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What are Windows 10 disk management terms IT should know?

Windows 10 disk management is a crucial function that system admins should be able to perform. To manage Windows disks, IT must know the difference between volumes and partitions.

Windows 10 disk management ensures users have an optimal desktop configuration that allows applications and data to operate successfully.

Admins may encounter challenges with Windows disk management because the terminology can be confusing and the Windows Disk Management tool can be difficult to understand.

Windows 10 disk management terms defined

Windows admins should familiarize themselves with these Windows 10 disk terms to ensure they can navigate the Windows 10 Disk Management tool or any third-party disk management tool.

Hard disk. A disk that is a physical device for data storage. This could be a hard disk drive (HDD), a solid state drive (SSD), USB storage or other removeable drive, or an audio CD or DVD. "Disk" in the context of the following definitions is just a storage term and not a physical device.

Basic disk. A storage type that contains partitions and logical drives formatted with a file system for data storage. Basic disks include clustered disks and USB removable drives. They support master boot record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT) partitions. Windows 10 desktops partition a drive as a basic disk by default.

Windows 10 desktops partition a drive as a basic disk by default.

Dynamic disk. These differ from basic disks in that they span multiple disks and create fault tolerant volumes such as mirrored and redundant array of inexpensive or independent disks (RAID). They are more flexible and manageable than basic disks and IT can create them in Windows disk. IT can convert basic disks to dynamic disks and dynamic disks to basic.

Volumes and partitions. Some people use these terms interchangeably and can cause a bit of confusion for IT. Both terms are logical structures or divisions of a disk that appear as individual disks to the OS. IT can create a volume on a dynamic disk and spans multiple disks -- often a RAID configuration -- where a partition is created on a basic disk. A simple volume is a volume on a single drive. IT must format partitions with a file system to store data including Windows and applications.

Boot disk or partition. A recovery CD, DVD or floppy disk that IT can use to start Windows for troubleshooting if the computer won't boot. A boot partition is a partition that holds the files for Windows and is accessed during the Windows boot up process. IT must have Windows installed on a basic disk that contains at least one active MBR partition.

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