Sometimes it pays to “kick it old-skool” – Converting Dynamic disks back to basic disks

My wife was constantly having problems running out of space on her C drive. Back when the computer was first built, I’m pretty sure Windows 95 was just vapourware and nobody would ever need more than 640k to run an OS… well, it’s not that bad… it’s running the last of the single-core Athlons and a gig of DDR RAM…

Anyway, I always used to think that the latest was ALWAYS the greatest… and sometimes I was right, sometimes I was wrong. I’d gone and converted my wife’s C drive to a dynamic disk (because I could then create JBOD arrays, raid 1 disks, extend into free space etc).

Problem with boot disks that are configured as basic, when you upgrade them you can’t manage the space allocated to each drive. But you can’t build a disk in Dynamic format in XP from the install CD either… so this problem exists for every XP owner who has more than one partition on their boot drive. There are heaps of tools out there that allow you to mess around with partitions (Partition Magic is my favourite) but none of them work with Dynamic disks.

So what can you do? Format & Reload? Hell no! I’ve got better things to do, like watching the grass grow out the back of the house. Well it seems that Live OneCare doesn’t work nicely with Dynamic disks either… so much so that Microsoft have documented the way to convert a dynamic disk back to a basic disk in a non-data destructive way. This is what’s in the article:

  1. Download and install the Windows Support Tools for Microsoft Windows XP. To do this, visit the following Web site:

    When you install these tools, click Complete when you are prompted to click Typical or Complete.

  2. Click Start, click Run, type Dskprobe.exe, and then click OK.
  3. On the Drives menu, click Physical Drive.
  4. In the Available Physical Drives box, double-click the drive you want to change.
  5. Click Set Active, and then click OK.
  6. On the Sectors menu, click Read.
  7. Click Read to accept the default settings.
  8. In the editor, find the 01C0 line. In this line, the third pair of numbers on the right is 42. Change 42 to 07.
    Note On some computers, 42 may appear on the 01D0 line.
    [Brad’s Tip: It can appear on both as well – the trick is to convert all instances of 42 to 07 in this area. My wife has C and D drives – we had 42 appear on both 01C0 and 01D0]
  9. On the Sectors menu, click Write.
  10. When you receive a message that is similar to the following, click Yes:

    The current handle is in Read Only mode. Do you wish to change the current mode to allow writing the selected buffer to disk?

  11. Click Write it.
  12. When you receive a message that is similar to the following, click Yes:

    Are you sure you want to permanently overwrite the data in sector 0 on the device PhysicalDrive 0

  13. Exit the Disk Prob program, and then restart the computer.
  14. After the computer restarts, click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK.
  15. On the command line, type chkdsk to scan for errors.
  16. If any errors are found, type chkdsk /f on the command line to fix these errors.

About Brad Saide

I'm a SharePoint consultant. I'm also slowly going bald, seem to have a permanent spare tyre around my waist and enjoy socialising with friends over a beer or 10. The last 2 may possibly be related. Started working with SharePoint when the first version was in limited beta release (participated in the Technology Adoption Program while at Woolworths) and have been committed to the adoption of the technology as a business enabler ever since.
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