I have 4 separate WD passport hard drives. I'd like to combine all of them so that they take up only 1 letter. There are span and strip tutorials online that I can read. But what I'd like to know is the behavior afterwards. Like what happens if:
1. You unplug one of the hard drives by accident or on purpose? Then you plug it back in, and lets say you plug it in a different port, will the PC know how to reorganize? Is the data preserved?
2. If you remove all 4 hard drives and plug into another pc, will that pc recognize the drives with 1 letter?
3. Can you still use it as a portable? For example, take one of the drives to a friends house, add data to it. Bring it back to the PC where it has been "spanned," and see the new data that you just added?
4. Will combining work when all the portables are plugged in a hub?
My main concern is #1. What happens if you accidentally unplug a drive, or a port gets blown out. Does the PC know how to reorganize when you plug it back into a different usb port. If you're not allowed the liberty of accidentally unplugging from time to time or ejection, then I don't think I want to do this. It will just create a nervous environment, and be like walking on eggshells around these drives. LOL!
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AFAIK You can not span external drives so your questions become irrelevant.
And even if you could there is a simple analogy >> One drive down and all go down.
Really, really bad idea!
There may be some way of mapping the drives to a single letter, but it's beyond what Windows expects to be done.
Win10's "Storage Spaces" option does seem to accept external usb drives (see https://m.windowscentral.com/how-use-storage-spaces-windows-10), but you will still have issues with data integrity, all-or-nothing connection access, and with portability to other systems.
If you ever do use either the traditional raid setups, or storage spaces method, know that spanning is plainest with just concatenated capacity. Striping will stripe or checkerboard the data, which is better performancewise, but worse in terms of stability/resiliency. Mirroring is better for resiliency and usually better performance on reads but worse performance on writes. Both of those achieve their benefits by sacrificing the concatenation bonus.
Probably would be easier just to live with JBODs.
Doesn't JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) require a JBOD compliant SATA controller(s)? My multi drive external cases support JBOD over eSATA, but the controller has to be JBOD compliant. I don't think it works over USB, which is what the OP has.
AFAIK, Certain vendors' alternate use of the term notwithstanding, "Just a Bunch Of Disks" means just that, multiple drives connected without any supporting pre-arrangement or additional setup.
One thing you may want to try is THIS: https://www.howtogeek.com/98195/how-to-mount-a-hard-drive-as-a-folder-on-your-windows-pc/, which is creating & mounting a drive (can be external) as a folder. Kind of the reverse of SUBST.
Mounting a drive into a folder on another drive is much easier than the link posted. There's no need to dismount the drive or format.
In diskmanagment, right click the drive and "Change Drive Letter and Paths"
Click "Add" and "Mount in the following NTFS folder" and add a folder name
If you don't remove the original drive letter, your disk will be accessible through the original drive letter and the new folder
You can nest multiple drives in sub folders under the main folder name, but each drive will still be seen as a separate sub-folder.
I believe the drive you mount the folders in has to be non-removable drive. I tried adding them to a flash drive before and it didn't work.
Edit: This is useful if you're running out of drive letters and/or don't want the drive letter to change (though there's other ways to lock a drive letter to a drive).
Last edited by lingyi; 21st Dec 2018 at 13:48.
Just read up storage spaces and there's a major gotcha!
"It's important to note that after you remove the drive, it won't be accessible through File Explorer. You'll need to open Disk Management and reformat the drive in question.
1- Simply, right-click the Start button, and click Disk Management, locate the drive with the "Unallocated" label.
2- Right-click the drive, select New Simple Volume and follow the on-screen instructions to format the drive using NTFS file system and performing a quick format.
Now the removed drive should be usable again."
Also for spanned drives:
"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."