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building a custom WHS rig RRS feed

  • Question

  •  

    So you go shopping at newegg.com, to purchase mb, memory, case etc.

    1) can you install the WHS o/s on a "mirrored set" of 40gb SATA hd

    2) can you then add a 12 or 16 port 3Ware RAID5 controller for 12 to 16 TB of storage 

     

    Is this doable?

     

    tia

    Friday, December 14, 2007 3:23 PM

Answers

  •  

    Thx for all the answers & feedback.

    I will get a SATA card & not use the RAID config.

    Saturday, December 15, 2007 4:29 AM

All replies

  • Greetings!

     

    1) two problems here: WHS at this time does not support mirroring of drives, esp. of the system drive.  The other problem is that in the past there were problems where there was a file-size limit based on the size of the system drive.  WHS will take about 20Gb of the boot drive for the system volume and use the rest to organize storage.  With a 40Gb drive, that limited the size of files that could be transferred (copied) onto WHS to 20Gb.  AFAIK, it's still considered a best practices to make your boot drive as large as possible (at least 250 Gb).

     

    2) No problem with the 12 or 16 port SATA controller; BIG problem with the RAID5 part.  WHS does not support any kind of RAID.  It uses its own replicated storage method to store data across drives so that home users wouldn't have to deal with RAID issues (if any should spring up).  If you're using a 3rd-party SATA controller, check to see if it's supported under Windows Server 2003.  If it is, then no problem; if not, then you'll have to make sure you have the drivers available on a USB stick or a floppy before beginning the installation.

     

    Other than that, knock yourself out!  While 512M is the amount specified for RAM, I believe when you have a dual-core or quad-core processor then 1G makes a noticable improvement, esp. when dealing with video files.

    Friday, December 14, 2007 4:15 PM
  • 1) thanks for the heads up on the boot drive.

    I assume there is no way to make WHS use the boot drive strictly as a boot drive with NO storage?

     

    2) Yes, the 3rd party storage has Server 2003 drivers.

    Since WHS does not support any kind of RAID, that means using a SATA RAID controller would be a waste of money?

     

    Friday, December 14, 2007 4:53 PM
  •  

    You can use RAID, provided it's completely hardware (not Intex Matrix for example) and the drivers are supported by Server 2003.  With 16 drives I would say it is a must.

     

    But why bother with the other two?  If your hardware supports it, I would create 2x 7-drive RAID-5 arrays, assign the others as on-line spares, and then stripe across the whole lot with RAID-0.  Obviously you could use a 15 drive array but that is a lot of drives for a single RAID-5 stripe since it would take a long time to rebuild, leaving you exposed after a single disk failure.

     

    Out of interest, why do you need so much space?

    Friday, December 14, 2007 5:14 PM
  • Don't forget that WHS won't even install on a drive thats smaller than 80GB!

     

    Colin

    Friday, December 14, 2007 5:43 PM
  •  awedio wrote:

    1) thanks for the heads up on the boot drive.

    I assume there is no way to make WHS use the boot drive strictly as a boot drive with NO storage?

     

    2) Yes, the 3rd party storage has Server 2003 drivers.

    Since WHS does not support any kind of RAID, that means using a SATA RAID controller would be a waste of money?

     

     

    Awedio,

     

    1) No.  Remember WHS is designed to be plug-and-play, so there's blessed little about the hardware that the user can (or is supposed to) muck about with.  I'm a little fuzzy on the ins-and-outs of the storage (you can search previous posts if you want to), but as I understand it, the 20Gb sys volume is drive C:, while the rest of the drive and all other drives look like drive D:.  Drive D: contains "tombstones" that point to where all the files are stored in the storage cloud.  WHS regularly "balances" the storage so that files in folders that are marked for replication get copied to multiple physical hard drives with redundancy, so if a drive fails the files can be recovered.  The long and short is that it looks like WHS NEEDS to have the D: drive physically shared with the C: drive in order to keep the filing systems organized.

