What is the difference between a Microsoft Basic Disk and a Dynamic Disk?

There are two different types of disk storage available to the Windows Vista, XP and 2000 environment:

  • Basic Disk Storage
  • Dynamic Disk Storage

The number of partitions (on basic disks) and volumes (on dynamic disks) that each can contain are the primary differences.  Single drive systems with one drive letter C: are typical basic disks.  A server that needs to be divided up into several parts may benefit from a dynamic disk configuration.  Some versions of Windows will convert a basic disk into a dynamic type.

Basic Disk Storage
Basic storage uses partition tables that are supported by MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me), Microsoft Windows NT, Microsoft Windows 2000, and Windows XP. A disk initialized for basic storage is called a basic disk. A basic disk contains basic volumes, such as primary partitions, extended partitions, and logical drives.

Dynamic Disk Storage
Dynamic storage is supported by both Windows 2000 and Windows XP Professional. A disk that is initialized for dynamic storage is called a dynamic disk. A dynamic disk contains dynamic volumes, such as simple volumes, spanned volumes, striped volumes, mirrored volumes, and RAID-5 volumes.