Disk and Volume Management Beta Chat (August 18, 2006)

Chat Topic: Disk and Volume Management
Date: Friday, August 18, 2006

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Thank you for joining today’s chat with the Disk and Volume Management Team.  We will begin the chat in 7 minutes.  Feel free to start queuing up questions!

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Welcome to today’s chat with the Disk and Volume Management Team.  We will try to answer as many questions as we can today. Participants should type their questions, select the “Ask the experts” check box, and click “Send.” Those posts will go into a private queue, from which our experts will draft answers and repost questions in the upper window with their answers. (To confirm: if you selected the “Ask the experts” check box when you posted, you don’t need to resubmit.  

 

At this time, I’ll let the experts introduce themselves.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Hi, I’m Dan Stevenson. I’m a Program Manager on the storage user experience team, which includes applications for file servers (like Disk Management) and client PCs (like backup and restore).

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Hi, my name is Deborah. I’m a Microsoft developer on Volume Mangement, VDS, mounted devices, etc.

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Good morning, everyone!  My name is Wendy and I’ll be your host for today’s chat.  Exits are located over the wing and at the rear of the plane.  We’ll begin our beverage service shortly.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: I was really happy to see volume shrinking and expanding in vista.  just wanted to say good job guys.
A: thanks.

Disk Mgmt Team (Expert):
Hi, I am Avinash. I work on testing Volume management and Virtual Disk Service (VDS)

Disk Mgmt Team (Expert):
`Hey, I am Anu. I am a dev working on the disk management UI (diskmgmt.msc).

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: My Vista betas show my two drives in various orders in Disk Management, depending on which beta I run.  How is the order of drive enumeration determined?
A: The disk order is deteremined by PNP, and is not guaranteed to be the same accross reboots. PNP runs asynchronous threads while enumeratng the devices, so the order may change accross reboots.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Will defragging a volume before using the snap-in to extend or shrink a volume speed up the process – and is there any difference in the way a volume is defragmented when extending/shrinking as compared to running a normal defrag?
A: Not really. Defrag running normally (not for the purpose of shrink) is trying to reduce the fragmentation in your files, but isn’t trying to clear up space at the end of the disk. For example, defrag will do a “partial defrag” to reduce the number of small extents, without actually pulling in blocks to the front of the disk. The shrink functionality uses defrag as a “block mover” to move blocks (only those that can be moved) from the end of the disk.

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: I played around with diskpart a bit. I would like that “help” can be used always the same way. Example: if I type “select /?” it works fine, but not with “shrink /?” here I have to type “help shrink”. Would it be possible to change that?
A: Yes, I will make a note of that. The help commands should be consistent.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Why does Vista always installs on drive “C:”, although it is installed on the drive 1, in a logical drive?
A: The Setup UI will always default to C:. You can script Setup with the unattend.xml file to change the drive letter.

Disk Mgmt Team (Expert):
Q: This am I was tryning to extend a volume on a w2k3 server, the disk is dynamic, but there is a 30mb utility partition because of that it will not allow me to extend the volume, is this the same in vista/longhorn?
A: Yes, extending a volume on basic disk works only if there is contigous space after the volume. For a simple and spanned dynamic volume, it can extend on any available space on a dynamic disk. It works exactly like it worked on w2k3.

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
For those just joining us, today’s chat is with the Disk and Volume Management Team.  To post a question, please type your question, select the “Ask the experts” check box, and click “Send.” That way, we can track which questions we still need to answer.

