Windows - Single Volume on 2+ Disks

Hello all,

I would like to seamlessly make use of a new disk (Disk 1) such that my C volume can make use of both Disk 0 and Disk 1.

Disk 0 is faster than Disk 1. So, I assume I would still like to only boot off of that.

How can I do this?

  • Do I want to convert Disk 0 into a Dynamic Disk, and then extend C with Disk 1? I am uncertain what the implications are when doing this.

Currently, this is my disk setup:

Do you have hardware RAID or something similar? What you are looking for is known as “Striping disks together”. It would depend on the OS, its version and what not.

No, I do not have any RAIDs set up. I have an external backup. So, I suppose I am looking to set up a RAID 0.

My system:

  • Windows 11
  • 21H2
  • 22000.856

I will dig into that myself, but does it have anything to do with the Disk Management software/setup, and whether the disks are “dynamic” or “basic”?

It is very much possible to stripe disks with Windows Disk Management. I am sure a quick google search will get you what you need.

Be sure to back up any data elsewhere before trying things out.

You can use any of the tools to arrange the disk space in another way: windows disk manager or other. But I think you have only one really working disk (c), and the other ones are just too small.
I would recommend doing some reading on Mod Edit: LINK REMOVED and maybe to re-distribute the place on your disk not to lose that much.
And why are certain parts faster than the others? Do you have an SSD or something? As far as I know, different parts of the same HDD cannot be faster than the others just because they all are recorded on the same disk.

It turns out what I want is not possible in Windows Disk Manager.

The Disk with Windows on it is the smallest (256GB), and the other Disk is 1TB. So, that cannot be the issue.

After digging, what I originally wanted is not possible with Windows Disk Management. WDM will not allow the necessary changes to be made to a disk with the bootable portion on it.

Even if you setup everything to leverage RAID (I think it was RAID 2 or something?) where you use the 2 hard drives together, its more of an “all or nothing” scenario where 2 of your hard drives are considered “one”. This allows your system to essentially read twice the amount of things at the same time, thus increasing speed dramatically.

The downside of this however is that if one hard-drive goes down you essentially are dead in the water as any and all data is split/shared. Furthermore, and most importantly if one hard drive is significantly slower than the other hard drive you gain almost no speed improvements.

There isn’t a way to dictate what goes in either drive with RAID, at least AFAIK.

I used to have a smaller SSD and a slower larger primary drive, so essentially the opposite setup that you have. I was able to leverage the speed of the SSD for critical software by leveraging symlinks. Where you essentially move data to the SSD and just have a symlink in its place pointing to the SSD. I was able to setup some games so they loaded super quick using this technique.

You can do the same, except with the goal of saving HD space by moving non-critical large things to your extra drive. This again will make them load slower, but free up your smaller SSD.

I eventually got sick of manually needing to deal with this so I run large SSDs nowadays and haven’t looked back. But in the mean time picking and choosing what goes where manually can get you pretty far, assuming what you want/need to move can be isolated and linked via symlinks.

You can boot into an external OS running from a USB to make changes to the hard-drive. This is true for most OSes. However I’m not sure if attempting what you want warrants trying this as the results might not be what you want (see above).

Thanks for the info, Brad.

However, I do specifically want the equivalent of RAID 0, because I do not care about redundancy - I want the full capacity of both drives.

I have looked into symlinks. The issue I have come across is it requires me to:

  • Copy file/folder to Disk1
  • Delete the file/folder on Disk0
  • Create a symlink on Disk0 (pointing to actual on Disk1)

However, the files I am wanting to do this with are system files (i.e. everything in C:\Program Files, ProgramData, and Users). So, I have not been able (allowed) to copy all of the files over, and have not been able to delete all of the files from C. I have tried all manner of security and permission settings

It amazes me how difficult it has been trying to do this. I even failed at setting up WSL on Disk1.

What I Want

  • I have 2 drives
  • Disk0 should keep the bootable portion of Windows and any other essential stuffs
  • Disk1 should, for all intents and purposes, be an extension of Disk0 - more space. I want all my current software and all future software to be installed on Disk1.

This is where windows having a bunch of files everywhere makes things really annoying, primarily around the idea of “essential stuff”. Windows (or really anyone) doesn’t know what essential stuff is.

For example your current software relies on drivers that are “essential” to windows itself, so it isn’t clear where you’d put these files even if you knew about where they are. Even if you moved over most of the files that are “non-essential” who’s to say what your doing doesn’t require one of these that is critical and thus you still see the same “slowness”?

Some areas should be easier than others, for example stuff under your system user should be easily moved over and symlinked. But actual programs less-so as their dependencies could be spread all over the system.

Just to be clear the RAID setup I specified is less redundant, RAID could be used for redundancy or read optimizations, which is what I assume your asking for with some “hybrid” setup. I pointed out a RAID setup (again I forgot the specification) that allows essentially parallel reads (and writes?) which in theory could speed up your system, but wont work with yoursetup if the hard-drives are of different speeds. If they were both slow older HDs, you’d see vast improvements as you’d essentially double your read-write speed. Again however, this RAID setup would also mean if one HD went down, you’d be screwed as you need both to run correctly for the setup to work.

Edit I realized you mentioned you wanted full capacity of both drives. I’m unsure even with this “RAID optimization” setup you’d get the full size of both, or if it would work with a smaller and larger drive, as I forget the exact details of how it worked :person_shrugging:

Ultimately I’ve found the “small but fast SSD C:\ drive with another drive for everything else” setup to be more pain than its worth. Windows doesn’t make it easy to “split things up” between drives since windows itself is a large amount of different files doing different things for different places, making a small C:\ drive to be mostly annoying due to the limited space and unclear usage of most of the files.

Linux is slightly better in that regard, as its file structure is usually more straight forward and you can sudo your way through everything security wise, but windows doesn’t roll like that. Also when it comes to programs the same issue occurs where programs will use dependencies spread out among the system most of the time, and thus could end up using stuff that is considered “non-essential” rather easily. This also depends on the programs themselves, stuff like steam-games are isolated within their own folders (so steam can manage them) so its easy to symlink them. Globally installed programs for multiple users is another story.

PS: I looked back into RAID options and found there’s more than I remember:

I’m not sure if any of these could help your setup, but it might be at least an option to look into where you could get what you want. Just be warned, I’d consider getting 1 big SSD to be more worth it as the pain of backing up your data and setting this RAID stuff up is probably more work than a large SSD HD is wroth, but it might be past your current budget.

Thanks for that.

For the most part, we should not even be mentioning RAID. In order to set up any RAID, I would need to start from scratch, and my current understanding is that it is not even possible to do so with a disk containing the bootable stuff.

I do not care about speed (the two SSDs are relatively close in speed, anyway). I do not want to optimise in any way. I just want my C: volume to go from 230GB to 230+955GB. Nothing more is necessary at this time.

Best case, I can trick Windows into thinking there are not two hard drives.

This sounds like my experience. Although, I am stubborn, and am determined something can be done once, then forgotten about for years to come.

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