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Creating Virtual IDE Harddrive

Posted on 2004-11-18
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-15
OK, here is what I need to do, if it is possible.  I am running windows 2000 server, and the machine has 5 ide hard drives.  Is it possible for me to create a virtual drive that spans across 4 of the 5 drives.  So that end the end I would have something like:

40gb + 40gb + 40gb + 40gb to get 160gb total space as virtual drive z:

If this can be done I would like to eventually expand to cover a lot more drives across multiple machines.
Question by:jk9694
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Accepted Solution

muhalok earned 2000 total points
ID: 12619303
You need to configure a RAID 5 on your Windows.
Open a Computer Management -> Disk Management and hit Help topics. Under the topic of Disk Management there are step by step instructions of how to do it.

Some quote from there:

To create a RAID-5 volume
Using the Windows interface

Open Computer Management (Local).
In the console tree, click Disk Management.

Computer Management (Local)
Disk Management
Right-click the unallocated space on one of the dynamic disks where you want to create the RAID-5 volume, and then click New Volume.
In the New Volume Wizard, click Next, click RAID-5, and then follow the instructions on your screen.

To open Computer Management, click Start, and then click Control Panel. Click Performance and Maintenance, click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Computer Management.
You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group in order to complete this procedure. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings might also prevent you from completing this procedure.
You can create RAID-5 volumes only on computers running Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, or Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.
You need at least three dynamic disks to create a RAID-5 volume.
RAID-5 volumes provide fault tolerance at a cost of only one additional disk for the volume. This means that if you use three 10-GB disks to create a RAID-5 volume, the volume will have a 20-GB capacity. The remaining 10-GB is used for parity.
RAID-5 volumes cannot be extended or mirrored.

Better and more reliable way is to use a hardware RAID 5 controller.
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 12619687
Well... although muhalok's suggestion is really the safest option it'll leave you with a 120GB "drive" as you're only planning on using 4 out of the 5 disks. (if you use all of them, you will be able to reach 160GB with redundancy!)

But I'm guessing you're looking for either JBOD or RAID-0
JBOD => Just a Bunch Of Disks
        as in... all are combined to one virtual disk, but nothing is written on the second or other disks before the first is full. Etc..
RAID-0 => A striped array.
        as in... all disks are used to store data on, at the same time, the data is seporated and stored on different drives. Which is an extremely fast solution as all disks will work at almost optimum speed, the speed of a single disk is almost multiplied by the amount of disks you're using in the array.

BIG NOTE!!! On RAID-0, if one disk is lost, all data is gone, on JBOD, if one disk is lost, you'll have a heck of a work recovering the data from the other disks. NO redundancy is included in either of these.

A hardware solution is also highly recommended (just try mirroring on a testcomputer by using the win2k build in tools and pull the first disk, you'll see how hard it can be to recover if you've never done so before) it'll give you a much bigger performance and safety.

Just my €0.02

LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 12619714
Just to repeat... muhalok's suggestion of using RAID-5 is preffered, if you can affort it even RAID 0+1 (will leave you with 80GB on those four 40GB disks)
To learn a little about RAID, please take a look at http://www.raid.com/04_00.html

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Expert Comment

ID: 12619930
My question would be how critical that server is. Software RAID works and the above explanations have been very thorough, but if you need a disaster recovery plan software RAID is not the way to go. Invest in a hardware RAID controller and you'll be better off in event of problems. (I. E. your OS gets blown up and you lose the RAID index b/c W2K won't boot so you lose the data too) with hardware raid you can simply move the drives + controller to a new computer, boot it up and there's your data. My mission-critical server advisement is 2 HDs with RAID-1 for the operating system and then 3+ HDs in RAID-5 for data storage. By seperating your data from your OS you can recover more easily from a disaster.
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 12622594
The above suggestions sound OK and are all possible, but I think what jk9694 is thinking about is DFS (distributed file system).
see quote:
>> If this can be done I would like to eventually expand to cover a lot more drives across multiple machines.

