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Installing WHS on a RAID system RRS feed

  • Question

  • I hav been trying to install WHS on my homebrew that uses a MSI MS-7125 motherboard with a RAID controller.  I cannot get WHS to do it.  I checked that the RAID works by loading XP on it as a test and it installed with no problems.  I've seen the note that WHS "may" not like RAID's, but nothing definitive.

    Has anyone been sucessful indtalling WHS on a RAID-based system?  Are there any tricks?

    Thanks in advance.

    Friday, September 25, 2009 1:44 PM

All replies

  • You need to supply storage (RAID) drivers once during initial phase of install, then again during text mode phase of install (F6, diskette). Succesful installation on RAID system has been reported (also on these forums) but it's definitely not supported.
    Friday, September 25, 2009 1:48 PM
    Moderator
  • Additionally, to what brubber already wrote: a RAID size larger than 2 TB would not be used by WHS at all, since it only supports basic disks.
    RAID is usually not a scenario for Windows Home Server, see here in the article of the WHS Team.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Friday, September 25, 2009 2:29 PM
    Moderator
  • Follow brubber's recommendation and provide the drivers twice. Note that you will need to be able to install the drivers from an "F6 floppy", because the second phase of setup is text-mode Windows Server 2003, which will not have drivers for your RAID HBA, and it will usually not accept drivers supplied on USB media.

    If you can't get that to work, break the array and let Windows Home Server manage your disks. This is the better choice in any case. RAID protects you from the loss of a disk, but so does Windows Home Server. However, neither protects you from OS corruption (say a Windows Update goes very badly). And RAID adds significant complication to server recovery scenarios. You can no longer pull a single disk out of the storage pool and recover data off of it, and in order to reinstall Windows Home Server, you have to deal with drivers all over again.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, September 25, 2009 2:53 PM
    Moderator
  • BobMarso wrote:
    > I hav been trying to install WHS on my homebrew that uses a MSI MS-7125
    > motherboard with a RAID controller. I cannot get WHS to do it. I checked that
    > the RAID works by loading XP on it as a test and it installed with no problems.
    > I've seen the note that WHS "may" not like RAID's, but nothing definitive.
    >
    > Has anyone been sucessful indtalling WHS on a RAID-based system? Are there any
    > tricks?

    Probably not what you want to do, but what I do is run my WHS in a virtual machine
    (Virtual Server 2005) with the virtual machine configuration file and
    virtual hard disk in a RAID 1 array (external eSata). That way the WHS has no
    way to know it is on a RAID array.

    Of course, WHS on a virtual machine is not supported (for some reason I have
    never been able to figure out)...

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    • Edited by davewilk Friday, September 25, 2009 8:23 PM (typo)
    Friday, September 25, 2009 6:42 PM
  • ...
    Of course, WHS on a virtual machine is not supported (for some reason I have
    never been able to figure out)...
    Virtual machine technology is something that's years away from wide use in the home. And Windows Home Server is an OEM/system builder product with specific (and low end) requirements as to hardware that is and is not permitted, just to keep it a little simpler for the consumer that buys an HP MediaSmart Server.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, September 25, 2009 7:15 PM
    Moderator
  • Virtual machine technology is something that's years away from wide use in the home. And Windows Home Server is an OEM/system builder product with specific (and low end) requirements as to hardware that is and is not permitted, just to keep it a little simpler for the consumer that buys an HP MediaSmart Server.
    Not years away for the type of person who would consider installing an OS.

    AFAIK it is supported to install WHS on all kinds of actual hardware, with a huge number of potential problems. Virtual Server is just one platform.

    It seems to work...

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    • Edited by davewilk Friday, September 25, 2009 8:20 PM (clarification)
    Friday, September 25, 2009 8:12 PM
  • You should read the OEM restrictions for Windows Home Server. No optical drive, no RAID (Microsoft has said repeatedly that RAID is not a supported technology), no wireless network interface, and several other restrictions on hardware. The pretty drive (and other) lights on an HP MediaSmart Server are part of the OEM requirements, for example. And the OEM channel is how Windows Home Server is available at retail. You buy a device at Best Buy or similar, with Windows Home Server pre-installed. Or you buy from your local "system builder". There is no retail software-only package. 

    And I stand by my statement regarding virtualization technology. For the average consumer who might buy a Windows Home Server device (and that's a majority of all purchasers of Windows Home Server), they won't even understand in more than the broadest possible sense why they might want a virtual server, never mind set one up. It's years from being widely used in the home. "The type of person who would consider installing an OS" is a tiny minority...


