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StarWind Virtual SAN® Quick Start Guide: Creating HA Device


This technical paper describes how to create an HA device with StarWind Virtual SAN®. This virtualization software improves performance and fault tolerance of storage architecture. It eliminates the need in physical shared storage since StarWind Virtual SAN® mirrors the internal resources between the servers. Once StarWind iSCSI targets are connected to all cluster nodes, the HA devices are treated as local storage by both hypervisors and clustered applications. Fault tolerance is achieved by providing the multipath access to all storage nodes. Configuring StarWind Virtual SAN® not only simplifies management and operation of the storage infrastructure but also boosts its performance with no dedicated storage hardware or proprietary equipment required.

This guide is intended for experienced Windows system administrators and IT professionals who would like to configure the StarWind Virtual SAN® solution. This document provides detailed instructions on how to create a minimal 2-node highly-available shared storage configuration using StarWind Virtual SAN® running on top of Windows Server 2012 R2.

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

Downloading, Installing, and Registering the Software

1. Download the StarWind setup executable file from StarWind website:

NOTE: The setup file is unified for x86 and x64 systems, as well as for all Virtual SAN deployment scenarios.

2. Launch the downloaded setup file on the server where StarWind Virtual SAN or one of its components needs to be installed. The Setup wizard will appear.

3. Read and accept the License Agreement. Click Next.

4. Carefully read the information about new features and improvements. Red text indicates warnings for users who are updating the existing software installation. Click Next to continue.

5. Click Browse to modify the installation path if necessary. Click Next to continue.

6. Specify one of the following installation types and the components which should be installed:

  • Full installation (recommended):

Full installation includes both StarWind Service and the StarWind Management Console elements. It allows users to manage storage resources on the machine where StarWind Virtual SAN is installed, as well as manage other StarWind Virtual SAN installations on the network.

  • StarWind Virtual SAN Service:

This installation type is designed for Core OS editions. StarWind Service is the “core” of the software. It enables the creation of iSCSI targets as well as sharing virtual and physical devices. StarWind Management Console installed on any Windows computer or virtual machine in the network can manage the service.

  • StarWind Management Console:

StarWind Management Console is the Graphic User Interface (GUI) part of the software that controls and monitors all storage-related operations (e.g. allows users to create targets and devices on the available Virtual SAN servers). Once installed, StarWind Management Console is connected to the servers running StarWind Virtual SAN.

Click Next to continue.

7. Specify the Start Menu Folder. Click Next to continue.

8. Enable the checkbox to create a desktop icon. Click Next to continue.

9. The appeared prompt will request a time-limited fully functional evaluation key, or a FREE version key, or a fully commercial license key sent with the purchase of StarWind Virtual SAN. Select the appropriate option. Click Next to continue.

10. Click Browse to locate the license file. Click Next to continue.

11. Review the licensing information. Click Next to apply the license key.

12. Verify the installation settings. Click Back to make any changes or Install to continue.

13. Select the appropriate checkbox to launch StarWind Management Console right after the setup wizard is closed. Click Finish to close the wizard.

14. Repeat the steps above on the second server where StarWind Virtual SAN needs to be installed.

NOTE: To manage StarWind Virtual SAN installed on a Server Core OS edition, StarWind Management console must be installed on a different computer running the GUI-enabled Windows edition.

Creating Shared Storage

15. Launch StarWind Management Console by double-click on the StarWind tray icon.

StarWind Management Console cannot be installed on a GUI-less OS. The console can be installed on any GUI-enabled Windows editions, including a desktop version of Windows.

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

16. StarWind Management Console will ask to specify a default storage pool on the server to connect to for the first time. Configure the storage pool to use one of the volumes prepared earlier. All the devices created through the Add Device wizard will be stored on the configured storage pool. In case of using an alternative storage path for StarWind virtual disks, use the Add Device (advanced) menu item. Press the Yes button to configure the storage pool. In case the storage pool destination needs to be changed, press Choose path… and point the browser to the necessary disk.

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

  • Initialized as GPT;
  • Have a single NTFS-formatted partition;
  • Have a drive letter assigned.

17. Select the StarWind server where the device needs to be created.

18. Press the Add Device (advanced) button on the toolbar.

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

20. Select Virtual Disk and click Next.

21. Specify the virtual disk Name, Location, and Size. Click Next to continue.

22. Specify Virtual Disk Options. Click Next.

23. Define the caching policy and specify the cache size. Click Next.

NOTE: The basic recommendation is to assign 1 GB of L1 cache in Write-Back or Write-Through mode per 1 TB of storage capacity. The cache size should correspond to the storage working set of the servers.

NOTE: The information on L1 cache implementing can be found by following the link:

24. Define the Flash Cache Parameters policy and size if necessary. Select an SSD location in the wizard. Click Next to continue.

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

NOTE: The information on L2 cache implementing can be found by following the link:

25. Specify Target Parameters. Select the Target Name checkbox to enter a custom name of a target. Otherwise, the name will be generated automatically based on the target alias. Click Next to continue.

26. Click Create to add a new device and attach it to the target. Click Close to close the wizard.

27. Right-click Servers and select Add Server. Add a new StarWind Server which will be used as the second HA node. Click OK and the Connect button to continue.

28. Right-click the recently created device and select Replication Manager.

29. The Replication Manager window will appear. Press the Add Replica button.

30. Select Synchronous “Two-Way” Replication and click Next to proceed.

31. Specify the partner server IP address. The default StarWind management port is 3261. It can be changed in the Port number field. Click Next.

32. Select the Failover Strategy policy.

NOTE: With Heartbeat failover strategy, one node remains active, even in case of all partner nodes failure. With Node Majority failover strategy, failure of only one node can be tolerated. If two nodes fail, the third one will become unavailable to clients’ requests.

This document describes the creation of an HA device with Heartbeat failover strategy.

The creation of an HA device with Node Majority failover strategy is covered in the following document:

33. Select Create new Partner Device and click Next.

34. Specify the partner device location if necessary. The target name of the device can be modified by clicking on the appropriate button. Click Next.

35. Specify the Synchronization and Heartbeat channels for the HA device. The ALUA settings can be changed by clicking on the appropriate button.

36. Click Change Network Settings and specify the interfaces for Synchronization and Heartbeat. Click OK and Next.

NOTE: It is recommended to configure Heartbeat and iSCSI channels on the same interfaces to avoid the split-brain issue.

37. Select Synchronize from existing Device as a partner device initialization mode and click Next.

38. Press the Create Replica button.

39. Click Close.

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

41. Discover and connect the created targets in iSCSI initiator that are used in the environment.


StarWind helps to achieve redundancy and fault tolerance in the storage environment with only 2 nodes available and no additional storage hardware or proprietary equipment required. With StarWind Virtual SAN, the HA shared storage configuration significantly improves data availability. In case of one node failure or network congestion, data remains available on a partner node. Thus, the HA storage allows avoiding the single point of failure in the virtual infrastructure and restarting the VM on the other host.

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