Understanding Volumes vs Storage Pools

In hindsight, I should have done this differently.

In a previous post I discussed how I carved up 18TB of storage into various storage pools.  Now that I have the two storage pools, I need to create volumes on top of those pools so that I can start to store data.  After I create the volumes, I can then create folders to which is where the data will ultimately reside.

Here are the two storage pools that I created on my Synology DS920+

Don’t worry about the warning you see there, that’s expected.  It’s a single drive and I am comfortable with the lack of safety via RAID in that case.

How many volumes do I create?

I think there are a couple of lines of thought related to this.  I’m one person with a NAS so I don’t need multiple volumes.  I can certainly get by with a single volume on each storage pool and this will simplify management of things.

If you were working with enterprise grade storage in a corporate environment, having multiple volumes will make sense.  I think of this as carving up disk space for production SQL Servers where each drive letter corresponds to a given volume which resides on a given storage pool.  A volume can serve multiple folders.

Ironically storage arrays today can supply hundreds of terabytes that need to be managed so it is significantly more complex with larger environments than I what I have here at home.

How many volumes did I create?

So far, three.  As I said earlier, I should have done this differently.  In its current state it is going down the path of being overly complex and since I’m just a single user, I should have kept it simple and just created two volumes, one on each of the storage pools.

In its current state, Volume 1 (shown above) is my Production volume where everything to do with anything that isn’t development is going to reside.  You’ll notice that it’s got over 8TB of storage allocated to it.

Volumes 2 and 3 is where I made the mistake.  I carved up two volumes on the second storage pool thinking that I would have a volume for things like ISO files and another that would hold virtual machine data.   What I should have done was to have another single volume on Storage pool 2 (a single 4TB drive) and then created folders to house the data that I wanted.

I recently read an analogy that helps to solidify this line of thinking –

  1. A storage pool is the land that you own.
  2. A volume is the building that is sitting on the land that you own.
  3. Things you own (files) are sitting in the buildings (in folders) that you own.

We can also see this trend if we look at the storage manager within DSM.

You’ll notice that the way that the information is presented it mirrors the analogy that I mentioned.

  • The hard drives are at the bottom and represent the location in which you purchased the land
  • Storage pools are next and represent the land that you purchased.
  • The volumes are at the top and represent the buildings you built on your land.

What’s not showing are the folders, which of course, would within the volumes (the building).

What’s the benefit?

So far the benefit of my current configuration is that I got to learn about volumes vs storage pools vs folders.  This really is just enforcing best practices, at least for home users anyway.  Learning new things is always fun and once you learn it, the power of that information is yours to control.

In order to fix this, I’d have to move the folders from Volume 2 or 3 into the other volume and then destroy the volume.  I could then expand the remaining volume to encompass the entire 4TB drive.  This would leave me with two volumes, one for production stuff and another for development stuff.  I would then create individual folders for things to live in.


In this post I talked about creating storage pools versus volumes.  As you can see I over-complicated things and will most likely go back and fix it just to make things simpler.  Of course your needs might be different so your mileage may vary.  In either case, this was a good learning experience for me.  If you are contemplating playing around with a NAS device such as a Synology, I definitely recommend that you keep things simple and spend a little time thinking about how you want things laid out.

Would you have done anything different?  If so, tell me what you’d do differently and why in the comments!

© 2022, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.

The post Understanding Volumes vs Storage Pools first appeared on John Morehouse.


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