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, September 25, 2009 8:55 PM
    Moderator
  • Well, I didn't think my question would provoke such conversation!  Ken, I agree with you about a virtual machine - too technical for the average home user who just wants to share media and backup his system.

    However, based on what I'm seeing on my server, I'd say it's not doing too good a job at protecting my data from a single disk failure.  According to the disk management add-on I installed, one drive is 8% full and the other is 24% full.  How is the 8% drive protecting the 24% drive from failure?  Also, how are the drive backups protected?  The total space taken for PC backup is definitely not enough for any redundancy considering the amount of data on the computers in my house.  Am I missing something?

    Based on what I'm seeing, I don't see anything short of a full copy of data on the two drives as sufficient protection.  RAID1 has protected me several times because the mirror provides a complete second copy of everything on the computer.  Sure, an update can destroy your system, but so can a virus.  I believe the main purpose of a RAID is to protect against hardware/mechanical failures, not errant software.

    Anyways, what I'm doing is trying to protect my data. How can I be sure WHS is doing the job?
    Saturday, September 26, 2009 6:06 AM
  • Only duplicated folders are protected by copying their contents to a second drive - and even this protects only against loosing a disk due to a hardware error.
    So the difference you see can be caused by the backup database (which can be copied by using an Add-In, but is treated as disposable, because usual the clients are still there to rebuild it) and non duplicated shared folders.
    Besides that, without backing up the data to external drives and depositing those on a safe place you are not protected against disasters, which may hit your homeserver in total (overvoltage, natural disasters, fire, theft or simply a user, who deletes or overwrites the wrong data).
    So a server improves the situation in the average home, but like in corporate environment other precautions are needed for a high protection level.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Saturday, September 26, 2009 8:26 AM
    Moderator
  • ...
    Anyways, what I'm doing is trying to protect my data. How can I be sure WHS is doing the job?
    Take my word for it? :)

    Really, though, I have been using Windows Home Server since the first public beta release back in January of 2007. Have I experienced data loss? Yes, but only as a result of taking an action that I could reasonably expect would cause that loss. So for example removing two disks will usually cause data loss. So will logging in to the server desktop and using the Disk Management MMC snap-in to mess around with partitions, mount points, etc. And I have never lost data on my production server, only on lab servers. That's likely because my production server (HP EX-475 with two additional large drives)  is very vanilla and very "hands off". I don't think I've logged into the console more than a couple of times in the past 6 months, and the desktop probably less frequently than that. It's not broke, so I don't waste my time fixing it. :)

    Regarding the backup database, no, it's not duplicated. The main design focus is to simplify recovering a home PC which has suffered the number one hardware failure: a dead drive. And it does that extremely well. Duplicating the backup database would wind up consuming a huge amount of space for data that, in the end, the user is probably never going to give a darn about. And if something happens to your backup database (a random wandering cosmic ray goes through flipping bits) you can recreate it for it's main purpose by just backing your PCs up again.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Saturday, September 26, 2009 4:08 PM
    Moderator

  • ... The main design focus is to simplify recovering a home PC which has suffered the number one hardware failure: a dead drive. And it does that extremely well.
    Ken,

    What you said in the quote makes the most sense from what I've read about WHS.  The documentation I've seen so far does not say it that directly.  A WHS server PLUS the home computer give the home data protection.  The WHS serve by itself is not protected. Did I read that correctly?

    And so back to my original question about installing a RAID: as I recall when I installed WHS, I only had one opportunity to install a RAID/SCSI driver.  When/where does the second opportunity take place?  The opportunity I had as I recall was just after the computer starts booting from the install disk.  That would appear to be the "text mode" refered to above.  I also configured the BIOS prior to starting the install process.  Is there another time I'm supposed to install the RAID driver?

