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Storage Spaces doesn't do automatic balancing

    General discussion

  • I'm hearing different stories about how Storage Spaces works, and I'm having a hard time deciding whether or not I should use it.

    Some people are saying that it simply doesn't do any automatic rebalancing -- which renders it quite useless.

    Anyone know how/when balancing works?


    the cows are here to take me home now...



    • Changed type Rei Miyasaka Wednesday, September 26, 2012 6:06 PM We know the answer to the question now, and we would like to continue to provide feedback.
    • Edited by Rei Miyasaka Wednesday, September 26, 2012 6:07 PM
    Monday, September 03, 2012 5:18 AM

All replies

  • Here is a blog note how it works:
    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/05/virtualizing-storage-for-scale-resiliency-and-efficiency.aspx
    Hope that helps you

    Keep trying

    That article doesn't mention rebalancing.

    the cows are here to take me home now...

    Monday, September 03, 2012 6:57 AM
  • Hi,

    Please check if the following article is helpful.

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/11382.storage-spaces-frequently-asked-questions-faq.aspx


    Niki Han

    TechNet Community Support

    Wednesday, September 05, 2012 7:40 AM
  • Hi,

    Please check if the following article is helpful.

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/11382.storage-spaces-frequently-asked-questions-faq.aspx


    Niki Han

    TechNet Community Support

    Neither does that one. It mentions reconstruction after failure; not automatic balancing, for example, when you add drives.


    the cows are here to take me home now...

    Wednesday, September 05, 2012 8:52 AM
  • Hi ,

    If the redundancy type is Parity, data and parity information are striped across physical disks.  This provides increased reliability, but reduces capacity by 13 to 33 percent.

    Thanks.


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012 1:51 PM
  • It simply seems that the Parity option does not rebalance.
    Tuesday, September 11, 2012 2:19 PM
  • Hi ,

    I did a test in my lab (Windows 8 RTM). I added four disks (4*7G) and then created a storage pool use 3 disks.(3*7G). I copied data to the virtual disk untill I got there is no enough space. I then added the forth disk, enlarge the pool space and I can continue to copy the data.

    What's your main purpose of this? Thanks.  


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    Wednesday, September 12, 2012 11:52 AM
  • I can't confirm that. I started using storage spaces by filling up 2 x 2TB drives with less important data on a space without resiliency. I then added another 2TB drive and created a small (300 GB) space with 2-way-mirroring, which is not usable because it does not seem to be able to rebalance the other data across all drives. I would have never thought to run into such a problem, because rebalancing seems kind of essential for a product like storage spaces ...

    By the way: this is on RTM


    Thursday, September 13, 2012 2:27 AM
  • Storage Spaces simply doews not rebalance like Drive Extender in WHSv1 does. This makes it unusable as a long term storage space where you want to expand the storage space every now and then, bit by bit, while also retiring drives now and then.

    Simple test: Insert 2x1TB disks, create a Two-Way Mirror storage space and pool. Fill it up with 1TB of data so it's full. Now add 1x1TB drive, there should now be a total of 1,5TB of data available. But you cannot, even after days of waiting, copy a single file to the pool because the storage space is not rebalancing data between the 3 drives. You must add 2 disks. And if those disks are different sizes, say 1TB and 2TB, you only get a total of 1TB extra space, not 1,5TB as in WHSv1. With time, with extending the space with various sized disks, you will lose a lot of disk space from the lack of rebalancing.

    With Parity spaces, which would be superb if it rebalanced, it's now a nightmare. If you create a 5 disk Parity space, so it gets a 5 column parity, and then fill it up you must then add 5 new drives before you can copy a single file to the space again.

    I did extensive tests using Parity space and two-way mirror spaces in this thread, showing how the lack of rebalancing makes Storage Spaces a dud for long term storage:

    Ars Technica
    • Edited by RealPjotr Thursday, September 13, 2012 7:38 AM
    Thursday, September 13, 2012 7:34 AM
  • This reminds me of the time when Windows 7 backup was so incredibly slow that it took over 24 hours to do 500GB of backups.

    Microsoft kept playing dumb and denying the problem on the forums until hundreds of complaints and a full year later, they finally released a hotfix.

