There has always been a need to consolidate disks into a single large disk in order to store more data than any single drive can contain. In the past we used hardware or software RAID to accomplish this. Hardware RAID can be expensive due to the extra controller needed. Software RAID is slow, and requires all disks to be identical.
In Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 there is a new feature called Storage Spaces which allows for several disks to be joined together to create a single virtual drive or pool. Storage Spaces does not require that all disks be the same size, or even the same type (eSATA, USB, etc
Storage Spaces has options for redundancies as well. So if you were to lose one of the physical disks, you would not lose your data.
Creating Storage Spaces Pool (click to enlarge)
Disk Pools in Storage Spaces can also be enlarged afterwards by adding additional disks to an existing Storage Spaces pool. This is something that cannot be done using RAID disk arrays.
One really nice feature of Storage Spaces is that these arrays are portable. This means that if you have a Storage Spaces pool consisting of three physical disks, and you move those disks to another Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 machine, the new machine will see the Storage Spaces array and assign a drive letter.
To create a New Storage Pool using Storage Spaces:
- From the Start screen type: Storage Spaces, then select Manage Storage Spaces from the Control Panel section of the Search results.
- In the Manage Storage Spaces screen click on the link to Create a new pool and storage space.
- Select the physical disks to include in the Storage Spaces pool then click on the Create Pool button.
- On the next screen type a name for the new Storage Space, select a drive letter to assign, and select the level of redundancy you desire. When done click on the Create Storage Space button.
The new storage space will now appear as a single drive using the drive letter you specified in step #4.