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Creating Spanned Volumes RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have built my own Home Server using a Fractal Array R2 Case, an ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe Board with 4 x 1TB WD Drives. The installation went smoothly, the Server functions as it should do and I decided to use Drive D for Programs and Shared Documents, Drive G for Backups of the two Windows 7 PC's that I have and I wanted to "Span" Drives E and F into one volume for Shared Music, Video and Picture folders - so far so good.

    I have follwed the instructions to the "T" (I have to since I am an "own-build" novice) and everything worked except Spanning Volumes. The instructions are simple enough - in the Server Management lower pane, select a Drive and convert it to a Dynamic Drive - Done. Then select the Drive again using the right mouse button and select Create Spanned Volume - Not Done - this entry is light grey e.g. not selectable. I have searched everywhere to try and find out why this is the case but to no avail.

    Can anyone provide some possible solutions or tips on what one needs to do differently.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 1:06 PM

Answers

  • I would encourage you to not attempt to create a single large volume. Spanned volumes are similar to RAID 0 arrays (stripe sets), in that the failure of any disk in the volume will destroy the entire volume. (The effect is that the array as a whole is less reliable than the least reliable disk in the array.) For Windows Home Server 2011, there's an additional issue; server backup won't back up volumes > 2 TB in size due to limitations of the underlying technology. (Server backup won't back up more than 2 TB of data in toto due to the same limitations.)

    That said, a volume (simple or spanned) can only be created in unallocated space. Instead, now that you've converted your disk to dynamic, see this Technet article:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753058.aspx

    which will tell you how to extend a volume. Again, note that you can only extend a volume to unallocated space.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Proposed as answer by Ken Warren Thursday, July 28, 2011 5:17 PM
    • Marked as answer by fipple Thursday, August 4, 2011 1:31 PM
    Thursday, July 28, 2011 2:49 PM

All replies

  • I would encourage you to not attempt to create a single large volume. Spanned volumes are similar to RAID 0 arrays (stripe sets), in that the failure of any disk in the volume will destroy the entire volume. (The effect is that the array as a whole is less reliable than the least reliable disk in the array.) For Windows Home Server 2011, there's an additional issue; server backup won't back up volumes > 2 TB in size due to limitations of the underlying technology. (Server backup won't back up more than 2 TB of data in toto due to the same limitations.)

    That said, a volume (simple or spanned) can only be created in unallocated space. Instead, now that you've converted your disk to dynamic, see this Technet article:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753058.aspx

    which will tell you how to extend a volume. Again, note that you can only extend a volume to unallocated space.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Proposed as answer by Ken Warren Thursday, July 28, 2011 5:17 PM
    • Marked as answer by fipple Thursday, August 4, 2011 1:31 PM
    Thursday, July 28, 2011 2:49 PM
  • I can confirm that it works fine, but exactly as Ken described, it is more prone to data loss.

    I personally am using a spanned volume for my shares until a viable DE replacement is available. I have enough disk space in the machine to test a DE replacement and keep the spanned volume so they are the backup for each other.
    I also have a seperate copy of all data sync'd to my old WHS that lives across town.

    Please don't do this unless you have a seperate copy of everything on the span and don't mind copying it back. Remember, you probably won't be able to use the server backup tool.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 3:40 PM
  • It is indeed possible to use Disk Manager in Windows Server 2008 to create spanned or striped volumes that are visible to WHS 2011.  I do this exact thing to host my 'Client Computer Backups' folder, since I have media workstations with very large amounts of local data (>2Tb) to be backed up to the server.

    The problem with using this approach for volumes that host Shared Folders, however, is that no volume can be > 2Tb and still participate in Server Backup. Since there is no Shared Folder Duplication in WHS 2011, you must rely on Server Backup to ensure the safety of data on the server. 

    I have not tried it, but I'm pretty sure that if your spanned or stiped volume is 2Tb or less, it will work fine with Server Backup.  (As I understand it, dynamic disk limitations in WHS 2011 apply to the client computers, not to the server.)

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 6:11 PM
  • I can confirm that it works fine, but exactly as Ken described, it is more prone to data loss.

    I personally am using a spanned volume for my shares until a viable DE replacement is available. I have enough disk space in the machine to test a DE replacement and keep the spanned volume so they are the backup for each other.
    I also have a seperate copy of all data sync'd to my old WHS that lives across town.

    Please don't do this unless you have a seperate copy of everything on the span and don't mind copying it back. Remember, you probably won't be able to use the server backup tool.

    About the same setup here.
    Works just fine, if you cater the backups properly.

     


    WHS 2011 RTM up and running, v.1 gone to meet its maker...
    Thursday, July 28, 2011 9:06 PM
  • Ken,

     

    Thank you for taking the time to answer. Although this didn't actually address the issue (I still don't know why I couldn't use this feature), I have taken your advice and converted the drives back to simple volumes and left them as individual drives. I have simply spread the Shared Folders across the two drives instead of the planned Spanned Volume.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 1:19 PM
  • Actually, I did.  :)

    "A spanned volume can only be created on unallocated space" and a link to a technet article which tells you how to extend a volume (again to unallocated space). Once the drive has been partitioned and has had volumes created, that space is no longer "unallocated".


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, August 4, 2011 1:27 PM
  • So how do you turn a formatted drive into "unallocated space" so that the feature works. I presume a drive is only "unallocated" when it's new and hasn't been formatted or am I misunderstanding the terminology. My Drives where new but had already been formatted as single volumes and standard NFTS.
    Thursday, August 4, 2011 1:47 PM
  • You have to use the disk management tools built into Windows to delete any volumes currently defined on the drive. If you let Windows Home Server manage the disk for you, it will use volumes already created, if any. If there are none, when the unpartitioned drive is detected, you'll get an alert that will let you format the drive; in this case a drive will be formatted into:

    • a single volume if 2 TB or smaller, or
    • multiple 2 TB volumes, plus a single volume of < 2 TB, if the disk (which could be a RAID array)  is larger than 2 TB.

    The splitting of large (>2 TB) disks is done to allow server backup to back up the data on the disk.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, August 4, 2011 2:21 PM
  • Ken,

    Thanks!

    Thursday, August 4, 2011 3:10 PM