locked
What are the best features of Drive Extender? RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Just a couple of bullet points, please, no long lists, longer explanations, or longest diatribes (plenty of that last in other threads :) ). These will be the primary reasons you use Drive Extender V1 today, and/or would have used Drive Extender V2 in the future. Nothing fancy, I'm just looking for the most important subfeature or two for you, the user of Windows Home Server. V1 vs. V2 isn't important; the goals are the same.

    I'll start.

    Drive Extender gives me an easy way to add more storage to my server without worrying about:

    • matched disk sizes for local data protection (RAID), or
    • moving data from disk to disk (extending storage seamlessly).

    I specifically exclude using whatever disks I have laying around, and data protection itself, from this.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, November 29, 2010 7:50 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • For me, it's the simplicity of adding extra storage.

     

    ETA: make that adding extra reliable storage.


    qts
    Monday, November 29, 2010 7:56 PM
  • Positives for me:

    • A single, easy to manage storage pool that can be expanded through a simple user interface (WHS console)
    • Selective duplication (needed a solution for chunking large files on DE2 for me) making it more efficient than RAID
    Monday, November 29, 2010 8:06 PM
  • Drive Extender gives me an easy way to add more storage to my server without worrying about:

    • matched disk sizes for local data protection (RAID), or
    • moving data from disk to disk (extending storage seamlessly).

    I specifically exclude using whatever disks I have laying around, and data protection itself, from this.


    I agree with your bullets...

    Very easy to extend storage as needed.  No worries about matched disks for RAID...

    Monday, November 29, 2010 8:07 PM
  • 1.   Adding more storage to the pool without worrying about size or type.
    2.  Selective Duplication of Folders.

    --
    _________________
     
    BullDawg
    In God We Trust
    _________________

    Just a couple of bullet points, please, no long lists, longer explanations, or longest diatribes (plenty of that last in other threads :) ). These will be the primary reasons you use Drive Extender V1 today, and/or would have used Drive Extender V2 in the future. Nothing fancy, I'm just looking for the most important subfeature or two for you, the user of Windows Home Server. V1 vs. V2 isn't important; the goals are the same.

    I'll start.

    Drive Extender gives me an easy way to add more storage to my server without worrying about:

    • matched disk sizes for local data protection (RAID), or
    • moving data from disk to disk (extending storage seamlessly).

    I specifically exclude using whatever disks I have laying around, and data protection itself, from this.


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

    BullDawg
    Monday, November 29, 2010 9:55 PM
  • 1. I don't have to worry about matching disk sizes, and having a spare if a RAID disk dies.

    2. A very simple way of increasing the storage pool.

    3. Duplication of important folders.

    Monday, November 29, 2010 11:13 PM
  • A single, seamless data pool

    Ability to add or replace drives as needs change without need to match specific hardware

    Ability to have redundancy (sorry, I need this third bullet)

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 1:37 AM
  • To what BullDawg wrote, add:

    3) arbitrary sized storage pool without limits like drive letters

    4) ability for a given logical share to be larger than a given storage device without any user/admin intervention

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 2:21 AM
  • My Blu-Ray and HD-DVD backups far exceed the capacity of any single drive, but I want them stored in a common folder to make sharing/streaming easier.  DE makes that easy.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 2:40 AM
  • And while you specifically exclude the perjorative "using whatever disks you have lying around," I don't think you should exclude that it allows a server to add capacity over time without any requirement that the disks match in size, performance, interface, or host attach method even if the result is suboptimal. (In the latter, I'm tinking of e.g., external USB drives or, dare I say, re-purposed drives). I built my WHS from scratch three years ago. There is already no way to buy a completely like disk to replace my dying one.
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 6:17 AM
  • Life with WHS and DE can't be distilled to two or so bullets.  A broad spectrum of returns from a diversity of responses might turn up gems not thought of if we all distilled to top 2 bullet points.   

    Apart from client backups, for me this is sort of asking why I don't put stored content on my WMC HTPC - DE being an important enabling  feature for me.

    ·         selective duplication of folders - much of my content has hardcopy originals.

    ·         A simple virtual drive space for all my shares (I've not explored JBOD on W7)

    ·         easy migration from say  V1 to V2 without a total new drive standard across many drives = many dollars avoided.

    ·         easy expansion of storage pool - so easy just to add another drive of the latest highest capacity available

    ·         easy to recover data when the worst happens and your backup might not be as good as you thought, or as happens some oversight or compromise that ends up biting.