    Thanks all for your contrubutions to this conversation.
    Saturday, September 26, 2009 6:20 PM
  • From install disk you boot into WINPE. During this stage you can use a mouse. When you finish this stage the server will reboot into a blue "DOS" like environment. You can only use the keyboard during this stage, no fancy graphics. Early in this phase of this part you will see a line telling you to press F6 if you want to load additional drivers. The drivers should be on floppy disk. Check the documentation of oyur RAID controller / Motherboard how to make such a driver disk.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009 6:54 PM
    Moderator
  • That is what I did.  My system still came up with two 1 TB disks that WHS is using as a 2TB storage system, not a 1 TB system.  Have others experienced this problem? I have sucessfully installed RAID arrays several times before with no problem.
    Saturday, September 26, 2009 7:19 PM
  • Assuming the board supports RAID other than through the drivers and software you install after you've finished installing an operating system, you will have to initialize and define an array somehow, before you start to install Windows Home Server. You will find instructions for that in the manual (I'm certain they're there). You should probably start with the manufacturer's page for that board , and the support page for it . If you need help with that, I'm going to ask you to consult with the manufacturer's support organization; this is not the place to get hardware support for that motherboard. I'll also note that a number of people have had problems with installation on motherboards that use nVidia chipsets.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Saturday, September 26, 2009 9:45 PM
    Moderator
  • I agree with Ken.  I think your issue is hardware and this forum will not help with that issue.  Are you sure that you set-up the array before trying to install WHS?  Set it up using the RAID on board bios?  I've seen XP installs that let you do that after it's installed, but, I don't see anyway WHS will let you do that. 

    Sunday, September 27, 2009 12:35 AM
  • I agree with you gents.  I'm not asking for specific advice on my hardware. My concern arose from warnings coming from WHS and its documentation.  Having sucessfully set up a RAID on this motherboard before and because of the problems I'm having, my concern was whether they were caused by WHS.

    The summary is that yes, people have sucessfully set up RAIDs on WHS servers.  I'll take it from there.

    Thank you all.
    Tuesday, September 29, 2009 4:55 AM
  • Oh and can I get a "RAID is not supported" one more time because I don't think I've read it since oh five seconds ago."
    Sunday, November 29, 2009 11:01 AM
  • I have been runing a RAID 5 for over 1 year successfully and it works best for my situation.  I am using an older Promise SX6000 hardware RAID controller which will handle up to (6) IDE drivers.  My first RAID system below was easy. The second was a real pain.

    My first system was a P4 3.0ghz.  This system was a easy to install the RAID on because the system gave me more than enough time to respond to the driver request both times.  The first request can be off a CD or other media. The second request MUST come from a FLOPPY drive.

    My my newest system is a Intel Quad core Q9550. The first request for the RAID drivers was easy.  But upon reboot it flew past the driver screen so fast where I was susposed to hit F6, I would miss it and get the BLUE SCREEN crash.  After this happened a few times, I was tempted to break the RAID. Once I figured out what was happening (it was over a year since the install on the first board where it was easy), I started hitting F6 on the reboot approx where I knew it should be asking for the drivers from the floppy. This time the system paused and allowed me to install the drivers.  From there it was easy. If I had not installed the RAID on the prior system, I probably would have figured this out.

    My reason for running the RAID 5 is because if the main drive fails, I do not want to have to reinstall the system drive, my VPN, all my Addins, etc. This could also be done with a RAID 1 and enabling duplication (This is best for anyone that wants to expand in the future since the RAID cannot be expanded without a entire reinstall. I will not be expanding my system beyond the 1.5 terabyte so the RAID 5 works for me. I am running (5) 500gb drives. Four of the drives are the RAID 5 and the remaining one is a spare in the event of a single drive failure. If I lose two drives at the same time, my system is SOL and will require a reinstall. I will lose whatever is not backed up. This is the down side. The other downside is a motherboard replacement will also require a system reinstall due to the change in hardware. There is a way around this (Google search it), but it did not work for me. I toasted my RAID, and had to reinstall anyway. I will not bore you with the details. Just backup your shares before upgrading the motherboard.

    I backup the system share folders weekly to a 1.5 terabyte drive in the event of system failure. I also backup my backup database using the BDBB addin by Alex Kuretz. I like to keep system backups if reinstall another operating system.  Between the Microsoft share folder backup and Alex's BDBB backup, it was easy to restore both of these.

    I had thought about adding a 1.5 terabyte drive to the RAID 5 so I could duplicate the shared folders. I thought I may lose some system performance. (Please correct me if I am wrong).  I would not be gaining much since I backup the system shares weekly and it enabling duplication would not duplicate the backup database.

    The Q9550 is extremely fast with data transfers to/from the WHS. For some reason, the transfers to WHS are much faster. My main system is using a 300gb Western Digital VelociRaptor.  Maybe it is the RAID 5 that helps.

    I am running (4) Folding@Home clients setup as a service 24/7. Everyone should set this up. It is a good way to donate to cancer research and uses your spare cpu time. It helps justify running a home server 24/7 and contributes to a good cause.  Here is the info if interested: http://folding.stanford.edu/English/Download.

    I hope my post helps some.

    Todd



    Todd
    Sunday, November 29, 2009 2:19 PM