Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Storage Spaces questions...

  1. #1


    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro

    Storage Spaces questions...


    Merry Holidays to all and to all a good night!

    Well, I recently experienced a personal disaster/tragedy yesterday, my main 500 gig hard drive fully died. As in, the disk is at the point where it will spin up, click, and then spin down. No chances of data recovery without a load of dollars.

    So that brings me to Storage Spaces. Unfortunately, I was planning on buying a 3 TB hard drive (will now be from Western Digital as I've recollected my personal experiences with Seagate drives and ALL have resulted in failure, an external hard drive of a friend's died in the same manner as mine, and it was a Seagate drive) to start doing backups of vital statistics. I can live on from Windows and program files dying, but documents, music, pictures, and over 300 gigs of video is too tasking on my poor soul.

    I'm also in the initial phases of designing my new puter case, which I believe will house at least 12 hard drives, all will be utilized by Storage Spaces in Windows 8. Questions I do have!

    I get that it's like a RAID 1 and 10 in ways, but I need some further clarification. You can specify whether to save two or three copies of your data. This is where I get lost.

    Say, if I have a 120 gig SSD that I do backups of as well as my current 585 gigs worth of video content as well as other user data files. And I have 12 three TB hard drives going in Storage Spaces. I make the pool size to be 36 TB's as I do not choose to be deceived (more like I can't fit in more drives and don't want to do external). Is the total usable space in that pool 36 TBs physically? And if I copy over 705 gigs of data over to the pool, is that data mirrored on ALL drives twice if I choose to have two copies of data?

    Can someone break this down for me, preferably with pictures and diagrams if possible.

    Thanks!

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    If you ever used usenet with binary files, there was a concept known as par files, or parity files. The idea was that you could generate x number of .par files, and then you could lose the same number of real files and recover all of them, regardless of which file was lost.

    So, say you had parts 1-10 and 2 .par files. You could lose parts 3 and 7 and recover the complete file. Or it could be parts 1 and 5 and still, using the same 2 .par files recover the entire file. It was pretty neat really.

    Storage spaces uses a similar concept. You can create "parity" spaces, and those spaces can recover a logical volume, even if parts of that logical volume, spread over several drives, are lost. Unlike RAID, you don't have to have exactly the same sized individual physical drives or partitions. It can work with a disparate number of disks. Even more interesting, is they don't even have to be the same kindsd of disks. They can be any combination of drives.. USB, SAS, SATA, Firewire.. it can create a logical drive across all of your available drives regardless of type.

    There's a good article here:

    Storage Spaces explained: a great feature, when it works | Ars Technica
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 636
    Windows 7/8


    Pay VERY close attention to the "When it works" parts of that article.

    Sadly the chance for failure the minute the system runs into the smallest problem is so large it almost makes the system less safe to use over a simple set of data and backup drives that are synced nightly using something simple like Sync Toy.

    Your setting up a large drive system, read a LOT before committing your data to it for good.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Quote Originally Posted by FSeal View Post
    Pay VERY close attention to the "When it works" parts of that article.

    Sadly the chance for failure the minute the system runs into the smallest problem is so large it almost makes the system less safe to use over a simple set of data and backup drives that are synced nightly using something simple like Sync Toy.

    Your setting up a large drive system, read a LOT before committing your data to it for good.
    I'm sorry, but did you actually READ the article? There wasn't anything in there about failure. You make it sound like the feature is unstable and will lose data. That's simply not the case. Yes, it has quirks, and isn't as helpful as it could be. In particular, it doesn't deal with nearly full disks well and will unmounts when full. That's a safety measure.

    If you understand how it works, you should have no issues with storage spaces, and be careful to monitor how full the drives are and be careful when expanding drives and you're good.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 1,127
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    fseal, if you don't really know about storage spaces, don't comment. read the article first. it's ironic you're saying to "read a LOT" when you haven't done the reading.

    the biggest reason for using storage spaces is data integrity. there are faults with storage spaces but not for the reasons you mentioned.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 636
    Windows 7/8


    Holy smokes...

    Did YOU guys read the article??? Apparently NOT. Or maybe you didn't notice there was a Page 2 and 3 to the article??? It has some amazing failure modes that are completely counter to the entire purpose of it's existence.

