Question Windows 10 RAID vs Storage Spaces VS Hardware RAID?

Monster900

Active Member
As people here may (or may not) recall, earlier in the year, I re-purposed a low energy consumption PC to be a combined PC, for use in the garage and a NAS for data storage/media server. The NAS side of things has 2x4TB WD Reds running in RAID 1 configuration with backup to a separate machine on the network.

Well, with the cold weather I have decided to bring the PC/NAS into the main house as the hard drives were often running too cold. Now here is the problem, if indeed it is a problem, having moved the PC/NAS the two drives have taken the best part of a week to resync. They got there in the end, but it is a bit disconcerting that it takes so long and I'm not sure what the status would be if there was a drive failure while the drives were resyncing.

Now to the questions, as I said I'm using Windows 10 RAID 1 with the drives configured as dynamic disks, would it actually be better to be using Windows 'Storage Spaces' instead? Or, perhaps, it would be better again to buy one of these (available for ~£65 from most suppliers) and configure a relatively inexpensive hardware RAID 1?

As always, thanks in advance.

M
 

ApriliaEdd

Active Member
I use stablebit drivepool. my media drives are in two pools (movies and TV) then user data is stored in another pool with 3 disks, the data is duplicated over all three disks. you could easily add another USB external disk and duplicate over all drives. your data is then stored on 4 physical disks which can be read by any windows PC. my drives are a mix of 2Tb, 3Tb and 4 Tb.
 

cjed

Well-known Member
I'd strongly advise staying away from Storage Spaces as a way of running a RAID configuration. Have a google for the (extremely complex) procedure to replace a failed drive in Storage Spaces, or the many problems due to running low on free space. I ran straight Windows RAID for a number of years without problems before switching to Storage Spaces. I kept Storage Spaces for around a year, and now use a Synology NAS for storage.
 

Monster900

Active Member
I'd strongly advise staying away from Storage Spaces as a way of running a RAID configuration. Have a google for the (extremely complex) procedure to replace a failed drive in Storage Spaces, or the many problems due to running low on free space. I ran straight Windows RAID for a number of years without problems before switching to Storage Spaces. I kept Storage Spaces for around a year, and now use a Synology NAS for storage.

Thanks for the responses.

Having done some reading, as you suggested, I have cancelled my planned reconfiguration from Windows RAID 1 to Windows Storage Spaces. I see exactly what you mean, Storage Spaces really does seem like a bit of a mess in the way that it handles failed drives. This is a bit of a shame as in many ways it is a nice idea allowing expandable drive space using different disk sizes and types. The final nail in the coffin though was this article describing how a recent Windows 10 update breaks Windows Storage Spaces. Doesn't do much for confidence regarding data resilience.

Looks like it is either stick with RAID 1, and tolerate the ludicrously long resync time, or go for hardware RAID 1 using a PCI-e disk controller card, or use use Stablebit Drivepool as @ApriliaEdd has suggested.

Anyway, no rush, as the current system seems to be working fine. Looks like something I may revisit in the New Year.
 

mjn

Distinguished Member
Don’t use any of them? Use something like Acronis TrueImage to make backups of your 1TB drive to an external device on a regular occurrence.
 

Monster900

Active Member
In the end I decided to go for the hardware RAID solution. I bought a Startech PEXSAT34RH PCI-e RAID controller for less than £40, on Ebay, for an unused 'open box' item.

Good Points

  • Relatively cheap. Can be bought for ~£40.
  • Looks well made. Startech is an ISO 9001 certified company so the quality should be good.
  • Works well and notifies you (by email, if configured) when the array is degraded. This is in contrast to Windows 10 RAID 1 which remains completely silent if a disk fails in the array.
  • It is stable and the RAID stays synchronised through reboots and power cycles. Again, this is in contrast to Windows 10 RAID 1 which usually needs to resync after the machine is shutdown and restarted. On my machine Win 10 resync takes about nine days during which time the array is effectively in an indeterminate state.
  • The Marvell Storage Utility is web based and can be accessed from any machine on the same network to check system health and configuration.
  • It looks pretty straight forward to rebuild the array when a disk fails, but I haven't tried to do that yet. I'm sure I will one day.
  • It should be more reliable than Windows Storage Spaces which got broken by a recent Widows 10 update and is otherwise reported as being pretty unreliable, as well as difficult to recover from disk failure.

Bad Points

  • The instructions are poor, incomplete and not kept up to date.
  • It only supports RAID 0, 1 and 10.
  • It makes disks attached to it invisible to disk tools like CrystalDisk Info.
  • Performance isn't quite as good as many on board SATA controllers but, in my view, more than adequate for spinning disk NAS storage.

Overall

I'm pretty pleased with it and it is a great improvement compared to the Windows 10 software RAID solutions. There are cheaper products, using the same Marvell chipset, but they are not, AFAIK, ISO 9001 certified so quality is less assured.

There you go. I hope this is of help to someone.

M
 
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mjn

Distinguished Member
Be careful with those cheap RAID controllers. Performance can be quite poor as there is no cache.

The drives should be visible to all disk benchmark tools though.
 

Monster900

Active Member
Be careful with those cheap RAID controllers. Performance can be quite poor as there is no cache.

The drives should be visible to all disk benchmark tools though.

This is what CrystalDisk Info reports for RAID 1 array.

CD Info.JPG

Which isn't overly informative.

As for disk caching, I don't normally have that enabled anyway as I understood that caching could result in data loss in the event of unexpected power failure. Happy to be corrected though if I have misunderstood.
 

mjn

Distinguished Member
As for disk caching, I don't normally have that enabled anyway as I understood that caching could result in data loss in the event of unexpected power failure. Happy to be corrected though if I have misunderstood.

A proper RAID hardware controller will have a battery to protect the cache should an unexpected power down occur.

Of course, read only cache needs no battery protection :)
 

Monster900

Active Member
A proper RAID hardware controller will have a battery to protect the cache should an unexpected power down occur.

Ah, right. No this doesn't have a backup battery because, as you say, it is cheap. However, I still think it is a lot better than the previous arrangement I had of using Widows RAID 1 for not a lot of money. AFAIK Windows does not protect the RAID array cache in unexpected shutdown either.

The speed limiting component on my network is, unfortunately, the use of powerline adapters. The controller card can easily keep up with them. I sometimes consider hard wiring the network but it would be a hard job in an old house.
 
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