     

    2) Yes.  If you can find an equivelant card that doesn't do RAID for less money, go for it.  Otherwise, just use the SATA card but don't enable the RAID capabilities.  My motherboard supports 6 SATA drives with RAID.  I just didn't enable the RAID in the bios.

     

    I would recommend against doing any type of striping for the drives, either RAID 5 or RAID 0.  WHS expects to find just a plain drive out there, which it adds to its own Drive Extender system.  It means that you can just start out with a 1-Tb system (with 2-500Gb drives) and add 750Gb or 1Tb drives as needed and as the price goes down.  You install the drive in your system, and when you bring the machine back up, you go through the interface and add the new drive to Drive Extender.  All the balancing and file transfers across the drives are done in the background -- no user intervention required.

     

    Friday, December 14, 2007 6:00 PM
  • Awedio,

    Regarding RAID and WHS in general: RAID is an "unsupported scenario." That means that Microsoft doesn't test WHS on hardware with RAID arrays, and won't support it on RAID arrays. That said, many people (including myself) have been able to run WHS on relatively small arrays. There are caveats with larger arrays, though, that argue against RAID with WHS in general.

    You could install WHS on a hardware mirror set, as long as the system drive(s) meet the minimum requirements. That would be inadvisable, as the minimum requirement is an 80 GB drive, and a drive that small will severaly impact normal WHS operations.

    Regarding RAID 5, WHS uses the MBR style of disk, not the GPT style. The problem with this is that MBR disks are limited to a maximum of 2 TB. If you give WHS a 7 TB array, it will format it as MBR and ignore 5 TB of the space. So large arrays are not a good idea.

    There are other issues as well. If you lose a disk in your array, you really ought to rebuild it ASAP, becuase a degraded array is no longer reliable. Rebuilding may seriously impact performance on your server. Also, expanding an array if you run out of storage is usually painful.
    Friday, December 14, 2007 8:11 PM
    Moderator
  •  Jimbo! wrote:

     

    You can use RAID, provided it's completely hardware (not Intex Matrix for example) and the drivers are supported by Server 2003.  With 16 drives I would say it is a must.

     

    But why bother with the other two?  If your hardware supports it, I would create 2x 7-drive RAID-5 arrays, assign the others as on-line spares, and then stripe across the whole lot with RAID-0.  Obviously you could use a 15 drive array but that is a lot of drives for a single RAID-5 stripe since it would take a long time to rebuild, leaving you exposed after a single disk failure.

     

    Out of interest, why do you need so much space?

     

    I have some video's, pics etc

    I just think it would be cool to have 12 to 16 TB's of storage!

    Saturday, December 15, 2007 4:27 AM
  •  

    Thx for all the answers & feedback.

    I will get a SATA card & not use the RAID config.

    Saturday, December 15, 2007 4:29 AM
  •  awedio wrote:
     Jimbo! wrote:

     

    <snip>

    Out of interest, why do you need so much space?

     

    I have some video's, pics etc

    I just think it would be cool to have 12 to 16 TB's of storage!

     

    I was discussing this with some co-workers, wondering what the upper limit of WHS would be, and how hard it would be to get 1PB (Petabyte, or 1,000Tb) of storage.  We all agreed that would be "really cool" to have, just to have it.

     

    Then it struck me: If we all Really, REALLY want a Petabyte of storage, does that make us ...

     

    ... (wait for it) ...

     

    Peta-philes?

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007 4:20 PM
  • I laughed. 

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007 4:33 PM
  • In a previous job, there was a dish in every conference room. The company rule was that every pun during a meeting cost at least a quarter, to be paid immediately into the dish. (The money went to the employee activity organization, to fund cookouts and the like.) Particularly egregious puns cost more, price to be decided at the time of the offense, by the other participants in the meeting.

    That gem you just uttered would merit at least $1.00 pun-ishment...
    Wednesday, December 19, 2007 5:42 PM
    Moderator