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more HDD useage confusion - two new HDD, two original HDD, plus new enclosure RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi Everyone.

     

    Sorry for the long post - but I have given this a fair bit of thought and want to save people the time of asking "did you think of this...?"

     

    I have been lurking for some time and have picked up some great information.  I know questions about optimal choices of where to use each hard drive in a WHS have been asked several times - but I have up to 4 drives available and am still a little confused.  Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

     

    If you want the nauseating complete details of my computer specs - I have placed them at the very bottom of the post... but the essential information is this:

     

    -my existing computer to be converted to WHS has two 160GB SATA I drives - it is capable of connecting up to 4 SATA I drives (does not suport SATA II speeds)
    -have purchased two new 500GB SATA II drives and a USB2.0/eSATA hard drive enclousure

    -HDD enclosure was purchased to backup the files on the old PC, prior to converting it to a WHS - but would also be nice to use as portable, external HDD for the personal PCs (as opposed to attaching it to the WHS - where it would be "assimilated")

     

    If the optimal WHS configuration is 3 HDD, and the system drive is used as a landing zone, would the best configuration be to put the system on a 160GB HDD, and use the two new 500GB HDD for data?  I know people say use the largest/fastest as a system drive, but I can't imagine needing more than a 140GB landing zone (after 20GB system partition), nor do I think there would be a huge speed difference between the new and old drives, both operating at SATA I speeds.....

     

    -160GB HDD as a system drive would be older - perpaps slightly more prone to failure - but even with a new drive - the system drive should be backed up right?
    -how do you back up the system drive?  do you have to use a ghosting program?
    -the second original 160GB HDD could be used as a portable HDD for the personal computers (would not attach it to the WHS)
    -as I understand it - with drive duplication, the max size available is the smaller of the two data drives, so would it not be better to use 2x500 gb data drives, and leave system on the 160GB?
    -if the system parition goes on a 500GB HDD, and I use a 160GB and a 500GB as data drives, would I not have a max of only 160GB of data space when using drive duplication?
    -drive duplication seems redundant to me for items backed up from a PC - would have a copy on the PC, and two copies on the server - for a total of three copies - I would think two is enough.  I can see drive duplication being more important for items stored ONLY on the WHS, and not stored elsewhere. Even drive duplication makes limited sense to me.  I would think if I want a backup of items on my WHS, it should be stored in a physically different place, i.e. if WHS in basement, it should backup to another PC, in my detached garage at the very back of my yard...... that way if there is a fire in my house, I don't lose all my data - drive duplication on the same PC won't help in such a situation

     

    Any comments/suggestions?

     

    Thanks!

     

    Dave


    full system details follow - if you care - LOL:

     

    These are the specs for my 4 to 5 year old PC which will be used for my WHS

    -Antec Sonota II Case and Power Supply
    -AMD Athlon 64 3000+ processor
    -2 x 512 MB memory (total 1GB)
    -ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB graphics card
    -Asus K8V SE deluxe motherboard (capable of 4 SATA drives when using both the

    promise Controller in IDE mode, and the VIA SATA controller)
    -Gigabit Ethernet Port on motherboards
    -two Seagate 160GB 7200.7 ST3160023AS SATA drives

    newly purchased items
    -two Western Digital 500GB WD5000AAKS Caviar SE16 drives
    -Vantec NexStar3 NST-360SU-BL USB2.0/ESATA 3.5" Aluminum Hard Drive Enclosure

     

    Primary Personal PCs

     

    My Computer
    -HP Pavilion DV9330CA 17" screen laptop with 256MB Geforce 7600 graphics
    -Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit (can't wait for the upcoming 64 bit connector)
    -two (yes 2 HDD) internal 160 GB 5400 RPM hard odrives (total 320 GB)
    -two 1GB Dimms (total 2G RAM - maximum possible on this system)
    -802.11G Wifi and Gigabit Ethernet port
    -rarely used express card TV tuner - PITA, and usless when laptop moves around
    -HP XB3000 docking/expasion base - but no express card slot in that to leave

    the tuner in - stupid HP... (oops - sorry for the rant - LOL )

     

    Wife's Computer
    -this computer is also used as her personal television and PVR
    -Windows Vista Premium 32-bit
    -HP Pavilion s3120n Slimline compact desktop Computer
    -NEC LCD1760 monitor (formerly used with desktop now converted to server use)
    -two 1GB dimms (total 2GB) RAM
    -320 GB HDD
    -AMD Althon 4200+ processor
    -built in Vixs ATSC/NTSC TV tuner
    -only a 10/100 ethernet port built into MB (sigh)
    -802.11G Wifi

     

    a rarely Used but still kicking computer about 8 years old....

    Dell Inspiron 4100 laptop
    -PC Card 802.11 B wireless card
    -built in 10/100 ethernet
    -512 MB Ram
    -Pentium 700 processor
    -14.1 inch LCD - that likes to flop around by itself - and is a great

    demonstration of how LCD backlights dim over time - LOL
    -Windows 2000 Pro - thinking of converting it to Ubuntu as a hobby PC
    -great laptop to keep in my workshop!

     

    Network Hardware and specs
    -Linksys SD8000 smart (managed) 8 port Gigabit swith
    -venerable Linksys WRT54G router running WRT firmware
    -house currently being rennovated - and wired throughout with Cat6
    -2Wire DSL modem
    -5meg/800K DSK internet service

    Thursday, February 7, 2008 5:12 PM

All replies

  •  dpkform wrote:

    -160GB HDD as a system drive would be older - perpaps slightly more prone to failure - but even with a new drive - the system drive should be backed up right?
    -how do you back up the system drive?  do you have to use a ghosting program?

