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How can I back up tombstones? Want to avoid reinstall if system drive fails. RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am looking for a solution to protect myself from WHS system drive failure.
    I don't consider WHS reinstallation as an option because it will require too long time on multiply drives in many-terabytes pool during which I will be cut from the data I stored on my server. It has to be faster.

    RAID1 is probably the best way but I can’t do it due to my hardware limitations. System drive is IDE and all WHS has been set up and working with ~3TB spread over 5 drives in WHS pool. Want to minimize changes to configuration. Plus I believe it should be possible. Regardless of that WHS was designed for average Joe, I believe that an advanced user should be able to make an image of system drive ~20 GB in size and not waste money on RAID1.

    I am already protected against a failure on any data drive in the storage pool even if folders are not duplicated. I use FlexRaid and I confirmed that it works. http://www.openegg.org/forums/posts/list/60/28.page

    The only thing is left to protect against single drive failure is WHS system drive.
    So, I created an image of the system drive using Acronis True Image, I have seen that it worked for other people in this forum. I should be able to restore it if my system drive fails. Takes less than an hour.

    But what about tombstones? I don’t want to create Acronis image often. I keep my WHS far away to minimize noise and most of the retail solutions don’t have a monitor connection.

    I update files in WHS pool once/twice a week, then I update FlexRaid snapshot and all my files are safe. But not WHS tombstones because I can’t carry my WHS from garage to my office every week in order to connect to monitor and boot from CD. I would consider reasonable to update WHS HDD image when new Power Pack arrives.
    It is only a set of tombstone files that needs to be updated and kept synchronized with FlexRaid backups.

    Currently if my system drive fails and I restore it with Acronis image I will not be able to use all my shares on WHS without reinstall. My data will be up to date but tombstones will be obsolete.
    And I don’t want to reinstall WHS. I have installed and configured a lot of plug-ins and other software on it.

    Does anyone know backup software that treats WHS tombstones as 4KB files and not as files they are pointing to? Acronis TI home booting from CD seems to do the job but I can’t boot from CD every time I need it.
    That will be sufficient to accomplish full WHS backup solution – being able to backup all 4KB files as 4KB files and them restore them in place erasing obsolete ones. How to do it?

    Built-in WHS backup (Accessories/System Tools/Backup) just doesn’t work. This
    http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/whssoftware/thread/2f19f966-fede-4719-8254-ec1bd763f17e
    and other threads related to this topic need to be updated.
    Quote from kariya21
    “NTBackup will only pickup the reparse points, not the actual data”
    Now NTBackup will not pickup anything. For any file in D:\Shares (tombstone location) it will give an error like
    “Warning: Unable to open "D:\shares\Photos\SanDiego\2a\R0011459.JPG" - skipped.
    Reason: The device is not connected.”
    Although the device is perfectly connected and I can use referred files any time.

    What is with diagnostics? When can we get meaningful error messages?

    I just don’t understand how reinstall is proposed as a solution against WHS system drive failure. Why back up clients then? If client fails – just reinstall, the same logic. Just copy client’s documents and photos to external HDD once in a while.

    Or, if WHS is considered an ultimate solution, if I get two WHS servers in my house will they be able to backup each other?

    To summarize:
    If any hard drive in WHS dies it can be easily restored with FlexRaid unless it's a system drive.
    If system drive dies it can be easily restored with HDD image except the tombstones because the tombstones will be obsolete.

    How to backup tombstones?

     

    Saturday, June 13, 2009 9:20 AM

Answers

  • I am looking for a solution to protect myself from WHS system drive failure.
    I don't consider WHS reinstallation as an option because it will require too long time on multiply drives in many-terabytes pool during which I will be cut from the data I stored on my server. It has to be faster.

    RAID1 is probably the best way but I can’t do it due to my hardware limitations. System drive is IDE and all WHS has been set up and working with ~3TB spread over 5 drives in WHS pool. Want to minimize changes to configuration. Plus I believe it should be possible. Regardless of that WHS was designed for average Joe, I believe that an advanced user should be able to make an image of system drive ~20 GB in size and not waste money on RAID1.