    ·         Have had a bad experience with replicated MB RAID that almost lost my data.

    ·         happier to have Microsoft provide an integrated supported solution rather than a build of parts individually supported even if best of breed (eg, compare with the problematic nature of MB RAID and AHCI drivers on top of the OEM MB).  DE on V1 has its problems when streaming, but I expect MS to sort this out in time, otherwise the product would not be allowed to be sold (fit for purpose)

    ·         experience that Microsoft will in the end provide an excellent solution even if it takes 3 releases, meaning one can make a strategic commitment, vs a RAID solution of parts.

    ·         DE on WHS works much more reliably than RAID on my desktop (have had to provide mouth to mouth many times)

    ·         My WHS has Lightsout installed as a responsible attempt to conserve power consumption, $ and greenhouse gas production somewhere.  I wonder whether the stop start nature of my server would perform better with DE or RAID.  DE seems to work well. RAID on my desktop - well I always hold my breath when I do a full reboot. WHS needs to support stop start operation - mandatory always on is not an acceptable home solution.

    ·         Perhaps I just want to provide $ to Microsoft for DE, rather than RAID $ to Intel or whomever. :)

     

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 11:47 AM
  • Hi

    I think I would express it slightly differently.

    Drive Extender was one of the primary reasons I bought into WHS.
    I could have built a traditional server with Windows or Linux.  WHS gave me the features I wanted within an environment my wife or son could understand and run without me there to do it for them, DE is a very powerfull part of that. For example, I was out of town last month when a drive went down, my son called and asked what he should do, I told him to get a new drive, read the help files and follow the instructions, a couple of hours later all was well again.

    Further benefits.... I never have to worry about drive sizes or space on individual disks, everything just happens.

    DE is one of the most (if not the most!) impressive features of WHS. If it is not in future versions I will not be upgrading or buying into WHS anymore.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:16 PM
  • And while you specifically exclude the perjorative "using whatever disks you have lying around," I don't think you should exclude that it allows a server to add capacity over time without any requirement that the disks match in size, performance, interface, or host attach method even if the result is suboptimal. (In the latter, I'm tinking of e.g., external USB drives or, dare I say, re-purposed drives). I built my WHS from scratch three years ago. There is already no way to buy a completely like disk to replace my dying one.

    I don't exclude a mix of different disks added at at different times, but "what you have laying around" is old, probably 2-3 years old at least. Old disks are statistically at greatly increased risk of failure within a short period of time. Why would you trust your data to them when you can buy a new 2 TB disk for maybe $100?
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 1:19 PM
    Moderator
  • This isn't intended to be a discussion, but the forum software doesn't allow for polls. I can't take a laundry list, a diatribe, or an impassioned plea back to Microsoft in a useful form.

    I'll use your top 3 bullets. Thanks for the contribution!


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 1:21 PM
    Moderator
  • >I don't exclude a mix of different disks added at at different times, but "what you have laying around" is old, probably 2-3 years old at least. Old disks are statistically at*greatly* increased risk of failure within a short period of time. Why would you trust your data to them when you can buy a new 2 TB disk for maybe $100?

    I never put an old disk in my WHS server, but I did add a disk 3
    times, which DE makes so easy to do.

    One thing people haven't mentioned is that DE can use different kinds
    of disks and seamlessly add them to the storage pool, and that's
    something hardware RAID can't ever do.
    IDE/SATA/SCSI/USB/Firewire/whatever comes next, all usable in the
    storage pool, I LOVE it and wouldn't use WHS without it.

    As for the TB disk, I'll probably add one to the storage pool, but I
    wont take anything out unless it fails.

    Not to mention a single 2TB disk can fail too and if it's the only
    one, I lose *everything*, unlike with DE (v1).


    Bob Comer - Microsoft MVP Virtual Machine
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 2:44 PM
  • Bullet points, Bob? I need the sound bites...
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 2:56 PM
    Moderator
  • Good things about DE v1:

    1. Use of any kind of disks in the storage pool seamlessly.
    (IDE/SATA/SCSI/USB/Firewire/HW RAID set/Whatever)  Any hardware
    solution will never be this versatile.

    2. Add storage as needed, either permanent or temporarily, all very
    easily done without needing to know anything but how to plug the disk
    in and running the WHS console.

    3. It just works, I've had it from the beginning and never have lost
    as much as a byte of data except for some stress testing while running
    WHS in a VM.


