Basic disks are the default state when a disk is being mounted on a system and they can be read by Windows XP as well as all previous versions of Windows as opposed to dynamic disks. “Disk Management” utility in Microsoft Management Console (MMC) of Windows XP provides every required tool to perform almost all necessary operations on the disks.

The software market is also filled with all kinds of third party utilities that perform the same operations. Moreover, the utility DiskPart.exe which is a Windows XP command line interface, is also used to perform the same tasks. The advantage of DiskPart is that certain operations may be automated by creating batch files. In Windows XP almost all the operations are effective without needing a reboot to the system.

The basics

A basic disk can be used with a single partition, or divided into partitions (or volumes) to obtain a better distribution of data. A disc can contain multiple volumes. It can contain one to four primary partitions. Each partition (or volume) is designated by a drive letter (C: for example). Further more, it can also include one extended partition containing logical drives. In this case, the disc can contain up to 3 partitions (or volumes), primary and extended partition containing up to 32 logical drives within.

Along the lines of the above explanation and the possibilities given for organizing the data, If more than 4 volumes are required then 3 primary partitions along with an extended partition containing logical drives may be needed. Usually the C: drive contains the operating system, the D: drive may contain applications and/or other data.

To begin management volumes with disk management utility, click Start Control Panel / Performance and Maintenance / Administrative Tools / Computer Management. Pull down the tree and select Disk Management Storage. This tool can be accessed by clicking on Start / Right clicking on My Computer and then by selecting Manage from the menu as well.

New hard disk installation?

When a new hard disk is being installed on the machine it is automatically recognized by Windows XP in the startup phase. If the only drive of the machine was “C” and there is a CD-ROM “D”, upon opening Windows Explorer, the new disk would be assigned with the first available letter “E”. However, it is absolutely possible to assign another letter for the new disk.

Knowing how to delete partitions or logical drives is as important knowledge as it is to know how to create them. Its just a simple process of right clicking on the volume that needs to be deleted, selecting delete from the menu and confirming to a diaglog box to actually initiate the deletion. But there are few important facts around deleting partitions.

For one, when a volume is being deleted all the data within gets deleted. System partitions, boot volume or the volume that includes active paging file cannot be deleted. With regard to extended partitions, it cannot be deleted unless the partition is empty. However all the logical drives within the extended partition has to be deleted first, in order to be able to delete the extended partition.

Disk management is important yet basic knowledge that every computer user is ought to have. However its a type of knowledge that is worst learned through experience, because of the crucial yet gigantic adjustments the disk management utility of Windows XP can make to a system.