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Is there some kind of software/driver that would enable me to create one big volume out of several hard disks but retain the file structure on each HD?

This would be in case where one hard disk crashes and only data on that HD will be lost.

Windows 7 enables me to do that but in case one HD breaks all data will be lost.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It sounds to me like you want RAID for its ability to aggregate drives into a single volume and NOT for its redundancy, although you still want to be able to access the data on unfailed drives.

You can use Win7's Libraries to group together different folders and volumes in a single location (Libraries) in the GUI while still retaining them as distinct drives.

Alternatively, you can use the Disk Management Console to map a drive into an empty NTFS folder. For example, if you have two NTFS volumes mapped to C: and D: you could instead create an empty folder called, say, C:\Data and unassign the drive letter D: and map that filesystem to C:\Data. After that, you will see the contents of what used to be D: in C:\Data

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thx i'm already using the mapped-drive-to-subdir method. what's the exact method of grouping folders under win7 you mentioned? thx –  Fuxi Apr 30 '10 at 10:49
    
See following link for description of Libraries. I haven't used them much myself as I also prefer the mapped-drive-to-subdir method. microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/features/libraries.aspx –  Mike Fitzpatrick May 1 '10 at 0:14
    
thanks a bunch! –  Fuxi May 1 '10 at 14:46

If you are asking - can I do redundancy where you can recover from a drive crash, then there are two answers.

First would be mirror. Two drives acting as one drive. You lose half your drive space, but if one drive crashes, hopefully the other is still okay. Also called Raid 1

Second would be raid 5. Three or more drives acting as one drive. You lose one drive as a error correcting drive. One drive crashes, the others still can compensate.

There are more exotic answers like Raid 10, Raid 01... Not practical for home use.

There is also the special raid type that I believe Drobo uses where they use a methodd that takes about a third of your space, but can recover from any one drive going bad and if you designate a file as critical, makes sure to keep that file on several drives at once.

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For Linux and other unix like systems MHDDFS does exactly what you are looking for.

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Your question is very vague. Win7 has built in (software) support for RAID 0 and RAID 1. It sounds like you want to use RAID 0, also known as striping. This will take several hard drives and make them appear as a single larger hard drive. The downside to striping is the lack of redundancy; if you lose one drive, all the data is lost. RAID 5 offers redundancy while striping the disks, but you lose storage due to parity.

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