    I am already protected against a failure on any data drive in the storage pool even if folders are not duplicated. I use FlexRaid and I confirmed that it works. http://www.openegg.org/forums/posts/list/60/28.page

    The only thing is left to protect against single drive failure is WHS system drive.
    So, I created an image of the system drive using Acronis True Image, I have seen that it worked for other people in this forum. I should be able to restore it if my system drive fails. Takes less than an hour.

    But what about tombstones? I don’t want to create Acronis image often. I keep my WHS far away to minimize noise and most of the retail solutions don’t have a monitor connection.

    I update files in WHS pool once/twice a week, then I update FlexRaid snapshot and all my files are safe. But not WHS tombstones because I can’t carry my WHS from garage to my office every week in order to connect to monitor and boot from CD. I would consider reasonable to update WHS HDD image when new Power Pack arrives.
    It is only a set of tombstone files that needs to be updated and kept synchronized with FlexRaid backups.

    Currently if my system drive fails and I restore it with Acronis image I will not be able to use all my shares on WHS without reinstall. My data will be up to date but tombstones will be obsolete.
    And I don’t want to reinstall WHS. I have installed and configured a lot of plug-ins and other software on it.

    Does anyone know backup software that treats WHS tombstones as 4KB files and not as files they are pointing to? Acronis TI home booting from CD seems to do the job but I can’t boot from CD every time I need it.
    That will be sufficient to accomplish full WHS backup solution – being able to backup all 4KB files as 4KB files and them restore them in place erasing obsolete ones. How to do it?

    Built-in WHS backup (Accessories/System Tools/Backup) just doesn’t work. This
    http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/whssoftware/thread/2f19f966-fede-4719-8254-ec1bd763f17e
    and other threads related to this topic need to be updated.
    Quote from kariya21
    “NTBackup will only pickup the reparse points, not the actual data”
    Now NTBackup will not pickup anything. For any file in D:\Shares (tombstone location) it will give an error like
    “Warning: Unable to open "D:\shares\Photos\SanDiego\2a\R0011459.JPG" - skipped.
    Reason: The device is not connected.”
    Although the device is perfectly connected and I can use referred files any time.

    What is with diagnostics? When can we get meaningful error messages?

    I just don’t understand how reinstall is proposed as a solution against WHS system drive failure. Why back up clients then?

    There's one difference:  If a client fails, a client reinstallation (recovery disc) won't recover/restore one byte of your data.  A Server Reinstallation keeps all of your data (as long as you had Folder Duplication enabled on all shares at the time of the primary hard drive failure).  Keep in mind the target audience of the product:  the less technical users who want to protect themselves, without the hassle of knowing RAID/Ghost/True Image/etc (or, in most cases, those users don't even know what those terms are).
    If client fails – just reinstall, the same logic. Just copy client’s documents and photos to external HDD once in a while.

    The problem with that logic is that the majority of computer users (the ones who don't know anything about computers) don't do that.  Plus, that still wouldn't retain your installed programs/settings/etc.

    Or, if WHS is considered an ultimate solution, if I get two WHS servers in my house will they be able to backup each other?

    You can sync files between the 2 servers using a tool like RoboCopy, but you still won't be able to backup tombstones.

    To summarize:
    If any hard drive in WHS dies it can be easily restored with FlexRaid unless it's a system drive.
    If system drive dies it can be easily restored with HDD image except the tombstones because the tombstones will be obsolete.

    How to backup tombstones?

    The only way you could even possibly get it to work (which would be unsupported) would be to clone your primary drive.  The problem with that (as you've already pointed out) is that any time you add/change/delete any file/folder on your server, the clone of your primary drive would be out of date.

