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Windows Server 2016 Disk Settings: Partitioning Styles, Disk Types & Divisions

Instructor: Conor O'Nolan

Conor has been programming since 1981 and created games, apps and websites. He used computers as complex AV systems and tweaks every device he owns.

Windows Server 2016 can manage disks via Windows Disk Management and the command line. This lesson will give an overview of disk management and also discuss GUID partitioning.

Windows Server 2016 Disks

Like any computer, a Windows Server 2016 machine will have its own local disks as well as access to networked disks. This lesson covers local disks only.

A server may have several disks installed and these can be a mix of hard drives and solid state drives (SSD). Like any computer, a server can also have removable drives, but this is only likely for stand-alone servers in small businesses.

The disks in the server will need to be formatted and may also be partitioned to create a desired storage configuration.

Windows Disk Management

Disk Management is a utility that is part of most Windows Server and Windows OS systems. It can perform most disk management tasks and provide an overview of the status of disks attached to a machine. These are the main tasks available:

  • Format a disk
  • Partition a disk
  • Shrink a partition
  • Extend a partition

Launching Disk Management

Disk Management can be launched in several ways.

Quick Start Menu

If Server 2016 has a GUI installed, right-clicking on the start button opens the 'Quick Start' menu. Disk Management is about half-way down the menu.

Disk Management can also be accessed from 'Computer Management' in this menu.

Run Box

Open the 'run' box by pressing windows key and 'r'. Enter 'diskmgmt.msc' into the box and click OK.

Disk Management Interface

Disk Management opens showing all detected disks attached to the server, including any removable disks. The interface includes a summary window or pane at the top showing all volumes and their basic properties.

Below the summary pane is a detailed visual interface with each disk shown and its partitions shown within each disk. Operations on the disks can be performed using the menus or right-clicking on any volume or partition.


Disk Management has 2 windows or panes
Disk Management has 2 windows or panes


Using Disk Management

When setting up Server 2016, the first task with disks is to ensure that all disks are showing in disk management. If a disk is showing as 'unknown' and/or 'not initialized' then it will need to be initialized.

Planning disk use

On any computer, and particularly a server, a plan for how many partitions are required and their size is important. Large disks might be split into several partitions, each of which will get its own drive letter. A typical business case might see separate partitions for each department or geographic location. The important issue is to be sure that each entity has sufficient space for their likely requirement a few years ahead.

Initializing

To initialize the disk, right-click on the disk in the lower window and select 'initialize disk'. Take great care not to initialize the wrong disk. This will present the option of 'MBR' or 'GPT'. Select 'GPT' (See below for information about GPT and GUID). The next step is to create a new volume or partition on the disk. Again, right-click and select 'new simple volume'. Then you need to select the size of the volume. Use the maximum unless you have already decided on a partition plan for the server.

Formatting

If an existing disk is already attached and working, you may want to format it to clean it and start with a fresh empty disk. This removes all existing data. When formatting, a name and the file system type are chosen. The NTFS format is usually chosen for fixed disks.

Shrinking

A partition on a disk can be made smaller, freeing up space for another partition. Right-click on the partition you wish to shrink. The dialog box will give sizes and the user can choose how much to shrink, depending on what is already on the disk and the fragmentation status of the disk. If shrinking on a new disk, there are no restrictions.

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