I have a ~1.5 TB partition in my internal hard drive out of which ~320 GB is used. I also have a 450 GB partition in an external hard drive connected through USB 3.0.

First, I want to mirror the contents of the internal hard drive's partition to the external hard drive's partition. This will be my backup solution.

Also, is there any way to increase the read/write speed similar to how RAID works?

Can the Windows 8 Storage Spaces feature do anything in this case?

  • Best to use a 3rd-party backup product rather than Windows backup. Storage Spaces won't help any. There is no way to speed the i/o but usb3 is fast. – harrymc Dec 15 '12 at 20:10

The backup tool for Windows 8 has changed. If you want to backup just your user files, you want to use File History, which will automatically synchronize your Libraries and backup to an external location. However, File History cannot backup your whole system, including applications. File History is suitable for making backups automatically in the background, even while you are using your computer.

To backup your whole system, you want to create a restore point. This will make a copy of your entire hard drive, including system and application files. This is not automatic. If you need something better, you will need to look for a 3rd party application.

I would not recommend storage spaces, because some issues in it means that it does not appear to provide some of the benefits we would like. Windows storage spaces is not a backup solution. It is a way to store files on multiple hard drives, as if it was a single storage space. It allows you to combine multiple drives (of different sizes) into a single storage space, as well as to resiliently store files (in case one of the hard drives fails). However, if you only have 1 hard drive added to the storage space, the read/write speed change.

This is because RAID increases the speed of read/write by doing these in parallel over multiple hard drives.

If you used multiple external hard drives (at least 2), then the read/write speed may change. However, Windows 8 Storage Spaces does not allow you to control exactly how the data is distributed, and therefore how read/write speed changes directly. You can only control how many drives are available, and the resiliency type (for the same hard drives, a lower resiliency will have higher read/write speeds). To be sure about read/write speed, you would need a formal RAID configuration - however that requires hard drives of equal sizes. In addition, it appears that Storage Spaces is actually slower for most configurations, than a bare hard drive. Obviously, writing is going to slow down. However there appears to be no improvement in read speed (where we would expect an improvement).

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For more information on Storage Spaces, check this article.

File History and Storage Spaces can be used together to backup data resiliently.

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I've done this a few different ways, but based on what you want to be able to do I recommend Deltacopy (free). It's rsync for windows. Every hour (or whatever interval you choose) it will sync your partition's files to your external hard drive. You can set it to do everything, or just certain directories. You can also sync across your network and go cross-os. http://www.aboutmyip.com/AboutMyXApp/DeltaCopy.jsp

I also use Acronis True Image ($40). It saves a copy of every file you designate as well as several previous revisions and you can just roll back. It can also copy an entire partition image live at an interval instead. It will do everything you want. http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/

I recommend Deltacopy though. Good program, no upkeep, just works.

I highly recommend that you do not use any windows built in software raid.

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You could try with windows software raid 1, although being different in size, it might not be possible.
Here's how you can do it though:

  1. Press WIN + X and click "Computer management"
  2. Click on "Disk Managemenet"
  3. Right click on the partition you want to mirror and then pick your external HDD

You can also see a video demonstration on youtube.

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  • One can't mirror 1.5 TB partition to 450 GB. – harrymc Dec 16 '12 at 11:23

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