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Nearly 2 months on OEM, just FYI RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • This isn't a commentary to brag, I just wanted to share my experiences, since my setup isn't the norm.

     

    Alright, my WHS went live on 10-31-07. Initially, I was looking for something that would give me a point to store all of my music, movies, and photos, just like many of you.

     

    At first, I went the home RAID (5) route with an independant box, gigabit connectivity and space for 4 HD's (Synology CS-406e). That proved to be a great solution for about 45 days, then issues with HD's dropping off, SLLLLOOOOWWW response times, and very limited upgrade capabilities began cropping up. Then, I decided to throw those HD's into my primary computer (BIOS RAID) and use that as a media server. It was a better solution than the (very expensive) independant RAID setup, but I was limited to those same 4 physical drives. That means that growth can only happen as HD technology increases storage capacity. Not good.

     

    Then I stumbled across an article regarding WHS. I'd first read about it in Spring of 2007, but didn't pay too much attention to it, now here it was! The full OEM version, available now! So I jumped and have been very glad that I did! Microsoft has built a winner!

     

    Ok, hardware line-up:

    Asus P5KPL-VM motherboard; built-in VGA, Gigabit, 4 SATA ports

    Intel P4 641 processor (3.2 Ghz)

    2GB DDR2 PC2 6400 RAM

    Gigabit network

    Two Promise PCI SATA300 TX4 cards

    One RocketRAID 2300 PCI Express, 1x

    One Rosewill RC-213 PCI Express, 1x, w/ Silicon Image 3132 chipset, allowing for use with SATA port multipliers

    Two Antec 900 Mid Tower cases with 5 120mm fans, 1 200mm fan in each case.

    Two Apevia PSU's, 1 500W, 1 550W

    15 hard drives, 9 in primary case w/ MB, 6 in 2nd case w/ room for 3 more, my max. hard drive capacity is a total of 26 physical drives, currently, without replacing any hardware.

    Hard Drive breakout (combo of Samsung, Seagate, WD)

    4 x 250GB

    1 x 320GB

    8 x 500GB (Primary drive is one of the 8)

    2 x 750GB

    Total space: 6.2 TB, current free 1.65 TB (I have folder duplication on everything)

     

    The experience has been great overall! The worst thing that's happened was having to pull and replace drives (see here). I haven't had any issues that required me to re-build the server, since I started with the OEM to begin with. The only ongoing thing that bugs me is the backup service grinding to a halt when you try to remove a drive. I know why it happens, but it's irritating nonetheless. The system should be smart enough not to use the backup service or files on that drive WITHOUT cutting off access to the whole server during what could be several hours of 'down time'.

     

    I haven't experienced anything other than not being able to copy to the server after heavy (50 - 60GB) uploads. When that happened, I just waited overnight and finished uploading the next day. I've seen the 'Balancing Storage' on the Console pretty much all the time, but it hasn't been a serious problem. When the kids are watching their movies, my wife says the picture will stutter occasionally. She says this happens maybe 2 or 3 times a day, but given the amount of time our primary media center is on (10 - 12 hours a day) those instances are very, very minor. We have 4 kids and 3 aren't in school yet and my wife is a stay-at-home mom, so having a way to keep them entertained WITHOUT having to swap DVD's in & out of a player is WONDERFUL!!

     

    Our family uses the server primarily for watching ripped DVD's on 2 separate Media Center machines (yes, I own all the DVD's that I rip) As a test, I ran both media centers (one standard definition, one high definition) plus opened a dvd player on the laptop and streamed to all three locations at once without a single problem.

     

    I'm just going to keep adding drives until I max out the hardware, then I'll replace them as I need to for more storage. I'm hoping to fill the 2nd case by Spring, that'll give me 18 drives online. I have a third Antec 900 case standing by that I'll be able to put the final 8 drives into. I'll probably get another Apevia 500W PSU to drive them and the fans. I'll get ahold of a Kill-a-watt device and see how much energy those three will run all together.  That won't impress the wife, I'm sure!

     

    Well, that my story. I hope it provides some useful information to someone. What's really impressed me so far is the hard drive scalability. I'll be curious to see the performance once I hit 26 drives!

    Wednesday, December 26, 2007 2:40 AM

All replies

  • What program do you use to rip DVD's?

     

    Wednesday, December 26, 2007 5:36 PM

  • I've used a lot of different programs in the past, but currently bounce between DVD Shrink and AnyDVD.  I'll use DVD Shrink if I just need the movie (kid's discs, most of our collection) and AnyDVD if I want the whole disc (for multi disc favorites; Star Wars, LOTR, etc.)

    Do a quick Google on DVD rippers or rip DVD and you'll find scores of programs and websites that can help you accomplish your goals.
    Wednesday, December 26, 2007 6:05 PM
  • My WHS box serves same purpose.  Recently added a tv tuner card, so now WHS has expanded role of recording and storing tv programs, in addition to allowing the viewing of live tv programs from client PCs.

     

    Thursday, December 27, 2007 4:10 PM

  • So, you put the card on the server directly?  Wow!  Can you tell me which card?  How do your clients access the TV programs?

    I've thought about tossing a USB-based tuner onto to mine, but haven't worked around the whole access/bandwidth issue yet.
    Thursday, December 27, 2007 5:38 PM
  • I installed PCIe Hauppauge HVR-1800 card and SageTV for WHS add-in software in WHS box, then installed SageTV Client software on client PCs to access all media.  It's a great all-in-one front end software.  My client PCs are connected wirelessly in G mode, so viewing HD TV channels stutter a bit, but in N mode or if plugged in, they stream fine.  No problem with viewing regular channels and everything else, including DVD movies. 

     

    For a good measure, threw in an extra GB of ram and use one 200GB non-pooled drive formatted with 64k cluster to record TV programs, so is not affected during balancing.  WHS box is on 24/7 anyway, might as well make the most out of it.  Software can be kind of pain to setup to get everything working though, took me couple of days.  Not too much support out there right now for WHS users using this software.

    Thursday, December 27, 2007 6:15 PM
  • I am trying to add a 500gb external to my server so it can be access with no success.  Right now it is on the system as server storage...how to I gain access to it remotely?

     

    Thursday, January 3, 2008 11:53 PM

  • You should use the WHS console on any of your networked machines.  From there, you will have the capability to set up your remote access and web site capability.  You can also use the console to setup and manage your hard drives.
    Friday, January 4, 2008 5:48 AM