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Windows 8 - Storage Spaces

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Just saw this article on the Building Windows 8 Development Blog:

 

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/05/virtualizing-storage-for-scale-resiliency-and-efficiency.aspx

 

This sounds very interesting and could potentially have me moving away from unRAID.  Not that I am unhappy with unRAID - quite the opposite - but the read/write speeds get to me at times.

 

There are a couple of features I don't like how they are implementing:

1.  Thin Provisioning - I like the concept and use it all of the time at work and home; however explaining this concept to a normal person is going to be a challenge.

2.  Mirrored Protection - Can spread a folder across several drives.  If you lose enough disks, you could lose certain files in a folder and make it very difficult to tell what files are missing/lost.

3.  Power Savings - Parity protection appears to stripe across all disks, which will be a problem for those of us looking for maximum power savings - like unRAID gives us.

 

Otherwise, this looks like something to check out.  As mainly a Windows user, I am very interested.

 

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Yea, I'm definitely going to take Windows up on this. Different size drives, parity, can remove/replace, support for larger size drives, and there is no max amount of drives you can use. I'm not against unraid at all, but if Windows 8 actually comes out before unraid support 3TB drives on a stable platform then it is a no choice situation. And I'm sure the write speeds will be on par with an optimized RAID, which is a huge plus. Trust me, the last thing I want to do is worry about another entire OS running, having to keep updating it, maint, security and all that. Not something I would like. But imagine installing Crashplan easily on it and selecting drive F: which is a 20TB pool and looks like one big drive to anyone using the system. Hahahhah. Sounds good to me.

 

 

 

 

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The two main drawbacks highlighted in that article with regards to 'competition' with unraid are :

 

- striped data no matter if using mirroring or parity. I doubt it will tolerate multiple disk failures (without also increasing the space used by parity / mirroring) as unraid does as the data on drives will not just be in a 'standard' filesystem so losing unraids 'you only lose data on the drives that actually failed' advantage.

 

- Because of the above I doubt it will spin individual drives down.

 

- Similarly you can't just put one of the drives into another system for recovery, you'd have to move the entire array / stripe over.

 

However, early days and that article was necessarily light on the nitty gritty so one to watch with *great* interest I suspect!

 

Nice to see Microsoft focusing on storage improvements, I suspect we might see more features fall out of this as time goes on. It will also be interesting to see what the framework looks like for third party bolt ons (if at all) and what that might bring....

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one of the things i am looking out for is this

 

http://www.geek.com/articles/news/windows-8-cloud-powered-roaming-user-profiles-revealed-20110427/

 

cloud stored profile...

which means your profile would go with you on every computer... no more messing with settings on each computer

if now my programs would go with me to each computer that would be fabulous :P

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- striped data no matter if using mirroring or parity. I doubt it will tolerate multiple disk failures (without also increasing the space used by parity / mirroring) as unraid does as the data on drives will not just be in a 'standard' filesystem so losing unraids 'you only lose data on the drives that actually failed' advantage.

 

- Because of the above I doubt it will spin individual drives down.

 

- Similarly you can't just put one of the drives into another system for recovery, you'd have to move the entire array / stripe over.

 

I agree with these, but I think they are things I can live with.  The standard file system of unRAID is awesome though.... hmmm.

 

If you read the article closely, it looks like upon a failed drive, the system will move your data around to other drives if space is available and recreate parity.  This sounds just like Drobo to me, but I sure hope it is executed better.

 

I love unRAID and it has saved my bacon more than a few times over the last 4 years, but I really need to take a close look at this solution.

 

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Your drobo comment above is exactly what I was thinking when I first looked at this.  It is exactly what it reminded me of.

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It sure looks interesting but my unRAID box is safe. I'm not putting hard drives in my living room where my HTPC/PC lives. I put a bunch of effort into making that thing small and fairly silent and it's staying that way.

 

My first thought was that it'll just propogate into having more people running groups of USB drives and cheap external drive boxes leading to drive issues that wouldn't happen with a properly built server. Also, I'm pretty sure my unRAID box would use less power than a PC with 8 external USB HDD's hanging off it.

 

Peter

 

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It sure looks interesting but my unRAID box is safe. I'm not putting hard drives in my living room where my HTPC/PC lives. I put a bunch of effort into making that thing small and fairly silent and it's staying that way.

 

My first thought was that it'll just propogate into having more people running groups of USB drives and cheap external drive boxes leading to drive issues that wouldn't happen with a properly built server. Also, I'm pretty sure my unRAID box would use less power than a PC with 8 external USB HDD's hanging off it.

