Windows Server 2012 R2 includes tools that enable you to manage disks graphically or from
the command prompt. All Windows Server 2012 R2 installations include the File and Storage
Services role, which causes Server Manager to display a menu when you click the icon in the
navigation pane, as shown in Figure 1-23. This menu provides access to home pages that
enable administrators to manage volumes, disks, storage pools, shares, and iSCSI devices.
FIGURE 1-23 Using the File and Storage Services menu in Server Manager
Server Manager is the only graphical tool that can manage storage pools and create virtual
disks. It can also perform some—but not all—of the standard disk and volume management
operations on physical disks. Like the other Server Manager home pages, the File page and
the Storage Services page enables you to perform tasks on any servers you have added to the
Disk Management is an MMC snap-in that is the traditional tool for performing diskrelated
tasks. To access the Disk Management snap-in, open the Computer Management
console and select Disk Management.
You can also manage disks and volumes from the command line by using the
Adding a new physical disk
When you add a new hard disk to a Windows Server 2012 R2 computer, you must initialize
the disk before you can access its storage. To add a new secondary disk, shut down the computer
and install or attach the new physical disk per the manufacturer’s instructions. A newly
added physical disk is listed in Server Manager in the Disks tile, as shown in Figure 1-24, with
a status of Offline and an unknown partition style.
FIGURE 1-24 A newly added physical disk in Server Manager
To make the disk accessible, you must first bring it online by right-clicking it in the Disks
tile and, from the shortcut menu, selecting Bring Online. After you confirm your action and
the disk status changes to Online, right-click it and select Initialize.
Unlike the Disk Management snap-in, Server Manager does not allow you to choose the
partition style for the disk. A Task Progress window opens; when the process is completed,
click Close. The disk then appears in the list with a partition style of GPT.
You can convert a disk from one partition style to another at any time using Disk Management
by right-clicking the disk you need to convert and then, from the shortcut menu,
selecting Convert To GPT Disk or Convert To MBR Disk. However, be aware that converting
the disk partition style is a destructive process. You can perform the conversion only on an
unallocated disk, so if the disk you want to convert contains data, you must back up the disk
and then delete all existing partitions or volumes before you begin the conversion.
Creating and mounting virtual hard disks (VHDs)
Hyper-V relies on the virtual hard disk (VHD or VHDX) format to store virtual disk data in files
that can easily be transferred from one computer to another. The Disk Management snap-in
in Windows Server 2012 R2 enables you to create VHD and VHDX files and mount them on
the computer. Once they are mounted, you can treat them just like physical disks and use
them to store data. When dismounting a VHD or VHDX, the stored data is packaged in the
file so you can copy or move it as needed.
To create a VHD in Disk Management, use the following procedure.
1. In Server Manager, click Tools, Computer Management. The Computer Management
2. Click Disk Management to open the Disk Management snap-in.
3. From the Action menu, select Create VHD. The Create And Attach Virtual Hard Disk
dialog box opens, as shown in Figure 1-25.
FIGURE 1-25 Configuring the Create And Attach Virtual Hard Disk settings
4. In the Location text box, type the path and file name for the file you want to create.
5. In the Virtual Hard Disk Size box, type the maximum size of the disk you want to
6. Select one of the following Virtual Hard Disk Format options:
– VHD The original and more compatible format, which supports files of up to
– VHDX A new version of the format that supports files of up to 64 TB but can be
read only by computers running Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012
7. Select one of the following Virtual Hard Disk Type options:
–Fixed Size (Recommended) Allocates all the disk space for the VHD/VHDX file at
– Dynamically Expanding Allocates disk space to the VHD/VHDX file as you add
data to the virtual hard disk
8. Click OK. The system creates the VHD or VHDX file and attaches it so that it appears as
a disk in the snap-in.
Once you have created and attached the VHD or VHDX file, it appears as an uninitialized
disk in the Disk Management snap-in and in Server Manager. By using either tool, you can
initialize the disk and create volumes on it, just as you would a physical disk. After storing
data on the volumes, you can detach the VHD or VHDX file and move it to another location
or mount it on a Hyper-V VM.
Creating a storage pool
Once you have installed your physical disks, you can concatenate their space into a storage
pool, from which you can create virtual disks of any size.
To create a storage pool by using Server Manager, follow this procedure.
1. In Server Manager, click the File and Storage Services icon and, in the menu that opens,
click Storage Pools. The Storage Pools tile then opens, as shown in Figure 1-26.