    Bob Comer - Microsoft MVP Virtual Machine
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 3:12 PM
  • In order of importance the top 3 drive extender features, in my mind:

    1. No reliance on any special hardware. I.E. you won't get caught with your pants down if your RAID controller dies and you can't find a compatible controller to bring the disks back online.
    2. Duplication. Its nice that this duplication is also selective, but I don't look at this as being as important. It would be sufficient for everything to be duplicated.
    3. Ability to read a drive in a non-WHS computer, if the worst occurs. The above two had me almost sold when I initially read the DE whitepapers. This last point made me invest. When it comes down to it, at the end of the day. A DE disk is just an NTFS disk. 

    In short, when its your data, every additional recovery tactic makes you more and more secure. We don't want to be beholding to any specific piece of hardware, or the software of any company we regard less than Microsoft. 
    Other important features that didn't make the top three:
    1. Ability to select diversely sized disks. Important, but I would be ok with some wasted space as long as the other simplicities and safeties weren't sacrificed.
    2. Exceedingly simple management. Pop in disk, click add. Click remove, remove disk. Done! Simple!

    Things missing from DE v1 that we WISH had been worked on for DE v2 rather than the reset that removed feature 3 from the above:

    1. Better error reporting for failing drives. Sometimes its difficult to determine which drive is failing.
    2. Recycle bin support for DE shares. DE currently doesn't protect you from your delete key. Currently I have to back up my home server to an external disk, mainly as a precaution against accidental deletion. I probably still would anyway, but I wouldn't necessarily feel I HAD to if this feature were introduced.
    3. Some reports as to which files were on which drives would help for disaster recovery scenarios and selective duplication.
    Other exceptionally nice things about home server:
    1. Single instance storage for backups!! Excellent! Can't even quantify how much space this must be saving me. I hadn't even considered backing up whole computers (rather than just the data) before this. With SIS, its feasible.
    2. Super simple (and extensible!!) management interface. With network notifications, etc.
    3. Simple restoration of machines over the network.
    4. Remote access.
    5. Designed for headless operation.
    6. Probably other things, there are simply so many things that I like about WHS.
    However, all the nice things about WHS revolve around DE. Its just an interesting layer and set of features over Windows Server without DE. There is no cohesion or prime value proposition for the product without it.

    Does that mean WHS should be scrapped if DE can't be reconciled with Server 2008 wichever? NO! Its quite simply one of the best products that Microsoft has, and deserves a lot more attention than its getting. 

    -Graham

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 3:41 PM
  • One other thing:

     

    Drive extender is conceptually simple. You can explain how it works, in broad strokes, to a non technical person. And if they use that analogy with their use of WHS, they won't feel betrayed, as the analogy is close to how DE functions.

    RAID is not conceptually simple. It was designed to achieve a task efficiently, rather than designed around conceptual simplicity. Technology is much more accessible if it only requires understanding a simple analogy to work with it. You may be able to come up with a simple analogy for some variants of RAID, but the more difference there is between that analogy and how the system actually operates, the more often the user will feel betrayed by goings on they don't comprehend without reading reams of documentation.

    Tiny servers are getting faster and faster all the time, and for home use, we don't have very special speed requirements from our data stores. We may need to read data quickly at points (streaming), and we may need our systems operation to not be too affected by the goings on of the disk layer (on the fly transcoding), but we really just don't need a lot of the efficiency that RAID or dedicated hardware provide. What we want, more than any kind of efficiency, is simplicity. Even if we are technical people, and tackle complicated things with computers in our day jobs, we hardly want to come home and handle a complicated system just to keep our data safe. We all chose WHS because of its simplicity of use, conceptual simplicity, and simplicity of hardware. Why make things more complicated?

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 3:55 PM
  • Drive Extender gives me an easy way to add more storage to my server without worrying about:

    • matched disk sizes for local data protection (RAID), or
    • moving data from disk to disk (extending storage seamlessly).

     


    I totally agree with both of your bullet points above. For me with WHSv1 it just simply just works and it has saved me several times, without any loss of data at all.

     

    Colin

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 4:24 PM
  • 1. Able to add/remove drives from pool without worry about locations and sizes of folders

    2. Ability to mix and match drives across size, interface etc


    -- Free AV for WHS : http://whsclamav.sourceforge.net/
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 5:07 PM
  • Why I use DE today:

    • Provides a simple way to add or remove a drive
    • profvides a simple way to grow storage as needed
    • selective share duplication
    • not tied to an OEM solution
    • baked into the platform

    What I was hoping to use DE v2:

    • All of the above
    • Duplication of client backups

    Jeff.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 5:40 PM
  • Just to echo the major points...

