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First, a bit of background:

Microsoft brags about how the new Windows 8 Storage Spaces support any interface (including USB) for attaching drives to add to a Storage Pool:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-hk/windows-8/storage-spaces-pools under "What do I need to create a storage space?"

Western Digital proudly announced that their drives "fully support the [...] feature":

4th paragraph of http://www.wdc.com/en/company/pressroom/releases/?release=4fa7905e-6e32-4073-8f58-6db901f3c533

Yet, my 4 new 2TB WD My Passport USB drives are not recognized by the Storage Spaces manager, even though they show up and work flawlessly in the usual Disk Management. A quick call to WD support confirms: These drives will not work with Storage Spaces. So, I will just have to return them.

Now my question:

I'm trying to find out which external USB drives do work with Storage Spaces, but I can't for the life of me find anything on Google. Have any of you had any success with any particular brand or drive? Or can anyone rule out any drives or brand (WD support told me that only their internal drives are supported)?

Addition: The WD-disks WORK if I install Windows 8 inside VMware Player?!?!? WHY?

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Unless WD told you the reason they don't work with Storage Spaces they should have worked. –  Ramhound Mar 3 '13 at 2:59
    
@Ramhound That's what I thought... But I don't seem to be the only one: social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w8itproinstall/thread/… They are doing some really strange things with these drives anyways. It installs some WD SES Device(?) and tries to provide all sorts of other funtionality... I wish they just built a hard disk without trying to be clever... –  Markus A. Mar 3 '13 at 3:03

3 Answers 3

Looks like this case doesn't come up very often...

I have no new data on my original question, but let me at least share the way I dealt with the issue, to make this question at least somewhat useful:

  1. Install VMware Player (performs much better for this purpose than VirtualBox - I tried both)
  2. Create a new virtual machine and install a minimal version of the latest Debian Linux release on it (you will need the packages mdadm and samba; also helpful is openssh-server)
  3. Pass the desired physical disks to the virtual machine (remove Windows-accessible partitions first)
  4. Set up a RAID array across the disks in Linux
  5. Format the array as ext3 and set it to mount on boot
  6. Share the mounted array using Samba
  7. Mount the share in Windows 8

This method has a couple of advantages over using Window 8 Storage Spaces:

  1. It works! With ANY disks! Internal, external, USB, eSATA, network attached, ... anything!
  2. Performance should be much higher (Windows 8 Parity Redundancy is supposedly very slow)
  3. It gives you more storage space: Windows 8's Parity Mode will always have 50% data-overhead, independent of how many disk you run. Whereas Linux RAID 5's (RAID 6's) overhead is limited to the space of one (two) disk. If you have ten 2TB disks, for example, Windows 8 will give you only 13.3TB, whereas Linux RAID 5 will give you 18TB and RAID 6 will give you 16TB.
  4. You can choose RAID 6, which will tolerate failure of two disks (not available in Storage Spaces)
  5. The virtual machine can but doesn't have to run on the same machine

It also has a couple of disadvantages, though:

  1. It's not as easy/pretty to manage as Windows Storage Spaces
  2. If the connected drives are different size, the system is limited to the size of the smallest drive
  3. It requires loading the virtual machine to be able to access the drives, increasing boot time
  4. Using a Samba share to record Live TV to in Windows Media Center is hard/impossible
  5. It uses up some system memory to run Linux

Hope this helps...

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Backup those 4 WD external disks. Delete each volume on the 4 disks in Windows Disk Management. Now open the Storage Spaces control panel. You should be able to use the disks to create pools and spaces.

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I tried... I deleted the partition, I cleaned the disks with diskpart, I reinitialized them, tried MBR or GPT partitioning, with and without partitions on the disk. I even played with diskpart's setid. These disks simply don't work due to the way the USB controller lists them on the bus... And WD support confirms this. –  Markus A. Mar 14 '13 at 14:58

Here are the ones I've found so far:

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