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Basic disks and volumes

Updated: January 21, 2005

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

Basic disks and volumes

A basic disk is a physical disk that contains primary partitions, extended partitions, or logical drives. Partitions and logical drives on basic disks are known as basic volumes. You can only create basic volumes on basic disks.

The number of partitions you can create on a basic disk depends on the disk's partition style:

  • On master boot record (MBR) disks, you can create up to four primary partitions per disk, or you can create up to three primary partitions and one extended partition. Within the extended partition, you can create unlimited logical drives.

  • On GUID partition table (GPT) disks, you can create up to 128 primary partitions. Because GPT disks do not limit you to four partitions, you do not need to create extended partitions or logical drives.

You can add more space to existing primary partitions and logical drives by extending them into adjacent, contiguous unallocated space on the same disk. To extend a basic volume, it must be formatted with the NTFS file system. You can extend a logical drive within contiguous free space in the extended partition that contains it. If you extend a logical drive beyond the free space available in the extended partition, the extended partition grows to contain the logical drive as long as the extended partition is followed by contiguous unallocated space. For instructions describing how to extend a basic volume, see Extend a basic volume.

Always use basic volumes, instead of dynamic volumes, on computers running MS-DOS, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Millinnium Edition, Windows NT 4.0, or Windows XP Home Edition that are configured to dual-boot with Windows XP Professional or Windows Server 2003 operating systems. These operating systems cannot access the data stored on dynamic volumes.

Windows XP Professional and the Windows Server 2003 operating systems do not support multidisk basic volumes created using Windows NT 4.0 or earlier, such as volume sets, mirror sets, stripe sets, or stripe sets with parity. For information about using Windows NT 4.0 multidisk basic volumes, see Using Windows NT 4.0 multidisk storage.

For more information about dynamic volumes, see Dynamic disks and volumes.

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