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Kevin Remde's IT Pro WebLog

Windows Server 2003 Administration Webcast Series (Part 5 – Disk Management) Q&A


Frustrating Audio! 

First of all – sincere apologies to all of you who weren’t able to get audio early-on in our webcast.  The webcast producers are currently working with the streaming audio vendor to determine where the problem was, and how we can be assured that it won’t happen again.  I’ll post an update here as I find out.  But again – I’m very sorry for the confusion and frustration this caused, and I hope you will take advantage of the On-Demand webcast viewing for this session when it’s available.


Another note… and this relates to something Jason (webcast producer) mentioned.  Some of you have registered for the On-Demand webcast when it became available (after 24-48 hours) and did NOT receive emailed links to where you could get the PowerPoints and the .WMV downloadable version.  This is because those resources are not available until 72 hours after the event.  So… if you’re interested in getting those, make sure you re-register for the On-Demand event after 72 hours have passed.  (Sunday morning should just about do it, but wait ‘til the following Monday if you want to be sure.)

Here, as usual, is the “best of” Q&A log from the webcast.  Sincere thanks again to my teammates for doing such a great job helping to answer questions!  I give them the credit for the information in this document.  Outstanding!

Also I want to make sure also have the link to the Session Resources I posted for Part 5, and the homework assignment also.

Series Part 5 Webcast Q&A – Disk Management

“Where is the On-Demand Webcast found?

Part 5 “Disk Management” is found HERE.


“Why is Microsoft software so expensive?”

It’s not.  Not for the value it gives.  (My humble opinion. )


“Will the recorded meeting contain the audio?”

Yes, the recording will.


“NO AUDIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Yep… Sorry.


“Are dynamic disks special disks or just software based?”

Software based


“Can a spanned array of dynamic disks be moved to another computer?”

See the following article on moving disks from one computer to another. http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/Windows/XP/all/reskit/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/Windows/XP/all/reskit/en-us/prkb_cnc_ykyz.asp


“What advantage is there (if any) to using dynamic disks when using hardware based RAID?”

“I use hardware RAID5 on all my servers – the RAID BIOS ‘presents’ the logical drive to Windows as a single drive. Would there be any advantage or disadvantage to converting them from basic to dynamic?”

Some would argue that there are no benefits using software vs. hardware because supposedly hardware is lower-level and therefore faster.  There are a few benefits, however, mainly having to do with total cost and ease of administration. See the following article: http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/all/deployguide/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/all/deployguide/en-us/sdcbc_sto_vlfo.asp


“Do you know when clustering will support dynamic disks?”

There are no plans at this time. This does not mean it will never happen, but it is hard to say when and if this will be available in the future.


“Can I revert a dyn. disk to basic?… without losing data or will I lose all data on the disk after proceeding so?”

It is possible to go back but not directly. see the following article:


“Are you going to be going over any of the DFS functionality being released with 2k3 Service Release 2?”

Probably not in this web cast but keep looking at this web site when R2 is released: http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsServer2003/technologies/fileandprint/file/dfs/default.mspx.  Hopefully it will have something for you


“I have a few PC-class ‘servers’ (desktop PC running Windows Server 2003 and a single server-based service or function). Is there any advantage of converting its single hard disk to dynamic?”

All of the benefits I was highlighting would be available.


“So conversion of a basic disk to a dynamic disk does not damage the data on the disk?”

No, it doesn’t.


“What if you have dual boot system with a Win2000 Srv instance and a Win2003 Srv instance.. could they both access the same dynamic disk volume ?”

Dynamic disks cannot be directly accessed by MS-DOS, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows NT, or Windows XP Home Edition, so you cannot start these operating systems on dynamic disks, so Windows 2000 should be ok…Check this link for info:


“Is it recommended to convert the system volume to a dynamic volume in a Windows Server 2003 environment?”

You can but read this first. http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/dm_dynamic_overview.asp


“Is there a performance hit for converting to dynamic?”

Actually the performance can be increased if you do something like a stripe volume.


“Can the system (boot) volume be mirrored? Are there any issues with that?”

It can be mirrored. see the following link for more info.:


“What is the difference again between a Quick Format and a Format?”

