Windows 8 I am going crazy over Windows 8 Storage Spaces

What is going on here? Total madness?

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First, please let me apologize for the mass of wires, general techno geek junk, and other no-no’s like a can of diet Pepsi right next to my StarTech 4-port USB3 drive bay. Once I did some extensive reading about Storage Pools in Windows 8 RTM, total obsession took over. My test system now includes eight solid state drives, three traditional Seagate 1.5TB SATA2 drives connected via USB3, a 2.5” 750GB Western Digital laptop HD, and a USB3 Western Digital 2TB Passport drive, usually reserved for backups (I have another one coming so that I can run Storage Pools on my laptops once Windows 8 retails).

What are Storage Pools?

Well, first of all, they’re not even called Storage Pools. They’re called Storage Spaces. But these spaces form pools of resiliency that protect your data nearly as good as RAID; in many ways, better. While RAID is designed specifically for systems with expensive controller cards and controlled, duplicate storage, Storage Spaces allow you to simply continue adding hard drives, forever. According to Microsoft, they tested hundreds of hard drives, without apparent difficulty, using this new technology.

Apparently, Server 8, which will feature NTFS’ replacement ReFS (Resilient File System), will also use Storage Spaces. This will save large businesses millions of dollars in overhead costs if implemented properly in PowerShell.

But the great part is that any Windows 8 Client user will be able to benefit from Storage Spaces as well. For example, I have about 20TB of storage connected to my system right now, and I have assigned about 6TB for use. This gives me 18TB of resiliency in case there are two simultaneous drive failures. I can continue to use my Storage Space as if those drives were never there, until I replace said drives with better ones or duplicates.

Depending on how much space I am using, they can even be bigger or smaller.
The possibility of Storage Spaces has brought me back to the insanity stage of computing I was at years ago, when I first started as a simple technician. I am starting to think about how I will offer backup solutions with this technology, and I already know how. The only problem with Storage Spaces? You can’t install Windows 8 on them just yet. When not protecting your data clockwise, these pools are purported to be so good that RAID-0 and RAID-10 configurations may actually slow them down. Of course, in PowerShell, you can designate what drives do what, and that, in and of itself, will be an incredible feature for advanced users using a combination of SSDs, SATA2, SATA3, USB3, and SCSI technology.

Find out more about this amazing technology from Microsoft over at Technet and MSDN here. After some extensive testing that is not even done yet, I would consider it a serious replacement to RAID (Random Array of Independent Disks). You can even use Storage Spaces to load up Hyper-V virtual hard disks (VHDs). Suddenly, storage has become unlimited, and in some strange way, you are your own cloud again.

Just avoid tangled wires, CD trays, portable air canisters, and your car keys getting lost inside your chassis!

Virtualizing storage for scale, resiliency, and efficiency - Building Windows 8 - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

Configuring Storage Overview


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Unfortunately, while Storage Spaces are great for expanding hard disk space, while dangerous, even Windows Software RAID Striping shows just how much faster it can be compared to Storage Spaces.

Storage Spaces are designed to be versatile; RAID is not. If one connector comes loose on a RAID array with striping only, all data is lost. This is performance RAID at its best in Microsoft Windows with no additional hardware:

CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 x64 (C) 2007-2010 hiyohiyo
                           Crystal Dew World :
* MB/s = 1,000,000 byte/s [SATA/300 = 300,000,000 byte/s]

           Sequential Read :   686.241 MB/s
          Sequential Write :   663.341 MB/s
         Random Read 512KB :   591.854 MB/s
        Random Write 512KB :   639.461 MB/s
    Random Read 4KB (QD=1) :    27.978 MB/s [  6830.6 IOPS]
   Random Write 4KB (QD=1) :    60.736 MB/s [ 14828.1 IOPS]
   Random Read 4KB (QD=32) :   272.879 MB/s [ 66620.7 IOPS]
  Random Write 4KB (QD=32) :   103.691 MB/s [ 25315.3 IOPS]

  Test : 1000 MB [D: 5.8% (54.9/952.9 GB)] (x1)
  Date : 2012/08/31 6:15:10
    OS : Windows NT 6.2  [6.2 Build 9200] (x64)



This could hardly match up with Storage Spaces, which exponentially slowed down the SSDs the more conventional drives were added. Storage Spaces are more for resiliency, mirroring, parity, data protection, and drive virtualization. It is not a feature meant for uber performance. You will only find that with RAID striping. And you will be rolling the dice every time you do it. For performance users, and with 9 SSDs, instead of using Storage Spaces, they may be willing to roll the dice just one more time.

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