Tiered Storage: My Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Rig

Tiered Storage: My Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Rig

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I wanted to give you some background on that high-performance, coffee-table-based storage sub-system I showed few posts back.

My goal was to create a high-performance storage sub-system which I could use to experiment with Storage Space and the new capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2, but do it on the cheep.  USB 3.0 supports extremely fast data transfer rates, and I just upgraded to a laptop with USB 3.0, so USB 3.0 attached storage seemed liked a great option (plus I already have two USB 3.0 32GB flash drives for use with Windows To Go that I could repurpose as my SSD tier).

I picked up a powered 7-port USB 3.0 hub, and a bunch of USB 3.0 SATA disk enclosures (bus powered), and found some salvaged SATA disks from old laptops (250GB-320GB), and plugged it all together.

Disk_Array_annoted

 

I loaded Windows Server 2012 R2 on my laptop (which already had two drives installed) and added some drivers.

Once everything was plugged in and spinning, I had a bunch of disks, ready to use!

 

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Important Safety Tips for Using USB!

Too Many Drives Starting at Once is a BAD THING

There’s a reason servers spin up one or two drives at a time…it’s because STARTING a spinning hard drive TAKES MORE POWER than keeping a drive in motion!  To get my storage system working properly, I have to plug each drive enclosure in to the hub one at a time, so I don’t draw too much current all at once…sort of like Apollo 13.’  If you want to try something like this yourself, do not use bus powered drive enclosures to limit the power draw from the USB hub.  My hub has a 1.0 Amp external supply, but I still have to manage drive startup manually with all of the bus-powered enclosures.

USB Manages Power

The drives on my USB powered storage spin town pretty regularly, based on all the great power management “features” backed into USB and Windows.  That’s not optimal for a production (or perhaps even a test) storage rig, but it is what it is.  Be aware that this configuration is not meant to be used for real life storage applications, but simply for me to show you how to use Storage Spaces and configure Tiered Storage.

Next up, I’ll cover my goals for testing.

-John

Comments
  • So what kind of performance did this give you? Do you have a comparison of no tiered storage and just the SATA drives?

  • Really creative!

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