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WHS Suggested OS Drive RRS feed

  • Question

  • I'm building a DIY WHS and it's come time to buy a first disk where I will load the OS. I have a new 6 SATA port mobo and a case that can hold up to 6-3.5" internal drives so my plan was to purchase 6-1.5TB WD greens and use one of them to install WHS on with the remainder of the space dedicated to file storage. I probably won't get all 6 at once and will simply add drives as needed with a second drive to go in right away after the system is up and running and before I got any "stuff" on the server so that I can set up some mirrored directories.
     Eventually the server would have a total capacity of 9 TB, minus WHS OS space.

    But then I got to reading that WHS uses the OS drive last in any storage strategy so I began to wonder if I wouldn't be better off dedicating a smaller and faster drive to the OS. Something like a 500 or 320 GB Caviar black. Can anyone shed some light on these issues? The WHS will have plenty of horsepower elsewhere. E5200, Realtek 8111C gig lan chip onboard.  Thanks.
    Tuesday, June 9, 2009 8:21 PM

Answers

  • Thank you both for the replies. It seems I have a vote for each way now. I'm reluctant to sacrifice 1TB of potential storage in order to accomplish a longer warranty. As Ken noted, my primary goal is maximizing the total storage I can fit into one box. The longer warranty won't save me from a drive failure, just the expense of buying a drive in 4 or 5 years. Probably won't be able to get SATA-II by then :). But I didn't do a good job of describing all the issues I was concerned with in the original post. So if I could expand my question a little: How exactly does WHS deal with the "pool" storage on it's primary, OS drive. I understand that during initial install WHS will partition the drive with a smallish partition it dedicates for the OS and the rest goes into the total storage pool. But I've read various, conflicting comments about how that is really used. Some talk about it needing to be the "landing zone" and that this zone limits how much bulk file transfer space you have available and also because of that, that WHS will only use that space for pool storage when all other space has been used first.

    You need to read some newer comments.  :)  The "landing zone" has been gone for almost a year now.  However, you are correct in that it does use the storage space on the primary drive last.

    What I'm after is whether I can actually use that huge non-OS space on the primary drive effectively like all other storage or whether the ~1.4 TB of the first 1.5 TB will mostly go unused anyway?

    Yes, it will get used like any other free space.  The only difference is it will not be used until there is no free space on any other drive in the server.

    Will I be able to turn on folder duplication with just two drives?

    Yes.

    And if I fill up 1+ TB in the duplicated storage will I be able to continue to add files (duplicated or not) until the primary drive is close to full or will this "landing zone" eventually come into play and limit how much the first drive will hold?

    As long as there is sufficient room for 2 copies of a file on 2 separate physical hard drives in the server (no matter which 2 drives it is), it will work.  Otherwise it won't.

    To clarify, There is no "duplicate storage" (aka mirroring) at all.  (I think that is where you're getting confused.)  There is a single storage pool made up of one or more hard drives.  If you have Folder Duplication enabled on a share, it will store each file in that share on 2 different physical hard drives (without Folder Duplication, it only stores on 1 hard drive). 

    Again, I appreciate the comments. Very helpful.


    • Marked as answer by glorp Wednesday, June 10, 2009 3:12 PM
    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 4:32 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • I would use two large drives to start. Windows Home Server won't see any real benefit from a small, fast OS drive, I'm afraid. Network and other bottlenecks will overshadow any increased performance that the faster drive delivers. And in order to maximize storage overall (which it sounds like you really would like to do) you'll want to use a large drive for every possible motherboard connection.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, June 9, 2009 10:01 PM
    Moderator
  • I'd suggest using the WD black for the OS.  If for no other reason, it as a 5 year warranty vs. a 3 year on the WD greens.  I'm using the 640 GB black for the OS and WD greens for the storage pool with duplication turned on.
    Tuesday, June 9, 2009 10:57 PM
  • Thank you both for the replies. It seems I have a vote for each way now. I'm reluctant to sacrifice 1TB of potential storage in order to accomplish a longer warranty. As Ken noted, my primary goal is maximizing the total storage I can fit into one box. The longer warranty won't save me from a drive failure, just the expense of buying a drive in 4 or 5 years. Probably won't be able to get SATA-II by then :). But I didn't do a good job of describing all the issues I was concerned with in the original post. So if I could expand my question a little: How exactly does WHS deal with the "pool" storage on it's primary, OS drive. I understand that during initial install WHS will partition the drive with a smallish partition it dedicates for the OS and the rest goes into the total storage pool. But I've read various, conflicting comments about how that is really used. Some talk about it needing to be the "landing zone" and that this zone limits how much bulk file transfer space you have available and also because of that, that WHS will only use that space for pool storage when all other space has been used first.

