Features new to Windows 8

How to Use Windows 10’s Storage Spaces to Mirror and Combine Drives

The Storage Spaces feature built into Windows allows you to combine multiple hard drives into a single virtual drive. It can mirror data across multiple drives for redundancy, or combine multiple physical drives into a single pool of storage. Storage Spaces is similar to RAID or LVM on Linux.

This feature was added in Windows 8, and was improved in Windows 10. It’s available on all editions of Windows 8 and 10, including Home editions.

What Are Storage Spaces?

To create a Storage Space, you need at least two physical drives on your PC. These can be internal drives or external drives connected via USB.

Storage Spaces allow you to create a “storage pool” of two or more physical drives, grouping them together. Once you’ve created a storage pool made up of two or more physical drives, you can create three types of “spaces” using that pool:

  • A simple space is designed to give you the most storage possible, but doesn’t provide any protection against drive failure. Windows will store only a single copy of your data across all the drives. If one of these drives fails, your data will be lost and corrupted. This is ideal for temporary data.
  • A mirror space is designed to protect you from drive failure by storing multiple copies of your files. A single drive—or more than one drive, depending on how you configure things—can fail and you won’t lose any data. This is ideal for protecting important data from hardware failure.
  • A parity space is designed as a compromise. Windows will keep a single copy of your data along with parity information. You’ll have more space and you’ll be protected if a single drive fails. However, parity spaces are slower than simple and mirror spaces. This solution is ideal for data archival, and not data you use frequently.

If you choose to format a mirror or parity space with the Windows Resilient File System (ReFS), Windows will automatically monitor and maintain file integrity to prevent file corruption.

How to Create a Storage Space

You can create a Storage Space from the Control Panel. First, connect the drives you want to group together to your computer. Then, head to Control Panel > System and Security > Storage Spaces. You can also just search for “Storage Spaces” in your Start menu.

Click the “Create a new pool and storage space” link to get started.

Select the drives you want to add to the pool and click “Create Pool” to create a storage pool from those drives.

Warning: All data on the drives you select will be erased, so back up any important data before continuing!

After creating a pool, you’ll be prompted to configure your new storage space. Type a name for the storage space and select a drive…

How to Use All of Windows 10’s Backup and Recovery Tools

Windows 10 includes several different types of backup and recovery tools. And we’re going to take a look at all of them.

Sometimes, bad things happen to good computers. Fortunately, Windows includes a number of tools you can use to make sure your files are properly backed up and to recover your computer should you need to. On the backup side of things, File History is the primary backup tool in Windows 8 and 10. It offers not just full backups, but also a way to restore previous versions of files. Microsoft also includes the old Windows 7 Backup and Restore in both Windows 8 and 10 and it works the same way it always has, allowing you to perform selective or even full image-based backups. And while it’s not really a true backup solution, the inclusion of OneDrive does let you build a little redundancy into your file storage.

On the Recovery side of things, Windows offers a full recovery environment you can use for troubleshooting and recovery, as well as the ability to fully reset your PC to it’s default settings. Here’s how it all fits together.

Back Up and Protect Your Windows 10 PC the Easy Way

Windows 10 includes a number of backup and recovery tools for free, but the reality is that they aren’t anywhere near as good as commercial solutions. Carbonite automatically backs up all of your files, photos, and documents and stores them encrypted in the cloud.

Not only do you get cheap unlimited cloud backup, but you can also use Carbonite to backup your PC to a local hard drive. And you get versioning, deleted file protection, mobile apps so you can access your files from any device, and a whole lot more.

And for a limited time, How-To Geek readers get 2 free bonus months.

Built-In Backup Tools in Windows

You’ve heard the advice a million times, but it’s still surprising how many people don’t take the time to make sure their files are adequately backed up. We’ve covered all kinds of ways to make sure that your computer is backed up and we’ve even talked about what files you should be backing up. The good news is Windows itself provides some pretty solid tools to get the job done. Just remember, it’s not only about backing up to an external hard drive. You also should be creating offsite backups—or at the very least, storing a copy of your backups in a different location.

File History

File History was first introduced in Windows 8 and continues to be the primary built-in backup solution in Windows 10. File History doesn’t create a full backup of your entire PC. Rather, it focuses on making sure that your personal files are backed up. You set up File History to back up all your files to an external drive and then you really can just let it do its job. It not only regularly backs up files, it also retains previous versions of files that you can easily restore.

By default, File History backs up important folders in your user folder—stuff like Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos, and parts of the AppData folder. You can exclude folders you don’t want backed up and add folders from elsewhere on your PC that you do want backed up.

When you need to recover files, you can browse through the whole collection of backed up files and folders.

Or you can restore previous versions of files from right within File Explorer.

File History gives you a pretty reliable way to make sure your personal files are regularly backed up. Make sure you check out our full guide to using File History for instructions on setting it up and using it.

Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Microsoft also kept the old Backup and Restore feature from Windows 7 around. It was available in Windows 8, removed in Windows 8.1, and is back in Windows 10. The Backup and Restore (Windows 7) tool allows you to restore any of your old Windows 7 backups onto your Windows 10 computer—likely why the tool is still around—but you can also use it to back up your Windows 10 PC in the exact same way you’d back up a Windows 7 PC.

Unlike the newer File History backup solution, you can use Backup and Restore to more easily create a backup of practically everything on your hard drive. However, it also does not feature File History’s ability to maintain older versions of your files.

You can find the tool by hitting Start, typing “backup,” and then selecting “Backup and Restore (Windows 7).”

Setting up the backup is pretty straightforward. You’ll choose an external drive (or network location), pick the folders you want to backup, and set a schedule. After that, everything’s automatic. Do be sure to check…