 

Peter

 

 

Agreed

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There's no requirement to use USB drives. It's just a convenient example. I think the unRAID is safer because it does not stripe data. Losing 2 disks does not loose the entire array. I need to run the probability numbers to determine the difference.

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Windows 8 is expected to arrive around October of this year. If unRAID has 3TB support in a stable version before then, of course I'll stick with unRAID. If there is no 3TB drive support then I'll switch over to Windows 8.  I'm a subscriber to Technet, so I can try it out now if I want to I believe.

 

 

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There are a few features that are making me rethink unRaid.

 

UnRaid 4.7 has been a rock solid platform for me for the last 2 years.

 

Win8+Spaces claimed benifits:

 

SMB2.2:

While not strictly a "Storage Spaces" feature, Windows8 will have an SMB2.2 stack that is vastly improved.

see: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/hh457617.aspx

This demonstrates 4300MB/Sec from a 12 disc SSD array (wow)

 

Notification:

No doubt that you will be able to set up an "Event Drive" task within task scheduler. To email you when a drive fails

 

Emergency repair:

While a disc has failed, storage spaces will reshuffle your data to keep you protected from a second failure...

 

When a pool disk fails, Storage Spaces identifies the impacted slabs for all spaces utilizing the failed disk, and reallocates them to any available hot-spare disk or to any other suitable disk within the pool (hot-spares are reserved disks within the pool, only to be used as automatic replacements for failed disks). This self-healing is done automatically and transparently so as to minimize the need for manual intervention. We’ve also optimized for speed to prevent data loss from multiple hardware failures at the same time

 

3Tb Drive Support:

Great news for those who want the biggest array for the least # of sata ports

 

These are all killer features for me...

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SMB2.2:

While not strictly a "Storage Spaces" feature, Windows8 will have an SMB2.2 stack that is vastly improved.

see: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/hh457617.aspx

This demonstrates 4300MB/Sec from a 12 disc SSD array (wow)

latest unRAID beta contains SMB 2 and it will be updated to on par with the Windows version

 

Notification:

No doubt that you will be able to set up an "Event Drive" task within task scheduler. To email you when a drive fails

Not possible in unRAID as of yet, but then again we don't know if it will be in Windows 8 either.

 

Emergency repair:

While a disc has failed, storage spaces will reshuffle your data to keep you protected from a second failure...

This is very much drobo-esc.  I understand the appeal of this... but it is less needed and may not even be wanted in something like unRAID. unRAID is JBOD with parity and moving data after a drive failure could lead to possibly more data lose (another drive fails while moving data).  So far as I am concerned I want it left alone until I can physically touch the machine and figure out what might be going on.

 

3Tb Drive Support:

Great news for those who want the biggest array for the least # of sata ports

beta unRAID supports this and 5.0 final will support this.

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Isn't this W8 feature just mirroring data? So to protect a 4TB drive, you need another 4TB drive? That doesn't seem so clever, and is far more expensive than unRAID parity.

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Isn't this W8 feature just mirroring data? So to protect a 4TB drive, you need another 4TB drive? That doesn't seem so clever, and is far more expensive than unRAID parity.

 

This is what ive been wondering as well.

will i just lose 2tb in an array of 2tb discs or is this not like unraid at all and thus far more expensive ?

 

because i did read somewhere it can handle losing 2 drives even so this confuses me even more.

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Probably best to look over the entire article:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/05/virtualizing-storage-for-scale-resiliency-and-efficiency.aspx

 

No this is not just simple mirroring.

 

Options:

Mirroring

Triple Mirror

Parity Protected

Hot Spare

 

The Parity Protected bit is a bit smarter than unRaid, whereby each drive is split into 256meg chunks.

 

Each chunk needs to have parity or mirror somewhere, just not on the same disc.

 

This overcomes the issues of Parity or Mirror data being located on just one alternate disc.

 

EG: 6x2tb drives

 

Mirror = 6tb of usable space

Triple Mirror = 4tb of usable space

Parity = 10tb of usable space

Parity + hotspare = 8tb of usable space

 

 

@prostuff1

SMB2.2 is WAAAAAY better than SMB2, I imagine that it will take some time before the Linux world catches up and implements 2.2 as most of the features are aimed at the Enterprise, in particular storage for HyperV and SQL.

 

SMB1 and SMB2 already work well in a switched 1Gb (home) network. The overheads are outwieghed by the simplicity and functionality of Windows boxes

 

Home users will not care about SMB2.2

 

Power Users / Home Test Labs / Infrastructure Tests will care about SMB2.2 as it will allow the storage and VM Host jobs to be separated into a configuration that matches business use.

