How to work with Storage Spaces in Windows 10

Dave W. Shanahan

Updated on:

Windows 10 offers a number of new features and improvements to older features, many of which you might not be fully aware. Storage Spaces is one such feature. Storage Spaces was originally introduced in Windows 8.1. In Windows 10, Storage Spaces can help protect your data from storage issues, such as drive failures or drive read errors.

Storage Spaces are clusters of two or more drives that form a storage group. The collective storage capacity from that storage group that are used to to create virtual drives are called Storage Spaces. Storage Spaces typically store two copies of your data so if one of your drives fails, you still have an intact copy of your data elsewhere. If you run low on storage capacity, you can always add more drives to the storage pool.

Here, you can use Storage Spaces on a Windows 10 PC, but there are also three other ways you can use Storage Spaces:

  1. Deploy on a stand-alone server.
  2. Deploy on a clustered server using Storage Spaces Direct.
  3. Deploy on a clustered server with one or more shared SAS storage enclosures holding all drives.

How to Create a Storage Space

In addition to the drive where Windows 10 is installed, you need at least two extra drives to create Storage Spaces. These drives can be an internal or external hard drive (HDD), or a solid state drive (SSD). There are a variety of drive formats you can use with Storage Spaces, including USB, SATA, ATA, and SAS drives. Unfortunately, you can’t use microSD cards for Storage Spaces. Depending on the size and amount of storage devices you use, Storage Spaces can significantly extend the amount of your Windows 10 PC’s storage.

Here are the steps you need to follow to create a Storage Space:

  1. Add or connect at least two drives that you want to use to create a Storage Space.
  2. Go to the taskbar, and type “Storage Spaces” in the search box, and choose Manage Storage Spaces from the list of search results.
  3. Select Create a new pool and storage space.
  4. Select the drives you want to add to the new storage space, and then select Create pool.
  5. Give the drive a name and letter, and then choose a layout. There are three layouts available: Two-way mirror, Three-way mirror, and Parity.
  6. Enter the maximum size the storage space can reach, and then select Create storage space.

Storage Space Types

  • Simple – Simple spaces are designed for increased performance, but don’t use them if you want to protect your data from driver failure. Simple spaces are best suited for temporary data. Simple spaces require at least two drives in order to be used.
  • Mirror – Mirror spaces are designed for increased performance and protect your data from drive failure. Mirror spaces keep multiple copies of your data. There are two different types of mirror spaces which serve different purposes.
    1. Two-way mirror spaces make two copies of your data and can handle one drive failure. This mirror space requires at least two drives to function.
    2. Three-way mirror spaces make three copies of your data and can handle two drive failures. This mirror space requires at least five drives to function.
  • Parity – Unlike the other two storage spaces, parity spaces are designed for storage efficiency. Parity spaces protect your data from driver failure by keeping multiple copies of your data. Parity spaces work best for archival data and media files, including music and videos. Parity spaces requires at least three drives to protect you from a single drive failure and at least seven drives to protect you from two drive failures.

Mirror spaces are best suited for storing a wide range of data. If a mirror space is formatted with the Resilient File System (ReFS), Windows 10 will automatically maintain your data integrity, makes your data even more resistant to drive failure. Microsoft released a ReFS at the same time, the company released Storage Spaces. When you create Storage Spaces pools you can format the drives to either NTFS or ReFS, although Microsoft believes that you will achieve maximum efficiency when you format drives using ReFS over NTFS with Storage Spaces.

Anytime you add new drives to an existing Storage Spaces pool, it’s a good idea to optimize drive usage. Optimizing drive usage will move some of your data to the new drive to make the best use of the pool’s overall storage capacity. By default, whenever you add a new drive to a pool in Windows 10, you will see a check box for Optimize to spread existing data across all drives selected when you add the new drive. In instances where you added drives before upgrading a pool, you’ll need to manually optimize your drive usage.