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: How do I do a forced dismount in Vista.  The old way was to not lock the volume before calling FSCTL_DISMOUNT_VOLUME.  When I do that now, DeviceIoControl returns success but there are still handles open on the volume.  (This is with PE 2.0 from build 5472
A: Locking the volume before dismounting is the ‘polite’ way to dismount. When you lock, a PNP notification willbe sent to apps that are listening for PNP notifications, and it gives the apps the option of releasing their lock. If you choose to force dismount, it will succeed, unless some other app already has the volume locked. If some other app already has the volume locked, you will have to retry and wiat for the lock to be released. If you succeed in dimounting the volume, all open handles will be invalidated, and any calls on those handles will fail.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: VISTA workstations now require massive boot partitions and have VSS and Indexing going on all the time. In a multiple spindle Desktop are there any performance considerations in placing Shadow copies or search indexes on different volumes? Any  guidance?
A: I can’t speak for search indices, but yes, you will get better performance if you place the shadow copy storage area for volume(s) on one disk on volume(s) on another disk. This is the recommended configuration for servers where the admin wants persistent shadow copies (e.g. a file server volume with user shares). On Vista, which is not intended to be a high-performance file server, we don’t let you place the shadow copies on a different volume through the property page (“System Protection”) or the command line (vssadmin).

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Woohooo!  Right out of the gate we have a “Best Question” Winner!!!  Congrats to MEdwards for asking “Will shrink be combined with calling shrink on a VDS hardware provider for an external volume to allow virtual storage to shrink ?”  Please ensure you email LBeta with your full shipping address, including phone number and reference this question.

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Are file/partition sizes on a NTFS volume the same as before?
A: Yes they are. For Vista we have changed the default alignment to be 1 MB. This can be changed by either using a registry value, HKLMSystemCurrentControlSetServicesvdsalignment, or, by using diskpart at the command line and using the alignment parameter. This change results in better perf, by aligning the volume offset with the cache line size.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Will shrink be combined with calling shrink on a VDS hardware provider for an external volume to allow virtual storage to shrink ?
A: Great question (I’ll rephrase it as “can you shrink the underlying LUN after shrinking the volume?”). Right now, there is no API for shrinking LUNs in VDS, which is what hardware providers and our VDS apps (diskraid, Storage Manager for SANs) use, so you’d have to use a third-party management tool. Definitely something for us to consider for the future — I know Microsoft’s IT department has also asked for this functionality.

Disk Mgmt Team (Expert):
Q: Why are there 2 different additional switsches when using “extend size=” and “shrink desired=”? It would be easier to remember to have the “size” switch for both commands – is it possible?
A: With extend the size specified is the size by which the volume needs to be extended. If it is not possible to extend it by the size passed in, the command would fail.

With shrink the desired size is what the user would like to shrink the volume by, but it may not be possible to shrink the volume by that size. The command would still succeed with the maximum possible size in that case.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: On my XP Pro desktop I run 4 160G drives and they stay around 50% used? Should I consider going to 4 300G or higher drives for VISTA?
A: This really depends on your disk usage — how many new files do you bring in, etc. If you want to keep a nice shadow copy history, a bigger volume is always better.

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Re Optical drives – you showed DvD+RW. What other media will work? CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-DL, etc? Assume hardware supports them.
A: I’m not sure exactly what you mean? You should know that with Vista, we have deprecated many driver. These drives are no longer supported by the OEM manufacturers, and so Microsoft will no longer ship these drivers ‘in box’. For these devices, the drivers must now be provided by the user.

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: To Q2: Thank you!
A: Sure – we appreciate the feedback ;-).

Disk Mgmt Team (Expert):
Q: Why do I have to sometimes shrink my volumes little by little, like 8GB at a time to reach my desired size instead of doing one big chunk? Perhaps just a bug? I am very grateful for the ability to resize volumes in Vista though, it makes XP harder to use:(
A: The size by which the volume can be shrunk is transient depending on the activities going on the volume. So, it is possible that you can shrink the volume multiple times by different chunks.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: has the defragging process been improved over XP in any way?
A: Yes, there are a bunch of defrag improvements. We had a feature focus on defrag the other week; I think you’ll find the content posted in the usual places.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Can you do a fake shrink to get defrag to create as much contiguous free space as possible or is there a defrag switch to force consolidation?
A: Sorry, I don’t know the exact syntax — can you post this on the newsgroup? (the local filesystems one)

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: I have noticed that the descriptions of volumes seem to have a few more items ie: my main Vista volume on one machine is listed as (System, Boot, Page File, Active, Crash Dump, Primary Partition) is there a list somewhere of all the possible descriptions?
A: You should be able to find this list in the help file – try looking at the help for the diskpart.exe command line tool. In previous versions, we used a display ‘hierarchy’ such that if the volume was system, we did not display ‘boot’ or ‘pagefile’, if it wqas theboot volume, we did notdisplay ‘pagefile’, etc. We now display all these volume attributes  for each volume.