    What I'm after is whether I can actually use that huge non-OS space on the primary drive effectively like all other storage or whether the ~1.4 TB of the first 1.5 TB will mostly go unused anyway? Will I be able to turn on folder duplication with just two drives? And if I fill up 1+ TB in the duplicated storage will I be able to continue to add files (duplicated or not) until the primary drive is close to full or will this "landing zone" eventually come into play and limit how much the first drive will hold?

    Again, I appreciate the comments. Very helpful.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 3:50 AM
  • Thank you both for the replies. It seems I have a vote for each way now. I'm reluctant to sacrifice 1TB of potential storage in order to accomplish a longer warranty. As Ken noted, my primary goal is maximizing the total storage I can fit into one box. The longer warranty won't save me from a drive failure, just the expense of buying a drive in 4 or 5 years. Probably won't be able to get SATA-II by then :). But I didn't do a good job of describing all the issues I was concerned with in the original post. So if I could expand my question a little: How exactly does WHS deal with the "pool" storage on it's primary, OS drive. I understand that during initial install WHS will partition the drive with a smallish partition it dedicates for the OS and the rest goes into the total storage pool. But I've read various, conflicting comments about how that is really used. Some talk about it needing to be the "landing zone" and that this zone limits how much bulk file transfer space you have available and also because of that, that WHS will only use that space for pool storage when all other space has been used first.

    You need to read some newer comments.  :)  The "landing zone" has been gone for almost a year now.  However, you are correct in that it does use the storage space on the primary drive last.

    What I'm after is whether I can actually use that huge non-OS space on the primary drive effectively like all other storage or whether the ~1.4 TB of the first 1.5 TB will mostly go unused anyway?

    Yes, it will get used like any other free space.  The only difference is it will not be used until there is no free space on any other drive in the server.

    Will I be able to turn on folder duplication with just two drives?

    Yes.

    And if I fill up 1+ TB in the duplicated storage will I be able to continue to add files (duplicated or not) until the primary drive is close to full or will this "landing zone" eventually come into play and limit how much the first drive will hold?

    As long as there is sufficient room for 2 copies of a file on 2 separate physical hard drives in the server (no matter which 2 drives it is), it will work.  Otherwise it won't.

    To clarify, There is no "duplicate storage" (aka mirroring) at all.  (I think that is where you're getting confused.)  There is a single storage pool made up of one or more hard drives.  If you have Folder Duplication enabled on a share, it will store each file in that share on 2 different physical hard drives (without Folder Duplication, it only stores on 1 hard drive). 

    Again, I appreciate the comments. Very helpful.


    • Marked as answer by glorp Wednesday, June 10, 2009 3:12 PM
    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 4:32 AM
    Moderator
  • OK. I think I know how I want to proceed. It still seems odd to me that WHS has a strategy to use the primary drive's storage last. If it's not for performance reasons, and there's no "landing zone" concept, then what's the point? But I guess it's one of those unexplained mysteries of an MS OS.

    @kariya21: Yes I understood that drives aren't technically mirrored as in RAID-1 but in my case they essentially would have to be. The plan was to start with only two large drives and use those until they are full. They would be the same size (minus the small partition on the primary that WHS wants) and I want most of the available storage to be in duplicated folders. The only way for that to happen is for WHS to be willing to use the available pool storage on the OS drive. That's really the source of the question. If WHS prefers that storage to be used last what penalty am I paying using only two large drives with much of it taken up in duplicated folders. Confusing.

