Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

To quote the Wikipedia article on RAID:

A RAID 0 can be created with disks of differing sizes, but the storage space added to the array by each disk is limited to the size of the smallest disk. For example, if a 100 GB disk is striped together with a 350 GB disk, the size of the array will be 200 GB (100 GB × 2).

The article doesn't, however, state why it can't RAID them together and use up the entire disk space. I understand that the striping writes between the two, but surely it shouldn't prevent writing to the later sectors of the second disk, whilst running in degraded performance? Is there an alternative RAID system (e.g. software RAID) that offers such a feature?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

You can use the remaining space. You can create a volume using the remaining space, or even use it as part of another RAID. However, using this extra space will degrade the performance that RAID 0 gives you, since two different processes might be trying to access the same physical controller and disk.

Why cant you add this extra space to the original RAID? Well, without going into to much detail, its because of the algorithms RAIDs use. RAID 0 writes to the first disk in the RAID then the next. This increases performance, as it doesnt have to wait for the previous disk to finish reading or writing. If the 250 GB in your post was used, the majority of the write would be to the first disk, pretty much eliminating any performance gain.

RAID might not be the solution you are looking for, if you want to use all the space of the drives you should be spanning volumes. Spanning lets you take many volumes and concatenate them together in one big volume. Spanning offers no performance increase or redundancy.

share|improve this answer
This doesn't explain why it can't use all of the two drives in one volume. Also, the separate volumes part won't cause a performance issue at all - the disk IO control at the low level is handled by interrupts via disk.sys, so the read / write requests are pipelined anyway, and Windows supports overlapped IO too. –  Polynomial Jul 4 '13 at 18:05
Ok, you update still didn't explain it. I'm familiar with how striping works, but that doesn't explain why it can't just drop to single-disk mode (with standard single-disk performance) once the smaller disk is full. Thanks for mentioning volume spanning though - that looks useful. –  Polynomial Jul 4 '13 at 18:09
Because thats how RAID works. If you really wanted to, you could RAID 0 what you could, then create a volume with the free space, then span the RAID and the extra volume. But I dont think any RAID controllers will let you do that. You may be able to do that with a combination of hardware and software RAID. –  Keltari Jul 4 '13 at 18:17
-1 "This increases performance, as it doesnt have to wait for the previous disk to finish reading or writing" the same could be said for two hard disks of different sizes in RAID 0 –  Celeritas Jul 4 '13 at 18:41
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.