A Windows XP basic disk, which is similar to the disk configuration used under earlier versions of Windows, is a physical disk with primary and extended partitions. As long as you use the File Allocation Table (FAT) file system, Windows XP Professional and Home editions, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows 9x, and MS-DOS operating systems can access basic disks.
You can create up to three primary partitions and one extended partition on a basic disk, or just four primary partitions. You can create a single extended partition with logical drives on a basic disk; however, you cannot extend a basic disk.
Extending a disk enables you to use a second hard disk volume for storage while the operating system makes the extra volume appear to be part of the same volume as the first disk. You gain more disk storage while maintaining the same drive volume letter.
Basic disks store their configuration information in the Master Boot Record (MBR), which is stored on the first sector of the hard drive. The configuration of a basic disk consists of the partition information on the disk.
Basic disks may contain spanned volumes (volume sets), mirrored volumes (mirror sets), striped volumes (stripe sets), and RAID-5 volumes (stripe sets with parity) that were created using Windows NT 4 or earlier. These kinds of volumes are covered later.
Mirrored and RAID-5 volumes are fault-tolerantvolumes that are only available under the Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003 family of server operating systems. These types of volumes cannot be created on basic or dynamic disks using Windows XP Professional.
Fault-tolerant volumes are designed to withstand a single disk failure within a set of disks and to continue functioning until the failed disk is replaced. A mirror set duplicates data to a second physical disk. A RAID-5 set writes data across several disks (between 3 and 32 physical disks) and stores parity information across all the drives to be able to retrieve data in the event of a single failed disk.
Next: Dynamic Disks