Managing Windows Server Drives on Alibaba Cloud

Prerequisites

To follow this tutorial, you’ll need an Alibaba Cloud account. If you don’t already have one, head to www.alibabacloud.com and sign up. To help you try out the facilities you’ll find a range of free trials there.

Background

In the days before the widespread adoption of virtualized and cloud-based servers, when each server was a physical box on a shelf in a data center, managing storage was incredibly difficult. Each disk drive was a physical device, sometimes partitioned into two or more logical drives. Sometimes a server had just one logical drive, which held both the operating system and data. More often, the OS would be confined to one drive (typically C: on Windows) and data would be on other drives starting from D: and working their way through the alphabet.

Cloud Drives

Cloud computing and virtualized servers means that disk drive roulette is mostly a thing of the past. Creating one or more disk drives on a server requires nothing more than ticking a few boxes on a web-based console. More importantly, adding new drives or enlarging existing ones is almost as simple, with minimal downtime that involves little more than a reboot.

Create a Server

To start, log into your Alibaba Cloud account. Head to the management console and, from the main products menu, choose Elastic Compute Service. From the menu on the left-hand side of the screen, choose Instances, and then select a region from the list at the top of the screen. If this is purely for test purposes then it doesn’t matter which region you choose. In these examples we’ll use Frankfurt.

Deleting a Cloud Server

We will now delete the Windows 2016 instance. Log out by sending Ctrl-Alt-Delete again and then choosing Sign Out.

Create a Second Server

Let’s create a second server instance and attach our data disk to it. Click on the Instances link at the top of the menu on the left-hand side and proceed as before, to create another Pay-As-You-Go instance.

Resizing a Cloud Disk

You can resize a data disk, even if it’s attached to a running instance. To illustrate this, start by creating a Windows Server 2016 instance with a 40GB system disk and a 30GB data disk, using the same methods we have used elsewhere in this tutorial.

Monitoring a Cloud Disk

You can monitor the performance of an Alibaba Cloud disk and, if necessary, change the specification of the drive to improve its performance.

Summary

In this tutorial we have created a Windows ECS server with a system and a data drive, then destroyed that server and allocated its data drive to an entirely different instance running a different version of Windows Server.

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