By Alison / Last Updated April 14, 2022

What is storage provisioning

When creating and using virtual machines, you may have heard of thin provisioning and thick provisioning. They are 2 different kinds of storage provisioning strategies.

Storage provisioning is the process of assigning storage to optimize the performance of a storage area network (SAN), usually in the form of server disk drive space.

Thin provision vs thick provision, which is better? And how to choose from them? In this article, I will introduce the pros and cons of thin and thick provisioning respectively.

Thin provisioning vs thick provisioning

What is thin provisioning

Thin provisioning is a storage pre-allocation strategy that takes up only as much space as it initially need at creation, and grows over time based on demand.

The divisions on physical storage are virtual and flexible, rather than predetermined. As users save more data, they take up more space of the disk.

✦ Pros

High Storage Utilization: Thin-provisioned virtual disks take up less space at creation, and unused disk space can be used for other needs, which saving enterprises upfront storage costs.

Quick Creation: Faster creation for thin-provisioned virtual disks since they are small initially.

✦ Cons

Over provisioning: Provision more storage space than is actually available may lead to over-provisioning, which needs to be prevented by careful monitoring.

Manual shrink after data deletion: The disk size will not automatically reduce when you delete data from a thin-provisioned virtual disk. You need to shrink it manually.

Thin provision vs thick

What is thick provisioning

Thick provisioning is a provision strategy that takes up all storage space allocated from the beginning. Even if no data is written to disk, the unused physical storage cannot be used for anything else.

There are 2 types of thick-provisioned virtual disks.

  • Lazy zeroed thick disk is a disk whose size is set at creation, but does not immediately erase or overwrite the old data on the blocks. Instead, these data will be zeroed out later when new data is written to the blocks for the first time.
  • Eager zeroed thick disk is a disk that erases the old data on the blocks as soon as it is created. It takes longer to create but will be faster on the first write.

✦ Pros

Space predictability: The disk size is set at creation time, thus no over-provisioning.

Less Latency: Provides less latency since all storage space is pre-allocated.

Less Monitoring: Thick provisioning require larger LUNs, which means you don't have to re-do them when storage capacity needs a boost.

✦ Cons

Space Wasted: The unused storage space cannot be used for other things.

Longer Creation Time: It takes longer to create a thick disk for it is larger than thin disks initially.

Thin provision vs thick latency

What is the difference between thin and thick provisioning

After my introduction above, I believe you already have a general understanding of thin and thick provisioning. In this section, I will make a more visual comparison of them so that you can choose the suitable type of virtual disk to create.

Provision type Thin provisioning Thick provisioning
Total disk size grow as data written fixed
Size at creation smaller larger
Space saving yes no
Creation time shorter longer
Latency more less
Need Monitoring more less

Thin provision vs thick provision: How to choose from them

As you can see, both thin provisioning and thick provisioning has their advantages and disadvantages, you may need to choose according to your situation. You can consider from the following factors.

  • If you don't need to worry about saving storage space, and need better disk performance and security, thick provisioned disk is the more suitable choice for you.
  • If you have a limited budget, want to save storage space, and are not very demanding on latency, creating a thin-provisioned virtual disk may be better.

Summary

When creating a virtual disk you have 2 storage provisioning type can choose from, thin provisioning and thick provisioning. In this article I introduced what is thin provisioning, thick provisioning, and what are the differences between them. I hope this could help you make a more suitable choice.

After created a virtual machine, you still need to create backups to protect the data on these virtual disks. Here I recommend you a professional backup software, AOMEI Cyber Backup, for it allows you to back up multiple VMs with 2 easy steps.