Windows 10 is an operating system that delivers a lot of new features and improvements, including a new breed of apps that run across devices, a new web browser built for the modern web, a unified Store, improvements on security, and an updated, but yet familiar user interface.
The operating system also includes many familiar features found in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. One of these features is Storage Spaces. This feature was originally introduced in Windows 8.x and let you group different types of drives, such as traditional rotating platters hard drives and Solid State Drives into a single storage pool, which then you can use to create “storage spaces”.
What are Storage Spaces?
Storage Spaces are technically virtual drives that appear in File Explorer as normal local storage, and each storage space you create can be less, equal, or greater to the amount of the physical capacity available in the storage pool.
Storage Spaces support some drive technologies, including ATA, SATA, SAS and USB drives. Getting started with the feature only requires one or more drives, in addition to the drive where you have Windows installed.
You don’t even have to use all the available drives to create storage spaces. For example, if you have three drives of 100GB each, you could only use two to create a “storage pool”. Once you have a new pool, you can create a 200GB virtual drive that represents the total amount of space available, or you can provision and create a 1000GB virtual drive (storage space).
Of course, if you have a storage space of 1000GB that was created in a pool with 200GB of available physical storage, you can only store 200GB worth of data. However, as the drives begin to fill up, you will be notified to add more drives to accommodate more available space.
Also, you’re not limited to one storage space per storage pool; you can create as many spaces as allowed by the available space. Let me explain. While you can create storage spaces of virtually any size, each time you create a new virtual drive, you will be using a small portion of the physically available storage, and eventually, you will run out of space as you keep creating more storage spaces.
Why Storage Spaces?
Although, there are not many scenarios where everyday users will be using this feature, “Storage Spaces” has numerous benefits. For example, you can use storage spaces to create a large network drive instead of sharing multiple drives in your network, which is cleaner and more efficient.
If you have different USB drives that you can connect to your computer to save your data, you can combine the drives into a single logical drive, which enables you to organize all your data in a single place — and no more asking yourself: “In which drive did I save those photos?”
Perhaps the most important aspect of Storage Spaces isn’t the ability to group different drive technologies with different sizes, but the ability to configure different types of data protection.
Storage Spaces supports four types of resiliency:
- Simple: A simple storage space writes one copy of your data and does not protect you from driver failures. This option requires, at least, one drive, and each new additional drive adds another point of failure.
- Two-way mirror: This option writes two copies of your data on the drives, which can protect your data from a single driver failure. Two-way mirror requires a least two drives.
- Three-way mirror: This option works similar to the two-way mirror, but it writes three copies of your data on the drives, which will help you to protect your data from two simultaneous drive failures. Three-way mirror requires, at least, three drives.
- Parity: Similar to the standard RAID 5 technology, Parity for a storage space writes your data with parity information on the available driver to help you protect your data from a single driver failure. This option requires a least three drivers.
The resiliency type you need will mainly depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re only interested in available space and drive speed, you could use the “Simple (no resiliency)” option. If you want to protect your data from drive failure, you can go with one of the two mirror types, but remember that the more copies of your data get written to disk, it will consume more storage. If you like a balance of available space and speed, then you should use the “Parity” option.
Here’s something else to keep in mind. You can always make a storage space larger, but you cannot make the available space smaller. Every time you make a change it will cost you a quarter of a gigabyte of the available physical space, as such, you should plan in advance how large you want to make the storage space. Currently, the operating system allows a maximum of 63TB per storage space.