    In other words, it's time to start complaining.


    the cows are here to take me home now...



    • Edited by Rei Miyasaka Thursday, September 13, 2012 7:16 PM
    Thursday, September 13, 2012 7:16 PM
  • Aaron, can you please see to it that this is investigated and/or acknowledged sometime soon?

    Storage Spaces was my favorite new feature for Windows 8 desktop, and within a few months people will begin to realize that it's critically flawed for the long-term.

    I believe I speak for many.


    the cows are here to take me home now...


    Monday, September 17, 2012 4:08 AM
  • Hi Rei,

    Thanks for your reply. I would like to explain more about how space gets added to pre-existing storage spaces.

    Example...

    Create a pool with 3 disks and then carve out a virtual disk/storage space that uses all the disks...say a simple volume.

    What you end up getting is a virtual disk with 3 columns.  If you want to add more space to this virtual disk, you must add in a number of disks equal to or greater than the number of columns.  So in our example, I'd need to add in 3 more disks before I could extend the size of my virtual disk.  This is because we do not change the stripe, we simply add space to each column....and to do that correctly, we need to have an additional disk at the bottom of each column.

    This gets more complicated with mirror sets. 

    Example....

    Create a pools with 4 disks and then carve out a virtual disk/storage space that uses all the disks....this time a 2-way mirror.

    What you get from this is two data copies.  Each data copy has 2 columns within it.  To be able to extend this virtual disk, you need to supply physical disks equal to or greater than the number of data copies times the number of columns....or 4.  Once you add in 4 physical disks, you can extend the virtual disk.  Again, we need that number of disks to be able to put an additional physical disk at the bottom of each column.

    Use the following formula when you want to add disks to a pre-existing storage space...

    physical disks = 'number of data copies' X 'number of columns'

    Then you will always know how many physical disks you need to supply to extend a virtual disk/storage space.

    If this doesn’t help, please detail the test you did and let me know your expectation. Thanks.  

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    Tuesday, September 25, 2012 3:26 AM
  • Hi there,

    this behaviour seems reasonable from a technical point of view maybe, but in the real world it's not easy to understand or to use. I do understand how it works at the moment, but it really has it's downsides and could be really really better.

    I had the idea that it is similar to the WHS way of managing spaces but that, sadly, is not the case.

    What are my expectations - I have the following setup at the moment.

    As you can see there are lots of drives and lots of storage spaces. I added a 3TB drive recently because there was no space available anymore in the pool. So I guessed that this space could now be used by the all spaces, but that does not seem to be the case. I got warning messages, although I have about 2.6 TB capacity left and all the data could be balanced across all devices. But unfortunately that's just a could and storage spaces simply doesn't do it. It doesn't rebalance and thus I would have to copy all my data offside, destroy the pool, recreate all storage spaces and copy it on again? Actually I have no idea how to resolve this situation at the moment.

    Second expectation. I have two USB drives and I wanted to move all my drives inside the case. But unfortunately I cant do that either because there is no way to remove a drive from a pool. There is theoretically but only if you only use resiliency space. I use simple ones as well and thus Storage Spaces isn't able to remove the data of the drive so I can remove it. I was able to retire it, using PowerShell,  so that no new data comes aboard but I wasn't able yet to really clean it.

    So that would be my two expectations.
    One: I want to be able to add drives and actually use the space - would be solved by rebalancing.
    Two: I want to be able to remove drives when I want - would be solved by rebalancing

    So yeah please work on this so we can really use it. It really is a great way of storing lots of data but it suffers deeply under this.

    PS: Also please allow to Change resiliency type :)


    • Edited by shr1ppen Tuesday, September 25, 2012 6:13 PM
    Tuesday, September 25, 2012 6:12 PM
  • Hi Rei,

    Thanks for your reply. I would like to explain more about how space gets added to pre-existing storage spaces.

    Example...

    Create a pool with 3 disks and then carve out a virtual disk/storage space that uses all the disks...say a simple volume.

