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How does WHS do balancing with USB discs? RRS feed

  • Question

  • My WHS has 5 internal drives, one is the system and the other four are 256gb IDE drives.  Then I have four external USB 2.0 drives, one is a dedicated backup and the other three are 300, 500 and 750gb.

    Here's my question.  I installed an add-in that shows me the individual drive utilizations and I know WHS is suppose to balance the data across drives.  But that doesn't seem to jive with what the add-in reports.  Three of the four 250gb drives are equally filled which i would expect but the fourth is only 50% filled.

    Then the three usb data drives have nothing on them ?  They are reported as part of the total storage capacity so they're 'assigned' to WHS, they're not just simply attached usb drives.  

     

    With all the great sales on 1.5 and 2 Tb drives, i was thinking about buying three new drive and putting them in my usb enclosures.  But i'm not sure why the drives aren't getting used.  Does WHS fill internal storage first because it's faster, then use external usb drives?  If that's the case, does it balance files across all the usb drives or is it going to just fill one at a time?

     

     

    Sunday, December 12, 2010 2:26 AM

All replies

  • Windows Home Server doesn't do "load balancing" across disks. The algorithm it uses to determine where to put data is proprietary, but in general it favors putting a new file on the disk with the least free space, as long as that disk A) isn't the system disk, and B) has at least 20 GB of free space.

    Rather than putting drives in USB enclosures, I would encourage you to pick up a couple of 2 TB disks, install one temporarily in an external enclosure, add it to server storage, and start removing your smaller disks so you can install the large disks internally. Once you've removed enough internal disks from server storage, move the external disk into your server's case and install the second large disk as well..

    I would also avoid the use of USB disks in the storage pool, other than as a temporary measure as described above. USB 2.0 isn't designed to be used as a mass storage bus (USB 3 is designed with that use in mind, so it's a different matter), and there are dozens of people who have suddenly started having issues with their USB drives after weeks or months of operation.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Sunday, December 12, 2010 3:20 AM
    Moderator
  • Upgrading internal is kind of an issue since it's old IDE.  Can't get drives bigger than about 500gb which is why I was hoping i could just go external since my enclosures are ide/sata.  So what's the problem with usb drives, they just loose connection and unmount from time to time?  As i understand it, you could take a USB drive from the WHS and plug it into a different computer and still access the files.  So as long as the file system isn't corrupting, i think i could deal with a drive not coming online here and there.

    As an alternative, i could put a PCI based SATA controller board in the system to give me 2 or 4 extra sata ports. Or the other option i guess is replace the motherboard but that's a lot to deal with and somewhat expensive.

     

    Sunday, December 12, 2010 5:02 AM
  • Well over the weekend I did some testing.  I dumped 100gb of stuff on my HOME server which filled the internal drives and forced use of the external USBs.

    Although data did distribute between multiple drives, one drive has way more data on i tthan the others .  So i'm not really sure if it trys to use usb discs equally like the internal ones or what.  I guess i'll need to pump more data onto it and see.

    But I did successfully stream a BluRay off the external USB drive that is an old IDE interface.   Looking at hard drive throughput, it stayed under 5mb/s so the demands are far below the performance level so i'm not too worried about using USB discs.

     

     

    Monday, December 13, 2010 6:59 PM
  • As an alternative, i could put a PCI based SATA controller board in the system to give me 2 or 4 extra sata ports. Or the other option i guess is replace the motherboard but that's a lot to deal with and somewhat expensive.

     

    SATA cards are cheap. Go for it.


    qts
    Tuesday, December 14, 2010 9:11 PM
  • Upgrading internal is kind of an issue since it's old IDE.  Can't get drives bigger than about 500gb which is why I was hoping i could just go external since my enclosures are ide/sata.  So what's the problem with usb drives, they just loose connection and unmount from time to time?  As i understand it, you could take a USB drive from the WHS and plug it into a different computer and still access the files.  So as long as the file system isn't corrupting, i think i could deal with a drive not coming online here and there.

    As an alternative, i could put a PCI based SATA controller board in the system to give me 2 or 4 extra sata ports. Or the other option i guess is replace the motherboard but that's a lot to deal with and somewhat expensive.

     


    Worse than just unmounting. Some users have had a USB drive drop out of the storage pool, which means it shows as "missing" in the console, but that drive will then appear as available to be added to server storage as well. Or a USB drive may spin down without telling the operating system it's done so, which can result in Windows Home Server alerting on a "missing" drive that isn't missing. Or the bridge electronics or power supply may fail, rendering the drive useless.

    If you decide to add a SATA controller, make sure you understand the server recovery process well. Practice it, if possible, so you'll be acquainted with how and when to supply drivers during recovery, and which drivers to supply.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, December 15, 2010 1:46 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Kevin,

    Hope you've made out ok on your project. I just wanted to echo some of the comments here as I had exactly the same issue.

    1) IDE only mother board

    2) Filled case with IDE drives

    3) Started using USB drives

    On this final note, I did experience a number of occasions when I would come home to find one of the USB drives had shut off due to heat. This drive eventually failed.

    To solve the problem, I installed the SATA card and one by one removed the USB drives and then the internal IDE drives until I was left with 1 IDE system drive (100GB) and two SATA data drives. It took some time, but it went real smooth.

     

    Cheers

    Mark

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 2:07 PM
  • Windows Home Server doesn't do "load balancing" across disks. The algorithm it uses to determine where to put data is proprietary, but in general it favors putting a new file on the disk with the least free space, as long as that disk A) isn't the system disk, and B) has at least 20 GB of free space.

    Rather than putting drives in USB enclosures, I would encourage you to pick up a couple of 2 TB disks, install one temporarily in an external enclosure, add it to server storage, and start removing your smaller disks so you can install the large disks internally. Once you've removed enough internal disks from server storage, move the external disk into your server's case and install the second large disk as well..

    I would also avoid the use of USB disks in the storage pool, other than as a temporary measure as described above. USB 2.0 isn't designed to be used as a mass storage bus (USB 3 is designed with that use in mind, so it's a different matter), and there are dozens of people who have suddenly started having issues with their USB drives after weeks or months of operation.


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

    I use 28 drives with my HP MSS WHS. Twenty are over USB. I have no problems with the 44TB of total storage available across my four internal drives, four eSATA drives and twenty USB drives. I use six Mediasonic 4 Bay USB/eSATA enclosures attached to my HP MSS WHS. They have been running close to a year withno issues. I have gradually upgraded many of my 1.5TB drives with 2TB drives so that I now have 44.5TB of total storage reported by my WHS. Which should be up to 45TB later this week when I upgrade another 1.5TB drive to 2TB.
    Tuesday, January 11, 2011 3:20 AM