Sometimes, well, maybe more than sometimes, I am prone to impulsiveness. I’ll get an idea and the more I can justify that idea, through a series of tiny connections, the more likely it is I am going to act on it. Sometimes, I can stave it off by focusing on the financial aspects of the idea, and other times, it seems the cost isn’t really important or maybe I do more rationalizing of how the cost is justified. And that is where I’m at today.
This whim is technology-based, so it hits on a few different pleasure points. It’s a new idea for me, so there’s the novelty of trying it out. It’s an improvement, so I can justify that it has value. It supports another of my on-again, off-again obsessions – archival, so there’s indirect benefit as well.
So here’s the idea, which probably won’t make any sense to non-technical people. I’m going to replace all the hard disks in my computer, and make all the drives virtual. I’m using some terms very specifically there (and I’ll be inconsistent everywhere else) – I say “disks” to describe the physical hard drives and “drives” to mean the individual drive letters. Most people have a C:\ drive on their one hard disk. My system is a bit more complex, for organizational purposes.
Here’s what my computer’s Disk Manager shows.
I have five hard drives in my computer, one of which is an external USB drive. What you see in the image is that C: is one hard drive, D: and S: are on another drive, and Y: and L: are paired up on two mirrored drives. The M: drive is a virtual drive whose file is held on L:. The B: drive is the external USB.
If you look at the free space of my drives, the M: drive is only 6% free. This drive holds all my music files, so if you’ve read any of my blog, you would know this space is going to run out soon. Then there’s other little things that are bothersome. D: has 95% space free, but I can’t really use it for anything because it’s unmirrored (and thus vulnerable to a drive failure), and also, it’s on another drive anyway.
So, again, here’s the plan. Get rid of Disk 1, 2, and 3 and replace them with two 8TB mirrored drives. Right there, that’s nearly 4x my current storage. Then I could create D:, S:, Y:, and L: all on that mirrored drive. That would be cool and all, but when it comes to resizing and reorganizing partitions, it can get messy. For example, taking 100GB from D: and adding some of it to S:, you end up with broken pieces of the drive.
To avoid this, and be cool and modern in the process, I’ll do with all my drives what I did with the M: drive. Everything will be its own virtual drive stored on the mirrored disks. To reiterate, M: is actually a file on the L: drive. M: is 500GB and L: has a 500GB file on it. With my new design, I’ll have one massive 8TB drive, with five large files on it, one for the D: drive, one for the S: drive, etc.
What’s that gain me? In the case of Disk 1, shown above, it would just be one partition, D:. S: would be on a totally different disk, say Disk 5. The drive will always consume 100% of the disk it is on – no sharing or splitting. So when I expand or shrink the virtual disk, it will always be 100% consumed by the drive. The change in free space will be reflected in the 8TB drive hosting the file.
What else do I get out of it? Well, I don’t have to use up the 8TB right away. I can build a temporary drive for whatever purpose and destroy it when I’m done with it. That’s kind of the way things are here at my workplace. We have a massive drive array and whenever we need a new server, we just carve out some drive space and make a new server. It’s one step closer to me having a entirely virtualized network. Also, by not using up all the space at once, I can grow the individual drives as they need it. I don’t have to try and anticipate how much I’ll be using.
Looking back in history, the last time I discussed my computer storage was over five years ago. So that’s actually a really good run for the 2TB drives I’m using now. It’s one more bit of justification for me to indulge my whim.