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How to turn old hard drives into one large drive in Windows

Put your old hard drives to good use. We'll show you how to combine them to make one large drive in Windows.

Old hard drives
Ed Rhee

Can't afford a 1TB drive, but you've got two 500GB drives just lying around? Windows can combine them.

The Windows XP/Vista/7 feature is called spanning, and it can extend the usefulness of older, smaller hard disks. Here's how to create a spanned volume:

Step 1: Go to Start, then type "diskmgmt.msc" in the search box. This will launch the Windows disk management tool. Make sure that the disks you want to combine, are unformatted and don't contain any partitions. In our example, we're going to combine Disk 1 (298.09GB) and Disk 3 (186.31GB).

Windows disk management
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 2: Right-click on one of the drives to be combined, then select New Spanned Volume.

New spanned volume
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 3: When the New Spanned Volume Wizard appears, click Next, then add the disk(s) you want to combine, to the disk you already selected.

Select disks to span
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 4: Complete the rest of the wizard, which involves selecting a drive letter and formatting the new volume.

Step 5: Once you complete the wizard, check the Windows disk management tool for the volume you just created. You should see the new volume listed at the top. The disks should also be labeled in purple (Disk 1 and Disk 3 in our example).

Spanned volume in disk manager
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

That's it. We recommend including the spanned volume to your regular backups, because if one of the drives in the volume fails, the entire volume will be destroyed.