Windows Server 2016 009: Storage Spaces

In Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 and newer we have a feature called Storage Spaces. This feature lets you group multiple disks together in a Storage Pool and then create Virtual Disks within the Storage Pool. When creating Virtual Disks you can select from different layouts that act like different RAID modes. You can also have many Virtual Disks on a single Storage Pool of all different layout types. This makes it extremely powerful for managing where important data is kept.

In this article I’ll explain:

  1. How to get Storage Spaces setup
  2. How to add disks to a pool
  3. Simulate and recover from a disk failure

To begin setting up storage spaces you’ll need to have at least 2, preferably 3 disks in your server to make use of its resiliency features (although you can use a single disk). I’ll be using a VM with 5 20GB virtual disks attached. In the real world, you’ll always want to be using physical disks in a JBOD configuration.


Storage Spaces Setup

Open Server Manager and, on the left hand side, go to File and Storage Services > Volumes > Storage Pools. You’ll be presented with a screen like this. Take note of the red circled parts.

Right click on where it says Primordial under Storage Pools and select New Storage Pool…. I’ll guide you through the Wizard that pops up page by page.

  1. Click Next > on the Before You Begin page
  2. Name your Storage Pool
  3. Tick all the disks that you want to become part of the pool
  4. Click Create and wait
  5. Tick the Create a virtual disk when this wizard closes box and then Close the wizard

New Virtual Disk Wizard

  1. Select your Storage Pool and click OK
  2. Click Next > on the Before You Begin page
  3. Name your Virtual Disk
  4. On Enclosure Awareness you can tell it to store copies of your data in separate enclosures to ensure if one fails that your data isn’t taken along with it
  5. Storage Layout lets you select effectively what “RAID Level” to give it. Simple is like a RAID 0 stripe, if a disk fails all data is lost. Mirror is like a RAID 1 across 2 or 3 disks, very reliable. Parity is like RAID 5 meaning 1 disk failure tolerance. Generally you’ll want to use Mirror
  6. If you selected Mirror, you’ll be able to set the Resilience Settings. They’re self explanatory, 2 copies or 3 copies of all your data
  7. Thin Provisioning means the disk will only take up it’s used space. Fixed will allocate the whole virtual disk size up front out of the pool
  8. Size is another simple one, you can decide here
  9. On the Confirmation page, read over what you’ve done and click Create
  10. Tick the Create a volume when this wizard closes box and Close

Upon closing you’ll have the New Volume Wizard pop up

New Volume Wizard

  1. Click Next > on the Before You Begin page
  2. On the Server and Disk page, you may need to hit refresh to see the Disks properly. Select the you created before and click Next
  3. For the Size you’ll generally use the whole disk you created before
  4. Pick a Drive Letter
  5. For the File System you can use NTFS or ReFS. Pick a Volume Name too
  6. Confirm you’ve picked the right options and click Create
  7. Close and you’re done!

You’ll now have a working drive that you can use for anything you like.


Adding Disks to the Storage Pool

When you add a new disk to your Server, you’ll see under Storage Pools that the Primordial pool is back. To add another disk to your pool, right click on your pool and click Add physical Disk….

Tick the box on the new hard drive and go OK.

It will take a second to add it to the pool and you’re done.


Recover From a Disk Failure

To simulate a disk failure, I’ll be disconnecting one of the virtual drives in my VM.

If you’re viewing from a remote server in Server Manager you may need to refresh to see the errors that have occurred from disk removal.

You’ll see 2 yellow warnings appear.

 

You can replace the failed disk with another at this point. If you have a good storage enclosure, you’ll be able to right click the Physical Disk and turn it’s light on.

When you’ve done that, refresh the page again and you’ll see the Primordial pool back. Right click on your Storage Pool and click Add Physical Disk…, just like before. Tick the Disk you’re adding and click OK.

Right click on the physical disk that’s now gone and click Remove Disk. It may take a while.

Now you can Right Click on your Virtual Disk and click Repair Disk. You’ll be able to keep using it during the repair process.

That’s it, you’re done. Storage spaces can be the backbone of a very reliable, resilient and fast storage system if used correctly.

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