 

 

Dont get me wrong, I love unRaid, it is doing a great job.

 

Storage Spaces is appealing because I can do much more with TWO Windows servers

1 x VM Host (many cores and ram)

1 x Storage box (many SATA connections and disc)

 

With this I can emulate a business environment and spin up 10's of VMs without any issues.

 

 

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We all have our little hot buttons and wants, but I have to say one of the biggest advantages to me of unRAID is its simplicity. If I want to pull a drive and put in another machine, I can do so and recover ALL the data on that drive by simply mounting it.  No striped parity scheme can pull that off.  I don't understand the want of huge write speeds, but then again, I use my server as an archive, not a working file server with living documents.  But by design, striping has always been a faster way to write parity.  And the 3TB arguments are so tired.

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I am really excited to try this. First off, on the data that gets written to a lot, I can created a Storage Space that is protected via data mirroring (and even use three copies) and then I can create another Storage Space for my movies and such that is protected using parity and therefore has better efficency. Then I can have a 'hot spare" for the whole physical pool.

 

I also like that fact that on this Win8 box, I could run DHCP, DNS, FTP, IIS, and other things quite easily, and like someone mentioned, setting up Crashplan would probably be easier. I could consolidate.

 

I am though hesitent in one respect - having worked with Windows 2003 Storage server, I see some similarities here and that one was VERY prone to disk failures and the algorithms used to rebuild data seemed VERY slow. It ran much the same way - a physical "pool" and then you could carve out a RAID1 array here, a RAID5 there, and so on. Between two of these systems, each running four drives, I have replaced 4 drives in one and 5 in the another. I also note that HP and IBM also stopped delivering these solutions due to "techincal" issues. :)  Rebuilding a "30GB" RAID5 array took about 26 hours...

 

So, a wait and see. I love unRaid - but the ability to consolidate some things and perhaps go beyond 22 drives makes it very compeling.

 

Fingers crossed on this one...

 

Shawn

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So, a wait and see. I love unRaid - but the ability to consolidate some things and perhaps go beyond 22 drives makes it very compeling.

 

So.. build another unRAID server  ;D

 

I might get flamed for this comment, but is 22 drives in a single server really that limiting? Surely an additional box would be the smarter choice by this point anyway.

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Frustrating if you have a 24 bay chassis (or bigger) that is 'wasted' by a software restriction.

 

Splitting servers also means, potentially / likely, splitting namespace as well I imagine would be undesirable for many.

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I might get flamed for this comment, but is 22 drives in a single server really that limiting? Surely an additional box would be the smarter choice by this point anyway.

 

Going to another box means more drives wasted for parity, more things that can potentially go wrong, more drive mappings, etc. You do have a point in that a 22 drive array is pretty large for an average user, but when I have access to enterprise level hardware that could allow me to go to what, maybe 30 drives in a box, in a highly redundant solution, I like that option.

 

But this is all wait and see though - we all know unRaid scales very well to 22 drives. Windows though, hmmm.... I want to see that before I commit my data to it. :) Esp as Windows has a horrible track record for software Raid. Get 25 drives in the system and I wonder how their claims of "like RAID 10 performance" will stand up, or how long a rebuild will really take...

 

Shawn

 

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Windows 8 is expected to arrive around October of this year. If unRAID has 3TB support in a stable version before then, of course I'll stick with unRAID. If there is no 3TB drive support then I'll switch over to Windows 8.  I'm a subscriber to Technet, so I can try it out now if I want to I believe.

 

3TB support in unRaid 5.0 has been stable for a long time.  If your hardware is supported without issues, then no reason not to be using latest 5.0-beta.

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Windows 8 is expected to arrive around October of this year. If unRAID has 3TB support in a stable version before then, of course I'll stick with unRAID. If there is no 3TB drive support then I'll switch over to Windows 8.  I'm a subscriber to Technet, so I can try it out now if I want to I believe.

 

3TB support in unRaid 5.0 has been stable for a long time.  If your hardware is supported without issues, then no reason not to be using latest 5.0-beta.

 

My hardware is working great with 4.7, but I'm still reluctant to switch 18TB of data to a beta product. If I ever lose that data, I'll most likely not be able to get it back. If I had a tape solution or some other way to back up 16TB offline, then maybe I would try it. Even coming from you, the maker of unraid, supporting the use of the beta is really a good feeling that does make me want to try it even more.

Is there a supported hardware list for 5.0?

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3TB support in unRaid 5.0 has been stable for a long time.  If your hardware is supported without issues, then no reason not to be using latest 5.0-beta.

 

I'll probably (finally) try the next beta - after it's been out for a few days and we see some comments on it...

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