    What you end up getting is a virtual disk with 3 columns.  If you want to add more space to this virtual disk, you must add in a number of disks equal to or greater than the number of columns.  So in our example, I'd need to add in 3 more disks before I could extend the size of my virtual disk.  This is because we do not change the stripe, we simply add space to each column....and to do that correctly, we need to have an additional disk at the bottom of each column.

    This gets more complicated with mirror sets. 

    Example....

    Create a pools with 4 disks and then carve out a virtual disk/storage space that uses all the disks....this time a 2-way mirror.

    What you get from this is two data copies.  Each data copy has 2 columns within it.  To be able to extend this virtual disk, you need to supply physical disks equal to or greater than the number of data copies times the number of columns....or 4.  Once you add in 4 physical disks, you can extend the virtual disk.  Again, we need that number of disks to be able to put an additional physical disk at the bottom of each column.

    Use the following formula when you want to add disks to a pre-existing storage space...

    physical disks = 'number of data copies' X 'number of columns'

    Then you will always know how many physical disks you need to supply to extend a virtual disk/storage space.

    I don't know how to say this without being rude -- but I get the feeling that this kind of response is standard procedure: every time there's a problem that's difficult to fix, you guys just play dumb and continue parroting a non-solution that has almost nothing to do with the actual problem.

    It was like this when Messenger's Facebook integration thought two of my friends both named Andrea Kim were the same person, and the Live team kept (supposedly) failing to understand the problem despite plenty of screenshots and half a dozen explanations.

    It was like this with Windows 7 backups being uselessly slow, and it took a full year of complaining before they even acknowledged that the problem existed; meanwhile instead making up some random stories about large drives.

    It was like this with the WPF team, when they refused to even admit for a full 3 years that the text rendering in WPF often bordered on illegible despite it being pointed out very plainly dozens if not hundreds of times on the forums and by developers everywhere:

    And now you just keep telling me how to use Storage Spaces when I already know how, because you refuse to admit to a critical shortcoming.

    If this doesn’t help, please detail the test you did and let me know your expectation. Thanks.  

    @Lukas and @shr1ppen have already shared screenshots describing the situation, and in my first post, I linked to experiments done by @Pjotr demonstrating the lack of balancing. I don't know what more you need.


    the cows are here to take me home now...



    • Edited by Rei Miyasaka Tuesday, September 25, 2012 7:19 PM
    Tuesday, September 25, 2012 7:14 PM
  • Hi Rei,

    Thanks for your email. I understood you want to improve the storage space. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions. If you have any sugesstion about windows product, please visit the following link and show your idea. 

    Microsoft Products Accepting Bugs and Suggestions | Microsoft Connect

    http://connect.microsoft.com/

    Thanks a lot. 


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012 10:37 AM
  • Aaron,

    Sorry for ranting... but:

    When DE was removed from WHS2011 beta, there was a thread on Microsoft Connect where Microsoft asked users to post good reasons and explanations for why DE is a feature that would be needed and Microsoft would look into it, apparently it was informed very high at Microsoft. The thread got over 5000 posts, a vast majority very informative and full of facts and user cases explaning why people need the DE functionality. To my huge disappointment, suddenly one day, before WHS2011 launch, the whole thread was DELETED!

    So excuse me for not adding further wishes to Microsoft forums, I have given up on your products already, I think it is this lack of adopting features that power users recommend for the benefit of all that cause you to lose ground in the IT industry. You've lost a huge opportunity to take over the home central storage of a modern home by moving WHS backwards. I am an avid used of WHSv1, I have talked over 10 other people to use WHSv1 over the years, I was expecting Microsoft to build this into the media and data server of every home. Seeing Storage Spaces in Windows 8 gave me a bit of hope for the return of DE at least, but without rebalancing 2-Way Mirror and Parity storage spaces, it's just not good enough for simple "dumb" use over time. Your ordinary non-power user will hit the wall as soon as they add a single drive and they will be disappointed (as explained by shr1ppen above.

    If you can't direct your superiors or whoever has influence at Microsoft to this thread and the thread I linked to above (Ars Technica), I'm afraid you will launch yet another product/feature that will lose traction fast and affirm the view that Microsoft is an aging company unable to listen to the real world.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012 10:57 AM
  • The conclusion of this thread is that storage spaces is currently useless for everyone.
    If you ask me...

