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Hard Disk Management

A hard disk is a secondary storage device that is connected to a computer by the Integrated Device Electronics (IDE) or Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) controllers. It consists of inflexible platters coated with material in which data is recorded magnetically with read/write heads.

Windows XP Professional supports two types of hard disk storage, namely basic disk and dynamic disk. A basic disk is the traditional definition. Configuring and managing user profiles in the Windows XP operating system default storage type in Windows XP.

Every basic disk contains at least one partition. It is a physical disk that contains the primary and extended partitions. Partitions created on a basic disk are called basic volumes. An administrator can create more than one basic volume by partitioning the hard disk for the purpose of organizing the files and folders or supporting multiple operating systems on a single hard disk.

On a basic disk, three types of partitions can be created, namely primary, extended, and logical. An administrator can configure a maximum of four primary partitions on a computer running the Windows XP operating system. Although the administrator can configure any of the created primary partitions as an active or bootable partition, he can view only one primary partition with a drive letter at a time since only one primary partition is active at a time. Other primary partitions are invisible and are not assigned a drive letter.

An extended partition allows administrators to exceed the limit of primary partitions that can be created on a hard disk. An extended partition serves as a shell in which a user can create unlimited logical partitions. Logical partitions are visible and generally used to organize files.

In addition to the basic disk, Windows XP Professional also supports the dynamic disk, which overcomes the limitations of the basic disk. Dynamic disks are actually physical disks that are created and managed with the Disk Management utility in Windows XP.

Dynamic disks provide several new features that cannot be performed on basic disks. Dynamic disks do not use partitions or logical drives. Instead, they use dynamic volumes to subdivide physical disks into one or more drives. Three types of dynamic volumes can be created on a Windows XP-based computer, namely simple, spanned, and striped.

Simple volumes: Simple volumes contain disk space from a single hard disk and can be extended, if required.

Spanned volumes: Spanned volumes combine areas of unallocated space from multiple disks into one logical volume. Such volumes allow a user to efficiently use all the hard disk space and drive letters on a multiple-disk system. Spanned volumes contain disk space from two to thirty-two disks with varying amount of disk space from each disk.

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