Mainly it is a difference between whether or not the format process also performs diagnostics and checks for bad sectors.  Check this kb out: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/302686


“Is there any difference between a newly created dynamic disk and a basic disk upgraded to dynamic? I recall reading something about Windows setup being able to install if the dynamic disk was upgraded from a basic one.”

You can perform a fresh installation of the Windows Server 2003 family of operating systems on a dynamic volume only if that volume was converted from a basic boot volume or basic system volume. If the dynamic volume was created from unallocated space on a dynamic disk, you cannot install the Windows Server 2003 family of operating systems on that volume.


“Someone asked earlier if the boot partition can be converted to a dynamic disk. The answer given was “No”. I thought it was possible.”

Yes, this is possible, please see the following article for clarification: http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/dm_dynamic_overview.asp.
Just be sure the drive on which the boot partition has enough free unallocated space.


“Does a spanned volume have to use extra space on only one server or can it be spanned across several servers?”

It is has to be on the local server only


“When you are using a striped disk set, if you copy a file to a stripped volume, does it copy that same file to all three of the disks if that’s the case?”

No. There is an algorithm that stripes the data across the drives.  Users don’t have to know or care how the file is stored.


“Can you mirror a spanned or striped volume?”

No, neither can be mirrored.


“Can your C: drive be a dynamic drive.”

Yes. Check this link for more info…. http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/dm_dynamic_overview.asp


“If you’re using hardware RAID (with onboard cache memory), do you recommend selecting ‘Enable Write Caching on the disk’ and ‘Enable advanced performance’ on your (virtual) disks?”

You should really use the recommendations of the manufacturer.  An interesting article you might enjoy is at the following. http://sr5tech.com/write_back_cache_experiments.htm


“On spanned volume if a disk goes bad you lose the whole volume?”

Correct.  Spanned volumes are not fault tolerant.

“Can the boot partiton be expanded/spanned?”

If performing an upgrade, you can use the strategy listed in the following articles: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/325857
and http://support.microsoft.com/kb/289876


“Is there any point converting to dynamic disks if I have hardware RAID”

There is.  See the links to the same question earlier in the queue


“Is it mandatory to have same make, model and manufacturer, wont it work if its different , in case it perhaps discontinued from vendor?”

No, it’s not mandatory.  Just highly recommended.


“How many dynamic drives can be used in a spanned volume configuration?”

It’s more a question of size than number of physical disks see http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/all/deployguide/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/all/deployguide/en-us/sdcbc_sto_cokp.asp


“For a mirrored volume, does it matter if one physical disk is SCSI and the other IDE?”

In that case the disks need to be identical. See the following http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/dm_dynamic_overview.asp


“Where I can find a Guide to build up RAID in windows 2003?”



“If you add a mirror to an existing drive, does the OS automatically copy all of the then existing data content to the mirror drive? If so, how long does this take?”

Yes.  The creation of the mirrored volume will duplicate the data on the mirror. How long it takes is dependent on the disk I/O and amount of data to be synched.


“Win2k3 software not support raid50, raid50 only supported when using a hardward level raid configuration?”

2003 does support software based raid in a limited capacity and hardware based raid. http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/standard/proddocs/en-us/dm_dynamic_overview.asp


“Is raid 5 better than mirrored?”

It all depends on your definition of “better”. RAID 5 gives you a lower cost per mb (gb) due to the ability to use more than just 2 disks. There is a performance hit on write functions in a RAID5.


“What happens if run out of letters to assign to volumes?”

You can assign them names, or use volume mount points. http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/WindowsServ/2003/all/techref/en-us/Default.asp?url=/Resources/Documentation/windowsserv/2003/all/techref/en-us/w2k3tr_ddisk_what.asp


“Is there a performance issue in software vs. hardware mirroring, raid-5 etc.”

Yes. When using software, you take a hit due to the use of system memory as well as system processor to perform the work. A hardware RAID subsystem will usually be better performing.


“Are you notified which disk on a mirror is corrupt if you have problems?”

Normally this will show in the event viewer. If it is the primary disk the system will most likely fail, it is the secondary mirror the system will still function but you will traditionally see errors in the event viewer.