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DE not balancing across all drives RRS feed

  • Question

  • I built my current WHS with 5 drives, some were later replaced with larger drives and other drives were added. Looking at the drives with the Disk Management add-in shows 3 non-system drives over 90% full and one drive not used at all. Other drives range from 20% - 60% full. Shouldn't these drives be more balanced? Is there a way (supported or not) to force balancing?

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Friday, October 31, 2008 8:09 AM

All replies

  • Hello,
    this is normal behavior. The wording balancing is misleading. The balancing will try to fill the most used disk first until less than 10 GByte are free. After that the next disk will be used and so on. The only exclusion are shared folders with duplication on, which will be found on a second disk as well at the same time.
    You can find a document here, which explains the details:
    http://download.microsoft.com/download/2/f/c/2fc09c20-587f-4f16-aa33-c6c4c75fb3dd/Windows%20Home%20Server%20Technical%20Brief%20-%20Drive%20Extender.docx
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf

    Friday, October 31, 2008 12:20 PM
    Moderator
  • S_M_E said:

    I built my current WHS with 5 drives, some were later replaced with larger drives and other drives were added. Looking at the drives with the Disk Management add-in shows 3 non-system drives over 90% full and one drive not used at all. Other drives range from 20% - 60% full. Shouldn't these drives be more balanced?
     

    No.  The algorithm WHS uses is basically "the drive with the least free space" so it keeps groups of files together on the same hard drive (which you should know since it hasn't changed from the beta program you participated in last year; yes, I recognized your name and sig file :)  ).  I am still hoping that someday they drop the term "balancing" completely because it's the wrong word to use since it doesn't balance anything.

    S_M_E said:

    Is there a way (supported or not) to force balancing?


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine



    No.
    Friday, October 31, 2008 12:28 PM
    Moderator
  • While the first question was more rhetorical, I think the correct answer should be that "it should balance all drives but it doesn't." Perhaps the algorithm will be different in the next version or a future service pack. It's a shame to have drives spinning that aren't used for months. Perhaps people should be warned not to bother adding more drives until the drives they already have are almost full.

    Is it that there just aren't any add-ins or "known" registry hacks to make it more balanced or that it's completely impossible? I think we were once told that we couldn't change the password requirements or resize the C-Drive but we found a way. ;)


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Friday, October 31, 2008 12:56 PM
  • S_M_E said:

    While the first question was more rhetorical, I think the correct answer should be that "it should balance all drives but it doesn't."
     

    I don't agree.  IMO, the way it is now makes more sense.  If a drive fails and I have to re-rip CDs, I would much rather have to re-rip every track from a handful of CDs instead of having to rip 1 or 2 tracks from each and every CD I own (150+).

    S_M_E said:

    Perhaps the algorithm will be different in the next version or a future service pack. It's a shame to have drives spinning that aren't used for months. Perhaps people should be warned not to bother adding more drives until the drives they already have are almost full.

    That's precisely what I do now.  If the drive isn't going to be used, no reason to power it up. :)

    S_M_E said:

    Is it that there just aren't any add-ins or "known" registry hacks to make it more balanced or that it's completely impossible?
     

    There are definitely no add-ins or known registry hacks to do that.  My guess is that it's hard-coded into DE (especially after the changes in PP1).  One of the changes that occurred with PP1 is the files are now "static".  In beta/RTM, WHS would sometimes move files around from one drive to another in the background.  That no longer occurs after installing PP1.  Now, once WHS places a file on the server, it won't move that file at all (that is unless you tell WHS to remove the drive that file is stored on, obviously).

    S_M_E said:

    I think we were once told that we couldn't change the password requirements or resize the C-Drive but we found a way. ;)


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine



    Friday, October 31, 2008 1:18 PM
    Moderator
  • If a drive full of your cd's fails you'd lose more with them all on one drive than you would if they were balanced on numerous drives. Also, that's what duplication is for. ;)

    I certainly won't be adding more drives in my WHS anytime soon. I could remove the empty drive (if I knew which one it is) and still have over a TB free.

    The 20G C-Drive limit is hard coded too but I changed mine. This may be more complicated though. If we could find a way to make whs start using other drives when they are "less full" I'd be happier about it.

    YMMV

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Friday, October 31, 2008 1:53 PM
  • S_M_E said:

    If a drive full of your cd's fails you'd lose more with them all on one drive than you would if they were balanced on numerous drives. Also, that's what duplication is for. ;)

    I certainly won't be adding more drives in my WHS anytime soon. I could remove the empty drive (if I knew which one it is) and still have over a TB free.

