Intro and Test Setup
Following in the tradition of testing each release, here is a summary of the testing I did on the RTM version of Server 2012 Storage Spaces. Since this has the final code, the hope was that it was tuned and tweaked to provide the maximum performance and stability.
Right off the bat I ran into a major problem. Since I had already configured a storage space volume which I have been using to test Essentials and Windows 8, I fully expected the volume to just be there and functional after installing Server 2012. That expectation of course turned out to be “wrong”. The storage spaces volume that I had created showed in the control panel but did not show in the file manger. When viewing it in the Storage Spaces manager it had an exclamation point next to the volume with no real explanation as to what the problem was. It showed all the drives healthy but showed an issue with the volume itself. I attempted to fix the error using their tools (right clicking on the error gave you the option of repairing the error) but after an hour or so of attempts, I gave up and decided to delete and start again. That turned out to not be so simple either. After deleting the storage pool and initializing each drive, Storage Spaces never let me reconfigure the drives correctly after that. It only showed only 1 of the drives being available despite showing all three drives in the drive section of the storage manager. I spent another two hours trying to create an storage space volume with no luck. I actually had to use 3 new drives and start from scratch and then was able to create the parity volume. I took the three drives it would not let me configure and put them on the Highpoint card and had no trouble creating a RAID 5 volume.
Hardware used for testing
- Core I3-540
- 4 Gigs of DDR3
- 3 x 2T EADS drives on a Highpoint 2680 (for comparison)
- 3 x 2T EADS drives on motherboard Sata ports for Storage Spaces
Walkthrough and Setup
For those who have not seen the process for creating a Storage Space volume, below is the step by step walkthrough for setting up Storage Spaces in Server 2012 RTM. This is a multi-step process that really has not changed much since the last release. It is however different than what is used in Windows 8 and Server Essentials as they do not require the use of creating a Virtual Drive.
- First Step is to create a “Storage Pool”. This associates the drives together for flexible configuration later when you create the actual Virtual Drive.
- Next is to create actual Virtual Disk from the pool you created above.
- Next is to create the final Volume
- When you have completed, your Disk Panel and file manager look like this. As you can see I have a 3.6T Parity Drive and a 3.6T RAID 5 volume.
Below are the results of my testing. I tested using traditional benchmarks on the actual machine, as well as doing some heavy file copies over the network. The first set of tests are from the RAID 5 Volume using a Highpoint 2680, and second set are with the “Parity” Storage Spaces Volume.
Results using a Highpoint 2680 in RAID 5 configuration
Results from the Storage Spaces “Parity Volume”
If you look closely at the results you will come to same conclusion I did. The read speeds are on par with a hardware solution but the write speeds are no where close. Even if you throw out the benchmarks, the file copy performance is undisputable and painfully slow. You can argue that it is easy and does not require any hardware, and I would argue that in my experience with this and the prior versions, it is less stable and considerably slower. Considering the market this is attacking, this would definitely be a bad choice for any serious application. Server 2012 itself is awesome and seems very robust for the time I have used it, but IMO, I would not put this caliber of this software with a storage solution like Storage Spaces. To see 2.5-3x times lower write performance is simply not acceptable considering the price range and expectation of Server 2012 as a product. I would argue it would not even make sense on a home version of this product given the failures I have had using Storage Spaces (Essentials version and this one) and what appears to be questionable portability between systems. It is possible that the issues I had were flukes, and I have been know to break things, but be warned if you are going to use Storage Spaces as your primary storage volume as I still do not think it is robust enough for prime time…