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Let's Use Windows 10 Storage Spaces

Written on July 17, 2019 by Chad Warmenhoven
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What will I need

You need at least two extra drives (in addition to the drive where Windows is installed). These drives can be internal or external hard drives, or solid state drives. You can use a variety of types of drives with Storage Spaces, including USB, SATA, and SAS drives. 

Creating a Storage Space

Storage Spaces can provide additional storage, extend existing storage, protect your data and pool multiple drives together.This article will guide you through setting up and using Storage Spaces. Storage spaces usually store two copies of your data so if a singular drive fails, you still have access to an intact copy of your data. Adding more drives is simple as well, simply installing new drives and repeating the process below will let you add new drives to the Storage Spaces.

  1. Install or connect any drives you are wanting to group together using Storage Spaces
  2. Select the Start menu in the bottom left then type “Storage Spaces”
  3. In the new window that comes up, select “Create a new pool and storage space”
  4. Select the devices you would like as part of the new storage space then at the bottom click “Create pool”
  5. Provide a name and letter for the drive, then select a layout: Two-way mirror, Three-way mirror, and Parity offer redundancy and protection in the event of a drive failure
  6. Provide the maximum size the storage space can use (leave as default) and then select “Create Storage Space”

 

Which Storage Space to use

There are a number of options to choose from and they can seem a bit overwhelming so we break down the different options to make life a little easier.

  • Simple spaces increase performance, however they don’t protect files from data loss in the event of a drive failure. These are best for temporary data, intermediary compiler object files and image editor scratch files
  • Mirror spaces increase performance AND protect your files in the event of a drive failure because they keep multiple copies of each file/folder. Two-way mirror spaces, requiring at least two drives, clone your data and can tolerate a singular drive failure, but three-way mirror spaces require at least 5 drives, and could lose two drives and still operate. Mirrored spaces are great for storing a litany of data types. If formatting the mirror space with Resilient File System (ReFS), Windows automatically maintains your data integrity making your files even more resilient to drive failure
  • Parity spaces provide redundancy and storage efficiency while protecting your files from drive failure by keeping multiple copies. Parity spaces are great for archival data but have decreased performance compared to Simple and Mirrored spaces. Parity spaces require at least three drives to protect you from singular drive failure and at least seven drives to protect you from a dual drive failure

Upgrading Pools

If you are coming from a Windows 7 environment it is recommended you upgrade existing pools. Upgraded pools optimize drive usage and can remove drives from pools without negatively impacting a pools protection capability in the event of a drive failure. This is the same process when you are adding new drives to an existing Storage Space.

Optimizing drive usage

When adding a new drive to an existing pool, it’s wise to optimize drive usage. The optimization process moves some data to the newly added drive in order to make best use of the pool’s capacity. This happens by default when adding a new drive in Windows 10, and you’ll see a checkbox for “Optimize to spread existing data across all drives” when adding new drives. If you cleared the check box or added drives before upgrading to W10 you will want to manually optimize drive usage. To do this, simply open Storage Spaces again then select “Optimize drive usage” on the left.

Removing a Drive

In Windows 10 you can remove drives from an existing pool, data storage on the removed drive will be migrated to other drives in the pool then you can use the drive for something else.

  1. Select the Start button then type “Storage Spaces” in the search box and select it from the list
  2. Click “Change settings” then click “Physical drives” to see all drives in the pool
  3. Locate the drive you wish to remove then select “Prepare for removal”. Leave your PC plugged in until the drive is ready to be removed. This could take several hours depending on how much data you have stored on the removal drive
  4. Once the drive is labeled “Ready to remove” click “Remove” then “Remove drive”. Now you can shut down your system and remove the drive from your system

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I'm about to upgrade the hard drives in my HTPC to 6TB WD Red drives (roughly doubling my capacity for videos, photos, etc) and I want to have redundancy, but I am worried about how things are handled if a drive fails or Windows glitches out. Does anyone have experience with a situation where a mirrored Storage Space fails for some reason? Is the data just plainly visible on the remaining drive, or is it formatted such that you can't directly access it? If that is the case, I may stick with my current setup where one drive is the primary storage location and an hourly backup runs to synchronize the second drive with it. It isn't as elegant, but it seems safe :/

Posted on 2019-08-07 21:28:55