Using Storage Spaces in Windows 10 

Relevant exam – Microsoft Exam 70-698: Installing and Configuring Windows 10

Normally when we talk about storage spaces, we’re referring to cupboards, closets, and that dark, dust bunny warren under the bed. In Windows 10, Storage Spaces is a feature used to organize where your data is stored, and to protect data in the event of a hard disk crash.

To create a storage space in Windows 10, you need at least two extra hard drives in addition to the drive that has Windows installed on it. You can use several hard drives in a storage space, but two is the minimum requirement.

You might be saying, “Is this RAID? It sounds like RAID.” And, you would be essentially correct. Storage Spaces is a software RAID solution baked into various versions of Windows. Storage Spaces sounds much more user-friendly than RAID, don’t you think?

So, what are some of the key things you should know about Storage Spaces for the exam?

How do you set up a Storage Space?

With Storage Spaces, you can use a combination of different types of hard drives. Internal and external, solid state and old-school spinning wheel, USB and SATA—these are all viable options. Just plug those suckers in and make yourself a storage space.

Be warned: using USB 2.0 external drives is not recommended. They are relatively slow, and can flood the pipe on a shared USB bus. Stick with USB 3.0 or better when using external drives for a storage space.

Where do you start? In the Windows 10 Control Panel, select Storage Spaces. Click the Create a new pool and storage space link.

In the screen that follows, pick all of the drives you want to be part of the storage space. When you’re done, click the Create storage space button.

What types of Storage Spaces are there?

You can create three different types of storage spaces: Simple, Mirror, and Parity.

A Simple Space is a basic combined drive that can improve performance when accessing files, but doesn’t offer any other advantages like fault tolerance. Simple Spaces are a good way to simplify having numerous different drives by presenting them as one virtual drive.

A Mirror Space is very similar to a good old RAID 1 mirror setup, with a couple of tweaks. Windows 10 uses two-way mirror spaces and three-way mirror spaces. Both options provide improved performance and some level of fault tolerance in the event of a hard disk failure.

A two-way mirror space is much like a traditional RAID mirror set; it requires at least two hard drives, and it provides fault tolerance if a single drive fails.

A three-way mirror set is like a disk mirror on steroids. It requires a minimum of five hard drives, and provides fault tolerance even if two hard drives simultaneously fail.

Finally, we have a Parity Space. Parity spaces offer very good performance perks along with fault tolerance. Think along the lines of a RAID 5 striped set with parity. A parity space needs to have at least three hard drives, which protects data in the event of a single disk crash. You need a minimum of seven hard drives to provide fault tolerance in the event of two simultaneous disk crashes.

What is ReFS?

The Resilient File System (ReFS) is a local file system Microsoft developed for Windows Server 2012. Using ReFS makes storage spaces even more robust, as the file system is capable of detecting and repairing disk-related data errors on the fly. ReFS could end up as the replacement for the venerable NTFS file system Microsoft has been iterating for ages and ages.

More importantly, Windows 10 supports the use of ReFS with storage spaces, which is a markedly advanced feature for a client operating system.

The critical thing to know is that ReFS is used with storage spaces, and it provides real-time data error detection and repair.

Can I add a physical drive to an existing Storage Space? Can I remove a drive from it?

Yes! Why else would I have created the above header?

To add a new connected hard disk, go to Storage Spaces in Control Panel and click the Change Settings button. When you add a drive to a storage space, it should automatically transfer some data to the new drive in order to improve storage space performance. This is referred to as optimizing drive usage. You can also optimize drive usage manually if it didn’t take place when you added the new drive.

To remove a drive from a storage space, find it in the list and select Prepare for removal.

There are two things to be aware of when removing a drive from a storage space. First, it will take some time to accomplish, as the data being stored on the drive needs to be moved to the other disks in the storage space before it can be removed. For this reason, it’s a good idea to configure the PC’s power settings so it won’t go to sleep during the drive removal preparation.

Second, there has to be enough room on the other disks in the storage space to hold the data from the drive being removed. If you have an issue during the drive removal preparation, checking the data being moved vs. existing disk space is a good troubleshooting step to take.

Posted on 16th December 2016 in Blog, Certification, Featured Article, Microsoft

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