    To be honest, if you are so set on having all sorts of apps/customizations/etc on your server desktop and are unwilling to go through a Server Reinstallation process, I would suggest you switch to a different server OS such as 2003/2008 (one that allows more flexibility, which WHS, for the most part, doesn't).
    Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:05 PM
    Moderator
  • ...
    How to backup tombstones?
    It's not possible to back up and restore tombstones, as far as I have been able to determine, except in the special case of an off-line backup of the entire server. Tombstones are NTFS reparse points, not files per se . They contain information about where file shadows are stored, and are specific to the installation of Windows Home Server which created them. Also, any such backup would be out of date after the very next Drive Extender migration pass (which happens every hour) and restoring after that would potentially lead to significant data loss.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Saturday, June 13, 2009 5:59 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • I am looking for a solution to protect myself from WHS system drive failure.
    I don't consider WHS reinstallation as an option because it will require too long time on multiply drives in many-terabytes pool during which I will be cut from the data I stored on my server. It has to be faster.

    RAID1 is probably the best way but I can’t do it due to my hardware limitations. System drive is IDE and all WHS has been set up and working with ~3TB spread over 5 drives in WHS pool. Want to minimize changes to configuration. Plus I believe it should be possible. Regardless of that WHS was designed for average Joe, I believe that an advanced user should be able to make an image of system drive ~20 GB in size and not waste money on RAID1.

    I am already protected against a failure on any data drive in the storage pool even if folders are not duplicated. I use FlexRaid and I confirmed that it works. http://www.openegg.org/forums/posts/list/60/28.page

    The only thing is left to protect against single drive failure is WHS system drive.
    So, I created an image of the system drive using Acronis True Image, I have seen that it worked for other people in this forum. I should be able to restore it if my system drive fails. Takes less than an hour.

    But what about tombstones? I don’t want to create Acronis image often. I keep my WHS far away to minimize noise and most of the retail solutions don’t have a monitor connection.

    I update files in WHS pool once/twice a week, then I update FlexRaid snapshot and all my files are safe. But not WHS tombstones because I can’t carry my WHS from garage to my office every week in order to connect to monitor and boot from CD. I would consider reasonable to update WHS HDD image when new Power Pack arrives.
    It is only a set of tombstone files that needs to be updated and kept synchronized with FlexRaid backups.

    Currently if my system drive fails and I restore it with Acronis image I will not be able to use all my shares on WHS without reinstall. My data will be up to date but tombstones will be obsolete.
    And I don’t want to reinstall WHS. I have installed and configured a lot of plug-ins and other software on it.

    Does anyone know backup software that treats WHS tombstones as 4KB files and not as files they are pointing to? Acronis TI home booting from CD seems to do the job but I can’t boot from CD every time I need it.
    That will be sufficient to accomplish full WHS backup solution – being able to backup all 4KB files as 4KB files and them restore them in place erasing obsolete ones. How to do it?

    Built-in WHS backup (Accessories/System Tools/Backup) just doesn’t work. This
    http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/whssoftware/thread/2f19f966-fede-4719-8254-ec1bd763f17e
    and other threads related to this topic need to be updated.
    Quote from kariya21
    “NTBackup will only pickup the reparse points, not the actual data”
    Now NTBackup will not pickup anything. For any file in D:\Shares (tombstone location) it will give an error like
    “Warning: Unable to open "D:\shares\Photos\SanDiego\2a\R0011459.JPG" - skipped.
    Reason: The device is not connected.”
    Although the device is perfectly connected and I can use referred files any time.

    What is with diagnostics? When can we get meaningful error messages?

    I just don’t understand how reinstall is proposed as a solution against WHS system drive failure. Why back up clients then?

    There's one difference:  If a client fails, a client reinstallation (recovery disc) won't recover/restore one byte of your data.  A Server Reinstallation keeps all of your data (as long as you had Folder Duplication enabled on all shares at the time of the primary hard drive failure).  Keep in mind the target audience of the product:  the less technical users who want to protect themselves, without the hassle of knowing RAID/Ghost/True Image/etc (or, in most cases, those users don't even know what those terms are).
    If client fails – just reinstall, the same logic. Just copy client’s documents and photos to external HDD once in a while.

    The problem with that logic is that the majority of computer users (the ones who don't know anything about computers) don't do that.  Plus, that still wouldn't retain your installed programs/settings/etc.

    Or, if WHS is considered an ultimate solution, if I get two WHS servers in my house will they be able to backup each other?

