As a system administrator, you’ll often be tasked with adding or removing storage space from a server or workstation. In this video, you’ll learn about Windows Disk Manager and how to increase or decrease available drive space in the Windows operating system.
If you need to manage anything related to your disks or your volumes in Windows, then you need to use the Disk Management utility. One of the easiest ways to start this utility is inside of Computer Management. You can choose Storage and Disk Management. One important consideration when using the Disk Management tool, some of the tasks that you can perform inside of Disk Management will delete your data and it will be unrecoverable. So make sure you know exactly what you’re doing when you make any changes inside of the Disk Management utility.
Inside of Disk Management, every drive is assigned a disk status. For example, a drive will show a volume name, a drive letter if one is assigned, the size of the drive, the type of file system on the drive, and then the status. The status of this particular drive is Healthy. That means that this volume is working normally and exactly as expected.
It might say Heavy and show At Risk, which means that this drive is currently operating, but it has experienced input and output errors. And it’s possible that this drive could be failing. If this is a new drive and you’re in the process of initializing this drive, you’ll see the disk status message Initializing, which is perfectly normal when working with those new drives.
If the drive cannot be started, you could have a bad drive or a bad file system. You’ll see a disk status that says Failed. If you have a RAID 1 or a RAID 5 array inside of your computer and one of those disks has failed, the disk status will show that you have a failed redundancy. At that point, you’ll need to reboot the bad drive and replace it with a known good drive.
If this is a RAID 1 or a mirrored array, that means that you’ll now have a brand new drive. And all of that information will need to be copied from one drive to the other. This is called resynching. So if you are running RAID 1 and you’ve just replaced the drive, the disk status will show you that there is a resynching process occurring.
With RAID 5, we have to rebuild data. We’re not simply copying data to the new drive. So with RAID 5, the disk status will show that it is regenerating or recreating the data based on the parity that was missing in that missing drive.
With storage space, especially storage space that’s on a server, you never have enough free space. You’re always going to be running out of available drive space on that device. There are some ways that you can extend the size of some of the space that’s on that drive.
One of them is to mount a drive. This allows you to extend the space. But instead of it looking like a completely separate drive that you’ve installed, you create a new set of storage that looks like a folder that’s in the existing drive structure.
This is seamless to the user. They don’t even realize that it’s a new drive that’s been added to the system. And this provides an instant way to increase the amount of storage space on that device.
We’re looking at a server that’s used by the accounting department. And they’ve created a series of folders within their accounting storage area for Quarter 1, Quarter 2, Quarter 3, and Quarter 4. Well, now we’ve come to the end of the year and they need additional drive space available.
Instead of creating a separate drive and creating a separate share from that drive, we’re simply going to mount a new folder inside of this drive that’s pointing to an extra 120-gig SSD that we found. Inside of the Disk Management, you can see that we already have installed that 120-gig drive. It’s not been assigned a drive letter, so we’re going to right mouse click, Change Drive Letter and Paths, and choose Add.
Instead of selecting “Assign the following drive letter,” and assigning a separate drive letter to that, we’re going to mount this in an empty NTFS folder. In this particular case, I’ll choose Browse. We’ll choose the C drive. I want to put this in my Users/Professor folder. I have some documents accounting. And you can see the Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 folders are under that.
I want to create a new folder for Year End and click OK. That’s exactly where I’d like that drive to be. We’ll click OK. And it will now assign that or mount that drive into a separate folder inside of that directory called Year End. And now I have 120 extra gig of drive space that they can use to finish all of their year-end reports.
You may run into a situation where you need additional drive space used for something different than what you originally planned. For example, we may have decided that the accounting department really only needs 60 gigabytes of disk space, which means we can use the other 60 for some other purpose.
If we right mouse click on that 120-gig volume, we have the option to shrink that volume. And it specifies the total size before shrink, which is 122,862 megabytes and the size of the available that we have. Since no data has been written to this drive, most of the drive is available for us to be able to shrink.
We’re going to have to specify the space in megabytes. In this particular case, we’ll choose 60,000 to specify that 60 gigabytes, which leaves 62,862 afterwards and we click the Shrink button. At that point now, we have two separate volumes that have been created– one that is our existing volume for the year-end information for accounting. And now we have an additional 60 gig that we could use for other purposes.
Of course, you may have to extend that volume later to fit more information in, so you can always right mouse click, extend the volume, and then we’re going to specify that extra 60,000 on that unallocated drive. And we’re going to add, let’s say, an additional 20,000 or 20 gigabytes to that to make that drive just a little bit bigger for the folks in the accounting department.
In some editions of Windows, you’re able to create a mirrored or a striped set of volumes that you could use for redundancy. Let’s create a mirrored 120-gig volume for the accounting department. We’ve installed now a separate 120-gig drive. And if we right mouse click on one of those, we could choose New Mirrored Volume.
The New Mirrored Volume Wizard says that this will help us create this volume. So we’ll click Next. And we see that we have two disks– the one that we have selected plus the other that is available. We’ll choose that one, since that’s the only other choice that we have available to create a mirror. Both of these drives are exactly the same size. And we’ll click Next.
At this point, we can assign either a drive letter or we could mount that particular volume in an NTFS folder. In this case, let’s choose drive letter E and click Next. This will now format the volume with NTFS. It’ll be called New Volume. And in this case, we’ll choose “Perform a quick format,” and then we’ll click Next. The new Mirrored volume Wizard gives us a description of what our settings are. And we’ll click Finish.
Disk Management now says that this operation will convert the selected basic disks to dynamic disks. If you convert the disks to dynamic, you will not be able to start installed operating systems from any volume on the disks except the current boot volume. Are you sure you want to continue? In our case, these are simple data volumes. We will not be booting any operating systems, so we’ll choose “Yes.”
Once Windows finishes the format, we now have a new volume, drive E. That new drive E is a 120-gig drive to the end users. But for us, we know that these are actually two separate drives that contain redundant information that is being mirrored by the operating system.
If you want to take this idea of adding or removing storage to the next level, you may want to look at a Windows feature called Storage Spaces. This is primarily designed for cloud-based systems or data centers so that they can easily add or remove storage space. This also adds a lot of flexibility with the management of this space. You have different tiers of space that you can make available and different types of administrative control that you can assign to those particular spaces.
The first thing that’s created for storage space is a storage pool. This is a group of storage devices that you’ve put together. You can combine many different types of drives with different sizes to create one large pool of storage, and then you can add or remove different drives from that pool as needed.
Now that you’ve created a pool of storage, you can now start creating spaces from that storage. And you can allocate virtual disks from the available space that you have in that pool. You can specify that these are standalone virtual disks. They could also be mirrored virtual disks or striped virtual disks.
You can also build hot spares into these virtual drive arrays. So if you happen to have a mirrored array that loses a drive, the hot spare is immediately available to act as a replacement drive. You can immediately resynchronize that data and maintain the redundancy.