Spazi di Archiviazione, Windows 10, mirroring sicurezza ridondanza dati, pool archiviazione, protezione in caso di errori dell'unità

Windows 10 Storage Spaces, mirroring to protect data

I was looking for a more practical and cost-effective alternative to protect data in case of hard drive failures, compared to a RAID controller. I came across the Windows 10 Storage Spaces, in configuration mirroring 2 vie. This feature of Windows 10, if properly configured, allows you to combine two (or more) hard drives in a pool, using them later in one or more virtual drives.

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Virtual drives are used as if they were normal hard disks: You can open, save, edit, and delete files, normally. In reality, the computer writes all the mirror files, in real time, to two (or more) hard drives, instead of just one. In this way the data resilience, that is, the possibility of data to remain available, even if a malfunction of a hard disk occurs.

If a hard disk becomes damaged, the data will not be lost anyway, as it would be present on another disk.

Be careful though! We are not talking about a backup. There are many other ways to lose data: deleting it by mistake, getting hit by viruses or malware, major electrical failures, etc… This article, therefore, describes an alternative to redundancy using RAID controllers, not an alternative to backup periodic.

Returning to storage spaces, these also allow you to extend the available space on the virtual drive over time, adding more hard drives to the computer. This second feature will be described in another article.

Windows 10 storage spaces, mirroring, do not require an additional RAID controller. All you need is hard drives (or SSDs), free ports on the computer's motherboard (usually SATA) and, of course, free space to install the disks.

Unlike the function Add mirror present in Disk management, which converts hard drives into dynamic disks, storage spaces, in 2-way mirroring configuration, use basic disks, which are also readable by other computers in the event of a hardware failure. In fact, I tried to install one of the two hard disks that make up the storage space (2-way mirroring) on another computer, always with Windows 10 operating system, and I was able to read its contents.

Windows 10 storage spaces, mirroring, basic hard drives that can also be read by other computers, USB SATA docking stations

2-way hard drive mirroring to increase data resiliency

Only after connecting two hard drives (or SSDs) to the motherboard, you can create a storage space, in 2-way mirroring format, to increase the resiliency of your data and protect it.

Hard drives must not contain data: the creation of storage space will irreparably destroy any data on the hard drives that are used to create the virtual drive.

For the experiment of this article, I used two mechanical hard drives: one of 250GB and another of 500GB. To create Windows 10 mirroring storage spaces, it is good to use two hard drives of the same capacity. In this article, I use different hard drives, so as to distinguish them more easily. You can also best show the possibilities of choosing the capacity of the virtual drive.

Storage Spaces, Windows 10, SATA hard drive mirroring, no RAID controller

After installing them in the computer, the hard disks are visible in Disk management, accessible by simply pressing the right mouse button on the menu Start. Hard drives can be formatted or not. In any case, creating a storage space will erase all the data on the disks that you will use (in this case, Disk 2 and Disk 3 of the following image).

Storage Spaces, Mirroring, Pool Deletion Removal, Deleted Pool Space, Disk Management

Creating a Windows 10 Storage, 2-Way Mirroring

The functionality to create Windows 10 storage spaces, 2-way mirroring, is located in Control Panel, System and security, Storage spaces. Administrator privileges are required.

Storage Spaces, Mirroring Raid Volumes Data Security Redundancy, Windows 10, Control Panel, System and Security

From the window Storage space management, click with the mouse on Create new pool and storage space.

Storage Spaces Windows 10, create new pool and storage, control panel

At this point, after confirming that you have administrator privileges, you can select the physical drives (hard disk or SSD) that will form the storage pool. Physical drives can already be formatted or not. In any case, all data present in the selected disks will be erased.

If the drives are not formatted, select the hard disks that need to form the storage pool and press Create pool.

Storage Spaces Windows 10, select hard disk drives, create new storage pool

If a hard disk is already formatted, be careful to choose the correct one before pressing Create pool.

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Storage Spaces Windows 10, select formatted drive, create new pool

At this point, you can enter the name and letter of the virtual drive you want to create, as well as the type of resiliency you want to set. Having two hard drives, I set Mirroring a 2 vie. It is also possible to create more than one virtual drive in the storage pool, obviously dis sharing the available space between the drives.

Windows 10 Storage Spaces, mirroring to protect data, 2-way mirroring, virtual drive letter security data failure redundancy, Windows 10, creates 2-way mirroring storage, requires at least 2 drives

By scrolling down to the same screen, you can set the maximum size of your storage space. In case of mirroring, the ideal would be to install two hard drives of the same capacity and similar performance. In the case of the experiment described in this article, the smaller capacity hard disk is 250GB (equal to 231GB useful), and this is the capacity I set for the virtual drive. In fact, since the data is mirrored, in an identical way, on two physical hard disks, the capacity of the virtual drive is limited by that of the smaller hard disk.

Truth be told, Windows 10 also allows you to set larger capacities for the virtual drive. However, the virtual drive cannot fill more than the capacity of the smaller physical disk in the case of mirroring. Of this, I will write in another article.

After setting the maximum storage size, you can click Create storage space.

Storage Spaces, creating 2-way mirroring, maximum size virtual unit security data failures redundancy Windows 10, creates storage space

And that's it! Here is created the virtual drive, to which I assigned the letter T. This drive will behave like a normal hard disk, with all its features, but with greater data resilience and data protection from any failure of a hard disk.

Storage Spaces, 2-way mirroring, storage pool created, virtual drive security data redundancy Windows 10, optimize drive usage, rename pool, add drive
Storage Spaces, Mirroring, Failure Issue, Resiliency Reduced Replacement Of Corrupted Pool Drive, Recovery Complete

The newly created virtual drive is also visible in Disk management, as if it were a normal basic disk. The two physical disks that make up the virtual drive are no longer visible in the list.

Storage Spaces, 2-way mirroring, storage pool created, disk management virtual drive, Windows 10

Further developments

In addition to creating a virtual drive in a storage pool, I ran other tests:

  • I removed one of the hard disks from the pool, to verify the actual readability from another computer;
  • subsequently, I remounted the hard disk, to rebuild the resiliency reduced due to the previous removal;
  • in addition, I evaluated the performance of the virtual drive compared to the two physical hard disks, with CrystalDiskMark.

These trials were analyzed in this article.

In addition:

  • I tried to create a virtual drive with capacity greater than the storage pool;
  • I created two two virtual drives on the same storage pool;
  • finally, I deleted the virtual drives of the storage spaces and the pool of hard disks, to make the physical disks available again, individually and empty.

These trials were analyzed in this article.

Finally, I created one simple storage space (without mirroring) and moved it to another computer.

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