    You can sync files between the 2 servers using a tool like RoboCopy, but you still won't be able to backup tombstones.

    To summarize:
    If any hard drive in WHS dies it can be easily restored with FlexRaid unless it's a system drive.
    If system drive dies it can be easily restored with HDD image except the tombstones because the tombstones will be obsolete.

    How to backup tombstones?

    The only way you could even possibly get it to work (which would be unsupported) would be to clone your primary drive.  The problem with that (as you've already pointed out) is that any time you add/change/delete any file/folder on your server, the clone of your primary drive would be out of date.

    To be honest, if you are so set on having all sorts of apps/customizations/etc on your server desktop and are unwilling to go through a Server Reinstallation process, I would suggest you switch to a different server OS such as 2003/2008 (one that allows more flexibility, which WHS, for the most part, doesn't).
    Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:05 PM
    Moderator
  • ...
    How to backup tombstones?
    It's not possible to back up and restore tombstones, as far as I have been able to determine, except in the special case of an off-line backup of the entire server. Tombstones are NTFS reparse points, not files per se . They contain information about where file shadows are stored, and are specific to the installation of Windows Home Server which created them. Also, any such backup would be out of date after the very next Drive Extender migration pass (which happens every hour) and restoring after that would potentially lead to significant data loss.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Saturday, June 13, 2009 5:59 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks all for responses

    if you are so set on having all sorts of apps/customizations/etc on your server desktop and are unwilling to go through a Server Reinstallation process, I would suggest you switch to a different server OS such as 2003/2008 (one that allows more flexibility, which WHS, for the most part, doesn't).

    I decided to use WHS mostly because of Drive Extender. I had a bunch of disks of different sizes left from previous builds. 6 disks with sizes between 0.5 and 1.5 TB. If today I started a server from scratch I would have chosen RAID5 or 6 and started to fill it with 1.5 TB disks, that would be independent of OS. But, I have what I have and don't want to invest too much at this time.
    I think WHS with DE was the most logical choice for me. It also provides a lot of flexibility. When I build next PC and if I decide that disk in WHS pool suits it, I can take it and use it, replacing with new drive when needed. DE is an excelent feature.

    If I had to look for an alternative it most likely would be non-Microsoft solution - Drobo BeyondRAID, ZFS, unRAID, Linux LVM implementations. The latter combined with FlexRaid would give the level of fault tolerance I have now without having to buy anything. But for convenience I try to stick with Windows, I'm more familiar with it plus I run some Windows-based software such as MyMovies WHS plug-in.

    Other than that regarding to Microsoft I have heard very little about Dynamic Disks feature. It does not seem to be popular and neither it seems to be promoted by Microsoft. If spanned dynamic disks can have different sizes and there is a way to access them as individual drives in order to run parity protection it would be an alternative. But I could not find anybody using it, I don't know if it would work.
    So, for now I stick with WHS.

    It's not possible to back up and restore tombstones, as far as I have been able to determine, except in the special case of an off-line backup of the entire server.

    Well, it is possible, in fact. There is no way it should not be possible because tombstones are just creatures developed on top of NTFS. Any software that bypasses Drive Extender NTFS filter should be able to see them as what they are, i.e. 4 KB files. The problem is to find the right software.
    Home versions of popular disk image backup software will not install on server OS which WHS is. They can backup WHS including tombstones only when WHS is booted from their CDs which I'm trying to avoid.

    As a proof of concept I downloaded and installed trial versions of Paragon Drive Backup Server Edition ($300) and Acronis True Image Enterprise Server ($850). Both are priced ridiculously to me because both are overhead for what I'm doing, I just wanted to try if it works. I does.
    I was able to create backups of C: and D: WHS drives using Remote Desktop without rebooting WHS - that's what I wanted. I got backup images of reasonable size and I was able to browse them, see the tombstones as the files they are pointing to. I believe the images would be restored just fine when I need it. I don't have time to try it though.
    One minor problem - they both could not backup tombstones when I chose to backup individual files (D:\Shares folder). Backup only worked with full partition backup. This is acceptable as long as I don't have to reboot, connect WHS to monitor and I can automate it.

