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Speaker: Ivan Talaichuk, Solutions Engineer, StarWind

StarWind Virtual SAN® Creating Stand-Alone Image File device


StarWind Virtual SAN® is a native Windows hypervisor-centric, hardware-less VM storage solution. It creates a fully fault-tolerant and high-performing storage pool built specifically for the virtualization workloads by mirroring the existing server’s storage and RAM between the participating cluster nodes. StarWind Virtual SAN delivers supreme performance compared to any dedicated SAN solution since it runs locally on the hypervisor and all I/O is processed by local RAM, SSD cache, and disks and never gets bottlenecked by storage fabric.

This guide is intended for StarWind users, Windows system

administrators, and IT professionals who would like to configure the StarWind Virtual SAN solution. It provides the detailed instructions on how to create stand-alone image file device using StarWind Virtual SAN that runs on top of Windows Server 2016.

A full set of up-to-date technical documentation can always be found here, or by pressing the Help button in StarWind Management Console.

For any technical inquiries please visit our online community, Frequently Asked Questions page or use the support form to contact our technical support department.

Creating Basic Image File

1. Launch StarWind Management Console: double-click the StarWind tray icon.

NOTE: StarWind Management Console cannot be installed on an operating system without a GUI. It can be set up on any of the GUI-enabled Windows Editions including the desktop versions of Windows.

2. If StarWind Service and Management Console are installed on the same server, the Management Console will automatically add the local StarWind instance to the Console tree after the first launch. Then, the Management Console automatically connects to it using default credentials. To add remote StarWind servers to the console, use the Add Server button on the control panel.

3. StarWind Management Console will ask to specify the default storage pool on the server which it connects to for the first time. Configure the default storage pool to use one of the volumes that have been prepared previously. All the devices created through the Add Device Wizard will be stored on it. In case an alternative storage path is required for StarWind virtual disks, please use the Add Device (advanced) menu item.

4. Press the Yes button to configure the storage pool. If the storage pool destination needs to be changed, click Choose path… and point the browser to the necessary disk.

NOTE: Each of the arrays which will be used by StarWind Virtual SAN to store virtual disk images, should meet the following requirements:

  • Be initialized as GPT.
  • Have a single NTFS-formatted partition.
  • Have a drive letter assigned.

5. Select the StarWind Server where the device needs to be created and click the Add Device (advanced) button on the toolbar.

6. Add Device Wizard will appear. Select Hard Disk Device and click Next.

7. Select Virtual Disk and click Next.

8. Specify the Virtual Disk Name, Location, and Size. Click Next.

9. Specify Virtual Disk Options and click Next.

NOTE: Use 4096 Virtual Block size for a Windows-based system or 512 bytes sector size for a Linux-based system (ESXi/Xen/KVM).

10. Define the caching policy and specify the cache size (in MB). Click Next to continue.

NOTE: It is not recommended to configure cache in Write-Back mode on Standalone devices in order to avoid possible data corruption upon power outage or incorrect service shutdown. The basic recommendation is to use 1 GB of L1 cache per 1 TB storage capacity.

Read the information on implementing cache at the link below before adding it:

11. Define Flash Cache Parameters and size if necessary. Choose SSD location in the Wizard. Click Next.

NOTE: The recommended size of the L2 cache is 10% of the initial StarWind device capacity.

Read the information on implementing cache at the link below before adding it:

12. Specify the Target Parameters. Enable the Target Name checkbox to customize the target name. Otherwise, the name will be generated automatically basing on the target alias. Click Next to continue.

13. Click Create to add a new device and attach it to the target.

14. Click Close to complete the Wizard.

15. The device added will appear in StarWind Management Console.

Discovering and Connecting Target Portals

16. Launch Microsoft iSCSI Initiator: Start > Administrative Tools > iSCSI Initiator or iscsicpl from the command line interface. The iSCSI Initiator Properties window appears.

17. Navigate to the Discovery tab.

18. Click the Discover Portal button. The Discover Target Portal dialog appears. Type in the IP address or DNS name field if it is necessary to connect the virtual drive from the local host.

19. Click the Advanced… button. Select Microsoft iSCSI Initiator as a Local adapter and select Initiator IP (leave default for

20. Press the OK button. Then click OK again to complete the Target Portal discovery.

21. Click the Targets tab.

NOTE: If the created targets are not listed, check the firewall settings of the StarWind Server as well as the list of networks served by the StarWind Server (go to StarWind Management Console -> Configuration -> Network).

22. Select a target of a stand-alone device located on the local server and click Connect.

23. Add the target to the list of Favorite Targets and tick the Enable multi-path. Click Advanced…

24. Select in the Target portal IP and Microsoft iSCSI Initiator as a default initiator. Then click OK and finish the connection.

25. Make sure that the device is connected as shown in the screenshot below:

26. Initialize the disks and create partitions on them using the Disk Management snap-in. The disk devices are required to be visible on both nodes in order to create the cluster. NOTE: It is recommended to initialize the disks as GPT.


The steps described in this guide allow creating a stand-alone image file device using StarWind Virtual SAN that runs on top of Windows Server 2016 and connecting it via Microsoft iSCSI initiator. Also, StarWind stand-alone image file device can be convert to Highly Available device.

The guide on how to create HA device via StarWind VSAN can be found by following the link:

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