Export (0) Print
Expand All
This topic has not yet been rated - Rate this topic

Managing Existing Partitions and Drives

Archived content. No warranty is made as to technical accuracy. Content may contain URLs that were valid when originally published, but now link to sites or pages that no longer exist.
By William R. Stanek

Archived content - No warranty is made as to technical accuracy. Content may contain URLs that were valid when originally published, but now link to sites or pages that no longer exist.

from Chapter 7, Windows NT Administrator's Pocket Consultant .

Disk Administrator provides many useful functions for managing existing partitions and drives. You can use these features to assign drive letters, delete partitions, set the active partition, and more. In addition, Windows NT provides other utilities to carry out common tasks such as converting a volume to NTFS or checking a drive for errors.

Assigning Drive Letters

Windows NT assigns default drive letters when you create new primary partitions and logical drives. Generally, these drive letters are assigned consecutively, but you can change the drive letter or remove the drive letter designator. For details on working with drive letters, see the section of this chapter titled "Understanding Drive Partitions."

To assign a drive letter or remove a drive letter designator, complete the following steps:

  1. Select the drive you want to change by clicking on it in Disk Administrator.

  2. Choose Drive Letter from the Tools menu. This opens the Assign Drive Letter dialog box shown in Figure 7-8.

    Cc722476.07wnta08(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 7-8: To assign a drive letter, select the letter from the list box and click OK.
  3. Assign a drive letter by choosing the Assign Drive Letter button and then selecting a letter from the list box. Remove a drive letter assignment by choosing the Do Not Assign A Drive Letter button.

  4. Click OK after you make your selection.

Note: If you try to change the letter of a drive in use, Windows NT displays a warning. You'll need to exit programs that are using the drive and try again or allow Disk Administrator to make the change and reboot the system.

Changing or Deleting the Volume Label

The volume label is a text descriptor for a drive. Because this label is displayed when the drive is accessed in various Windows NT utilities, such as Windows NT Explorer, you can use the label to help provide information about the contents of a drive. You can change or delete a volume label using Disk Administrator or Windows NT Explorer.

  • Using Disk Administrator, you can change or delete a label by doing the following:

    1. Select the partition or drive by clicking on it and then choose Properties from the Tools menu.

    2. In the General tab of the Properties dialog box, use the Label field to enter a new label for the volume or delete the existing label.

    3. Click OK.

  • Using Windows NT Explorer, you can change or delete a label by doing the following:

    1. Select the top-level folder for the drive by clicking on it and then choose Properties from the File menu.

    2. In the General tab of the Properties dialog box, use the Label field to enter a new label for the volume or delete the existing label.

    3. Click OK.

Deleting Partitions and Drives

To change the configuration of an existing drive that is fully allocated, you may need to delete existing partitions and logical drives. Deleting a partition or drive removes the associated file system, and all data in the file system is lost. So before you delete a partition, you should backup any files and directories the partition contains.

You can delete a primary partition or logical drive as follows:

  1. In Disk Administrator, select the partition or drive by clicking on it and then choose Delete from the Partition menu.

  2. Confirm that you want to delete the partition by clicking Yes.

  3. Commit the change by selecting Commit Changes Now from the Partition menu or by exiting Disk Administrator and choosing Yes when prompted.

To delete an extended partition, complete the following steps:

  1. Delete all the logical drives on the partition following the steps outlined above.

  2. You should now be able to select the extended partition area itself (designated as Free Space with a background pattern of stripes that run from the upper left to the lower right).

Converting a Volume to NTFS

Windows NT provides a utility for converting FAT volumes to NTFS. This utility, called Convert (CONVERT.EXE), is located in the %SystemRoot% folder. When you convert a volume using this tool, the file and directory structure is preserved and no data is lost. Keep in mind, however, that Windows NT doesn't provide a utility for converting NTFS to FAT. The only way to go from NTFS to FAT is to delete the partition by following the steps outlined in the previous section and then to recreate the partition as a FAT volume.

The Convert Utility

Convert is a command-line utility run at the Command prompt. If you want to convert a drive use the follow syntax:

convert drive_designator /FS:NTFS

where drive_designator is the drive letter followed by a colon. For example, if you wanted to convert the D drive to NTFS, you would use the following command:

convert D: /FS:NTFS

Before you use the Convert utility, double-check to see if the partition is being used as the active boot partition or a system partition containing the operating system. With Intel x86 systems, you can convert the active boot partition to NTFS. Doing so requires that the system gain exclusive access to this partition, which can only be obtained during startup. Thus, if you try to convert the active boot partition to NTFS, Windows NT displays a

Cc722476.07wnta09(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure 7-9: Before you use the Convert utility to convert a FAT file system to NTFS, you should make sure that the drive has enough free space. Don't attempt to use the drive while the conversion is in progress.

prompt asking if you want to schedule the drive to be converted the next time the system starts. If you click Yes, you can restart the system to begin the conversion process.

