A couple of years ago I realized that if I had money to spend up-front, I could enhance my storage environment by buying a NAS device. I researched the products but held off. I learned that my new powerful Dell (Dec 2010) desktop had extra bays for 3 or 4 additional drives (it came with a fast SATA Seagate 1TB). I read a bit more and found that I could buy them for $45 each! So I bought 4. I installed 3 of them in the computer and went about configuring RAID. First, I had to ensure the firmware was set to allow virtualization (something to do with the Intel RAID controller). That was either already set or I set it. I then discovered that Windows would need re-installed to support the array RAID. Of course nowadays the vendor doesn’t supply boot media with your OS, so I ruled out re-installing from scratch. I happily used the several fast drives, 1 for camera video, 1 for Recorded TV, 1 for pictures and websites. And I relegated the unreliable external USB drives (over the years I’ve had about 10, with average life 2 years; by now I’ve had over 5 die) to various backup roles. So as of a few days ago I had c:, r:, s:, t: internal drives, and g:, j:, k:, l:, i: external drives (not to mention a router-attached backup as well). Basically, I ended up with various backups all over the place.
I thought I knew all about Windows 8 then I stumbled upon this: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/05/virtualizing-storage-for-scale-resiliency-and-efficiency.aspx
Exciting! This may allow me to clean up the mess! Oh, I’d also recently purchased a 3TB WD drive and had WD Smartware configured to automatically backup my important classes of files.
The grand experiment began… I shuffled files around over a period of many hours and configured 4 or 5 drives into a Windows Storage Pool with a Mirrored space and a Parity space. I had no issues, and only a minor performance hit. Seemed good. But then I read this further article http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/10/storage-spaces-explained-a-great-feature-when-it-works/2/
One concern is that there is no automatic re-balancing in the case of adding disks to the pool after initial space creation. The author also indicates issues if you add drives of different sizes. Anyway, this has lead me to re-build my Storage Pool from scratch, using only 2 3TB USB 3.0 drives and 2 fast USB 2.0 2TB drives and not including the older 500G drives.. just trying to get the best initial configuration without too much experimentation. Anyway… population in progress.
So I’ve abandoned the WD Smartware auto backup in favour of automatic software mirroring. Next up: Windows 8 File History http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/07/10/protecting-user-files-with-file-history.aspx