    1. Easy expansion of drive space without worrying about disk types
    2. Selective folder protection
    3. Easy management of server
    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 8:44 PM
  • Easy expansion.  My WHS1 has grown from 2TB to start to 18TB now.  I can't do that with any other device on the market of any sort (take that, Drobo).

    Ability to backup with no file duplication.   I don't people appreciate how much this saves on space occupied.

    The ability to pick and chose data that is duplicated, and more importantly: determine what data I don't need duplicated.

    Single folders that extended beyond logical drive size.   Forget "Rips" think Windows MC Saved TV folder.. if you're using a Ceton or other to capture HD, you can find youself storing tons of High definition, great stuff.  My DVR archive is over 4TB.  And I've archived events I never want to lose.. ____, I have archived everything from local news events, mini-series, etc.  All in great HD.. which, especially when Bluray isn't issued on the cable series I may love, can be a big prize winner.


    I've got snapshots of our itunes and ipod.  

     

    It's the ability to grow rapidly with my needs.  I laugh out loud with the "let's go to the cloud' commercial where it shows a woman find a TV show at home.. is she using something different then I am?  My Mediacenter when saving a program ends up about 7GB/hr.. if she's sucking that down over WiFi in an airport she has an AWESOME upload connection at home and at the airport, and there is no way she's archiving that online continuously, not in the days of Comcast, etc. :)


    Local archives matter.  The loss of DE makes me look to other options.  And right now, it's primarily going to be stocking up on copies of WHSv1 and keeping them on hand for me and clients where I've recommended it.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 1:43 AM
  • easy storage expansion

    selectable duplication

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 4:17 AM
  • Most reasons captured here are great. However for me the most important reasons are about a system to significantly reduce the risk of losing data at a reasonable cost.

    • long term integrity of data - hardware will fail, I can move my data disks to new H/W and rebuild. I dont want to copy Multi TB of data to a new disk array.
    • Multiple levels of data safty - Duplication when needed and in the event of catastrophic failure each useable disk has complete files that can be recovered. (lose 2 disk of Raid 5 and you just have an expesive paperweight.)
    • Cheap, Organic growth of storage.
    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 6:56 AM
  • My top 4 for DE v1:

    - drive pooling (no drive letters!)

    - selective duplication (let ME decide what is irreplaceable)

    - mix and match of disk size/manufacturer (let me grow on my own and my wallet's timetable)

    - ability to read NTFS disks on any modern Windows machine for critical data recovery (data recovery for the rest of us)

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 5:59 PM
  • Ken,

    What are your plans to do with this information?  I'd be keen to know...

    Feel free to split this to another thread if you want to keep this purely to bullet points.

    Cheers

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 6:12 PM
  • It is important to me to have
    • Protected storage that efficiently used the disks available to it given the data backed up will have large amount of identical data.
    • The ability to upgrade the storage incrementally, adding new larger disks at whatever the price/storage point is and removing older smaller ones.
    • Rapid recovery in the event of a failure.
    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 10:12 PM
  • Just a couple of bullet points, please....
    • DE is all about save data storage for the home.
      It provides storage that is expandable with a relatively high level of savety agains common hardware failure.
    • DE is so EASY!!!
      Anyone who can handle a keyboard, mouse and read SIMPLE instructions can drive DE to add storage or repair failure.

    - Theo.

    Almost forgot the most important

    • DE comes with the pakadge!
      It is part of the sulution. supported and maintained by the platform.


    No home server like Home Server (with DE)
    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 10:28 PM
    Moderator
  • Ken,

    What are your plans to do with this information?  I'd be keen to know...

    Feel free to split this to another thread if you want to keep this purely to bullet points.

    Cheers

    Feed it to Microsoft, of course. :) To the best of my knowledge they don't monitor these forums in the detail some probably think they do (while someone probably does read every post, not a lot of analysis is usually done), and in any case, a couple of obviously popular and specific bullet points are likely to be a bit easier to analyse and give reasonable consideration to.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, December 2, 2010 1:32 AM
    Moderator
  • I think most users are just dumping their reactions and analysis into the Connect thread though. I'm not sure how to get them to distill their bullet points here though.

    Simplicity and Pooling seem to be the most mentioned though. And the general consensus is that WHS is not a distinct product without DE, and certainly isn't a consumer or home product without it.