Disk Mgmt Team (Expert):
Q: I tried to run Diskraid.exe with the response that it is unable to find any hardware providers … Is that because I do not have Hardware Raid or because I use 2 basic disks?
A: In order to use diskraid.exe, you need to have a VDS Hardware provider installed on the machine. It should be provided by the H/W vendor. You can use diskpart.exe to manage your basic disks.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: If I create two or more partitions during Vista setup, only the OS partition is formatted. Is there a way to format all partitions during setup?
A: I think you can format the extra partitions using the Setup UI while still in Setup, before you choose the partition to install on to. But you can also use the unattend.xml configuration to script the disk configuration.

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
For those just joining us, today’s chat is with the Disk and Volume Management Team.  To post a question, please type your question, select the “Ask the experts” check box, and click “Send.” That way, we can track which questions we still need to answer.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: re: [4] – does the defrag when shrinking also combine file fragments, or does it only move blocks to the beginning of the disk? And is there any way to make a normal defrag do the moving as well?
A: It does both — combining fragments (where appropriate) and moving blocks to the front of the disk.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: How much disk space and what disk performance is reguired to get a 6.0 disp rating on the VISTA rating system? what is tha highest performance rating hardware tested in the lab so fa and can it be purchased?
A: Sorry, we’re not really experts on the perf rating system. Can you post this to the newsgroup(s)?

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Why isn’t there an easy possibilty to create a raid 0 over several partitions on several disk, dynamic disks are quite unuseable in a mullti OS environment…?
A: We have deprecated the ability to create striped, spanned, mirrored and raid5 volumes on basic disks. We would be interested to know how you are usng this multi OS environment – for what purpose, etc.

Disk Mgmt Team (Expert):
Q: are multiple disk packs(groups) supported with dynamic disks in longhorn?
A: No. There is only one online disk pack supported on dynamic disks. The other packs will remain foreign.

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Let’s see some questions, folks. The team has lightening fingers this morning (must be all the sunshine we have)

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: In XP/2003, RAID1 (mirroring) is available only in the 2003 server versions. Will this restriction be removed in VISTA, or is it still implicitly assumed that mirroring is only needed on servers, not workstations? (Haven’t tested VISTA yet on dual drives.)
A: On Vista, you can do stripe, simple, and spanned dynamic disks, but only on the Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate SKUs. Mirror and RAID-5 are blocked. So yes, the assumption/direction is that if you need/want mirroring, you should have a server OS.

Dan Stevenson [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: If doing a fresh install of Vista with the intention to dual-boot XP, does it offer everything necessary to partition and dual-boot? Or do I need a seperate program like Partition Magic to do a proper job?
A: Yes. If you create 2 partitions during Setup, you can put Vista on the first one (it will be the system and boot partition for Vista). Then you can run XP Setup and install on the second partition. The second partition will be the XP “boot” partition, but the first volume will be the XP “system” partition. A handy mnemonic is “you *boot* from the *system* partition (the boot loader), but the operating *system* is on the *boot* partition (windows directory)”

Disk Mgmt Team (Expert):
Q: Why is that Vista partition is already C: ? I would like to be able to choose a drive letter to reduce the risk of virus attack because it needs more effort to find out the root drive of Windows.
A: Yes. C: is usually the default drive letter. You could change it if you boot into recovery console, but installed programs may have issues if the system/boot drive letter is changed.

Deborah [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Are there any I/O performance enchancements just by software? Meaning will my hardware perform better in Vista than than it does in