Sep 072019
 

Speaking from experience having a computer hard drive fail is not when you want to discover your backup software didn’t run overnight and you’ve lost some important data. Laptops or a space a saving All-in-One desktop like my Dell XPS 2720 typically only have one hard drive.  Hard drive redundancy aka RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) is usually only available with a big, tower style PC.  Fortunately Windows 10 Storage Spaces solves this challenge.  This feature allows you to create redundant storage pools using multiple hard drives or Sold State drives. In this walkthrough I will show how easy it is to set up a Windows 10 Storage Space by mirroring (RAID1) two external USB hard drives.

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Getting Things Set Up

As I mentioned previously, I use an All-in-One desktop PC.  All the computer internals fit within the form factor of the screen.  With the sleek space-saving design there is only room for one data drive and unfortunately it failed once.  Technically the XPS 2720 has a 2nd drive but it’s a small MSATA SSD intended for caching and helping the PC to boot up faster. It’s not intended for drive redundancy.

The two 1 terabyte drives I’m using in this example are formerly 2.5” internal laptop drives . I have connected them my PC using the Sabrent 2.5” SATA HDD/SDD to USB 3.0 Adapter and the Sabrent 2.5-Inch SATA to USB 3.0 Tool-Free Enclosure. Both of these USB 3.0 adapters are very functional and allow me to get new life from the old drives.  The tool-free enclosure adapter as it’s name implies features a hard case that you plug your drive into. It’s very convenient if you plan to take your drive with you somewhere and want to put it into a backpack or laptop bag. It comes with a cover which I removed for the photo below. The other adaptor is more suitable if you need to quickly connect the drive to test something.  Either way they’re great USB adaptors and I don’t regret purchasing them.

 

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Having connected each of the drives and the adapters to my PC I can now see them from within Windows 10 Disk Management. In the picture below the 2 USB drives are showing up as Unallocated space. In this example I’m using 2 identically sized 1 terabyte drives. You could theoretically two different sized drives but the data redundancy would be limited the size of the smaller drive.

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How to Create Windows 10 Storage Spaces

From the Windows 10 Control Panel simply click on the Storage Spaces icon. Click on the link to Create a new Storage Space or Pool as shown in the picture at the top of this post. On the next screen you’ll see all the drives available for creating the storage pool. After selecting the drives you want to use click Create Pool.

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On the next screen you’ll be prompted to configure the settings for the storage space including the name, the drive letter, the resiliency type, and the maximum size. In my example I’m choosing Two-way mirror and using the maximum space available. There are additional resiliency types available such as striping or RAID3 but this configuration would require additional drives. Once you’ve selected the changes you want click Create storage space.

 

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After the storage has been created you’ll return to the default Storage Spaces screen.

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Back in Disk Management you can see the 2 individual drives from earlier are no longer displayed.  However, the new 1 terabyte volume we just created above is is being displayed. The new “drive” is ready to be used.

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Deleting a Windows 10 Storage Space

Eventually you may need to delete a storage space. As the warning displayed by Windows below indicates, make sure you’ve backed up any data on the drive before proceeding because it will be immediately and irretrievably deleted upon clicking Delete storage space.

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After deleting the storage space, you need to delete the storage pool.

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Click Delete pool to finishing removing the storage space and pool.

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If you go back to Window Disk Management you’ll see the 2 individual drives again each showing as unallocated space.

In Summary

Despite online backup solutions you can still lose data unexpectedly if your hard drive physically fails.  Fortunately Windows 10 Storage Spaces are an easy way to configure data redundancy using multiple hard drives even with a laptop or All-in-One PC with external USB drives. Thanks for reading!

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Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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