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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is 99% a hardware question.
I am currently running Win 7 Pro 64 bit on an Asus Z97 Pro mobo with an i7-4790K CPU, and 32 GB RAM. My C: system drive is a Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB SSD. Plus an optical drive , two 3TB data drives , and two external 4TB backup storage drives.

I am very interested in what I have read concerning Win 8.1 "Storage Spaces" feature. It appears to be similar to RAID. I understand that there is no upper limit to the number of physical HDDs to be utilized within the Storage Spaces feature.

If I were to install Win 8.1 OS to gain the Storage Spaces feature; I have, in my main (1st tower) PC, four (other) 3TB SATA HDDs which I can re-purpose to use under the Storage Spaces feature.

I have no rack-mount capability. I am limited to my work space and tower PC cases. I strive to incorporate several low noise fans, etc per tower case. I have a closed loop CPU cooler on my i7-4790K.

I have on hand:
1. a spare Lian-Li tower designed to accommodate 12 to 16 3.5 in HDDs
2. a spare 750 watt PSU
3. six spare 3TB SATA HDDs (in addition to the four in my main tower case)

The big Q is How do I provide hardware-wise for installation of additional HDDs to periodically expand the volume of the Storage Spaces .

I briefly considered the eSATA Port Multiplier approach , but I learned this is impractical.

So, if I place the second tower case, with the six SATA HDDs, immediately adjacent to my main first tower case with its mobo, OS, and four re-purposed HDDs; what hardware do I need to connect everything ?
Of course I could easily relocate the four re-purposed HDDs from the first tower case into the second tower case along with the six additional HDDs.

How do I acquire SATA ports for the six to sixteen HDDs in the second tower case? What cabling is needed between the two tower cases? What hardware is needed in the first tower case for connectivity to the second tower case? All of this configuration intended to be utilized in the Storage Spaces feature.

Have Fun! :)
 

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I would advise against Storage Spaces unless there's some specific reason you need to run Windows on the new build. I'd looked at Storage Spaces myself in the past and IIRC it's not terribly flexible if you want to add drives of different sizes down the road. Also the way it does striping you wind up with less usable space than with other solutions. I put in 4x 4TB drives and setting it up for parity (RAID 5), Storage Spaces spit out 1 full TB less in usable space than when I set it up the same way in Flexraid instead. For an OS+RAID solution I would personally go with unRAID. It's a linux based OS but but if you're a Windows guy there's a great wiki and a very active and friendly support forum that can walk you through the setup. It's actually not that complicated once you start and the great thing about unRAID is that it's so light you can boot it off a thumb drive and leave all your SATA ports for data, parity or cache drives (plus the current version 6 in beta has tons of great features and server apps you can run on it, including support for virtualization). It's not free but even the Pro license which supports up to 25 drives doesn't cost any more than a Windows license and I guarantee it would be more reliable and better supported than Storage Spaces.

As for your hardware questions, you add SATA ports by adding a PCI-e SATA controller card (or cards). And there's no need to try to direct connect your 2 computers. What you're describing is a server. Just put it anywhere on your network and run it headless through a web UI.
 

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Christopher over at StableBit did a good writeup regarding Storage Spaces. Some of it compares SS to Drive Pool, but you'll get the idea.

Storage Spaces is a block based solution, much like (if not almost identical to) RAID.
Like RAID, the data is stored in a "raw" format, and read and written to in that style.

What does this mean? That the data is in a proprietary format, and may not be readable outside of the system (you should be able to migrate storage spaces to another system, but I've not tested this....).
Another issues, is that since is a software implementation, it relies much more on your hardware. You will want a good CPU (it does a lot of number crunching with a PARITY array), and that you will want to have good quality RAM (ideally ECC).

DrivePool is a file based solution. Meaning that the data is stored on the disks as normal files. Accessible any time.
Also, you should see native disk speeds when accessing the files (or potentially faster with duplication enabled, and Read Striping).

The biggest difference here is when it comes to disaster recovery and/or migrating away from the pool.
With Storage Spaces... there are a couple of companies (and only a couple) that boast the ability to restore data from Storage Spaces. And their software is $$$$. With DrivePool, ANY recovery software that is capable of accessing NTFS can be used to restore the data.

As for migrating away from the pools... with DrivePool, you can just uninstall it and then move around your files as needed. With Storage Spaces... it's a CF. THat's the nicest way I can describe it. But basically, you need to have enough space to empty the Storage Spaces volume.... You may be able to remove some of the disks, so you can play "musical chairs" with the disks... but chances are that you may not be able to....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys, I appreciate your solid advice.
I will look into each of your suggestions.

So Storage Spaces is not the magic bullet which would provide us all with unlimited clean water and cold fusion. Too Bad, So Sad. Sigh....
 
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