    There are various sites that let you construct ad-hoc surveys. It wouldn't be very scientific, but maybe we could inject that link into the connect post somehow with a list of features? Maybe some of the WHS bloggers could link to said survey.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010 4:58 PM
    • Quick and easy solution to increase storage capacity
    • No drive letters
    • Ability to use data recovery software on failed drive, no cross-drive files limits potential data loss
    • Selective folder duplication (don't care if I lose some backed up movies or music, DO care if I lose personal HD home movies, pictures and files)
    • Currently no limit to size/type of hard drive when adding to storage pool
    • DE makes storing and locating data very easy and intuitive
    Thursday, December 2, 2010 6:05 PM
  • That's what I expected - just good to know for certain - the alternative was that you were gathering requirements to build your own :D

    Thanks for the effort.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010 6:28 PM
    1. Easy expansion & drive replacement without concern for matched drives.  It is extremely easy to add a new drive and remove an old one.
    2. Simple ability to add/remove redundancy.  I can on the fly change what shares are duplicated.
    3. Ability for a share to span multiple drives.  This makes it much easier to manage very large volumes.  Going back to a drive=share size restriction is a huge usablity problem.
    Thursday, December 2, 2010 6:45 PM
  • Top Two:

    1. scalability allows me to retail WHS servers configured w/ appropriate storage capacity while providing assurance to end-user of ease of upgrade in future
    2. selective duplication gives greater flexibility to customers w/ large volumes of media, but only limited amount of irreplaceables (ie. family pictures, documents)

    Microsoft tags WHS as "not just NAS." Hate to say it, but w/ DE eliminated and the long-lamented exclusion of MCE integration, an expensive NAS w/ clever web UI is all Vail is going to turn out to be.

    Friday, December 3, 2010 4:11 PM
  • I use DE in WHS v1 because:

    • It spreads data across separate-but-combined unique NTFS-formatted volumes. 
    • Allows disaster-recovery by pulling out a drive and moving its files from the DE folder to a new system, maybe even a new WHS setup.
    • Individual drives can be treated and repaired/recovered as actual, typical NTFS volumes for purposes of damaged drive data recovery. Not just "all or nothing" like RAID.
    •  No need to have the whole array accessible to move data to move to a new WHS. I can pull each drive, move its files to the new system drive, then add the newly cleared drive to the pool... then take the next drive, rinse and repeat until completed.
    • Duplication ensures that the data is on at least two independent NTFS volumes.
    • Spreading data across volumes reduces the "failure area" in case of a full drive failure, and the central index (D:\) can be used to determine exactly what data was lost in such a case.
    Absolutely none of those features were present in Vail's implementation of DE.

    Then, there's the feature list of DE in general, common to Vail and V1:
    • Allows me to expand or reduce storage by any amount, using any drive I can plug in.
    Amazing what happens when Vail's Drive Extender moves the Drive Extender down a layer.

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010 7:25 PM
  • In the past ten days I removed a failing 1TB drive and added a new 1.5TB drive to my v1 box. The total process was maybe ten or so clicks. Probably including shutting the box down to get the old hardware out and put the new hardware in. (Full disclosure: the "remove" took somewhere in the neighborhood of three days since the OS had downgraded the interface to PIO. But it did it and, near as I can tell, not one bit was spoiled in the process nor did I ever lose the "duplicated" status of my duplicated shares data.)

    Of course, nothing we write here matters as they are going to do what they are already committed to do. Get 75 or 100 million of your best friends to buy WHS? That might help. A couple of thousand True Believers whining in this forum? Not so much.

    Thursday, December 9, 2010 4:08 AM
  • Ken, I think you hit the nail on the head for DE.  In the first videos of WHS, Microsoft made the statement that you could take any PC and a bunch of disks that you have laying around, throw it together and there you are, a very cheap home server.  I like the idea (don't want to hit the diatribe clause here), and have learned to embrace it.  So, like you:

    • I can use any disk(s) for my storage, I do not have to match sizes (or have part of the drive unusable) for something like RAID
    • I do not have to worry about rebuilding my RAID array, the redundant data is managed automagically for me
    • I love the fact that I can finally backup my backup (in Vail without an add-on) (we get Fires in San Diego, I don't want to lose everything)

    I will post my diatribe shortly.  I certainly hope that this option will be reconsidered.

    Marty

    I'm not on the WHS team, and I don't post a lot :)

    Thursday, December 9, 2010 8:53 AM