In order to get granular control of drives and their performance within Windows, admins usually separate Windows drive letter assignments by role for better performance. However, you can only do so much with the drive letters E: and higher.
If you're running out of drive letters, one trick is to use a mount point for each logical drive that you are going to bring into Windows; this way, performance can be contained to a logical drive and still conform to your drive letter standards.
There are many scenarios in which you would want a large number of drives, such as multiple databases for Microsoft SQL Server or Exchange Server installations. Exchange databases are notorious for needing their own drives per mailbox store and, if you provision out well, you will quickly run out of drive letters. This can enable large numbers of drives to be available within one system.
Adding mount points in Windows Server 2008With the disk available to the Windows Server 2008 operating system, right-click and select New Simple Volume. Specify the size as you would normally add a drive. Select Do Not Assign A Drive Letter Or Drive Path (Figure A). Figure A
Perform the drive format and assign a label as normal. Once the New Simple Volume Wizard is completed, the drive will be inventoried in the list of disks. MountPoint3 has been added and now select Change Drive Letter And Paths (Figure B). Figure B
When the Change Drive Letter And Paths option appears, point the drive to a path on the local filesystem. In this example, it is pointed to C:\MountPoints\MountPoint3. With this configuration, the path will use a different controller than the C:\ drive for the I/O operations across all drives. Figure C shows redirecting the drive to the MountPoint path. Figure C
Once your configuration is complete, all of the mount points will appear in the subfolder you created. The "folder" icon for the mount points is a shortcut to a drive; the "folders" are redirecting the drive to the path on the parent drive. Figure D shows three mount points in one folder pulling in three different drives. Figure D
Consolidating the drives, especially in shared storage configurations, can greatly simplify searching and organization for large systems on a Windows server. This functionality is not new to Windows, but it looks a little different now in Windows Server 2008.
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Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.