How to configure Storage Spaces in Windows 8

  • October 22, 2012
  • Read 68,033 times
 

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. How to create a new Storage Space pool
  3. How to create an Simple storage space (Raid-0)
  4. How to add more usable space to a Simple storage space
  5. How to create a Mirror or synchronized storage space (Raid-1)
  6. How to create a Parity storage space (Raid-5)
  7. How to repair a a failed Parity storage space
  8. How to delete a storage space
  9. How to delete a storage pool
  10. Frequently Asked Questions

 

Introduction

Storage Spaces is a new feature in Windows 8 that allows you to pool together multiple hard drives into one larger drive or to mirror two different drives so that your data is protected against a drive failing. When Windows combines the drives they are placed into what is called a storage pool. These pools are then divided into storage spaces, or virtual drives, that can be accessed via a drive letter in Windows. When creating the storage spaces you can use the following methods:

Simple Storage Space

Simple striping, otherwise known as Raid-0, takes multiple drives and combines them into one virtual drive seen by Windows. This allows you to take different drives of different sizes and combine them into a new drive that uses all of the space on each drive. This allows you to quickly add more storage to a storage space that is running low by adding a new physical drive to the pool. This type of storage space is not recommended for critical or irreplaceable data because if one of these drives fails, you lose all of the data on all of the drives.

Two-way Mirroring Storage Space

Two-way mirroring, or Raid-1, is when you take two drives and they mirror each other. This type of storage space provides hardware protection because if one drive fails the data is still safely stored on the other drive. Please note, that when you use this type of storage space you will only be able to use the space of the smallest drive.

Three-way Mirroring Storage Space

Three-way mirroring is similar to two-way mirroring, but requires 5 drives. This storage process provides hardware protection in the event that two drives fail at the same time.

Parity Storage Space

The parity storage space, or Raid-5, allows you to take 3 or more drives and combine all but the last one into one large virtual drive. The last drive is then used as the parity drive that protects you in the event that one drive fails. If second drive fails before you replace the first failed one, you will lose all of your data.

If you tend to have a lot of spare drives, then using these extra drives as storage spaces can help to protect your data in the event of drive failure. This tutorial will explain how to setup the various storage spaces and manage them. If you have any questions, please feel free to discuss them in the Windows 8 forum.

 

How to create a new Storage Space pool

First go to the Windows 8 Start Screen and type Storage Spaces. When the search results appear click on the Settings category as shown below.

Note: In order to use Storage Spaces you will need at least one or more extra hard drives installed in your computer.


Search for Storage Spaces

 

Now click on the option labeled Storage Spaces and you will be brought to the Storage Spaces control panel.

 

Storage Spaces Control Panel

 

Click on the option labeled Create a new pool and storage space. This will open up a new screen where you can select the drives that you wish to add to a storage pool.

 

Select the drives to add to a pool

 

Put a check mark next to each drive you wish to use for the new pool and then click on the Create pool button. The new storage pool will be created and you will be brought to a new screen where you can create a new storage space that is associated with that pool.

If you do not wish to create a new storage space at this time, you can simply click on the Cancel button, otherwise you can read about the different storage space options in the following sections:

How to create an Simple storage space (Raid-0)

How to create a Two-way Mirror or synchronized storage space (Raid-1)

How to create a Parity storage space (Raid-5)

 

How to create an Simple storage space (Raid-0)

A Simple volume is the equivalent of a Raid-0 drive array. This type of storage space allows you to take multiple drives and configure them as one virtual drive that has free space of all the combined drives. So for example, if you have three 1 terabyte drives and you use them to make a Simple storage space the new virtual drive would have a total storage of 3 terabytes. This type of storage space allows you to easily add more storage to a drive as it becomes necessary.

Warning: This type of storage space should be avoided for critical data due to its lack of fault tolerance and increased risk of drive failure. This is because data is written to both drives and if one of the drives has a hardware failure, you lose access to all of your data on that virtual drive. Therefore, this type of storage space should only be used for data that you do not care if you lose or can easily be recreated, such as backup volumes or temporary storage.

Below is an example of taking two 5 GB drives and combining them into a Simple storage space. Please note, that there is some overhead associated with this and you do not get the total physical space of the drive as usable space.

 

Simple Storage Space

 

Tip: It is suggest that you do not create a Simple storage space that is greater than the total pool capacity.

When you are ready, simply click on the Create Storage Space button and it will be created.

 

Newly created simple storage space

 

As you can see from the above picture, we have create a Simple storage space of 8.50 GB from two 5 GB drives. In the future, if you need to add more usable space to the Simple storage space, you can add another hard drive, which is outlined in the next section.

 

How to add more usable space to a Simple storage space

If you are using a Simple storage space and run out of room on the drive, you can add a new drive to the pool in order to increase amount of space available on the drive letter. To do this, open Storage Spaces and find the storage pool you would like to manage. Then click on the Add drives option to open a dialog box where you can add another drive to the storage pool.

 

 

Select the drive you wish add and click on the Add drives button. The third drive will now be part of the pool as shown below.

 

Drive added to the pool

 

Now you need to modify the storage space so that it using all of the space that was just added. To do that, click on the Change option to open the storage space's properties screen.

 

Modifying the simple storage space

 

In the field labeled Storage space size change the amount to the number reflected in the Total pool capacity row. Then click on the Change storage space button.