This is possible with windows 2000 server. lookup DFS in the help system of windows 2000 server and you should get assistance on how to implement it. I've never used it yet so I can't help much more, but the way I understand first you create shares on those partitions you want to add to a DFS. Then you create the DFS itself and add the shares to it. After that you communicate this dfs in Active directory and users connect to it just like another share.

Expert Comment

ID: 12626232
DFS will work for network access but again you run the risk of if you lose the server you lose the index. The advantage of DFS is that all the data is stored as JBOD at the disk level so you COULD plug each hard drive individually into another computer and recover what was on them. the PROBLEM with using DFS to replace RAID is that it does NOT address all the disks as a single entity. what you would get is a network share in either this format: \\DOMAIN\DFS_ROOT\DRIVENAME or this one: \\DOMAIN\DRIVENAME and each drive would be shared as a sub-directory of the DFS root, in either configuration. so what you would do is map a drive letter to the DFS root and then you would have each network share in DFS (no matter what computer it is actually on) listed as sub-directories of DFS.

DFS Pros: Consolodate network shares of MANY computers to a single listing location for network drive mappings
DFS Cons: each location will end up having a percentage of freespace (each volume should have about 5-15% freespace for defrag etc.) rather than having one volume for all the disks and maintenance would simply happen to that one volume. if you have 15 computers then consolodating with DFS is a great solution but if you have 15 disks on 1 computer then you would want a RAID solution to allow defrag etc. to only need to happen to one volume and to prevent lost storage to freespace on each individual disk.

Adaptec makes some controllers that list themselves as "expandable" which i interpret to mean you can add disks to a volume to expand its size, but i've never actually had cause to do so...
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 12628729
Another thing to keep on mind is that with DFS you can use any combination of the other systems (RAID, JBOD, Normal Disks etc) to create a DFS share.

Expert Comment

ID: 12628848
In case you don't want to use the RAID 5 option, just make every disk you have into "Dynamic volume" from "Basic volume". Make it into "spanned drive":

From Windows HELP:

Using spanned volumesSpanned volumes combine areas of unallocated space from multiple disks into one logical volume, allowing you to more efficiently use all of the space and all drive letters on a multiple-disk system.

When you need to create a volume but do not have enough unallocated space for the volume on a single disk, you might be able to create a volume of sufficient size by combining sections of unallocated space from multiple disks into one spanned volume. The areas of unallocated space used to create spanned volumes can be different sizes. Spanned volumes are organized so that the space allocated to the volume on one disk gets filled up and then, starting at the next disk, the space allocated to the volume on that disk gets filled up.

Spanned volumes allow you to get more data on a disk without using mount points. By combining the space used by multiple disks into one spanned volume, you can free drive letters for other uses and enable the creation of a large volume for file system use.

Increasing the capacity of an existing volume is called extending. Existing spanned volumes formatted with the NTFS file system can be extended by the amount of unallocated space on all disks. However, after a spanned volume is extended, no portion of it can be deleted without deleting the entire spanned volume. Disk Management formats the new area without affecting any existing files on the original spanned volume. You cannot extend spanned volumes formatted with the FAT file system.

Before making any changes to spanned volumes, you should first back up all the information on the volume.

For procedures on working with spanned volumes, see Manage spanned volumes.


Spanned volumes cannot be mirrored or striped and do not offer fault tolerance. If one of the disks containing a spanned volume fails, the entire volume fails and all the data on it is lost.
You can create spanned volumes on dynamic disks only. You need at least two dynamic disks to create a spanned volume. MS-DOS, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows XP Home Edition, and other operating systems lacking dynamic storage capability cannot recognize any spanned volumes created by Windows 2000 or Windows XP Professional. Therefore, if you create a spanned volume on a dual-boot computer, the disks that make up that volume become unusable by those operating systems.

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