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General Hard Drive and storage configuration questions RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have used a 120 day trial version of the WHS and have been very impressed.  I will be using this system to simply and displace an existing set of Ubuntu Linux servers (I want to spend less time working on systems and more times using them).  As a linux administrator by trade I have to say this (not to start any flame wars) but I have been VERY impressed by WHS.  I now have a few questions about how storage works in WHS before I buy a retail (OEM) license and install over my test installation.

    The primary goals of WHS for me are
    1.) To backup the family laptops
    2.) To store important family files that we don't want to lose
    3.) To store media (music, images, videos) that my family uses at home.

    My concerns in order of importance are:
    1.) Integrity of data (i.e. it's not corrupted, etc)
    2.) Availability (it's up and available and the data is easy to find)
    3.) Usability

    Not to carry on but I wanted to provide some background to my question:

    General info about my situation:
    System:The hardware I have has been running WHS for a month now with no issues.  From what I can tell the gear I have in the system meets the Windows 2003 Server Hardware Requirement guidelines.
    Celeron Dual Core low voltage processor
    2GB DDR2 667 RAM
    Intel Dual Port Pro 1000 Ethernet Card (Server Grade)
    Cisco 8 Port managed GB Switch

    Storage:
    My current setup has 2 1TB Western Digital Green (Raid Edition) hard disks on a SYBA (Silicon Images) SATA Raid controller card running in a hardware MIRROR.  Thus the volume appears to be 1 x 1TB volume (993 MB or so).  While I had to install a driver for WHS to see the volume on the raid controller the Driver is a Windows 2003 Server certified driver and seems to work just fine.

    Being a server/storage person by trade I typically run systems with high data integrity requirements in a raid setup (0, 1, 5, 10 etc depending upon the IO requirements and need).  I know little to nothing about Windows Disk Extender (which from what I can tell is the storage system WHS uses).  Thus I'm not sure about how it stores data and how it replicates (if it does) to make sure that copies or parity are kept safe enough to perform a rebuild in the event of a component failure.

    With that in mind, my fundamental questions are:
    1. Is it better to not use a raid controller and allow WHS to manage the disks directly?  If so why?
    2. How are copies (or rebuild information such as parity) kept, thus how does a restore process work if a drive fails
    3. Is RAID recommended, supported, or meant to be used at all or is the design built around a more JBOD style design where data is "automagically" replicated by the storage management system to keep copies of data on seperate devices
    Thanks very much for any information.  Again I have been very impressed (as have a number of my nerdy co-workers) with how straight forward and easy WHS is.  The biggest advocate has been my wife who loves that her laptop just gets backed up and the printer and shares are shared globally and she doesnt' need a handful of passwords and samba mounted drives to make it all work.

    Also thanks to all those on the forums.  I've been reading a lot of entries here and have been impressed with the support people are providing one another.

    Cheers.

    Thursday, March 12, 2009 4:07 PM

Answers

  • I'm going to recommend you start with the technical briefs and other documentation Microsoft has provided here. Many (probably almost all) of the questions you haven't yet realized you'd like to ask will be answered there.

    As for your explicit question: RAID is not supported. It will normally work, but you will be accepting the increased maintenance, and the lack of flexibility, that RAID brings to the table. And if you have a problem which involves a reinstallation of the OS (for example a failed system drive), you will find it more difficult because of the need to supply the right drivers at the right time(s). For more information see the Why RAID is not a consumer technology post on the WHS team blog. As an IT pro, I don't think you'll have much trouble with the increased maintenance, but do you want to be bothered at home?

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, March 12, 2009 5:20 PM
    Moderator