    So it is possible to do but I don't want to pay $300 for that. For me acceptable price would be something significantly less than a price of a 500GB hard drive, with which I could do RAID 1 on system drive.

    I understand that I am not a target audience of WHS. I would like to stop complaining and I would buy that 500GB drive any time but I also have space and SATA ports limitations, plus the box is working I don't want to open it extra time so I would rather find software solution. Also RAID1 would look as silly overhead to me as I only need to protect ~20 GB of system drive. Other space is protected by FlexRaid.
    I wish I could have planned this better from the beginning. But understanding that I need a protection only came to me after I spent a lot of time configuring it and installing software to suit my needs. Initially I though that to reinstall WHS would not be a big deal, but now I don't think so.
    That is applicable only to me and few other enthusiasts who need heavy customization. I don't expect official support, although I would be grateful if I get one, I rather address my questions to community.

    Back in 2008, kariya21, you said that "[NTBackup] will "work", but only get the 4 KB tombstone (which is obviously not what you're looking for)"
    http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/whssoftware/thread/2f19f966-fede-4719-8254-ec1bd763f17e
    Now this is exactly what I'm looking for. That was before any Power Pack, I started to use WHS after PP2. Has something changed in Drive Extender or NTBackup implementation since? NTBackup doesn't backup tombstones now, neither as folders nor as a part of whole partition. Was it tested as working before or was it just an assumption? If it worked it would solve all my problems.

    Also, any such backup would be out of date after the very next Drive Extender migration pass (which happens every hour) and restoring after that would potentially lead to significant data loss.

    I find it hard to believe. If the Drive Migrator service does not touch actual files would it just make tombstones unusable after it runs? It is possible but I don't see any reason in that so somehow I don't believe in it, sorry. I would welcome any reference to official document or personal experience.
    Me and many other people had a lot of experience with Drive Migrator after Power Pack 1. It just does not touch files in shares folders without a reason. I have been running FlexRaid update regularly for several months and it never finds moved files. Only new files that I added and deleted files, I check logs on regular basis and I tested FlexRaid by physically removing drive from WHS pool as it was dead and then replacing it. Everything was restored with FlexRaid so I have no reasons not to believe it.

    By the way, nothing from what I am doing will result data loss. The data is safely stored on drives in WHS pool. It is being protected based on parity. If tombstones don't match WHS should not corrupt the data, should it? I've done experiments by deleting/writing files directly to C:/fs mount points - so far it didn't screw up data when tombstones were broken. And I am not going to mess with data after restore until I'm sure everything works. The worst what could happen is that I would have to reinstall WHS. This is the scenario the WHS was designed for and I'm ready to accept it if I fail in improving it.

    From what I understand in Drive Extender Technical Brief it will only balance drives after there is less than 20GB space on one of the disks. I prevent that, there are solutions.
    Note that neither Duplicated folders nor Client backups are included in FlexRaid protection scheme. So storage balance in these folders doesn't affect me.
    Also all writes to WHS shared folders are controlled. I would not write anything to WHS at least an hour before I start backup.

    Summarizing, only tombstone backup is missing for complete WHS backup solution. Software exists but too expensive, from $300.
    Just need a free or cheap utility that sees tombstones as regular files bypassing DE NTFS filter.

    Sunday, June 14, 2009 5:40 AM
  • Thanks all for responses

    I decided to use WHS mostly because of Drive Extender. I had a bunch of disks of different sizes left from previous builds. 6 disks with sizes between 0.5 and 1.5 TB. If today I started a server from scratch I would have chosen RAID5 or 6 and started to fill it with 1.5 TB disks, that would be independent of OS. But, I have what I have and don't want to invest too much at this time.
    I think WHS with DE was the most logical choice for me. It also provides a lot of flexibility.

    Yes, it offers flexibility in terms of hard drive capacity, but it doesn't offer much flexibility in terms of using your server the way you want to (at least in the "supported" fashion).  The whole concept of WHS is to set it up, then leave it alone and let it do its job (without installing a whole bunch of apps in the background).

    When I build next PC and if I decide that disk in WHS pool suits it, I can take it and use it, replacing with new drive when needed. DE is an excelent feature.

