If your computer overall performance is degrading and you suspect that one of your hard drives is the cause then you need a tool that helps you monitor the performance of your hard drives. Windows 7 in-built Performance Monitor helps you identify bottlenecks and can be used to monitor disk performance.
The write-caching policy for hard drives in Windows 7 is enabled by default. Although, this improves the overall performance of the system, if there is a power failure and the system has no backup power such as, an UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) data waiting in cache will be lost!
In simple terms, a mirrored volume (RAID-1) writes the same data on two disks or partitions of separate disks. That is, any changes to data (or new data) made to the first disk of the mirror set are also made to its mirror disk. Mirrored volumes require at least two disks or two free partitions on separate disks. The free partitions or disks need to be of the same size, otherwise, the mirrored volume size would be equal to the smallest partition or disk.
The main advantage of mirrored volumes is disk drive redundancy. It provides availability of data in case one disk drive fails while it can mirror a system disk containing the operating system. If a disk fails, the mirror set continues to operate on the remaining disk. The recovery operation of the mirror set depends on which disk fails if the set contains the system disk. In general you would break/remove the mirror set, replace the faulty disk and re-create the set.
In Windows 7 (and Vista) simple volumes are created on basic disks with or without partitions and on dynamic disks when no other disks are available to form a stripe set or spanned volume. Therefore, it is the default volume type that has the basic features such as, extend and shrink volumes! It is recommended to use basic disks with simple volumes if you do not require the advanced features of dynamic disks.
To create a simple volume, follow these steps with administrator privileges:
- Open the Disk Management console by typing disk management in the Start search text box and click Create and format hard disk partitions or from the Computer Management console found in Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Administrative Tools
- Right click an unallocated space on the new disk and select New Simple Volume – the New Simple Volume Wizard starts
- Specify the volume size in MB – the default is the maximum available space
- The next screen shows the default assigned drive letter, you can set any available letter from the drop-down list, while, you can also create a volume without a drive letter or mount it in an empty folder
- In the next format partition screen, it is recommended to leave the default file system and allocation unit size settings while type in a meaningful name in the volume label text field. If you suspect that the drive may contain bad blocks I suggest you perform a long format (uncheck the Perform a quick format), otherwise do a quick format as the process may take very long especially with large capacity drives. Also, you can enable file and folder compression for this volume
- The final screen is a summary of all set parameters, if no changes are required click Finish
When using the DiskPart command-line tool make sure that you create a partition on a basic disk while a simple volume on a dynamic disk, otherwise the tool fails. The Disk Management snap-in is more intelligent and adjusts itself according to the disk type.