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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Storage Spaces

If you have a few strands of nerd DNA in your body, this one’s for you. It’s a new Windows 8 feature that lets you slice and dice various physical disks (hard drives and flash drives) into any number of virtual ones, for reasons of convenience or data safety.

For years now, the data centers of big corporations have used RAID systems (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). A RAID array is a bunch of drives installed inside a single metal box; clever software makes them look to a computer like one big drive. Or three smaller ones, or fifty little ones—however the highly trained system administrator decides to chop them up.

And why bother? Because the files on a RAID system can be recovered even if one of the hard drives dies, thanks to a fancy encoding scheme. (Thus, the “redundant” in the name.)

But RAID systems are complicated to set up, and incredibly inflexible; you generally have to install all drives of the same type and capacity simultaneously. And if you decide to expand your array, you have to erase all of the existing drives and reformat them.

Storage Spaces offers the same benefits as RAID systems—for example, data safety even if one of the drives croaks—without anywhere near the same complexity or inflexibility. Your setup doesn’t require matching drives, and you can fiddle with the capacity at any time without having to reformat anything.

Note

A Storage Space can’t be a startup drive.

Here’s how to set up Storage Spaces.

  1. Round up your drives.

    They can be internal ...

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