Why Windows 8's "Storage Spaces" tool should be used only with care

Mike Halsey MVP
Jan 6, 2012
Updated • Jan 6, 2012
Windows, Windows 8

Microsoft yesterday announced the new "Storage Spaces" feature in Windows 8 that will allow you to pool the hard disk storage you have in your PC (if you have more than a single hard disk) and use it all together as a single big hard disk.  On the face of it this seems like a wonderful idea as all our collections of music, photos and videos are getting larger.  I want to offer a note of caution when using technology such as this on a PC however, especially when its managed directly with Windows should you want to take advantage of it.

This type of system has been around for a great many years in the form of RAID.  Here's it's managed by hardware so is completely independent of the operating system you use.  This means that should the need arise to perform a clean reinstallation of Windows (and trust me, that time will eventually come), the hardware will still effectively manage your pooled storage and you won't lose any files and data.

One of the reasons I'm cautious is that Microsoft removed a similar feature from Windows Home Server only last year because they couldn't get it to work relibably.  Files were disappearing from people's computers and the pooled storage feature was directly responsible for the data loss.  Now Microsoft has already had a great deal of experience in this field and there's no reason to assume they wouldn't have finally got it working now.  I say this because I was told by Microsoft last year that they don't want to raise people's hopes about features that they cannot later deliver (remember WinFS anyone?)  It's likely then that this feature does work or else Windows chief Steven Sinofsky wouldn't have announced it on the Building Windows 8 blog.

Should you use a feature like this in Windows however you can expect a complete reinstall to fail to recognise any of the data stored in it should you have to later do a complete reinstall of the operating system.  This means that you will have re-create the array (something that Windows 8 can only do with recently formatted disks anyway) and restore all your files and data from a backup.

This is the crux of the matter and I wanted to say that if you don't already have any New Year's resolutions, then maintaining a good and appropriate backup strategy should certainly be on the list!  Ideally the best way to back up is to have a copy on-site and also a copy off-site.  For on-site backup a great tool to use is something like Microsoft's Live Mesh which will keep files synchronised between multiple PCs and laptops in your home.

Regards the off-site backup, the best solution would be to use a cloud service such as Mozy, Dropbox or Amazon S3 (sadly Live Mesh still only allows you to use 5Gb of the 25Gb space you get free with SkyDrive).  If you a great many files however then an external hard disk is a great backup solution that can be stored at a friend or family's home and brought back once a month to update the backup.

Maintaining a suitable backup solution is extremely important, no more so than now when so much of our lives are stored digitally.  While features such as Windows 8's Storage Spaces might look like a fantastic solution to your data storage problems, believe me the extra problems that can come with them can make your life far worse than it currently is.


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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):


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