    1. no re-balancing
    2. super bad write performance in parity mode
    3. wasted space with mirroring
    4. all data lost on drive failure in simple mode

    and all i wanted was a simple storage pooling feature...


    • Edited by Mindsplit Wednesday, September 26, 2012 2:44 PM
    Wednesday, September 26, 2012 2:43 PM
  • If you have any sugesstion about windows product, please visit the following link and show your idea. 

    Microsoft Products Accepting Bugs and Suggestions | Microsoft Connect

    http://connect.microsoft.com/

    Thanks a lot. 

    You do it. This is your company and your product. There's more than enough information here to show to your peers.

    You know that Connect is primarily for developers, don't you? There's no Connect for Windows 8 or 7.

    Unbelievably irresponsible. Simply unbelievable.


    the cows are here to take me home now...


    • Edited by Rei Miyasaka Wednesday, September 26, 2012 6:09 PM
    Wednesday, September 26, 2012 6:05 PM
  • Hi Rei,

    Thanks for your feedback. I will try to provide your feedback to our production team. We appreicate your effort. Thanks. 


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Thursday, September 27, 2012 11:52 AM
  • I just upgraded from WHS v1 to Win8, thinking that Storage Spaces would provide me with a DE alternative for pooled storage.. but unfortunately, I've hit same problems pointed out in this thread.. Without rebalancing, I have lots of spare space, but it cannot be filled... Such a disappointment. Now I have to backpedal and find another solution quick, since my data is all in a transient state, and I need to make sure it's not lost.
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 11:04 AM
  • Same here, just set up an eval WS2010 Essentials as a possible replacement for DriveBender (which in turn is a replacement for WHS v1 DE).

    I'm actually a bit shocked that the Windows storage team could make such design blunders. Without the flexibility of balancing, removing drives, and efficiently handling drives of different size, there is little or no point with Storage Spaces. Dynamic disc volume spanning is actually pretty close in functionality.

    The whole point with storage pool is to mix disks in a cost-effective way. If I didn't have a budget constraint I could just build a high end hardware RAID array.

    You guys need to:

    • Accept that there is a design problem;
    • Publicly admit that the current design has shortcomings;
    • Go back to the drawing board and redesign;
    • Make a new release of Storage Spaces ASAP, that eliminates the shortcomings of the current one.

    For a feature spec, just look at Drive Bender.

    Thursday, December 27, 2012 12:19 AM
  • For a feature spec, just look at Drive Bender.

    Look at WHS V1 for keeping the data readable on each HD in the pool by Windows Explorer in NTFS... at least that is an excellent way to recover by most anyone... with the exception of the failed HD in the pool.

    My biggest issue I found with my 3-way mirror... a HD failed... once replaced there was no "data balancing", so I had to copy off all my data from the pool, delete all the data on the pool, then copy back the data onto the pool to balance everything again.

    Also, using the typical MB setup with 6 SATA ports in a 3-way mirror uses all the ports counting the W8 OS HD + 5 HD for mirror...

    The storage pool did not want to release the failed HD without the recovery HD online, but all the SATA ports were taken. There was no software only solution... I had to power off the computer, pull the failed HD, then go back to delete that HD before adding the new HD... it seems I should have been able to do all the configuring & marking in software before power off to not have to force an opening by shutdown for the new HD to get an open slot... maybe could have done a hot swap online too.

    That process did confuse me to get the HD replaced... lots of MBs w/6 SATA ports all used-up for 3-way mirror... I just did not find it an easy solution to resolve the issue.

    Maybe the mirror would have allowed me to connect by USB the hot spare, delete the failed HD in SS, then power down, and then put the new HD back into the SATA slot... and maybe it might have worked???

    Any ideas or results or suggestions??? Thanks. :)


    • Edited by Wandrider Friday, February 22, 2013 4:19 AM correct wording
    Friday, February 22, 2013 4:15 AM
  • Without rebalancing this product is almost useless for mismatched drive sizes and expanding the initial pool.

    Does slab consolidation not address this?

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-8/optimize-hard-drive#1TC=t1

    Thursday, July 18, 2013 3:58 PM