Tip Often it will take several restarts of a system to completely convert the active boot partition. Don't panic. Let the system proceed with the conversion.

RISC-Based Systems

RISC-based systems are hardware configured and do not use an active boot partition. RISC computers, however, do use a system partition that contains the necessary files for the operating system. This partition must be a FAT file system, so you shouldn't convert the system partition to NTFS on RISC-based computers.

Figure 7-9 shows the output from an actual drive conversion. Before Convert actually converts a drive to NTFS, the utility checks to see if the drive has enough free space to perform the conversion. Generally, Convert needs a block of free space that is roughly equal to 25 percent of the total space used on the drive. For example, if the drive stores 100 MB of data, Convert needs about 25 MB of free space. If there isn't enough free space, Convert aborts and tells you that you need to free up some space. On the other hand, if there is ample free space, Convert initiates the conversion. Be patient. The conversion process takes several minutes (longer for large drives). Don't access files or applications on the drive while the conversion is in progress.

Checking a Drive for Errors and Bad Sectors

The Windows NT utility for checking the integrity of a disk is Check Disk (CHKDSK.EXE). You'll find this utility in the %SystemRoot% folder. Use Check Disk to check for and optionally repair problems found on both FAT and NTFS volumes.

While Check Disk can check for and correct many types of errors, the utility primarily looks for inconsistencies in the file system and its related metadata. One of the ways Check Disk locates errors is by comparing the volume bitmap to the disk sectors assigned to files in the file system. But beyond this, Check Disk's usefulness is rather limited. For example, Check Disk can't repair corrupted data within files that appear to be structurally intact.

You can run Check Disk from the command line or within other utilities. At the Command prompt you can test the integrity of the E drive, by entering the command:

chkdsk E:

To find and repair errors that are found in the E drive, use the command:

chkdsk /f E:

Note: Check Disk can't repair volumes that are in use. If the volume is in use, Check Disk displays a prompt that asks if you want to schedule the volume to be checked the next time you restart the system. Answer Yes to the prompt to schedule this.

Two ways you can also run Check Disk interactively are by using either Windows NT Explorer or Disk Administrator.

  • Using Disk Administrator, you can access Check Disk by doing the following:

    1. Select the drive by clicking on it and then choose Properties from the Tools menu.

    2. In the Tools tab of the Properties dialog box, click on the Check Now button.

  • Using Windows NT Explorer, you can access Check Disk by doing the following:

    1. Select the top-level folder for the drive by clicking on it and then choose Properties from the File menu.

    2. In the Tools tab of the Properties dialog box, click on the Check Now button.

Figure 7-10 shows the dialog box for the interactive version of Check Disk. You can use the dialog box to check a disk for errors and then to repair them if you like.

  • To check for errors without repairing them, click on the Start button without selecting either of the check boxes.

  • To check for errors and fix them, make the appropriate selections in the check boxes to fix file system errors or to recover bad sectors, or both.

    Cc722476.07wnta10(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 7-10: Check Disk is available by clicking the Check Now button on the Properties dialog box. Use it to check a disk for errors and repair them if you wish.

Defragmenting Disks

Anytime you add files to or remove files from a drive, the data on the drive can become fragmented. When a drive is fragmented, large files can't be written to a single continuous area on the disk. As a result, the operating system must write the file to several smaller areas on the disk, which means more time is spent reading the file from the disk. To reduce fragmentation, use a defragmenter, such as Disk Keeper—a network-aware utility for repairing and defragmenting disks on local and remote systems.

When you install a defragmenter on a system, you can access it in the Tools tab of the disk's Properties dialog box. Simply click on the Defragment Now button.

Compressing Drives and Data

When you format a drive for NTFS, Windows NT allows you to turn on the built-in compression feature. Using built-in compression, all files and directories stored on a drive are automatically compressed when they are created. Because this compression is transparent to users, compressed data can be accessed just like regular data. The difference is that you can store more information on a compressed drive than you can on an uncompressed drive.

Compressing Directories and Files

If you decide not to compress a drive, Windows NT lets you selectively compress directories and files. To compress a file or directory, select the file or directory in Windows NT Explorer. Then, in the General tab of the related property dialog box, select the Compress check box as shown in Figure 7-11, on the following page. Then click Apply or OK.

Cc722476.07wnta11(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure 7-11: With NTFS, you can compress a file or directory by selecting the Compress check box on the General tab of the Properties window.

For an individual file, Windows NT marks the file as compressed and then compresses it. For a directory, Windows NT marks the directory as compressed and then compresses all files in it. If the directory contains subfolders, Windows NT displays the dialog box shown in Figure 7-12. This dialog box allows you to compress all the subfolders associated with the directory. Simply select the Also Compress Subfolders check box and then click OK. Once you compress a directory, any new files added to the directory are compressed automatically.