    It bears some CLOSE scrutiny of it's failure modes and being made aware of them so that you don;t accidentally run into them WHICH YOU WILL if you just assume it's perfectly functional and never monitor what's going on.

    I have in fact had experience wit this system when it was part of WHS 1 and was removed from 2 because of it's "not fit for prime time" issues. From Ars experiments with it it looks like it is /still/ not ready for prime time.

    I've had all the experience with it I need thank you, and if you guys don;t open your eyes YOU will be the next victims, and deserve it too I might add.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Storage Spaces is *NOT* Drive Extender. It may share some of the same features, but it's implemented totally differently. Drive extender used a background process that "balanced" disks, basically just copying files around to keep more than one copy of everything. Storage Spaces uses parity blocks.

    Yes, I've read the whole thing. I don't think you paid close attention, though because nowhere in the article does it mention "failure". It talks about various quirks that you need to be aware of. Storage spaces has problems, that's for sure, but it's not unreliable and it doesn't lose data. Those quirks are more annoying than anything else.

    And like I said, if you know how it works, then you won't have any problems.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Coke Robot,

    I suggest that you have a play with some virtual machines and play around with Storage Spaces. That is what I have done to get a handle on how they work, and how you can recover in the event that something fails.

    For example purposes, i took a Windows 8 32bit VM, and I attached 4 x 4GB hard drives (this is minimum size for drives to be usable by storage spaces).

    Then, I went to Control Panel, searched for "Storage Spaces". Clicked on "create a new pool and storage space". All 4 of my "unformatted drives" showed up, and all 4 were checked. I clicked on Create Pool.

    My suggestion here is to STOP and cancel creating a Storage Space and see what you have in your Storage Pool.

    So, I added 4 x 4GB drives...however, only 3.25GB of each drive was actually usable space for the pool, and the remaining space is dedicated to metadata information and such. So, I have a total usable space of 3.25GB x 4 or 13GB of space on the drives themselves. However, there is additional overhead of 1.00GB in use the moment the pool is created....so when you try to actual create a storage space, it will show 12GB as "usable"

    So, I went back and adding 5 x 10GB drives to my box and created a second pool. I wanted to see if it was always 0.75GB of disk space on each drive with larger drives. And yes, it was 9.25GB usable on each of the 10GB volumes. So, 9.25GB x 5 or 46.25GB of usable space on the drives themselves. A look at the pool, shows 1.25GB in use of 46.2...so when you create a storage space, it will show 45GB as "usable".



    Now, I clicked the link to "create a storage space" on my 5 x 10GB Storage Pool. I had 4 resiliency options
    1). Simple: no redundancy, 1 copy of your data. Thus, all 46.2GB of space was available
    2). Two Way Mirror: 2 copies of your data. Protects against single drive failure. Total of 23.1GB of usable space
    3). Three Way Mirror: 3 copies of my data. Protects against multiple drive failures (this requires minimum of 5 drives in the pool...unsure why it's not 3...but it's 5). Now, usable space is 15.4GB.
    4). Parity: Uses a parity drive, and you lose performance on writes as it has to calculate parity. Takes minimum of 3 disks. Gives me max size of 30.8GB. I've not determined how math is done on this, usually it's n-1 drives as capacity, but 9.25GB x 4 would be 36GB..rather than 30.8GB....so there is a rahter high amount of extra overhead.


    What's important to grasp here, is that you can have x number of drives in a pool. However, you can choose to have multiple storage spaces within a single pool. So, you might have a 2GB drive with no resiliency, you might have a 10GB data volume with a Two-Way Mirror, and a 5GB volume of highly sensitive data with a 3-way mirror. So, the actual space you truly have available will depend entirely on how you have set up your storage spaces themselves.

    So, lets go back to my 5 x 10GB storage pool, which comes out to 9.25GB x 5 or 46.2GB of space. I'm going to create a "storage space", called 2Mirrored_Data. Going to assign it drive letter E. Setting resiliency to Two-way mirror. Setting my max size to 10GB of space. (What's important, is that the size of the drive will be 10GB...but under the size it says "size including redundancy and it's 20GB). Since each and every file will be written to 2 different drives in the pool, it will use 2x as much space.

