Even if you upgrade to Windows XP from a previous operating system, you still are stuck with a basic disk at the outset. I knowstinks, huh? When you upgrade, all partitioning information on the existing drive is carried over. Even if you add a new hard disk to the system (see this chapter's first chunk), XP recognizes it as a basic disk. So no matter what, you will have to upgrade to benefit from dynamic storage.
It's awfully easy, though, and the process is not even worthy of a numbered list here in this book. To perform the disk upgrade, use the Disk Management utility (recall that it can be found under the list of Computer Management tools), and then right-click the drive you want to convert. Choose Convert to Dynamic Disk, as shown in Figure 4-10.
Figure 4-10. Upgrading a basic disk to dynamic.
You'll get a dialog box asking you which disk you want to convert, followed by a summary dialog box. Yes, it's redundant, but this is a significant change, so XP steps you through this process slowly, giving you ample opportunity to change your mind.
Finally, you receive the confirmation dialog box shown in Figure 4-11, warning you once and for all that there's no backout procedure. Yet another dialog box warns you that any file systems mounted on the disk will be dismounted, and then a final warning informs you that a reboot will take place to complete the operation.
Figure 4-11. A word of warning.
The whole conversion process takes more than a few clicks because after the disk is upgraded, there is no equivalent downgrade procedure that can be performed without destroying data. If you change a dynamic disk back to a basic disk, all volumes are lost, and you have to start over from scratch by creating brand new partitions. That means, of course, that all data is lost, and you have to restore from backup.
Again note that a single hard disk can be either basic or dynamic, but not both. The process of upgrading a disk is done at the disk level, not at the partition or volume level.
If you perform an installation using the XP CD, the setup procedure should leave 8MB of free, unpartitioned space, even if you try to configure your entire disk as a single partition.