Understanding Storage Spaces

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 12, 2016)

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One of the new features introduced in Windows 8 is the concept of "storage spaces." The idea is to provide an easy way to group multiple hard drives so that they can be treated as a single unit. This means that you can create a virtual drive that is as large as you may need. In many ways, a storage space is nothing but a new name for an old concept previously implemented through RAID. The point, though, is to make creating and managing storage spaces easier and less arcane than it used to be using RAID.

You cannot add all your drives to a storage space, however. The main limitation is that you can't add your system drive. In other words, you can't make whatever drive contains the Windows operating system part of a storage space. So, you'll need to add additional physical hard drives to your system and then group those hard drives together into a storage space. The drives you add can be either internal drives or external drives; it doesn't matter to Windows.

It is typically best to create storage spaces using drives that are either new or contain information you don't mind losing. The reason is that when you add a drive to a storage space, all the information on that drive is lost as the drive is prepared for being part of the storage space. This is why you cannot add your Windows system drive to a storage pool—it would be erased as it was added to the pool!

I found it interesting that you apparently cannot add a USB flash drive to a storage space. Windows seems to differentiate between actual disk drives connected via USB (which it allows) and flash drives connected via USB (which it doesn't allow). I tested this with both FAT- and NTFS-formatted flash drives, and it didn't matter; Windows just wouldn't allow them.

If you are interested in additional information about storage spaces, look for other, related tips on the WindowsTips site. (Use the search box at the upper-right of the screen.) You can also find some great, detailed information on this Microsoft blog post, originally written by the Windows 8 developers:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/05/virtualizing-storage-for-scale-resiliency-and-efficiency.aspx

Be attentive to that URL; it is quite long and should all be entered in your browser as what it is: a single URL. You should also know that even though that article was written for Windows 8, it also applies to Windows 10, which also supports storage spaces.

 This tip (11899) applies to Windows 8 and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 7 + 6?

2016-09-12 10:34:22

Henry Noble

Windows' Storage Space is a useful and very sophisticated system.
However, before jumping into it, users need to carefully assess how the Storage Space will be used and, most importantly, what happens to the data when the computer fails. The system probably can handle a disk failure easily, but when the computer that created the array that ties the disks (and data) together fails, can other hardware re-create the array and restore access to the data?
When data is irreplaceable, multiple backups are prudent, and it is wise to put that data on single drives that can be read without any special software.


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