    There is a way to determine which one it is, but it would require logging into the server desktop (which I'm sure you don't have a problem with) and exploring the properties of the secondary drives, then powering down your server, unplugging one drive, turning the server back on, and seeing which drive is no longer there.  Just make sure your server is 100% completely up-to-date before you do it.  All of the component numbers should be 6.0.1800.0 except for Drive Extender which should be 6.0.1800.8.

    As a matter of fact, if all of your drives are identical in manufacturer and size and you decide to go that route, I would strongly recommend the Disk Management add-in.  It gives you a GUI of each drive in the server.  You just have to make sure you link the correct drive to the right picture.  Once you do it, you'll never lose track of which drive is which again. :)

    S_M_E said:

    The 20G C-Drive limit is hard coded too but I changed mine.
     

    Yes, but as I recall, you cloned your primary drive to another hard drive and expanded the partition during the cloning process, effectively bypassing all coding done by MS.  I don't think that will work here.  :)

    S_M_E said:

    This may be more complicated though. If we could find a way to make whs start using other drives when they are "less full" I'd be happier about it.

    YMMV


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine



    Friday, October 31, 2008 2:09 PM
    Moderator
  • I do use the Disk Management add-in but I've never taken the time to figure out which drives go where in the case. I could back up ALL of the data on drives that are NOT in the pool, remove the drive IN the pool, re-installing them one at a time to label them, then restoring the data but I've not taken the time to do that either.

    I did try disk partition utilities to resize after an install but the best method involves interrupting the install, resizing, then continuing the setup. I even wrote a tutorial. I've had zero issues with the resized drive since. ;)

    Like I said, this may be more complicated or it might just be a registry hack (another tutorial) like changing password requirements. All I know is that I want my drives to be more balanced and I don't think that's unreasonable. I just prefer to have more free space, 92-95% full drives is too full, imho.



    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Friday, October 31, 2008 2:44 PM
  • The answer to your question (as others have said) is that there is no supported way to force Windows Home Server to use all the drives in the storage pool equally. An unsupported and not recommended method might be to manage the free space yourself using a tool like Theo van Elsberg's LZReallocator. to force files off of secondary disks (DE won't move them otherwise). I'm not sure I would want to recommend that to anyone, for any reason, however, because it would be a pain in the butt...

    As for the basic design decision, the stated reason for Drive Extender to try to cluster files in this way is that you are better off losing e.g. all of 50 CDs (say 1,000 tracks), rather than two tracks each from several hundred. Personally, I am in agreement with this, because it's less annoying to re-rip the 50 CDs than figuring out which tracks I need to rip from the several hundred. But if you have duplication turned on you won't lose anything, so it's pretty much a moot point.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, October 31, 2008 3:57 PM
    Moderator
  • I was under the impression that the "LZReallocator" just emptied the D Drive landing zone by filling it up. My landing zone is fine, it's some of the drives in the pool that are too full, imo. I was hoping that there was something I could change in the registry (unsupported or not) that would allow the next drive to be used whe the other drives are less full.


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Friday, October 31, 2008 9:47 PM
  • I see no technical reason why one couldn't use LZReallocator on any drive in the storage pool. As I'm certain you're aware, such activity would be unsupported and potentially quite risky, but the drives are accessible.

    If a drive is sufficiently full (the cutoff probably being 10 or 20 GB free space, according to a blog post I can't find at the moment or I'd link it for you), Drive Extender may try to move files to other drives in your system. Otherwise it will certainly leave them alone, the theory being that moving files around all the time thrashes your drives and scares some folks.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, October 31, 2008 9:59 PM
    Moderator
  • I'll have to look at the tool more closely but it was my understanding that it only filled the system disk and that individual drives in the pool were still not accessible.

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Friday, October 31, 2008 11:06 PM
  • Ken Warren said:

    I see no technical reason why one couldn't use LZReallocator on any drive in the storage pool. As I'm certain you're aware, such activity would be unsupported and potentially quite risky, but the drives are accessible.


    If a drive is sufficiently full (the cutoff probably being 10 or 20 GB free space, according to a blog post I can't find at the moment or I'd link it for you), Drive Extender may try to move files to other drives in your system. Otherwise it will certainly leave them alone, the theory being that moving files around all the time thrashes your drives and scares some folks.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)



    I haven't used the Theo's tool, however I don't think it will help S_M_E with what he wants.  First, according to Theo's readme, the exe is designed to create "dummy" files automatically on the D partition (the end user does not get a choice of partitions/mount points where the "dummy" files will be created).  Second, Theo's tool is designed to keep running until it forces everything off of a drive.  S_M_E wants his files to be evenly balanced.
    Friday, October 31, 2008 11:50 PM
    Moderator