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How to combine multiple hard drives into one volume on Windows 10

When you have multiple hard drives on your computer, it can quickly become hard to keep track where your files are located. However, similar to previous versions, Windows 10 includes two features that can enable you to combine all the drives on your PC into a single large volume.

These two features are known as "Spanned" and "Striped" volumes, and both offer similar functionality, but they use different methods to write data to the hard drive.

If you use a Spanned volume, you can combine two or more hard drives of different sizes to create one large volume. On Spanned, drives are utilize sequentially, meaning data won't be written to the second hard drive until the first hard drive is full.

On the other hand, if you use a Striped volume, you can also combine two or more hard drives to create one large volume. However, if you want to use the entire available space, you'll need to use hard drives of the same size. On Striped, data is written across all participating drives, offering better performance than the Spanned option.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps creating one large volume combining multiple hard drives.

How to combine multiple hard drives into one large volume

It's important to note that you will erase the content of the hard drives participating of the Spanned or Striped volume, as such make sure to backup the data before proceeding.

  1. Use the Windows key + X keyboard shortcut to open the Power User menu and select Disk Management.
  2. Right-click the hard drive volume and select Delete volume.

  1. Click Yes to confirm the deletion of the current volume and all its content.
  2. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the hard drives you want to combine.
  3. Right-click the unallocated space of the drive and select New Striped Volume (or New Spanned Volume).
  4. Click Next.

  1. Select the additional disks, one by one, and click Add.
  2. Click Next.

  1. Leave the default drive letter assignment and click Next.
  2. Make sure the file system is set to NTFS, allocation unit size is set to default, and choose a volume label.
  3. Check the Perform a quick format option.
  4. Click Next.

  1. Click Finish.

  1. You'll be prompted to convert the hard drive from basic to dynamic, click Yes to complete the task.

Another difference between these two solutions is that you can easily add more hard drives to your computer to extend a Spanned volume, something that is not supported on Striped volumes.

The only caveat with these solutions is that you cannot use hard drives containing a Windows installation as the operating system can't boot from a Dynamic disk. In addition, both Spanned and Striped volumes do not use parity, which means they the don't provide fault tolerance — if one drive fails you will lose the data on all hard drives —so make sure to create regular backups of your computer.

The best solution for you will depend on what you're trying to accomplish. If you're looking to combine different hard drive sizes to create a large volume, then your better option may be Spanned volume. If you're looking to increase read and write performance, while creating a large volume from multiple drives, perhaps Striped volume is the best solution.

While you can use Spanned or Striped volume on Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, you can also use these instructions on Windows 8.1 and even Windows 7.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that thanks to Windows 10 flexibility, you can also use Storage Spaces to create a single volume using multiple drives.

More Windows 10 resources

For more help articles, coverage, and answers on Windows 10, you can visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

