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Volumes and partitions

Published: February 24, 2011

Applies To: Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard

You can improve the performance of your server if you separate the location where your operating system is installed from the location where your data is saved. You can do this during installation by creating multiple partitions on a single hard disk or by using multiple hard disks, as shown in Figure 7.

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Figure 7   Partitions vs. separate hard disk drives

A partition is a portion of a hard disk that functions as though it is a physically separate drive. After the partition is formatted and assigned a drive letter, the partition is called a drive. If you create partitions when you install your operating system, you can divide your hard disk usage. For example, if you have one hard disk and you create two partitions, you can install the operating system and applications on the first partition and store user data on the second partition. If you want to create three partitions, you can use one partition for the operating system, one partition for data folders that are used by applications, and one partition for user data.

If you have multiple hard disks installed on your server, you should save your data on a different drive than the one on which your operating system is installed. Another option is to create fault-tolerant volumes. Fault-tolerant volumes help protect your operating system and your data. They can be mirrored volumes or RAID-5 volumes.

  1. Mirrored volume   A fault-tolerant volume that duplicates (mirrors) data on two hard disks. The mirrored volume is always located on a different hard disk than the original data. If one of the hard disks fails and the data on the failed drive becomes unavailable, the system continues to operate by using the unaffected drive.

  2. RAID-5 volume   A fault-tolerant volume that has data and parity striped intermittently across three or more hard disks. Parity is a calculated value that is used to reconstruct data after a hard disk fails. With RAID-5, data can be re-created even if a hard disk fails.

    Typically, RAID-5 is configured through hardware, and it requires a RAID hard disk controller. If you choose this option, you must follow your hardware manufacturer’s instructions for partitioning the hard disks.

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