I primarily use Linux and Mac, where sharing folders and block devices is easy and just works. I have a 38TB ZFS-backed Ubuntu fileserver that pretty much stores all of my data for all of my devices.
One of those devices is a Windows 7 box, which I use for gaming and making music. It's very fast, but storage-wise, I've removed its 2TB ICH10R-backed RAID5 array, leaving it with just a medium-sized SSD, hoping to be able to use an NFS share on my gigabit-tethered ZFS box as the primary place to install games and applications. In practice, the NFS share is as fast, or faster, than the Intel RAID-5 array that I've taken down. Although it does use more CPU cycles, being ethernet-based. That's a trade-off I'm willing to accept, as having a ZFS-backed snapshottable installation target on this box is absolutely awesome.
Thing is, it's often pretty difficult to install apps and games to anything that's not a proper local drive on Windows. In my experience, if I map a physical external drive (like USB or Firewire) to the drive letter that's usually an NFS or Samba share and install an app there, then move it to the network share and remount that at the same drive letter after installation, said app or game will run just fine. It'll just refuse to install there when the drive letter contains a network share.
This work-around gets pretty tedious over time, especially when you're dealing with a game such as The Sims, where you want to install an expansion pack over a game folder that's already near-30GB in size. For this to work, I have to unmount my NFS share, move all these folders to a physical drive, mount that using the old drive letter, install, move files back, remount, and then it's time for bed, because the whole thing took five hours.
I'd really like to avoid that issue, in any way that's clever and just works. I'm thinking something like:
Some app/hack exists that'll make a mounted network drive appear to installers as if it were a local drive.
Somehow I can mount a network share to a folder, and not a drive, so that I can have a local mix-and-match of folders, such as:
[local] c:\Games\The Sims 3 [remote] c:\Games\The Sims 3\The Sims 3 Fast Lane Stuff
and then any new expansion pack would install locally (without errors as the containing folder would reside on a physically attached drive), and afterwards I'd move it to the ZFS NFS share and mount it under
c:\Games\The Sims 3\\[foldername].
I could use a ZVOL to create a VHD in Windows and use that as a target.
Do you have any input on the possibilities of options 1 and 2? And with regards to 3, is this even possible, or would I have to use a physical file on an NFS share, and if so, what are the performance penalties, and what about mounting, seeing as how NFS automount doesn't seem to work in Windows 7, so automount of a .vhd file in a non-automounted NFS share obviously wouldn't mount either?