    If I had to look for an alternative it most likely would be non-Microsoft solution - Drobo BeyondRAID, ZFS, unRAID, Linux LVM implementations. The latter combined with FlexRaid would give the level of fault tolerance I have now without having to buy anything. But for convenience I try to stick with Windows, I'm more familiar with it plus I run some Windows-based software such as MyMovies WHS plug-in.

    Other than that regarding to Microsoft I have heard very little about Dynamic Disks feature. It does not seem to be popular and neither it seems to be promoted by Microsoft. If spanned dynamic disks can have different sizes and there is a way to access them as individual drives in order to run parity protection it would be an alternative. But I could not find anybody using it, I don't know if it would work.
    So, for now I stick with WHS.

    Well, it is possible, in fact. There is no way it should not be possible because tombstones are just creatures developed on top of NTFS. Any software that bypasses Drive Extender NTFS filter should be able to see them as what they are, i.e. 4 KB files. The problem is to find the right software.
    Home versions of popular disk image backup software will not install on server OS which WHS is. They can backup WHS including tombstones only when WHS is booted from their CDs which I'm trying to avoid.

    As a proof of concept I downloaded and installed trial versions of Paragon Drive Backup Server Edition ($300) and Acronis True Image Enterprise Server ($850). Both are priced ridiculously to me because both are overhead for what I'm doing, I just wanted to try if it works. I does.
    I was able to create backups of C: and D: WHS drives using Remote Desktop without rebooting WHS - that's what I wanted. I got backup images of reasonable size and I was able to browse them, see the tombstones as the files they are pointing to. I believe the images would be restored just fine when I need it. I don't have time to try it though.

    Then you don't know whether it "works" or not.  Until you try restoring that backup, you have no idea of how/if it will work.  (Frankly, IMO, trying any of what you want to try on your live production server is a terrible idea.  You should be doing all of this on alternate hardware or in a VM.)

    One minor problem - they both could not backup tombstones when I chose to backup individual files (D:\Shares folder). Backup only worked with full partition backup. This is acceptable as long as I don't have to reboot, connect WHS to monitor and I can automate it.

    So it is possible to do but I don't want to pay $300 for that. For me acceptable price would be something significantly less than a price of a 500GB hard drive, with which I could do RAID 1 on system drive.

    I understand that I am not a target audience of WHS. I would like to stop complaining and I would buy that 500GB drive any time but I also have space and SATA ports limitations, plus the box is working I don't want to open it extra time so I would rather find software solution. Also RAID1 would look as silly overhead to me as I only need to protect ~20 GB of system drive. Other space is protected by FlexRaid.
    I wish I could have planned this better from the beginning. But understanding that I need a protection only came to me after I spent a lot of time configuring it and installing software to suit my needs. Initially I though that to reinstall WHS would not be a big deal, but now I don't think so.
    That is applicable only to me and few other enthusiasts who need heavy customization. I don't expect official support, although I would be grateful if I get one, I rather address my questions to community.

    FYI, you will never get support from MS with what you are doing.

    Back in 2008, kariya21, you said that "[NTBackup] will "work", but only get the 4 KB tombstone (which is obviously not what you're looking for)"
    http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/whssoftware/thread/2f19f966-fede-4719-8254-ec1bd763f17e
    Now this is exactly what I'm looking for. That was before any Power Pack, I started to use WHS after PP2. Has something changed in Drive Extender or NTBackup implementation since?

    Yes.  DE was significantly altered with Power Pack 1.

    NTBackup doesn't backup tombstones now, neither as folders nor as a part of whole partition. Was it tested as working before or was it just an assumption? If it worked it would solve all my problems.
    I never actually tried it myself as I didn't (and still don't) have a reason to back them up.  (I tried several Server Reinstallations during beta and one after RTM and was completely satisfied with it.)  I was/am pefectly happy with the "set it and forget it" concept of WHS.

    I just know that, for the standpoint of people wanting to backup the actual data (which was one of the biggest complaints before Power Pack 1), it didn't work.  (Plus, even if it did successfully back up the reparse point back then, you would have to go back to a pre-PP1 state and that will go revert your system to when there was a data corruption bug and I can't possibly imagine you would want that.)