    Thank you all very much. 
    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 3:12 PM
  • OK. I think I know how I want to proceed. It still seems odd to me that WHS has a strategy to use the primary drive's storage last. If it's not for performance reasons, and there's no "landing zone" concept, then what's the point?

    Purely speculation on my part, but it's probably because it used to be necessary (when the "landing zone" did exist) and they didn't change the code for it to work differently after Power Pack 1.

    But I guess it's one of those unexplained mysteries of an MS OS.

    @kariya21: Yes I understood that drives aren't technically mirrored as in RAID-1 but in my case they essentially would have to be. The plan was to start with only two large drives and use those until they are full. They would be the same size (minus the small partition on the primary that WHS wants) and I want most of the available storage to be in duplicated folders. The only way for that to happen is for WHS to be willing to use the available pool storage on the OS drive.

    Which it is.  It just uses it last.  In your case (with only 2 drives), obviously there is nowhere else for it to store a second copy so it will use the primary drive (because it uses it last).  If, however, 2 months from now you decide to add a third drive (before your current space is anywhere near full), you add new files after that and there is sufficient room for the data on the 2 secondary drives, it will store the copies there (again, because it uses the primary drive last).

    That's really the source of the question. If WHS prefers that storage to be used last what penalty am I paying using only two large drives with much of it taken up in duplicated folders. Confusing.

    There is no "penalty" at all.  It is storage space, just like any other hard drive.

    Thank you all very much. 

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:16 PM
    Moderator
  • I have found this post very useful, as I am considering installing WHS but have been fighting with the very issue.  I have ran many servers, and have always tried to seperate the OS from the data, so I am wondering just out of experience how this really works.

    So why do we need such a big Primary drive if the OS only needs a small partition?  It seems that if you don't care if the system ever uses the Primary drive as storage you should be able to get away with a much smaller Primary drive.

    I have a 36 Gb raptor I would like to use as the OS drive with 4 250Gb drives for the Storage.  I realize there might not be much of a performance gain to be had as stated in an earlier post, but is this possible with WHS?  And can you make it so WHS will just use the entire Primary drive strictly for the OS?

    Thanks for you help, and information thus far.
    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:45 PM
  • I have found this post very useful, as I am considering installing WHS but have been fighting with the very issue.  I have ran many servers, and have always tried to seperate the OS from the data, so I am wondering just out of experience how this really works.

    So why do we need such a big Primary drive if the OS only needs a small partition?  It seems that if you don't care if the system ever uses the Primary drive as storage you should be able to get away with a much smaller Primary drive.

    You can use any size hard drive for the primary drive now (as long as it meets the minimum hard drive size of 80 GB).  The "landing zone" concept no longer exists.

    I have a 36 Gb raptor I would like to use as the OS drive with 4 250Gb drives for the Storage.  I realize there might not be much of a performance gain to be had as stated in an earlier post, but is this possible with WHS?

    No.  You need a drive of at least 80 GB (although I think you can get it to with a drive that is ~70 GB).

    And can you make it so WHS will just use the entire Primary drive strictly for the OS?

    No.

    Thanks for you help, and information thus far.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009 12:15 AM
    Moderator
  •  The longer warranty won't save me from a drive failure, just the expense of buying a drive in 4 or 5 years. Probably won't be able to get SATA-II by then :). 

    Recovering the WHS OS can be done if the hard drive fails.  However, please review the forum posts and understand this is not exactly easy or convenient when it fails.  If it happens, expect to invest your time and drop everything else you're doing to get it set-up and running again.  The extra warranty gains you some hope that this issue can be delayed.  It my case, it's money well spent.  It's the main reason I opted to set-up the OS drive as a RAID 1 (unsupported of course).
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 12:30 AM
  • Recovering the WHS OS can be done if the hard drive fails.  However, please review the forum posts and understand this is not exactly easy or convenient when it fails.  If it happens, expect to invest your time and drop everything else you're doing to get it set-up and running again.  The extra warranty gains you some hope that this issue can be delayed.  It my case, it's money well spent.  It's the main reason I opted to set-up the OS drive as a RAID 1 (unsupported of course).

