Windows 11 disk spaces: what they are and how to configure them

Windows 11 disk spaces: what they are and how to configure them

Disk Spaces is a Windows technology that allows multiple hard drives or SSDs to be configured to use as a single drive, similar to a RAID array, but through software. This can allow for protection against failure of one of the drives and/or faster read/write speeds of the drive.

This step-by-step tutorial details how to configure disk spaces in Windows 11 using the new interface in the Settings app or Control Panel. The feature is also available on the older version of the system, as detailed in the Disk Spaces in Windows 10 instructions.

What you need to create disk spaces and their types

Windows 11 will require two or more drives in addition to system drive space, and this includes individual physical hard drives, SSDs, external removable drives, and non-essential data. Additional physical disks can be added as needed.

These disks will be combined into a Media Pool, within which one or more disk spaces of the following types can be created:

  • Simple – Space from multiple drives is combined into a single larger storage unit and potentially allows for faster data transfer speeds, especially in the case of hard drives. No additional protection against data corruption is provided.
  • Bi-directional mirror – When writing to the disk space, the data is duplicated (two copies are created), and the failure of one of the disks does not cause data loss.
  • three sided mirror – A minimum of five physical disks are required for operation, and data will be preserved if two disks fail.
  • parity space – combine the advantages of mirrored storage and simple disk spaces: they provide both access efficiency and additional protection against disk failures. You must use a minimum of 3 drives to protect against one drive failure, and a minimum of seven drives to protect against two drive failure.
  • double parity – Requires a minimum of 5 disks for operation, provides failover protection on two disks, parity data is written to two disks.
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Create disk space in Windows 11

There are two interfaces available in Windows 11 for creating and configuring a media pool and disk space: a new interface in the Settings app and a standard one via Control Panel. Let's see them in order.

Settings in the Settings app

The following steps will be enough to create disk spaces in Windows 11 Preferences:

  1. Go to Settings – System – Memory, expand “Advanced Storage Settings” and click on “Disk Spaces”.
  2. Under “Add new media pool” click “Add”, specify the name of the desired media pool, check the disks you want to add to it and click “Create”.
  3. The next window will ask you to configure the new disk space: specify its name, size and type of stability, as we have already discussed. Note that the size that is set automatically does not take into account your choice of persistence type, it just adds up to the total number of disks you have added. Although you can leave it like this for the "Simple" persistence type, for example for the "Two-Sided Mirror" option, if you are using two disks, it is better to specify the size of the smaller of the two disks. Interestingly, the second method of creating disk spaces does not have this drawback. You can create more than one disk space within a pool, if you plan to do so, adjust the specified size downwards. Set the necessary parameters and click “Create”.
  4. You will be prompted to format the created disk space, set its label (how it will appear in Explorer), drive letter, and file system. Adjust the necessary parameters and click on “Format”.
  5. This will make the new disk space available to the system like a normal disk, but depending on the type selected: faster than a single disk, more protected against drive failure, or both.
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Create disk space in Control Panel

The process for creating disk space in the old Control Panel interface is almost identical to that in Settings:

  1. Open the Windows 11 Control Panel, which you can do by searching the taskbar and selecting “Disk Spaces” (to display it, select “Icons” in the “View” field).
  2. Click on “Create new pool and disk space”.
  3. Select the disks to be added to the media pool and click “Create Pool”.
  4. In the next window, specify the disk space name, drive letter, file system, and stability type. The size can be set manually, but if you don't plan to create multiple disk spaces within the same pool or add new physical disks to the pool, I recommend leaving the default values ​​as they are automatically calculated based on available disk space and of the type of stability selected. Click the "Create Disk Space" button.
  5. Done, the disk space is created and you can use it as a normal drive on your computer or laptop.

How to delete a media set and disk space

If you decide to stop using the disk space, you can delete it, as well as the Media Set, in the following two ways. Keep in mind that their data will also be deleted.

Under "Parameters":

  1. Go to “Settings” – “System” – “Memory” – “Advanced storage settings” – “Disk space” and select the media set.
  2. Expand “Disk Spaces” and click the “Properties” button for the disk space you want to remove.
  3. Click the "Delete" button.
  4. Open the properties of the physical disks in the Media Pool, click on “Prepare to delete” and then on “Delete”, repeat the operation for all the disks in the Media Pool.
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In Control Panel:

  1. Go to “Control Panel” – “Disk Spaces”.
  2. Click on “Change settings” and then on “Delete” in the disk space actions menu.
  3. Click “Delete Pool” in the media pool action menu.

What happens when one of the disks in the mirrored disk space fails?

If one (or more – depends on the configuration and the number of disks in the array) of the drives in the disk space with the stability type “Double Sided Mirror” or “Triple Sided Mirror” is damaged or disconnected from the computer , the data is still available: As before, you can work with the disk representing disk space in Explorer and in other ways.

You can find out if something is wrong in the Disk Space Settings windows in the Preferences:

Or the control panel:

Depending on the situation, you may want to reconnect the drive, add a new drive to the drive pool, take care of saving your data to other media to get your mirror up and running again.

Some additional nuances that can be useful when using disk spaces:

  • When adding new disks to the pool, it is recommended to perform disk usage optimization. In both Control Panel and Disk Space Settings there is an item for this.
  • When you manually set the size of disk space, please note that it can be set arbitrarily, even much larger than the actual available capacity. Also, for example, if you create a "Double Sided Mirror" disk space and specify the smaller of the two as the size, the actual available disk space will be less than this number due to service data storage required for operation. Possible result: You will see in the disk properties that the disk has enough free space, but no new data can be written. The create disk space option in Control Panel prevents this, as this interface automatically calculates the maximum amount of disk space that can be installed with the current configuration.