Expanding Compressed Files and Directories

If you decide later that you want to expand a compressed file or directory, simply reverse the process by completing the following steps:

  1. Choose the file or directory in Windows NT Explorer.

  2. In the General tab of the related Property dialog box, deselect the Compress check box.

  3. Click Apply or OK.

With files, Windows NT removes compression and expands the file. With directories, Windows NT expands all files within the directory. If the directory contains subfolders, you'll also have the opportunity to remove compression from the subfolders. To do this, select the Also Uncompress Subfolders check box when prompted and then click OK.

Cc722476.07wnta12(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure 7-12: If you compress a directory that contains subfolders, Windows NT asks if you want to compress the subfolders. To do so, select the Also Compress Subfolders check box and then click OK.

Tip Windows NT also provides command-line utilities for compressing and decompressing your data. The compression utility is called Compact (COMPACT.EXE). The decompression utility is called Expand (EXPAND.EXE).

The Windows NT 4 Resource Kit has enhanced utilities for working with compressed files as well. Use Compress (COMPRESS.EXE) to compress sets of files and store them in separate directories. Use ExpndW32 to expand distribution files from the Windows NT CD-ROM.

Creating an Emergency Boot Disk

An emergency boot disk is handy when you have problems booting a system. You can create an emergency boot disk for an Intel x86 system by doing the following:

  1. Insert a new floppy disk into your floppy drive.

  2. Right-click on the floppy drive icon in Windows NT Explorer and then select Format from the pop-up menu.

  3. Select the appropriate formatting options and then click Start to format the floppy.

  4. Copy these files from the boot drive's base directory (normally C:\) to the floppy:

    • BOOT.INI

    • NTDETECT.COM

    • NTLDR

    • BOOTSECT.DOS (in dual boot systems)

    • NTBOOTDD.SYS (if used on this system)

The BOOT.INI file tells the computer the location of the boot partition. You can edit this file to have the computer load an operating system from a different partition. For example, if you mirrored the boot partition and the primary mirror drive fails, you can point BOOT.INI to the boot partition on the secondary mirror drive and boot your system. The actual procedure for recovering a mirrored boot partition is covered in Chapter 8.

Creating an Emergency Repair Disk

Anytime you change the configuration of your system, Windows NT may display a message telling you to update your emergency repair disk. An emergency repair disk contains important system and registry information that can be used to recover a Windows NT system in case of boot failure. Because the problems that the emergency disk can resolve are extensive, it should be your first line of defense in recovering a system from boot failure. Creating and updating this disk often is a good idea.

Cc722476.07wnta13(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure 7-13: Repair disks are essential for recovering the system in case of failure. Update the repair disk anytime you make system changes.

To create or update an emergency repair disk, you'll use the Repair Disk Utility (RDISK.EXE). You can start the Repair Disk Utility by typing rdisk at the Command prompt or from the Run dialog box. Figure 7-13 shows the main window for the utility. You can now

  • Create a new repair disk by selecting the Create Repair Disk button The Repair Disk Utility asks you to label a floppy disk "Emergency Repair Disk" and insert it into the floppy drive. When you do this, click OK to continue. The utility will format the floppy disk and then copy configuration files to the disk.

    Afterward, you'll see a final prompt telling you to store the disk in a safe location. The disk contains sensitive information, such as registry data containing security and user information. You'll also find that some files have been created in the %SystemRoot%\repair folder. These files are also used to recover the system in case of failure.

  • Update an existing repair disk by selecting the Update Repair Info button The Repair Disk Utility tells you that the repair information last saved will be deleted. If you want to do this, click OK to continue. The utility will then copy configuration files to the disk. You'll also find that files in the %SystemRoot%\repair folder have been updated.

Recovering a Boot Failure

The Emergency Repair Disk created with the Repair Disk Utility (RDISK.EXE) can recover the system from most types of boot failures. To do this, you'll need the Windows NT Setup Disks and the Emergency Repair Disk created for this system.

Note: If the floppy drive is not configured as a boot drive, you'll need to edit the configuration settings of your system. During boot you should see a message that tells you which key you should press to enter system setup. Typically, this button is the Del key or a function key, such as F5. Once you're in the system setup, you'll need to enable boot from floppy.

To recover the system, insert the Windows NT Setup Disk A into the floppy drive and boot the system. Windows NT won't actually begin the installation process unless you tell it to. You should see an option menu that allows you to "Repair a Damaged NT Installation." Select this option, then follow the prompts.

Windows NT will attempt to repair the system using the repair data in the %SystemRoot%\repair folder and the Emergency Repair Disk (as necessary). When prompted, insert the Emergency Repair Disk. This disk will reflect the most recent system configuration settings if possible.

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

Link
Click to order


Did you find this helpful?
(1500 characters remaining)
Thank you for your feedback
Show:
© 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.