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Disk Management overview

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2, Windows Server 8 Beta

Disk Management overview

Disk Management is a system utility for managing hard disks and the volumes or partitions that they contain. With Disk Management, you can initialize disks, create volumes, format volumes with the FAT, FAT32, or NTFS file systems, and create fault-tolerant disk systems. Disk Management enables you to perform most disk-related tasks without restarting the system or interrupting users; most configuration changes take effect immediately.

Disk Management, which replaces the Disk Administrator utility used in Microsoft® Windows® NT 4.0, offers many features, including:

  • Simplified tasks and intuitive user interface. Disk Management is easy to use. Menus that are accessible from the right mouse button display the tasks you can perform on the selected object, and wizards guide you through creating partitions or volumes and initializing or converting disks. For more information, see The Disk Management window.

  • Basic and dynamic disk storage. Basic disks contain basic volumes, such as primary partitions and logical drives in extended partitions. Use basic disks on portable computers or when you plan to install multiple operating systems in different partitions on the same disk. For more information, see Basic disks and volumes.

    Dynamic disks contain dynamic volumes that offer more features than basic disks, such as the ability to create fault-tolerant volumes on the Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Server family or Microsoft® Windows Server 2003 family of operating systems. You can extend dynamic volumes (except system or boot volumes), mirror dynamic volumes, and add new dynamic disks without restarting the computer. For more information, see Dynamic disks and volumes.

  • Local and remote disk management. By using Disk Management, you can manage any remote computer running Windows 2000, Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional, or Windows Server 2003 operating systems on which you are a member of the Backup Operators group or Administrators group. For more information about managing disks and volumes remotely, see Remote disk management.

  • Mounted drives. You can use Disk Management to connect, or mount, a local drive at any empty folder on a local NTFS-formatted volume. Mounted drives make data more accessible and give you the flexibility to manage data storage based on your work environment and system usage. Mounted drives are not subject to the 26-drive limit imposed by drive letters, so you can use mounted drives to access more than 26 drives on your computer. For more information, see Using NTFS mounted drives.

  • Support for MBR and GPT disks. Disk Management offers support for master boot record (MBR) disks in x86-based computers running Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP 1), x64-based computers, and Itanium-based computers. You can create mirrored, striped, spanned and RAID-5 volumes using a combination of MBR and GPT disks, but the MBR cylinder-alignment restriction may cause some difficulties in creating mirrored volumes. Always mirror the MBR disk to the GPT disk to avoid cylinder-alignment difficulties. For more information, see Partition styles.

  • Support for storage area networks (SANs). For better interoperability in storage area network (SAN) environments, on Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition, volumes on new basic disks are not automatically mounted and assigned drive letters by default when added to the system. You must manually mount basic volumes and assign the drive letters using Disk Management or the DiskPart and mountvol commands. Dynamic disks, removable media devices (such as Zip or Jaz drives), and optical discs (such as CD-ROM or DVD-RAM) are always automatically mounted by the system when they are detected.

  • Manage disks at the command line. Use the command-line tool DiskPart to perform disk-related tasks at the command line as an alternative to using Disk Management. With DiskPart, you can create scripts to automate tasks, such as creating volumes or converting disks to dynamic. For more information, see Managing disks and volumes from the command line.

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