drives. Disk Management makes it easy to work with the internal and external drives on a local or remote system. To start Disk Management and connect to a local or remote system, follow these steps:

  1. Run Computer Management by going to Start, selecting Programs, then Administrative Tools, and then Computer Management.

  2. You're automatically connected to the local computer on which you're running Computer Management. To manage hard disk drives on another computer, right-click the Computer Management entry in the console tree and select Connect To Another Computer on the shortcut menu. You can now choose the system whose drives you want to manage.

    Tip If you receive an error message from the Logical Disk Manager, read the message and click OK. A failed connection to the Logical Disk Manager Service usually means that this service or the related administrative service isn't started on the local or remote system. If necessary, start Logical Disk Manager and Logical Disk Manager Administrative Service as described in the section of Chapter 3 entitled "Starting, Stopping, and Pausing Services." Network policies and trusts can affect your ability to administrate computers remotely as well.

  3. In Computer Management, expand Storage and then select Disk Management. You can now manage the drives on the local or remote system.

Disk Management has three views: Volume List, Graphical view, and Disk List.

Note: Before you work with Disk Management, there are several things you should know. If you create a partition but don't format it, the partition will be labeled as Free Space. If you haven't assigned a portion of the disk to a partition, this section of the disk is labeled Unallocated.

In Figure 10-1, the Volume List view is in the upper-right corner and the Graphical view is in the lower-right corner. This is the default configuration. You can change the view for the top or bottom pane as follows:

  • To change the top view, select View, choose Top, and then select the view you want to use.

  • To change the bottom view, select View, choose Bottom, and then select the view you want to use.

  • To hide the bottom or top view, select View, choose Top or Bottom, and then select Hidden.

    Figure 10-1: In Disk Management the upper view provides a detailed summary of all the drives on the computer and the lower view provides an overview of the same drives by default.

    Figure 10-1: In Disk Management the upper view provides a detailed summary of all the drives on the computer and the lower view provides an overview of the same drives by default.

The Volume List View

Within Disk Management, the Volume List view provides a detailed summary of all the drives on the computer. Clicking a column label, such as Name, allows you to sort the disk information based on that column. The column labels are used as follows:

  • Volume The drive letter and name of the volume, such as Primary (C).

  • Layout The layout of the drive, such as a partition or volume.

  • Type The drive type, such as basic or dynamic.

  • File System The file system type, such as FAT (file allocation table), FAT32, or NTFS (Windows NT file system).

  • Status The status of the volume, such as healthy or unhealthy.

  • Capacity The amount of data the volume can hold.

  • Free Space The amount of free space in megabytes.

  • % Free The amount of free space as a percentage of total drive capacity.

  • Fault Tolerance Whether the drive uses Windows 2000 fault tolerant features, such as mirroring or striping.

  • Overhead The total additional drive space required as a result of the fault tolerant feature used.

Note: Volume sets and fault tolerance are discussed in Chapter 11.

The Graphical View

Within Disk Management, the Graphical view provides a graphical overview of all the physical and logical drives installed on the system. In this example, there are three disk devices installed on the system: Disk 0, a fixed drive of 7.87 GB; Disk 1, a removable drive; and CDRom 0, a CD-ROM device. Disk 0 is further broken down into sections: a primary partition, three logical drives, and a section of free space. The information provided for these drive sections could tell you the following: drive letter and text label for the partition or volume; the file system type, such as FAT, FAT32, or NTFS; the size of the drive section in megabytes; and the status of partitions or volumes, such as healthy or unhealthy.

Summary information for the physical disk devices includes the disk number and device type, such as basic, removable, or CD-ROM; the disk capacity; and the status of the disk device, such as online or offline.

The Disk List View

Within Disk Management, the Disk List view summarizes information about physical drives. The summary includes the disk number and device type, such as basic, removable, or CD-ROM; the disk capacity; the size of unallocated space on the disk (if any); the status of the disk device, such as online or offline; and the device interface type, such IDE or SCSI.

More Detailed Drive Information

From the Disk Management window, you can get more detailed information on a drive section by right-clicking it and then selecting Properties from the pop-up menu. When you do this, you'll see a dialog box much like the one shown in Figure 10-2. This is the same dialog box that you can access from Windows Explorer (by selecting the top-level folder for the drive and then choosing Properties from the File menu). The information provided on the General tab of the Properties dialog box tells you the following:

  • The drive letter for the section.

  • The text label for the section (known as a volume label).

  • The disk type. A local disk is a disk on the current computer system. A network drive is a disk located on a remote computer system that is accessible through a network connection. You may also see floppy, CD-ROM, and RAM drive types.

  • The file system type, such as FAT, FAT32, or NTFS.

  • The amount of used space on the disk.

  • The amount of free space on the disk.

  • The total capacity of the disk.

    Figure 10-2: The General tab of the Properties dialog box provides detailed information about a drive.

    Figure 10-2: The General tab of the Properties dialog box provides detailed information about a drive.

Installing and Checking for a New Drive

Hot swapping is a feature that allows you to remove devices without shutting off the computer. Typically, hot swappable drives are installed and removed from the front of the computer. If your computer supports hot swapping of drives, you can install drives to the computer without having to shut down. After you do this, access Disk Management and from the Action menu select Rescan Disks. New disks found are added as basic disks. If a disk you've added isn't found, reboot.

If the computer doesn't support hot swapping of drives, you must turn the computer off and then install the new drives. Afterward you can scan for new disks as described previously.

Understanding Drive Status

Knowing the drive status is useful when you install new drives or troubleshoot drive problems. Disk Management shows the drive status in the Graphical and Volume List views. Table 10-1 summarizes the most common status values.

Table 10-1 Common Drive Status Values and Their Meaning

Status

Description

Resolution

Online

The normal disk status. It means the disk is accessible and doesn't have problems. Both dynamic disks and basic disks display this status.

The drive doesn't have any known problems.

Online (Errors)

I/O errors have been detected on a dynamic disk.

You can try to correct temporary errors using the REACTIVATE DISK command.

Offline

The dynamic disk isn't accessible and may be corrupted or temporarily unavailable. If the disk name changes to Missing, the disk can no longer be located or identified on the system.

Check for problems with the drive, its controller, and cables. Make sure that the drive has power and is connected properly. Use the REACTIVATE DISK command to bring the disk back online (if possible).

Foreign

The dynamic disk has been moved to your computer but hasn't been imported for use. A failed drive brought back online may sometimes be listed as Foreign.

Use the IMPORT FOREIGN DISKS command to add the disk to the system.

Unreadable

The disk isn't accessible currently, which can occur when rescanning disks. Both dynamic and basic disks display this status.

If the drives aren't being scanned, the drive may be corrupt or have I/O errors. Use the RESCAN DISK command to correct the problem (if possible). You may also want to reboot the system.

Unrecognized

The disk is of an unknown type and can't be used on the system. A drive from a non-Windows system may display this status.

You can't use the drive on the computer. Try a different drive.

No Media

No media have been inserted into the CD-ROM or removable drive. Only CD-ROM and removable disk types display this status.

Insert a CD-ROM, floppy, or removable disk to bring the disk online.

from Microsoft Windows 2000 Administrator's Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek. Copyright © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.

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