    Windows Home Server doesn't have a way to back up the system drive. In a normal WHS configuration (more than one disk) the system drive is the least important drive, in terms of overall data integrity.


    (The primary data partition on a system drive of 160 GB will be approximately 129 GB, by the way, not 140 GB as you stated above.)

     dpkform wrote:

    -as I understand it - with drive duplication, the max size available is the smaller of the two data drives, so would it not be better to use 2x500 gb data drives, and leave system on the 160GB?

    While the system drive is left clear if possible on a WHS with multiple disks, a small system drive can hamper WHS operations in a number of ways. The free space on the primary data partition (D:, the second partition on the system drive) limits the maximum amount of data you can copy to your server in a single pass, and it can limit backups as well; a partition on a client machine that contains more data than the system drive on your server can hold could fail.

     dpkform wrote:

    -if the system parition goes on a 500GB HDD, and I use a 160GB and a 500GB as data drives, would I not have a max of only 160GB of data space when using drive duplication?

    No. WHS will use all of your drives, including the system drive, for storage. It prefers to use secondary drives, but if those run out of space, duplication, backups, and primary storage can all be forced onto the system drive.

     dpkform wrote:

    -drive duplication seems redundant to me for items backed up from a PC - would have a copy on the PC, and two copies on the server - for a total of three copies - I would think two is enough.  I can see drive duplication being more important for items stored ONLY on the WHS, and not stored elsewhere. Even drive duplication makes limited sense to me.  I would think if I want a backup of items on my WHS, it should be stored in a physically different place, i.e. if WHS in basement, it should backup to another PC, in my detached garage at the very back of my yard...... that way if there is a fire in my house, I don't lose all my data - drive duplication on the same PC won't help in such a situation


    It's true that duplication by itself will not absolutely protect your data. Later this year, Microsoft will be releasing Power Pack 1 for Windows Home Server, which will include the ability to back your shares and/or backup database to an external drive, take it off-site, and restore it at a later date.
    Thursday, February 7, 2008 6:05 PM
    Moderator
  • thanks for your prompt and helpful replies Ken - you really should get paid by microsoft - I notice how generous you are in supporting others - an available guru like you, literally makes people more comfortable with using and purchasing WHS. thanks again!

     

    may I ask for some final clarification (yes I am still somewhat confused)

     

    I have read that if I use two drives of different capacities, and I turn on duplication, that I wind up with a data storage limit equal to the smaller of those two drives - yet I can also specify on a file by file basis, which data should be duplicated on two drives....

     

    Igorning the system drive for the moment, and using simple drive manufacture decimal storage ratings, let's say that I set the "duplication" property on just 1GB worth of data. 

     

    With a 160GB data drive and a 500GB data drive, would I have.....

     

    (1)

     

    best case scenario -> 1 GB of space on each drive used for duplicate storage, and 159GB + 499GB = 658GB remaining for non-duplicated file storage...

     

    OR

     

    worst case scenario -> since duplication is turned on the max available space is the size of the smallest drive, thus between the two drives I now have only 160GB space available, 1GB of which is already used to store my "duplicated data".  The 500GB drive, physically has 340GB additional space, but this is lost, as with drive duplication, the max space available is the size of the smallest drive.  Thus, I have only 159GB available space remaining with these two drives, and additional 1GB data files will each consume 1GB of that remaining space, whether or not I set "duplication" for those additional files

     

     

    Now - taking into account the system drive. You mention that WHS will also use the system drive partition "landing zone" to store data if needed.

     

    So in best case scenario above, adding the system drive of 500GB, 20GB used for system, 480 remains for data.  Thatadditional 480GB data space on the system drive data partition would after storing the 1GB "duplicated" file, would leave 480GB (system drive) + 159GB (system drive) + 499GB (system drive) space for additional data

     

    (of course in reality some reasonable space needs to remain for a landing zone)

     

    In the worst case scenario above, if when duplication is on - max storage is limited by the amount of data that can be duplicated on two drives, I would have 500GB of max data storage space, duplicated or not.  500GB of "copy A" would be on the 500GB data drive, 160GB of "copy B" would be on the 160GB data drive, and the remaining 340GB of "copy B" would be stored on the 480 GB system partition on the 500 GB system drive.  The 140GB of remaining space on the system drive data partition could not be used for data.  Could that remaining 140GB of space be used as a "landing zone"?

     

    Sorry for possibly complicating things - but if you can explain that - then I think I will finally fully understand this issue !

     

    Thanks again

     

    Dave 

    Thursday, February 7, 2008 8:11 PM
  • Duplication is specified at the share level (except personal user folders, which are specified at the user level). It's difficult to give a hard rule for how drives are used, but if one assumes that there is plenty of free space available on the server, the system drive will be used only as a last resort. If WHS has to, though, it can use it for duplication, backups, and even primary storage.

    Given your scenario (2x 500 GB drives, one the system drive, 1x 160 GB data drive), I would expect to see WHS use the 160 GB drive as primary storage (WHS always tries to use the secondary drive with the smallest amount of free space for primary storage, as long as there's enough space for a file), and the 500 GB secondary drive for duplication. Once the 160 GB drive is full (WHS keeps a buffer of 20 GB free, so full is around 129 GB) it should start using the 500 GB secondary drive for primary storage, and the system drive for duplication. Files already on the 160 GB drive will remain there (at least for a while; as they are rewritten and grow in normal use they could move).

    In a system with only two drives, you will have a hard limit of the size of the smaller drive for the amount of data you can store with duplication turned on for all shares.

    Microsoft has several technical briefs describing some of the WHS components and how they operate; I recommend you read them, as they answer a lot of the questions you're probably about to ask. Smile You'll find them here (follow the For Enthusiasts link).
    Thursday, February 7, 2008 8:49 PM
    Moderator