    To clarify working1's post: usually the only time it's difficult for some users is if they are using SATA drives as SATA drives (since WHS doesn't have SATA drivers included).  If you set your mobo's BIOS to run the SATA ports in IDE/Legacy mode, you shouldn't have any issues (since WHS includes drivers for IDE drives).
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 12:47 AM
    Moderator
  • Recovering the WHS OS can be done if the hard drive fails.  However, please review the forum posts and understand this is not exactly easy or convenient when it fails.  If it happens, expect to invest your time and drop everything else you're doing to get it set-up and running again.  The extra warranty gains you some hope that this issue can be delayed.  It my case, it's money well spent.  It's the main reason I opted to set-up the OS drive as a RAID 1 (unsupported of course).

    To clarify working1's post: usually the only time it's difficult for some users is if they are using SATA drives as SATA drives (since WHS doesn't have SATA drivers included).  If you set your mobo's BIOS to run the SATA ports in IDE/Legacy mode, you shouldn't have any issues (since WHS includes drivers for IDE drives).

    So, avoid AHCI?
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 3:30 PM
  •  The longer warranty won't save me from a drive failure, just the expense of buying a drive in 4 or 5 years. Probably won't be able to get SATA-II by then :). 

    Recovering the WHS OS can be done if the hard drive fails.  However, please review the forum posts and understand this is not exactly easy or convenient when it fails.  If it happens, expect to invest your time and drop everything else you're doing to get it set-up and running again.  The extra warranty gains you some hope that this issue can be delayed.  It my case, it's money well spent.  It's the main reason I opted to set-up the OS drive as a RAID 1 (unsupported of course).

    I do understand your point completely. However ... WD Blacks in RAID-1 would be a completely different failure profile than 1 single Black. I'm not trying to be argumentative, just curious. Do you know of any evidence that says a Black has a greater MTBF than Greens? I know the Blacks have longer warranties but the price difference would explain the warranty difference. It's not something I really have much knowlegde about so I'm very much open to finding out.

    ED: I realized I probably could answer this myself from the spec sheets. The product data for WD Black 1TB and Green 1.5TB have the exact same Load/Unload cycles and Non-recoverable error rate specs. WD doesn't proivde MTBF specs. The smaler Blacks (500 GB e.g.) actually have lower (less favorable) Non-recoverable error rates.
    • Edited by glorp Thursday, June 11, 2009 4:03 PM
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 3:34 PM
  • So, avoid AHCI?
    Basically, yes. You give up a small amount of performance, but that loss is likely to be theoretical. There are too many other bottlenecks in your home network as a whole (network latencies and contention, Drive Extender overhead, etc.) to ever see the full performance of a SATA-II disk.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 3:57 PM
    Moderator
  • So, avoid AHCI?
    Basically, yes. You give up a small amount of performance, but that loss is likely to be theoretical. There are too many other bottlenecks in your home network as a whole (network latencies and contention, Drive Extender overhead, etc.) to ever see the full performance of a SATA-II disk.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)

    TY Ken. You folks have been a wealth of expertise.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009 4:01 PM
  •  Do you know of any evidence that says a Black has a greater MTBF than Greens? I know the Blacks have longer warranties but the price difference would explain the warranty difference.

    WD does not use MTBF to rate their hard drives.  Something to consider is what strategy you have on replacing your hard drives.  For me, I plan to replace any hard drive in the WHS computer at or before it's out of warranty.  It doesn't matter if the hard drive is working, I plan to take the preventive steps which is more convenient for me than waiting for the hard drive to fail which certainly will occur at the most inconvenient time.  The nice thing about WHS is I don't have to worry so much about the client hard drives with its built-in back-up.  I've had client computer hard drives fail and not lost any data.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 12:39 AM