With the Windows Storage Spaces tool, you can pair your hard drives together to consolidate data and add redundancies to all your drives. Here’s how to get started.
I have built up a rather large collection of movies and TV shows that I’ve ripped from Blu-ray discs. Every few years, I find I need a bigger hard drive to hold them all, and with the introduction of 4K Blu-ray, even my multi-terabyte drive is bursting at the seams. If only there was a better way to organize and consolidate all these files. This is where Windows’ Storage Spaces comes in.
How Storage Spaces Work
If you use multiple drives to organize all your files, Storage Spaces can combine them into a pool that Windows sees as one unified volume—with one drive letter. This is a helpful alternative to having all your data spread across multiple internal and external storage locations in a disorganized fashion.
Storage Spaces also allows you to add redundancy: If one drive fails, you can pop in a new one and rebuild your storage space without losing any data. (This can be similar to a backup, but it’s not a replacement for one, so you should still have a remote, versioned backup in addition to redundancy if your data is truly important.)
If you’ve heard of RAID, Storage Spaces is similar, only it’s performed entirely in software—no need for an extra RAID controller card. The performance of your storage space won’t be as fast as it would be with a RAID card, but it’s significantly cheaper and easier to implement when you’re just getting started with these types of pooling technologies.
How to Create a Pooled Storage Space
To create a storage space in Windows 10 or Windows 11, open the Start menu, type “storage spaces,” and choose Manage Storage Spaces to open Control Panel. Click Create a new pool and storage space and Windows will present you with a list of drives attached to your computer.
They won’t have their drive letters listed, so click the View Files button to make extra sure you’re selecting the disks you want. Any drive you use with Storage Spaces will be erased, so you definitely don’t want to choose the wrong one!
When you’re ready, click Create Pool. If you run into any errors, you may need to close programs, or even clean the disk from the command line before continuing.
Set Storage Parity Type
You have a few options when setting up the Resiliency Type setting for a new pool. Setting it to Simple pool will combine the drives into one storage volume, with no redundancy. I generally don’t recommend this method unless you have a robust backup system in place—in a simple pool, one failed drive will mean losing all your data in the pool.
If you set it to Two-Way Mirror or Three-Way Mirror, you will need more drives for the same amount of usable space. A two-way mirror requires at least two drives, and a three-way mirror requires five. However, they also introduce redundancy, since your data is stored on multiple drives at a time. One drive can fail (up to two with Three-Way Mirror) and you can replace your drive without losing any data.
The Parity option is sort of a compromise between the above options. You get more usable space than you would from the same number of mirrored drives, but you still get redundancy thanks to parity bits(Opens in a new window)—tiny pieces of data that help rebuild information if one drive goes dead. The downside is that parity is much slower, so it isn’t ideal for data you actively use often.
Since I’m just using this for basic storage and media, and I’m somewhat limited in the number of drives I have available, I’m going with Parity. With three 8TB drives in Parity mode, I get about 14.5TB of usable space, which is enough for my current needs. But if you need faster storage, you may want a mirror instead, since it’ll be quicker to write data (and quicker to rebuild if a drive fails).
When you’re ready, click Create Storage Space—that’s all it takes. Your new volume should be immediately accessible, and you can start copying data to it.
How to Add a New Drive to Your Storage Space
For now, you’re all done—you can use your computer as normal. If there comes a day where you run low on space again and want to add even more storage to your pool, Storage Spaces makes it easy. Head back to the Manage Storage Spaces page and click the Change Settings button
Then, next to your current pool, click the Add Drives button. Select your drive (again, it will be erased, so back it up first!) and make sure the Optimize Drive Usage box is checked—this will move some of your data to the new drive so it’s spread across all your drives optimally.
Click the Add Drives button, and once Windows is finished moving that data, you’ll have even more space to work with.
There’s a lot more to Storage Spaces than what we’ve covered here, so when you’re ready to get more advanced with it, be sure to search around to see the extra features you can enable through PowerShell. For now, enjoy your much larger pool of drives!