How to change your sata drive from Dynamic to Basic in Windows Vista

Today I got my new Antec MX 1 sata hard drive enclosure delivered from Misco. I had considered the Coolermaser Xcraft 360 but after reading some reviews I opted for the MX 1.

I have to admit it’s a very nice product and well worth the money (about £34).

I have two old sata drives which I used to have in my desktop pc (im just use a laptop now) and I bought this enclosure specifically so I could access the data from those files. The first hard drive loaded up fine. The files were accessible right away. Unfortunately, I had no such luck with the 2nd drive.

The drive was not showing in explorer. A quick check in the disk management section (right click computer, go to manage and then go to disk management) showed that the drive was dynamic and it was also offline. I knew what dynamic meant however I had never seen a drive set to offline before.

A bit of snooping about the web and I found out the solution. It turns out that Vista basic does not know how to handle dynamic drives. Vista business and ultimate do but basic doesn’t – why Microsoft didn’t include this feature in the basic version is beyond me. The only option which windows gives you is to convert the drive from dynamic to basic however that means you lose all your data which is obviously not what I wanted.

Thankfully there are two pretty easy solutions, I chose the latter.

  • The first option is to connect your sata drive to a computer which has xp. XP has no problem with dynamic drives so what you need to do is copy all your files to another drive and then convert your drive to basic and copy them all back.
  • Option 2 is much easier and it’s the method I used to convert the drive back to basic without losing the data and without having to copy the files anywhere. To do this you need to download TestDisk. TestDisk is a fantastic script for checking files on hard drives and not only that, it’s free!!!. I came across this solution in an article called ‘How to non-destructively convert dynamic disks to basic disks‘. If you have the same problem as me then I would encourage you to follow the steps in that article. It’s very easy to follow and it will have your drive up and running in no time.

:)

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