FIGURE 1-26 The Storage Pools tile
2. In the Storage Pools tile, select the primordial space on the server where you want to
create the pool and, from the Tasks menu, select New Storage Pool. The New Storage
Pool Wizard starts, displaying the Before You Begin page.
3. Click Next. The Specify A Storage Pool Name and Subsystem page opens, as shown in
FIGURE 1-27 The Specify A Storage Pool Name and Subsystem page
4. In the Name text box, type the name you want to assign to the storage pool. Then select
the server on which you want to create the pool and click Next. The Select Physical
Disks For the Storage Pool page opens, as shown in Figure 1-28.
FIGURE 1-28 The Select Physical Disks For The Storage Pool page
NOTE: THE WIZARD DISPLAYS ELIGIBLE DISKS ONLY
The wizard displays only the disks that are eligible for addition to the pool. Disks that
already have partitions or volumes on them do not appear.
5. Select the check boxes for the disks you want to add to the pool and click Next to
open the Confirm Selections page.
6. Click Create. The wizard creates the new storage pool and the View Results page
7. Click Close. The wizard closes and the new pool appears on the Storage Pools tile, as
shown in Figure 1-29.
FIGURE 1-29 The new pool shown on the Storage Pools tile
8. Close the Server Manager window.
After you have created a storage pool, you can modify its capacity by adding or removing
physical disks. The Tasks menu in the Physical Disks tile on the Storage Pools home page
contains the following options:
– Add Physical Disk Enables you to add a physical disk to the pool as long as it is
initialized and does not contain any volumes
– Remove Disk Removes the space provided by a physical disk from the storage pool.
This option is available only if all data has already been evicted from the disk.
To create a new storage pool by using Windows PowerShell, you use the New-StoragePool
cmdlet with the following basic syntax:
New-StoragePool –FriendlyName <pool name> -StorageSubSystemFriendlyName <subsystem name>
-PhysicalDisks <CIM instances>
To obtain the correct designations for the storage subsystem and the physical disks, use
the Get-StorageSubsystem and Get-PhysicalDisk cmdlets.
In addition to the required parameters, the New-StoragePool cmdlet also accepts the
following options, which are not available in the wizard.
1)-EnclosureAwareDefault Specifies whether the storage pool is being created from
disks housed in a disk enclosure that supports SCSI Enclosure Services. This enables the
pool to use additional information provided by the enclosure, such as slot locations, to
balance data storage among the hardware devices.
2)-ProvisioningTypeDefault Specifies the type of provisioning (Unknown, Fixed, or
Thin) to be used for the creation of virtual disks from this pool
3) -ResiliencySettingsNameDefault Specifies the resiliency setting (Simple, Mirror, or
Parity) that the system should use by default when creating virtual disks from the pool.
Creating virtual disks
After you have created a storage pool, you can use the space to create as many virtual disks
as you need.
To create a virtual disk by using Server Manager, use the following procedure.
1. In Server Manager, click the File And Storage Services icon and, in the menu that
opens, click Storage Pools. The Storage Pools home page opens.
2. Scroll down (if necessary) to expose the Virtual Disks tile and, from the Tasks menu,
select New Virtual Disk. The New Virtual Disk menu opens, displaying the Before You
3. Click Next to open the Select The Server And Storage Pool page.
4. Select the pool in which you want to create a virtual disk and click Next. The Specify
The Virtual Disk Name page opens.
5. In the Name text box, type a name for the virtual disk and click Next. The Select The
Storage Layout page opens, as shown in Figure 1-30.
FIGURE 1-30 The Select The Storage Layout page
6. Select one of the following layout options and click Next.
– Simple Requires the pool to contain at least one physical disk and provides no
fault tolerance. When more than one physical disk is available, the system stripes
data across the disks.
– Mirror Requires the pool to contain at least two physical disks and provides fault
tolerance by storing identical copies of every file. Two physical disks provide protection
against a single disk failure; five physical disks provide protection against two
– Parity Requires the pool to contain at least three physical disks and provides fault
tolerance by striping parity information along with data.
Note: DISK-LEVEL FAULT TOLERANCE
The fault tolerance built into Storage Spaces is provided at the disk level, not the volume
level, as in the Disk Management snap-in. Theoretically, you can use Disk Management to
create mirrored or RAID-5 volumes out of virtual disks, but this would defeat the purpose
of creating them in the first place because the virtual disks might be located on the same
7. The Specify The Provisioning Type page opens, as shown in Figure 1-31.
FIGURE 1-31 The Specify The Provisioning Type page
8. Select one of the following Provisioning Type options and click Next.
– Thin The system allocates space from the storage pool to the disk as needed, up
to the maximum specified size.