Your Simple storage space will now be using all of the space available on all the drives in the pool.

 

How to create a Two-way Mirror or synchronized storage space (Raid-1)

A two-way mirror, or Raid-1, storage space is when you use two drives and data is written to both of them at the same time. This synchronization allows your data to be backed up to both drives and if one drive fails, you do not lose any of your your data. All you have to do is remove the failed drive, install a new drive, and then add it to the pool. Windows will then synchronize all the data from the old disk to the new one so that they are mirrored again.

Please note that since each drive is a mirror of the other, you will only have access to half the space allocated to the storage pool. For example, if you have two 1.5 terabyte drives added to a storage pool, the storage pool will have a total capacity of 3 terabytes. If we now use that storage pool to create a two-way mirror, the drive letter that is created will only have 1.5 terabyte of usable space because half of the space is used as accessible storage and the other half is the mirror.

Below is an example of a two-way mirrored storage space:

 

Two-way mirror storage space

 

Notice that though the total pool capacity is 8.5 GB , we only have usable space of 4.25 GB for the Two-mirrored storage space. When you are ready, click on the Create storage space button and the new mirror will be created as shown below.

 

Two-way mirror created

 

As you can see above, we have created a 4.25 GB two-way mirror using the 8.5 GB storage pool.

It is also possible to create a three-way mirror that requires 5 physical drives. This type of storage space protects you against two drive failures at the same time. We will not be discussing how to create this type of mirror as it uses the same steps as above.

 

How to create a Parity storage space (Raid-5)

A Parity, or Raid-5, storage space is useful if you want to combine two or more drives together to make one large drive, while still protecting your data in the event that one of the drives has a hardware failure. When creating this type of storage space, your total usable drive space will be the total disk space of all the drives minus one of them. Therefore, if you have four 120 gigabyte drives and create a parity storage space, the total usable space will be 360 gigabytes (3 * 160GB) with the fourth drive being used as a backup in the event that one of the drives fails.

Below is an example of a Parity, or Raid-5, storage space using four 5GB drives.

 

Parity Storage Space

 

 

When you are ready, click on the Create storage space button and the new parity storage space will be created as shown below.

 

Parity storage space created

 

 

Notice how the total pool capacity is 17GB (4 x 5GB minus some overhead), but the maximum size is 11.5 (3 x 5 GB with some space taken out for overhead).

 

How to repair a a failed Parity storage space

If you are using a Parity storage space and one of the drives dies, your data will still be accessible and the storage space will continue to work. With the drive failed, though, you will no longer be fault tolerant, which means that if another drive fails you will lose all of your data. Therefore, it is important to replace a failed drive as soon as possible with a new one.

Tip: It is perfectly fine to replace a failed drive with one that is larger. You should not, though, replace a failed drive with one that is smaller.

When a drive fails, Windows will issue an alert stating that there is a problem as shown below.

 

Drive failure alert

 

Click on the alert and you will be brought to the storage spaces control panel where you can determine which drive is having a problem.

 

Failed drive

 

Notice in the image above how Storage Spaces is telling us the particular drive that is failed. If you cannot fix the drive, you need to purchase and install a new hard drive in your computer. You should then click on the Add drives option for this storage pool and add the new drive into the pool.

STOP: Make sure the new drive is added before you remove the failed one. If you remove the failed one before you add a new drive to the storage pool, you will lose all of your data.

Once the new drive is added to the pool, click on the Remove option next to the drive that has failed. Windows will then recreate the necessary data on the new drive. While the data is being written, you will see a warning symbol next to the storage space. When it has finished repairing the storage space, this warning message will disappear, and your parity drive will be fully functional and protecting your computer.

 

How to delete a storage space

To delete a storage space, you just need to click on the Delete option next to the particular one that you wish to delete.

 

Delete a storage space

Once you delete a storage, all of your data will be lost, so be sure to make a backup of anything that you need to save. You can then use the storage pool to create another storage space or continue to deleting the storage pool.

 

How to delete a storage pool

Before you can delete a storage pool, you first need to delete any storage spaces currently using it. Once all the storage spaces are deleted, you can then continue with deleting a storage pool.

 

Delete Storage Pool

 

Once you find the storage pool you wish to delete, simply click on the Delete button to delete it.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question:I ran out of space on one of my storage spaces and now Windows will not allow me to access the drive. What can I do?

For some reason, Microsoft decided to disable access to the drive when it runs out of space instead of just reporting it full. If you try and bring it back online, it will state that you need to install further drives into the storage pool in order to access it again. Another method is to change the storage space and make it slightly larger and then try to bring it online again. As long as you do not try to write anything further to the disk, you should be able to delete any files you need to in order to clear up some space. Then you can modify the storage space again and set it to its original size. Your drive letter should not be accessible and working correctly.

Question: I noticed it was possible to add multiple storage spaces to the same storage pool, with each using up all the space in the pool, and each one will have its own drive letter. Why is that?

To be honest, we are not sure what the logic behind this was, but we suggest you avoid doing that. It's perfectly fine to use the same pool for multiple storage spaces, but please make sure you do not allocate space to both of them so that they overlap. For example, if you wish to take a pool and split it into two separate storage space mirrors, that is fine. It is not suggested, though, that you take one storage pool and split it up into two mirrors that both use 100% of the space of the storage pool. That will just confuse things.

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