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External WD USB Drives (in Raid) Question... best configuration? RRS feed

  • Question

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    I have a new Windows Home Server, an HP MediaSmart. I upgraded to 2gb ram, and am looking to add some hard drive space.

     

     My initial thought in adding space, was that I wanted redundancy of my data.... The drive is a 2TB external, Premium II My Book drive. What I wanted to do, originally... was attach the drive via USB, externally... have the data mirrored (thus 1Tb usable space) and that way I could save all photos, files there... and use the internal drives on the mediasmart for other things like ipod stuff, etc...

     

     The thought behind this, is that in the event of a home disaster, I can just grab the external drive (thus, all the family photos) and run...

     

     What I see now, unless I'm mistaken, is that the data is addressed in a storage "pool".

     Thus, is there even a way to add the drive to do what I want? Or is that no longer possible? Will the 2TB get added to the pool?

     Another thing I could do is use the WD MyBook Raid software... and set the raid up before hooking it to the mediasmart.. but now I'm not even sure that THAT is a good idea... since the WHS seems to manage duplication and replication.

     

     If someone could help me out w/ suggestions on what the best way to set this up is... I'd appreciate it..

     

    Monday, May 5, 2008 2:14 PM

All replies

  • The right answer for a "home disaster" (such as your house burning down or a tornado destroying it) is that you already have a recent backup off-site. You don't want to have to grab a drive before you leave; that delay could cost you your life (literally). I rotate two drives off-site (one off-site, one on-) on a monthly basis, and back up to the one that's on-site using some robocopy commands that are run nightly as a scheduled task.

    Now, as regards RAID: RAID is an unsupported scenario. That doesn't mean it doesn't work, but if you have storage issues you may well find that RAID complicates those issues, because Windows Home Server isn't designed with RAID a consideration. So I would advise giving the drives in your MyBook to Windows Home Server as individual drives. For backups, I would get a couple of external drives that you can use for backups of your shares. (You can get 500 GB external drives for under $100 these days.) For the time being, backups will take some time and some manual intervention, but PP1 will include the ability to back up your shares a bit more automatically. Take one drive off-site, and swap it with the other one on a regular basis.
    Monday, May 5, 2008 3:16 PM
    Moderator
  • Very true... you wouldn't want to delay...

     

    The WHS wouldn't need to support raid though, if the drive is configured for raid before hooking it to the system. I thought that was a cool feature of the drives.. you can configure as raid.. it will make the mirror.. and then no matter where you move the drive, to what system, any system.. via usb.. it remains mirrored...

     

     In the event of a WHS server failure... is there a way to dictate though what drive, for instance, the "photos" share is on?

    I've seen some interesting add-ons to WHS but wasn't sure if I found anything that allowed that.

     I guess, if you have 1TB internal, and 2Tb external.. is there any way to know where the files are being saved? Or if I lose the external drive, say it burns out.... would i lose my entire "photos" share... or jsut the photos in the share that happen to be pooled onto that drive?

     

    Or maybe through duplication info.. I can specify store things on the server and specify the 2TB external as where to duplicate information to??

     

     

     

    Monday, May 5, 2008 3:55 PM
  •  willvic wrote:
    In the event of a WHS server failure... is there a way to dictate though what drive, for instance, the "photos" share is on?

    I've seen some interesting add-ons to WHS but wasn't sure if I found anything that allowed that.

     I guess, if you have 1TB internal, and 2Tb external.. is there any way to know where the files are being saved? Or if I lose the external drive, say it burns out.... would i lose my entire "photos" share... or jsut the photos in the share that happen to be pooled onto that drive?

    No, there's really no way to control what goes on each drive in your storage pool. In general, Windows Home Server will keep the system drive as clear as possible if there's room on other drives in the server for all storage needs, but there's no way to predict which files will wind up on which drives, except to say that the server will try to keep files in a folder together on drives.


    You might be interested in the Drive Extender technical brief, which gives some additional information about how the storage in WHS is used.
    Monday, May 5, 2008 4:04 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks, That link cleared things up quite a bit.

    It looks like you can make sure that certain folders are duplicated onto the external drives...

     

     I guess one other question would be, since this is NTFS formatting, it should be addressable by other systems.

     

    If I have folders duplicated... and there are files/folders on the external drives...

    would they be addressable in the event of a server failure.. but plugging the USB drive into a secondary computer that may not be a WHS?

     

    Monday, May 5, 2008 4:14 PM
  • No, you have no control at all over what specific files and folders Windows Home Server will place on any given drive that's part of the storage pool. The closest you can come is by having exactly two drives and turning duplication on for all shares. Then all files in your shares will be on both drives. If you have several drives, though, Windows Home Server will determine the best use of available storage, and may place files from a single share on more than one drive.
    Monday, May 5, 2008 4:57 PM
    Moderator
  • Hmm...

    OK I may need to reconsider how I set this up. Maybe some sort of a scheduled task to make the server use something like robocopy, to move changed data to an external drive... which could be hooked up on the network USB to something like a Linksys Wireless N router w/ StorageLink... whereby the drive on the storagelink would be copies of everything?

    Monday, May 5, 2008 5:25 PM
  • That's more or less what I do, though I've simplified things significantly be using directly connected external drives. Then I take the whole drive off-site and swap it with another.
    Monday, May 5, 2008 5:34 PM
    Moderator
  • So you directly connected the external drive to the WHS? Then rotate out to offsite?

    How did you get the OS to recognize it, without it being in the storage pool?

     

     

    Monday, May 5, 2008 8:26 PM
  • A drive is a drive. You hook it up and either use the WHS console to add it to the storage pool, or go into disk management and assign it a drive letter (if it didn't get one automatically). If it's not in the pool, Windows Home Server/Drive Extender can't use it for anything, but you can treat it as a regular drive. I set up a robocopy command that runs nightly and copies changes in my shares to the drive. I just swap the drive off-site on a schedule and everything stays (fairly) current. I am, of course, trusting that if my house burns down, my bank won't burn down at the same time, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. Smile

    Note that I'm an enthusiast; at most, your average non-technical user of Windows Home Server will wait for Power Pack 1 and just use the server share backup tool that's built in to create a backup of his shares occasionally. (There are some advantages to this method even for an enthusiast.)
    Monday, May 5, 2008 8:49 PM
    Moderator
  • I hate to beat a dead horse...

    but if a drive is a drive... couldn't I not only robocopy the files from WHS to the external drive, but turn on File sharing on a single folder on that drive, and then just let the WHS share out a folder on the external drive? Even if it's not in the storage pool?

     I can't think of an OS Microsoft has released in the last 10 years that doesn't let you do even basic file sharing.. Maybe WHS won't. I just don't know b/c I haven't tried yet.

     

     

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 2:15 PM
  • Yes, you can manually create a share that's outside of the storage pool. You can't manage the share through the Windows Home Server console application, however; you have to do that entirely through Remote Desktop. And you won't be able to use share duplication, or (when PP1 is released) Server Share Backup/Restore on that share.


    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 3:15 PM
    Moderator
  • Ahhhhhhh that would work then...

     

     I can put all shares for video, etc... onto the WHS and take advantage of duplication... hook the external drive (mirrored 1TB disks) to the system and just run robocopy....

    Or I can just put a share on there, and have pc's on the network dump pictures onto the mirrored drives... use the WHS for everything except photos... and have those on the mirrored array.

    hmmm

     

    The server is located in a quick access spot, so I can get it out in a hurry if I need to. I just want to be sure I can have everything there that I need, in case I need to get it out to another system, or get it out of the house.

     

     

     

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 5:10 PM