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Tips & Tricks:

Dynamic Disks

Company Name

Revision 0.1
December 31, 2010
Erik Musick
Contents

0.1 Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

0.2 Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

0.3 Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

0.4 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

1
0.1 Scope

During the examination of external hard drives or hard drives that are exchanged between
two different computers, MS Windows may fail to recognize the drive. The following describes
why this may occur and a possible resolution.

0.2 Definitions

“Dynamic disks” have a special partition structure to accomodate flexible resizing needs
among other features. This differs from “Basic disks.”

“Foreign disks” are those drives that were initialized on a machine other than the current
host.

0.3 Resolution

Under normal circumstances1 , one may enter diskmgmt.msc in the “Run Menu” to enter
the “Disk Management” service. Alternatively, one may right-click “My Computer,” click
“Manage,” and select “Disk Management” under the “Storage” branch. Once inside the
“Disk Management” screen, the typical process is to right-click on the Disk in question and
select “Import Foreign Disk.”

There are times when this option is not available. One solution is to download the free tool
TestDisk2 . No installation is required and can be executed from portable media.

Upon running TestDisk, follow the below procedure:


1
Users of MS Windows XP Home edition will not have this option. Instead, they will be presented with
the option to convert to a Basic Disk which will delete all data on the drive.
2
http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk

2
1. Choose logging preference

2. Select drive

3. Select partition type

4. Analyse

5. Quick Search

6. Answer Vista question

7. Use left/right arrows to change partition type to ”P” for primary (or appropriate value)

8. Enter to continue

9. Write to disk

10. Reboot

This will create a real partition en leu of the dynamic volume inherent in all dynamic disks.
The hard drive should now be accessible from Windows Explorer (explorer.exe).

0.4 Conclusion

This guide described an issue with “foreign disks” not being available for import using MS
Windows’ disk management service. TestDisk was used to write a partition table to the hard
drive instead of relying on a “dynamic volume.”

In the scenerio where hard drives are being created as dynamic disks for use as destination
drives, instead create a basic disk with a single partition when using the disk management
wizard.