– Fixed The system allocates the maximum specified amount of space to the disk
immediately on creating it.
The Specify The Size Of The Virtual Disk page opens, as shown in Figure 1-32.
FIGURE 1-32 The Specify The Size Of The Virtual Disk page
9. In the Specify Size text box, specify the size of the disk you want to create and click
Next. The Confirm Selections page opens.
10. Click Create. The View Results page opens as the wizard creates the disk.
11. Click Close. The wizard closes and the new disk opens in the Virtual Disks tile, as shown
in Figure 1-33.
FIGURE 1-33 The new disk is shown in the Virtual Disks tile in Server Manager
12. Close the Server Manager window.
By default, the New Volume Wizard launches when you create a new virtual disk. At this
point, the disk is a virtual equivalent of a newly installed physical disk. It contains nothing but
unallocated space, and you must create at least one volume before you can store data on it.
Creating a simple volume
Technically speaking, you create partitions on basic disks and volumes on dynamic disks. This
is not just an arbitrary difference in nomenclature. Converting a basic disk to a dynamic disk
actually creates one big partition, occupying all the space on the disk. The volumes you create
on the dynamic disk are logical divisions within that single partition.
Windows versions prior to 2008 use the correct terminology in the Disk Management
snap-in. The menus enable you to create partitions on basic disks and volumes on dynamic
disks. Windows Server 2012 R2 uses the term volume for both disk types and enables you to
create any of the available volume types, whether the disk is basic or dynamic. If the volume
type you select is not supported on a basic disk, the wizard converts it to a dynamic disk as
part of the volume creation process.
Despite the menus that refer to basic partitions as volumes, the traditional rules for basic
disks remain in effect. The New Simple Volume menu option on a basic disk creates up to
three primary partitions. When you create a fourth volume, the wizard actually creates an
extended partition and a logical drive of the size you specify. If there is any remaining space
on the disk, you can create additional logical drives in the extended partition.
Note: BE CAREFUL IF USING THE DISKPART.EXE UTILITY
When you use DiskPart.exe (a command-line utility included with Windows Server 2012 R2) to
manage basic disks, you can create four primary partitions or three primary partitions and one
extended partition. The DiskPart.exe utility contains a superset of the commands supported
by the Disk Management snap-in. In other words, DiskPart can do everything Disk Management
can do and more. However, whereas the Disk Management snap-in prevents you from
unintentionally performing actions that might result in data loss, DiskPart has no safeties and
thus does not prohibit you from performing such actions. For this reason, Microsoft recommends
that only advanced users use DiskPart and that they use it with due caution.
To create a new simple volume on a basic or dynamic disk by using the Disk Management
snap-in, use the following procedure.
1. In Server Manager, click Tools and click Computer Management. The Computer
Management console opens.
2. Click Disk Management to launch the Disk Management snap-in.
3. In the Graphical View, right-click an unallocated area in the disk on which you want to
create a volume and, from the shortcut menu, select New Simple Volume. The New
Simple Volume Wizard starts.
4. Click Next to bypass the Welcome page. The Specify Volume Size page opens, as
shown in Figure 1-34.
FIGURE 1-34 Configuring the Specify Volume Size page
5. Select the size for the new partition or volume, within the maximum and minimum limits
stated on the page, by using the Simple Volume Size In MB spin box, and then click
Next. The Assign Drive Letter Or Path page opens, as shown in Figure 1-35.
FIGURE 1-35 Configuring the Assign Drive Letter Or Path page
6. Configure one of the following three options:
– Assign The Following Drive Letter If you select this option, click the associated
drop-down list for a list of available drive letters and select the letter you want to
assign to the drive.
– Mount In The Following Empty NTFS Folder If you select this option, either
type the path to an existing NTFS folder or click Browse to search for or create
a new folder. The entire contents of the new drive will appear in the folder you
– Do Not Assign A Drive Letter Or Drive Path Select this option if you want to
create the partition but are not yet ready to use it. When you do not assign a volume
a drive letter or path, the drive is left unmounted and inaccessible. When you
want to mount the drive for use, assign a drive letter or path to it.
