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Is there any support in Windows 7 - or through third-party software - to easily combine multiple physical drives into a single, large virtual drive?

I'm looking for something similar to how many Unix/Linux variants are able to combine drives into a single mount-point.

Also, once combined, is there any way to control where certain folder or file types are physically located (I know it sounds a bit counter to the premise of mount-point merging, but I would like to be able to force video and audio media to be stored on the drive with the fastest transfer rate).

Thanks.

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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think you are speaking of RAID. And yes, it is possible in Windows 7.

You can do anything from software RAID (screenshots via link) to a hardware raid setup, depending on your system.

You are right, specifying where a file or type will be located on a RAID array is counter intuitive, thats why you would specify separate disks anyway.

If you set up RAID, you can do disk "spanning" which will simply merge the disks onto a single mount point. This is actually less reliable that just having the disk attached because if one disk goes you lose all of your data. RAID can also be set up to be mirrored or striped which not only makes it more reliable in case of disk loss, but in most cases will speed up your disks.

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+1 for "lose all of your data." I don't believe mirroring will speed up your disks, but striping will. However, striping is subject to the "lose all of your data" caveat as well. –  JMD Jan 11 '10 at 18:16
    
Based on my understanding RAID, I have several 'levels' to choose from. For my needs, I would like to minimize the amount of space lost to parity, but avoid catastrophic data loss from a single drive failure. Which RAID level does that correspond to, in your opinion? –  LBushkin Jan 11 '10 at 21:04
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Check out this MS KB article on Mounted Drives. It would be one way to accomplish what you're after.

A mounted drive is a drive that is mapped to an empty folder on a volume that uses the NTFS file system. Mounted drives function as any other drives, but they are assigned drive paths instead of drive letters. When you view a mounted drive in Windows Explorer, it appears as a drive icon in the path in which it is mounted.[...]

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