Windows 8 : Storage Spaces (part 3) - A More Resilient Space: Two Disks, Two-Way Mirroring

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Storage Pool Configuration Options

Once you have configured at least one storage pool, there are a few new options that present themselves. All of these are available from the main Storage Spaces control panel view, and all but the first three are found within the Storage pool area:

  • Create a storage space: Every storage pool will contain at least one storage space. But once you have a storage pool, you can keep adding additional spaces as needed. To do so, click the link titled Create a storage space. You’ll see the same interface discussed in the previous section, and your options will be limited only by the available storage types attached to the PC.
  • Add drives: If you’ve already created a pool and would like to add one or more drives to that pool, you do so through the Add drives link. Drives added in this fashion will automatically be made available to any spaces within the pool.
  • Rename pool: By default, a storage pool is silently given the imaginative name Storage pool by Windows. You can change this with the Rename pool link though, to be fair, this isn’t something you’ll need to deal with unless you’re creating multiple pools for some reason. That’s a fairly advanced configuration and, in our opinion, pretty crazy for even an advanced PC user.
  • Create a new pool and storage space: This link on the left side of the Storage Spaces window will allow you to create other storage pools, and their contained spaces, assuming you have the additional disk capacity to support such a thing. Honestly, a single storage pool with multiple spaces is probably complex enough for most people. But if you have the urge to really overthink things, go nuts.

Storage Space Configuration Options

You can also configure various options related to a storage space. These include:

  • Change: You can change various aspects of a storage space after it’s created using this link. These include three key storage space options: Its name, its drive letter, and its maximum storage space size.

Any data stored on a space is deleted when the space is deleted. So be sure to back up anything important before continuing.

  • Delete: You can delete a storage space as well. This will remove the space only; the containing pool is retained along with any attached storage.

NOTE that this option will not appear when there is only one drive in a space.

  • Remove (drive): If you have two or more disks being used for a storage space, you will see a Remove link next to each. If you click this, the drive is removed from the pool and the space, is formatted, and will reappear in File Explorer with a new drive letter. If you remove the last drive associated with a pool, that pool will be removed as well.

A More Resilient Space: Two Disks, Two-Way Mirroring

While a single-disk storage space has some value, the inability to add resiliency at a later date seriously hampers that kind of configuration. As far as we’re concerned, the real value of Storage Spaces begins when you have two or more disks you can use in a mirrored setup. This configuration will automatically replicate data between two disks, providing you with some measure of protection in the event of a hard disk failure.

Consider the screen shown in Figure 7. Here in the Storage Spaces interface, you can see that the PC has two additional 3 TB drives that it can use as the basis for a storage pool and one or more contained storage spaces.

To get started, select both of the disks and then click Create pool. As before, the storage pool is created and you are shown the screen in Figure 8, where you select options related to the first contained storage space. This time, you can select a two-way mirror for some hardware resiliency. In fact, that resiliency type is selected by default.

Figure 7: Two additional disks will open up additional configuration options.


Figure 8: Now you can choose a two-way mirror.


Note that by default, Storage Spaces selects 2.72 TB (or roughly 3 TB) for the maximum size of the space, even though the total pool capacity is twice that. That’s because that’s the natural size of the mirrored disks: the combined size halved, so that each bit of data will be equally replicated across both physical disks. You can of course increase the logical size now and add physical storage later if and when it’s needed. In fact, you can basically make it as big as you want. (You can also increase or otherwise change the space’s maximum size later if needed.)

Everything about the space is normal from an Explorer perspective. You can even protect it with BitLocker if you want.

Click the Create storage space button to initialize the space. A new Explorer window opens, too, displaying this new space. But as you can see from the Explorer view that opens, it appears as a normal 3 TB disk to the system, even though under the hood it is using about 6 TB of actual physical storage spread across two disks. Mirroring reduces the available storage, but offers better resiliency. That’s the trade-off.

Back in the Storage Spaces control panel, you can see that once again the new pool has been created, along with a single space. But this time the space includes two hard disks, as you can see when you expand the Physical drives view as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9: A two-way mirrored space, as seen in Storage Spaces


Under the hood, of course, a mirrored storage space is far more powerful than a single drive. Anything stored within is being replicated across the two physical disks, automatically. You could add more spaces to the pool, rename the pool or its contained spaces, and perform other management tasks. In fact, if you return to the Storage Spaces control panel, you’ll see a number of details about the pool and space you’ve created.

  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 11) - Resolving resource conflicts
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 10) - Troubleshooting hardware
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 9) - Adding non–Plug and Play, legacy hardware
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 8) - Restricting device installation using Group Policy
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 7) - Installing and updating device drivers
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 6) - Viewing Advanced, Resources, and other settings
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 5) - Viewing driver Information
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 4) - Viewing device and driver details
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 3) - Installing new devices
  •  Windows Server 2012 : Managing and Troubleshooting Hardware (part 2) - Understanding device installation
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