    I find it hard to believe. If the Drive Migrator service does not touch actual files would it just make tombstones unusable after it runs? It is possible but I don't see any reason in that so somehow I don't believe in it, sorry. I would welcome any reference to official document or personal experience.
    Me and many other people had a lot of experience with Drive Migrator after Power Pack 1. It just does not touch files in shares folders without a reason. I have been running FlexRaid update regularly for several months and it never finds moved files. Only new files that I added and deleted files, I check logs on regular basis and I tested FlexRaid by physically removing drive from WHS pool as it was dead and then replacing it. Everything was restored with FlexRaid so I have no reasons not to believe it.

    By the way, nothing from what I am doing will result data loss. The data is safely stored on drives in WHS pool. It is being protected based on parity. If tombstones don't match WHS should not corrupt the data, should it? I've done experiments by deleting/writing files directly to C:/fs mount points - so far it didn't screw up data when tombstones were broken. And I am not going to mess with data after restore until I'm sure everything works. The worst what could happen is that I would have to reinstall WHS. This is the scenario the WHS was designed for and I'm ready to accept it if I fail in improving it.

    From what I understand in Drive Extender Technical Brief it will only balance drives after there is less than 20GB space on one of the disks. I prevent that, there are solutions.
    Note that neither Duplicated folders nor Client backups are included in FlexRaid protection scheme. So storage balance in these folders doesn't affect me.
    Also all writes to WHS shared folders are controlled. I would not write anything to WHS at least an hour before I start backup.

    Summarizing, only tombstone backup is missing for complete WHS backup solution. Software exists but too expensive, from $300.
    Just need a free or cheap utility that sees tombstones as regular files bypassing DE NTFS filter.
    Sunday, June 14, 2009 2:15 PM
    Moderator
  • This is a good thread and thanks to micksh for trying to find a solution.

    I would also like to make sure that I could have the server back up and running in the event of a System Disk failure.

    It would seem to me the simplest solution to the issue would be to allow live mirroring of the System Disk. If the System Disk failed then the mirror would take over. Is there a way to do this now?

    Please pardon my inexperiance with servers and thanks in advance!

    John
    Wednesday, December 9, 2009 8:37 PM
  • There is a conflict between Drive Extender and dynamic disks, required for software RAID of any level, so you wouldn't be able to use (slow) Windows-based software mirroring. You can install Windows Home Server on a computer that has RAID on the motherboard (also software, but at a much lower level) or use a separate RAID HBA (possibly also software RAID, possibly hardware), but doing so will dramatically complicate any recovery efforst required by OS corruption, which can happen to even the most stable computers.

    If you should decide to proceed with the use of RAID, I recommend you practice server recovery in advance, so you'll know what it entails, and don't commit irreplaceable data to your server until you're sure you have a workable procedure for a recovery.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, December 9, 2009 9:51 PM
    Moderator
  • This is a good thread and thanks to micksh  for trying to find a solution.

    I would also like to make sure that I could have the server back up and running in the event of a System Disk failure.

    It would seem to me the simplest solution to the issue would be to allow live mirroring of the System Disk. If the System Disk failed then the mirror would take over. Is there a way to do this now?

    I actually found the solution. Tombstones are NTFS sparse files and I found C++ sample code that can be used to back up and restore them. I shared this information with Brahim, FlexRaid author from http://www.openegg.org/FlexRAID.curi and he added tombstone backup/restore functionality into FlexRaid.
    It hasn't been released yet, expected in FlexRaid 1.3 but release candidate can be downloaded. I haven't tried it yet. Planning to build new temporary WHS system just for testing around Christmas.

    Another choice is to use motherboard's RAID1 for system drive. Some people do that. You can read about it here:
    http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php?/topic/8752-raid-1-on-system-drive/
    http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php?/topic/6237-raid1-restore/
    http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php?/topic/10282-raid-1-bluescreens-ich8r/
    Thursday, December 10, 2009 12:54 AM