    So, now that I have created a 2 way mirror with 2 drives, it creates the mirror and it shows that I have a 10GB volume and it says it's using 1.50GB of pool capacity. It's basically that 0.75GB on each drive x 2 drives that is being consumed. I reperformed the test, using a 3 way mirror and it says it's using 2.25GB of pool capacity, which would equate to 0.75GB x 3 drives.

    So, the drive space you see from Explorer is the amount of actual space you have for writing files. But behind the scenes the space will be consumed at a rate equal to whichever resiliency method that you have chosen.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by Coke Robot View Post
    Say, if I have a 120 gig SSD that I do backups of as well as my current 585 gigs worth of video content as well as other user data files. And I have 12 three TB hard drives going in Storage Spaces. I make the pool size to be 36 TB's as I do not choose to be deceived (more like I can't fit in more drives and don't want to do external). Is the total usable space in that pool 36 TBs physically? And if I copy over 705 gigs of data over to the pool, is that data mirrored on ALL drives twice if I choose to have two copies of data?
    With virtual machines, I cannot duplicate this exactly, a 2TB drive is the max size I can create. So, what I did was create 12 x 1TB volumes...and can multiply by 3 to roughly figure out the answer to your question.

    With 12 x 1GB volumes in a single storage pool, it shows 3.0GB used out of 11.7TB total. ( I doubled back and created 12 x 2TB files, and it too was consuming 3.0GB out of 23.74GB). So, with 3TB drives, I would still expect overhead of around 3.0GB for the entire storage pool.

    So, in the case of my 12 x 1TB setup,
    1). no resiliency: 11.7TB usable
    2). 2way mirror: 5.85TB usable
    3). 3way mirror: 3.90TB usable
    4). parity: 7.80TB usable.

    In the case of my 12 x 2TB pool
    1). no resiliency: 23.4TB
    2). 2way mirror: 11.7TB
    3) 3 way mirror: 7.80TB
    4). parity: 15.6TB.


    So, in your case, with 3TB x 12 drives
    1). no resiliency: 35.1TB usable
    2). 2 way mirror: 17.55TB usable
    3). 3 way mirror: 11.7TB usable
    4). parity: 23.4TB.

    So, 2 answer your question, if you put in 12 x 3TB drives, and set it up for 2 way mirroring, you get 17.55TB of space to use (without thin provisioning...or deceiving as you called it). So, if you copy 700GB of data onto that volume, it would be 17.55TB - 700GB so 16.8TB or so left

    I really hope that helps you.


    I really suggest figuring out if you truly need this kind of disk capacity. The more physical drives you add, the more likelyhood that you have of 1 of them failing. The beauty of Storage Spaces is the ability to simply grow your pool as you need to. So, even if you put in 2 x 3TB drives now..you could still create an 18TB 2 way mirror volume. So, you would start with an actual usable space of 3TB and when you get close to filing it, you can simply add another 3TB and another 3TB and another 3TB and continuously grow and expand your pool.

    Your other option would be to start with 2 x 3TB drives in a 2 way mirror and create the initial storage space of 3TB Once you come close to filling that, add another 2 x 3TB drives, and then you can GROW the Storage Space to 6TB. You can grow the Storage Spaces larger, you simply cannot make them smaller. If you need to make it smaller, you have to copy all of the data onto another Storage Space, delete the original storage space, create a smaller one, and then copy data back.

    Also, please remember that Storage Spaces is NOT a substitute for Backups. No RAID setup is. If your house burns to the ground, all 12 of your drives will be destroyed. So, make sure that with whatever solution you choose to role out, that you have enough capacity to back it up externally and hopefully on a device that you can remove from your home to protect against theft, fire, disaster.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Actually, a number of years ago I learned the lesson that redundant drives are not a backup.

    I had two RAID1 mirrored drives, and had my entire music collection on it. One day I heard this loud BANG, like a gun going off, or a giant firecracker. I went in to my office to find the magic smoke had escaped from my computer and it was no longer functional.

    Turned out, the Power Supply had literally exploded. Well, a capacitor had anyways.. Blew itself right up good and hard.

    The result was that a power surge went through the computer, including both of my mirrored drives. It literally melted the circuit boards on the disks. No way to recover.

    So the point is, there's a lot more to worry about than just a fire, or an airplane crashing into your house, or an earthquake.. or some other disaster. Very simple problems can completely destroy your entire computer. Do offsite backups.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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