The invention and use of RAID (redundant array of independent disks) can be traced back to the era when larger hard drives were too expensive. Back then, it was very much profitable to use a bunch of hard drives to form an array of smaller disks, known as RAID. It stands for a redundant array of inexpensive disks.
Even today, when storage drives are very cheap, RAID is being used for multiple purposes. So, if you have a few hard drives lying around and wondering how to RAID with different-size drivers, we’ve got the answer for you. You can use different sizes of drivers to RAID, however, you’ll only get the storage capacity of the most small-sized driver.
Read on to find out how to set up RAID with different-size drivers and what’s the alternate way to use your driver’s full storage capacity.
Setting Up RAID With Different Size Drivers
Connect both hard drives to your computer, that you want to use for RAID. You need to decide upon what configuration you want to use for RAID. While
RAID 0 gives you the benefit of speed by simultaneous data read and write, it misses out on data security.
RAID 1 gives you data security in exchange for speed. Both RAID 0 and RAID 1 requires two hard drives. RAID 5 on the other hand, requires five or more hard drives. But it solves the problem of RAID 0 and RAID 1 because it offers both speed and data security.
How to Set Up RAID in Windows 10
When you’ve decided upon which RAID array you want to use, you can start with the configuration process on your Windows PC.
- First install the required number of hard drives for your selected RAID array.
- Type “Storage Spaces” in the search bar and choose the option to create a new pool and storage space. Windows will automatically scan and detect all drives.
- Navigate to the Fault Tolerance section and choose the desired RAID type.
- Adjust the disk size in the Size section if needed, or leave it as the default setting.
- Click on the Create storage space option and wait for the process to finish. Once completed, you will have a single drive in Windows Explorer with the appropriate size.
- To monitor the array for any future issues or error reports, search for “Manage Storage Spaces” in the Windows Search box.
Note: When using RAID, you can use different size drivers, but not the full potential of all the drivers. So, if for example, you are using one hard drive with one terabyte of storage and one with two terabytes, you’ll only get the lowest hard drive’s space. So, combine those two, you’ll get two terabytes of RAID storage.
Alternative Ways to Use RAID With Different Size Drivers
We’ve already covered that you’ll lose out on a lot of disk space when using different size drivers to RAID.
1. Combine Multiple Drivers with Different Size
To remedy this situation, you can use alternatives like combining all your hard drives into one big volume. This way, you’ll be able to use the full potential of all the drivers. Here’s how you do it.
- Press the Windows key + X keyboard shortcut to access the Power User menu, and then choose Disk Management.
- Right-click on the volume of the hard drive and select the option to Delete the volume.
- Confirm the deletion by clicking Yes, which will remove the current volume and all its contents.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each hard drive you wish to combine.
- Right-click on the unallocated space of the drive and select either New Striped Volume or New Spanned Volume.
- Proceed by clicking Next.
- Select the additional disks one by one and click Add.
- Click Next.
- Keep the default drive letter assignment and click Next.
- Ensure that the file system is set to NTFS, the allocation unit size is set to the default value, and choose a volume label.
Now perform a quick format and you are all good to go.
2. Use Software RAID
Another method to use different size drivers for RAID is to resort to using software RAID. Sadly though, this isn’t available in Windows 10 or Windows 8. So, to use software RAID, you must resort to Windows 7 or an earlier version like Windows XP or Vista. Here’s how to set up software RAID.
- Right-click on the Computer icon in the Start Menu and choose Manage.
- At the bottom of the right-hand tree, click on Disk Management located under the Storage section.
- To perform actions that affect the entire disk, right-click on the large drive symbol located on the left side (such as extend, stripe, mirror, or RAID 5). The available features will depend on your version of Windows and the compatibility with your disk configuration. In some cases, a wizard will appear to guide you through the process. Simply follow the instructions provided. If the disk is not dynamic, it will be automatically converted.
- If you have a dynamic disk, right-click on a specific volume, and you will see the option to mirror that volume. Please note that this option is available in Windows 7 Professional/Ultimate, Windows 2000 Professional, and Windows Server operating systems only.
Note that depending on your current amount of data, syncing RAID can take a lot of time and you’ll see a noticeable performance drop during that time.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Can you do RAID 5 with 4 drives?
Yes, with a RAID 5 array, you can use 3 to 16 drivers. But, even though three is the minimum of drivers you can use in a RAID 5 setup, four is the ideal number for fault tolerance and speed.
Can you mix 10K and 15k drives in RAID?
Yes, just like different size driers, you can mix different speed drivers in RAID. However, just like storage space, you will get the minimum speed available. So, if you mix 10K and 15K drivers in a RAID array, you’ll only get a maximum speed of 10K.
Do all drives have to be the same for RAID 5?
No, as explained earlier, all drivers don’t have to be the same size in RAID 5. However, for maximum efficiency and compatibility, it is required to use the same size and model when choosing hard drives for RAID.
There are other alternatives like ZFS to RAID different-size drivers without any storage loss or compatibility issues. however, that requires using the ZFS Aware OS in a virtual machine, which can be a bit of a hassle for many users. For a hassle-free experience, your best bet would be combining all your drivers into one big drive.
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