On Windows 10, you can combine multiple drives to create a larger logical storage using a RAID 5 configuration to improve performance and protect your files from a single drive failure.
While there are many RAID (redundant array of independent disks) levels that you can use, when using a striped volume with parity (RAID 5), the data is spread across three or more drives using parity. In the event of a hardware failure, you can replace the drive, and the data will be created again from the data on the other drives.
Although you can use a hardware-based solution on Windows 10, if you try to set up a software-based RAID 5 with Disk Management, you’ll notice that the option is grayed out, because it’s only an option available on Windows Server. However, you can use Storage Spaces to create a striped volume with parity that works just like a RAID 5 configuration.
In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to set up a RAID 5 storage on Windows 10 using Storage Spaces.
How to create a RAID 5 storage using Storage Spaces
To set up a RAID 5 storage using Storage Spaces, use these steps:
Open Settings on Windows 10.
Click on System.
Click on Storage.
Under the “More Storage settings” section, click the Manage Storage Spaces option.
Click the Create a new pool and storage space option.
Select the drives (at least three) to create a storage pool.
Click the Create pool option.
Under the “Name and drive letter” section, specify a name, letter, and file system for the storage array.
Under the “Resiliency” section, use the “Resiliency type” drop-down menu and select the Parity option, which is the equivalent to the RAID 5 level.
Under the “Size” section, specify the maximum size as needed.Important: Change the size option carefully, because a pool can be larger than the actual physical capacity, and if you run out of space, you’ll need to add more drives. You can refer to this Microsoft TechNet page to calculate the parity of a storage space. For the purpose of this guide, I’m dividing the total pool capacity by 3, and multiplying it by 2, because I’m using three drives, and on a RAID 5 configuration, you will always lose 1 drive for parity.
Click the Create storage space button.
Once you complete the steps, the RAID 5 storage will be created to start storing files with fault tolerance, and if one of the drives fails, the data will still be accessible.
You can technically use any type of drives, but usually, traditional hard drives are not designed for this kind of setup. If you’re building an storage array to store a lot of files, or you’re planning to share the storage in the network with other users, you should try drives designed for storage arrays, such as the 4TB drive from Seagate IronWolf or 4TB Western Digital (Red).