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I recently upgraded to windows 2012 server and am curious about the difference between storage spaces and simply creating a dynamic volume from the three drives. Basically, I have 3 hard drives I'd like to pool together to act as one. I already use a cloud backup on top of this so I don't need to have failover - I just want to have it appear as one volume.

So, what are the differences and when should I use each?

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I would highly recommend not using Storage Spaces yet. They're a good idea, but the implementation is faulty. The default is to have all disks made Manually Attach (meaning you have to attach them every time you reboot), and that setting has to be changed in powershell, not the GUI. Also, the speed. If you have a Parity pool, it will be much slower (in my experience, 1/2 the speed of a similarly configured soft-RAID).

I have tried it for a few months in different configurations, and I'm going to go back to a software RAID for now (home lab, not in production). Given the option, though, a hardware raid is still the best answer for directly attached storage.

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Regardless what you SHOULD read in the marketing material - and I will not go into doing your homework here - be aware of the following:

  • Storage Spaces under RAID setup are supposedly SLOW.
  • Storage Space Expansion with additional discs is problematic (no rebalancing)

Check http://blog.insanegenius.com/2012/09/22/storage-spaces-leaves-me-empty/ for a good discusssion also with core arguments - I am on the same line as he is. Nice v1, now please fix the issues and I will use them.

There are some advantages, but if you dig into it they are really perfect for archival but have some limitations for anything else, at least in v1.

The last sentence says it all: "Until Storage Spaces gets thoroughly documented and improves performance, I’m sticking with hardware RAID solutions".

At the end you have to give it a try - imho what you should have anyway is a raid controller in the middle that can cache to SSD (i.e. transparently map reads and writes to the discs to ssd) such as the new Adaptec line (which also can run in a "Map the discs through to the OS without raiding but still use a SSD pool for caching mode) to bypass the performance eimplications.

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