by February 5, 2002 0 comments

Two powerful storage features in Windows 2000 are dynamic volumes and distributed file system. Both allow you to manage your hard drive storage space more efficiently. We tried out both features to see how you can benefit from them.

Create dynamic volumes 
Dynamic volumes are a new way of handling storage on a Windows 2000 machine, be it Professional or Server. Usually, a hard disk can have multiple partitions, namely primary, extended, and logical. In Windows NT, you can have up to four primary partitions, out of which, one can be an extended one with logical drives. In Windows 2000, this type of configuration is called a basic disk. The other configuration is called a dynamic volume. In this, you don’t have partitions, but volumes. This offers many benefits over the earlier partitions concept. For one, you can have any number of volumes on a dynamic disk, and not be restricted to four as was the case earlier. You can extend a volume by adding more free space to it, either in the form of a new hard drive, or adding some unallocated space from the same disk. If you have multiple drives on your machine, you can extend an existing volume to multiple drives and create complex volume configurations. You can also implement fault-tolerance features such as disk striping, spanning, mirroring and Raid—5.

If you have a fresh Windows 2000 installation, you can create volumes from the unallocated space on the hard drive(s). You can also upgrade an existing basic disk to a dynamic one. While this doesn’t normally cause any data loss, it’s always advisable to first backup all your data. We created a fresh dynamic volume using two hard drives on a Windows 2000 server machine as follows:

  • Open Computer Management Console from Start>Programs>Administrative Tools. Go to the ‘storage’ section and select ‘disk management’. This will show you all the physical disks on your system in the upper and lower right hand panes of the window.

  • Click on one of the physical disks, and go to the Action button in the toolbar. If it’s a brand new disk, then select New> Volume from the menu, which will start a wizard. This will show you all the options for creating various types of volumes, which include simple, spanned, striped, mirrored, and RAID-5. Choose one as per your requirement. We chose spanned.

  • Next the wizard will ask you to select the disk drives you want to add to be used in this volume. Click the Add button and proceed. Next you get the choice of either assigning a drive letter to this volume or mount it on any empty directory. For the latter, you have to specify the path for an empty directory. We selected a drive letter (D:).

  • Next you have to select a file system (NTFS, FAT, FAT32), allocation unit size (select the default), and specify volume label for the volume. The wizard will now format your volume to the file system you selected. Click Next and then Finish button to complete.

  • Finally, it takes a few minutes to format the volumes and make them ready.

Set up distributed file system
Ever wished that the users on your network didn’t have to physically access different machines on the network just to pick up files. Well, you can give one common location from where users can access all the shares on your network using DFS. This stands for distributed file system, and lets you manage the shared data kept in different physical locations on your enterprise network. It helps you to bring all your scattered shared data, residing on different servers or shared folders, under a single-shared tree. Its features include providing a simplified view of network shares. It takes care of the problem that network administrators face, of the need to keep connecting users to various network servers in the same domain or across multiple domains, for retrieving the required data. We’ll now see how to configure a DFS on your enterprise network using Windows
2000 Server.

Before configuring DFS, create a list of all the network data shares and their corresponding servers, which you’d like to add under the distributed file system. You’ll also need a Windows 2000 Server with an Active Directory implementation, acting as a domain controller.

Go to Start>Programs>Administrative Tools and fire-up Distributed File System. This will open up a management console. Right-click Distributed file system from the left panel and click New Dfs Root. This will open a wizard for creating a new Dfs root and click next. Select the type of DFS you’d like to create from the two options of create a domain Dfs root and create a standalone Dfs root. We chose the first option.

In the next step, select the host domain for the Dfs root, select the current domain where you are installing the Dfs and click next. Next you need to give the name of host server for Dfs, which will be given there by default.

Next, create a shared folder in which you’ll mount other network shares. Select ‘create share folder’ option and give the path where you would like to create the share with the share name.

The DFS configuration is complete. You now have to add the list of your network shares to the Dfs. For that select the new Dfs root that you have created above, and right-click on it and select new Dfs link from the menu. This will open a small window, where you have to give the name for the link in ‘link name’ text box and the path for your network shared folder in ‘send the user to this shared folder’ text box. For instance \\pcqlabs\multimedia and click ok.

Note: you can create Dfs links between domains also. For that you will have to create Trust relationships between various Windows NT/2000 domains.

Once the DFS shares have been created, they can simply access the DFS server and find the common DFS folder you created. In this, they can find all the common shares on the

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