7. Click Next to open the Format Partition page, as shown in Figure 1-36.
FIGURE 1-36 Configuring the Format Partition page
8. Specify whether the wizard should format the volume and if so, how. If you do not
want to format the volume at this time, select the Do Not Format This Volume option.
If you want to format the volume, select the Format This Volume With The Following
Settings option, and then configure the associated options as follows.
– File System Select the desired file system. The options available depend on the
size of the volume and can include ReFS, NTFS, exFAT, FAT32, and FAT.
– Allocation Unit Size Specify the file system’s cluster size. The cluster size signifies
the basic unit of bytes in which the system allocates disk space. The system
calculates the default allocation unit size based on the size of the volume. You can
override this value by clicking the associated drop-down list and then selecting one
of the values. For example, if your client uses consistently small files, you might want
to set the allocation unit size to a smaller cluster size.
– Volume Label Specify a name for the partition or volume. The default name is
New Volume, but you can change the name to anything you want.
– Perform A Quick Format When this check box is selected, Windows formats the
disk without checking for errors. This is a faster method to format the drive, but
Microsoft does not recommend it. When you check for errors, the system looks for
and marks bad sectors on the disk so that your clients will not use those portions of
– Enable File And Folder Compression Selecting this check box turns on folder
compression for the disk. This option is available only for volumes being formatted
with the NTFS file system.
9. Click Next. The Completing The New Simple Volume Wizard page opens.
10. Review the settings to confirm your options and then click Finish. The wizard creates
the volume according to your specifications.
11. Close the console containing the Disk Management snap-in.
This procedure can create volumes on physical or virtual disks. You can also create simple
volumes by using a similar wizard in Server Manager. When you launch the New Volume Wizard
in Server Manager, which you can do from the Volumes or Disks home page, the options
the wizard presents are nearly identical to those in the New Simple Volume Wizard in Disk
The primary difference is that, like all Server Manager wizards, the New Volume Wizard
includes a page that enables you to select the server and the disk on which you want to create
the volume, as shown in Figure 1-37. You can therefore use this wizard to create volumes
on any disk on any of your servers.
FIGURE 1-37 The Select The Server And Disk page in the New Volume Wizard in Server Manager
Creating a striped, spanned, mirrored, or RAID-5 volume
The procedure for creating a striped, spanned, mirrored, or RAID-5 volume is almost the same
as that for creating a simple volume, except that the Specify Volume Size page is replaced by
the Select Disks page.
To create a striped, spanned, mirrored, or RAID-5 volume, use the following procedure.
1. In Server Manager, click Tools and click Computer Management. The Computer
Management console opens.
2. Click Disk Management to open the Disk Management snap-in.
3. Right-click an unallocated area on a disk and then, from the shortcut menu, select the
command for the type of volume you want to create. A New Volume Wizard starts,
named for your selected volume type.
4. Click Next to bypass the Welcome page. The Select Disks page opens, as shown in Figure 1-38.
FIGURE 1-38 Configuring the Select Disks page
5. On the Select Disks page, select the disks you want to use for the new volume from the
Available list box and then click Add. The disks you chose are moved to the Selected
list box, joining the original disk you selected when launching the wizard. For a striped,
spanned, or mirrored volume, you must have at least two disks in the Selected list; for
a RAID-5 volume, you must have at least three.
6. Specify the amount of space you want to use on each disk by using the Select the Amount
of Space in MB spin box. Then click Next. The Assign Drive Letter or Path page opens.
If you are creating a spanned volume, you must click each disk in the Selected list and
specify the amount of space to use on that disk. The default value for each disk is the
size of the unallocated space on that disk.
If you are creating a striped, mirrored, or RAID-5 volume, you specify only one value
because these volumes require the same amount of space on each disk. The default
value is the size of the unallocated space on the disk with the least free space.
7. Specify whether you want to assign a drive letter or path and then click Next. The
Format Partition page opens.
8. Specify if or how you want to format the volume and then click Next. The Completing
The New Simple Volume Wizard page opens.
9. Review the settings to confirm your options and then click Finish. If any of the disks
you selected to create the volume are basic disks, a Disk Management message box
opens, warning you that the volume creation process will convert the basic disks to
10. Click Yes. The wizard creates the volume according to your specifications.
11. Close the Disk Management snap-in.
The commands that appear in a disk’s shortcut menu depend on the number of disks installed
in the computer and the presence of unallocated space on them. For example, at least
two disks with unallocated space must be available to create a striped, spanned, or mirrored
volume, and at least three disks must be available to create a RAID-5 volume.