32 Comments
  • Why not explain storage spaces? far more convenient, provides redundancy etc.
  • I already did on this previous guide, which details everything you need to know about Storage Spaces. http://www.windowscentral.com/how-use-storage-spaces-windows-10 Thanks,
  • OK, but why use this? A link to your precious article in the introduction and a comparison or reasoning why one should use striped/spanned drives versus storage spaces as a conclusion would make sense. But keep coming these articles!
  • Because there will be always scenarios where a feature is better suited than another. You can't always expect one feature and one way to do something that will work every time. Thanks,
  • If this can be done with Storage Spaces too, then that should have been included in the article.  
  • This can be done with SnapRAID too, and with a hardware RAID card, and with onboard RAID, and with ZFS, and with FlexRAID, all those should have been included in the article, too.
  • Mauro, the article as it is is fine, but I think the point you are missing in this feedback is that, by failing to at least mention Storage Spaces at the top, you may have sent some some users down the wrong path. Windows dynamic disks are an older technology that do have some limitations compared to Storage Spaces, so it would have been nice to let people know they have alternatives.
  • Exactly. Storage Spaces will probably be where investment is going forward.
  • But for the rare few in a mixed network of various OS to deal with its not possible
  • What do you even mean with this comment. Mixed network with various OS versions has absolutely nothing to do with creating a Windows JBOD setup. This is the second ignorant comment you've made. No offense and I'm not trying to be hard on you and I'm sorry if you take it that way, but do a little research before making these comments. Someone might believe you.
  • Not all Windows 10 installations work with Storage Spaces. I purchsed a USB 3.0 4-bay external drive enclosure and loaded it with 2x2 TB and 2x1 TB disks. Disk Manager sees all the disks, I can format them, copy to and from them, and generally use them normally. But when i try to create a Storage Spaces Storage Pool, it fails every time. I've Googled the error, and others have had the same issue with no resolution. So in my case, Storage Spaces using my specific drive enclosure is not an option.
  • I hope that's not the case for me because I just bought a 2 bay hard drive enclosure so that I could run a mirrored Refs storage space. Could you point me to the forum discussion?
  • I love your articles. Please continue with such tips and tricks.
  • Can this Striped volume still be of GPT format ?
  • This is a brilliant article. I never knew how to do this. Would it be possible to combine a hard drive with an ssd?
  • An SSD is a hard disk drive when you think about it. The internals might be different but they do the same job (Yes, okay, one's called HDD but there you go.)
  • It is, but you probably shouldn't. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah I was thinking the same thing. There are certain things that adds do not like. I just need to know what
  • Neither of these (Storage Spaces or striping) are particularly great. If I needed to trust my data to something on Windows I'd probably go out and get DrivePool (preferred) or Flexraid. Data is something which can vanish if stored improperly and not backed up regularly, Storage Spaces has redundancy but makes data transfer much more laborious. Striping spreads out the data across multiple drives and makes rebuilding harder without a proper software raid controller.
  • Do not use an OS level striped volume if you care at all about loosing the data stored on said volume. The failure of any of the drives striped results in complete data loss for the entire volume. If you have a true requirement for the performance increase striped arrays bring to the table, do yourself a favor and invest in a hardware RAID controller and stand up a RAID 5, 6, or 10 array where you have some redundancy.
  • Raid 1 or 10 are good, 5 is deadly. 6 has all the disadvantages of 5 but more recoverable. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • As an Enterprise Systems Engineer I whole heartedly disagree. 1 is just a mirror - no performance improvements. 5 is a stripe with single parity - you get the benefit of a minimum of 3 striped spindles plus you can sustain the failure of a single drive giving you the time to replace before the dataset is lost. This time is highly mitigated with a hot spare. RAID 6 is striped with double parity giving the benefit of a minimum of 4 spindles and sustaining the loss of two simultaneous drives. 10 is egregiously expensive and too much wasted disk for the mirrored stripe with too much overhead. Enterprise storage frames traditionally run their RAID groups as 5 or 6 as they have the best cost to benefit ratio.
  • I would like to enter the contest please - I posted this comment as a contest entry
  • This is a nice article,and thanks for writing it and all as its informative, but its kinda lost cause of an article. Why do either of these when RAID works so much better for redunancy, and why would you want to combine drives if one of them fails, and then you're screwed and all the files are lost?   I'm sorry this is like painting a house built out of toothpicks in tornado valley on the beach. Its an exercise in futility.
     
  • Unless you have some specific need, I'd recommend against doing this. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Pro-tip: Go buy yourself a NAS. Drobo, Synology, and QNAP make good ones and you'll have less headaches. System-level storage is better to keep separate & partitioned with names that's easy to manage/remember. I have 6TB divided into 3x HDDs & 2x SSDs on one of my desktops and they are partioned as OS, Apps, Data, Games,etc. Everything is backed up to a NAS as required.
  • "Pro-tip" Laughable.
  • Can't boot from dynamic disks? Maybe on XP that was true.
  • Its a nice temporary solution if your running out of space on os drive but you should just move to a bigger drive.
  • Not true. There are many advantages to a Raid setup over a single disk. Throughput is considerably higher with a Raid disk.
  • You actually can boot from a dynamic disk, if a mirrored raid 1 is created, and I'm pretty sure that raid 0 will boot as well. However, you can't boot from a storage spaces drive. This method is also considered deprecated according to what I have read however, it remains to be seen if the option will ever be removed or not.
  • I bought a LSI 9271 8i to replace my LSI 9240 8i in my server.  I thought I've move the 9240 to my desktop and put it in the PCIE 2 4x slot of my Asus Crossblade Ranger.  Seems to work fine under webCLI but always has a error ten under Windows and is unusable.  So I go with Storage Spaces as worked good enough in my Window Home Server v1.  However I never did this step as described in the article via Disk Management and handled the drives only via Storage Spaces.  Seems to work fine.  Shows up as "Storage Spaces" under Disk Management and was set up as a Basic Disk, but just changed it to Dynamic.  Its a three disk WD Black 3tb array, with Win10 Pro on a Samsung 250gb SSD.