my screen goes black! RRS feed

  • Question

  • Ok, so this was my first ever DIY build.  Here are my specs:
    • Asus P5E WS PRO
    • Intel Xeon E3110 (3ghz, basically the e8400)
    • 4GB ECC Kingston RAM
    • 80GB IDE System drive
    • 2x 1TB Greenpower drives
    • LG Blu-ray/DVD-R/CD-RW
    • XFX GeForce 9600GT
    • Corsair 750W PSU
    • Antec P180B case
    Right now, I have a 19" samsung hooked up to it as I get everything configured.  The problem is, my monitor has a tendency to go black.  This usually happens when I am trying to run a video, use TVersity, or install something.  The screen will go black, while the monitor power light blinks green.  If I hit ctrl-alt-del, it will bring the screen back up, but if I hit 'task manager' or try to cancel back to the desktop, it usually blinks off to black again.

    Like many others, I would like this system to be a hybrid between MCE and WHS.  I use uTorrent to download torrents (of legal programming, duh), and TVersity to stream to my 360. 

    This isn't a big deal if I'm going to run it headless, but I put the 9600GT card in there because it has HDMI, and I was seriously considering hooking it up to my 52" LCD tv as a blu-ray player, which would also eliminate the need to transcode files for the 360. 

    I am suspicious of 3 things:
    1. Could this be a driver problem?  I downloaded the 32 bit XP drivers for the 9600, and it seems to be recognized OK.
    2. The monitor is VGA hooked up to the video card with a DVI-to-VGA adaptor that came with my Macbook Pro.  Could that be an issue?
    3. The motherboard - I heard mixed reviews about the p5e WS PRO, but everything worked great out of the box. It has dual gigabit nics, tons of SATA (and eSATA), even HD audio built in.  Could drivers be an issue here as well? 
    At this point, I don't know what to do.  I would consider going to Ubuntu server and using Twonky or Fuppes to stream, but then I'm probably not going to get 1080p blu-ray playback over HDMI, so what's the point?  And who knows if I could get the RAID controller to work.  With the price of a 1tb GP drive at newegg down to 160 now, I'm considering getting 2 more and moving from RAID1 to RAID5.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:01 PM


  • Hi,

    It's highly likely to be a driver problem. WHS, being based on Server 2003, isn't an ideal system to be running video directly from. Also, it just isn't suited to be running  HD audio, whether built-in, or not.

    The general thoughts on here, is to use WHS as it is designed to be used, that is, headless and as a storage system. It then works fine streaming HD content via a network.




    Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:29 PM

All replies

  • Hi,

    It's highly likely to be a driver problem. WHS, being based on Server 2003, isn't an ideal system to be running video directly from. Also, it just isn't suited to be running  HD audio, whether built-in, or not.

    The general thoughts on here, is to use WHS as it is designed to be used, that is, headless and as a storage system. It then works fine streaming HD content via a network.




    Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:29 PM
  • Aromato, Windows Home Server itself is not designed to be a Media Center PC, so you will probably struggle with getting everything to work. The recommended configuration for home media at this time is a "two box" solution, with a Media Center PC (or several) doing the actual media processing, and Windows Home Server as the media storage back-end.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:34 PM
  • I am OK with having a 2nd box if that second box is my 360 right now.  Is it possible to stream 1080p content across the network?  If I can put a blu-ray into my WHS and either rip it or stream it across the network, I'll be happy.  However, in the age of HDCP and such, that doesn't seem very likely, or at least not practical...

    I was hoping that the addition of the graphics card would help with transcoding and/or ripping - does anyone know if this is true, or will WHS not use the 9600 for these tasks?  If the OS won't utilize the card at all, I'll try to find another use for it.

    Thanks for the help,


    PS : Oh yeah, while I'm on it, is there a good resource for reading about this "Drive pool" and Extender stuff?  I currently have my two 1TB drives RAID0'd together into a single Volume, which was added to the pool, i think?  It shows up as G: in My Computer though, so I'm not really sure.  There are a bunch of strange directories in there.  From reading forums today, I'm getting the idea you're not really supposed to use RAID on WHS.  Do I have to turn on "Folder Duplication" then to ensure I'm protected? *confused*

    From my IT background, I'm much more comfortable having my RAID handle the mirroring of data, leaving my software free to work on other stuff.  I am a bad WHS user Sad
    Thursday, August 14, 2008 5:52 PM
  • On Drive Extender

    There is a great post on why not using RAID

    You'll want to turn on folder duplication, as your RAID0 volume will not protect your files.
    RAID0 is not data security... it is performance only. If one of the drives fails, you lose all your data. RAID1 is a mirror that will provide data security, assuming that the RAID controller itself doesn't fail.
    Friday, August 15, 2008 5:45 AM
  • Thanks for the info, I meant RAID1.  My 2x 1TB are mirrored.  Now I'm trying to figure out how to un-mirror them without losing the data that WHS has already stored there.  *grumble*  I appear to have outsmarted myself by trying to use confusing technologies with a blisteringly simple OS.

    I actually read that post about RAID before, but I tend to disagree a bit, since I'm an IT-type (I don't think of Roach killer first when I hear RAID).  Having my data in a RAID5 array makes me sleep like a baby at night.  I will admit though, like the drobo, the ability to add new drives (of any size) is a nice option.  I'm also assuming that if 1 hard drive fails, you just replace it with a good one and WHS will take care of the duplication/balancing automagically?

    Sorry I'm having trouble with this... with Drive Extender, can I manually exclude my system drive from the pool?  Here is my problem: I have my OS installed on an 80GB IDE drive, which has left roughly 50GB of space for the "Primary Data Partition".  I have over 60GB of music, for example (let's not get started on video backups.  the iTunes-bought stuff alone is probably more than that), so I can't copy it to the server because the primary data partition only shows 50.4GB of free space to my Macbook.  I think I can do it if I break the library into chunks and transfer it, but A)that is a hassle and B)I'm worried that as the amount of data I'm storing increases, the 'tombstones' will start to fill up my Primary partition, leaving less and less "free space".  In my head, soon I won't even be able to transfer 10 or 20 GB at a time, at which point... Linux, I guess.  Should I have gone with a larger hard drive for the OS? 

    Obviously there needs to be some required reading before one is allowed to install WHS.  It's like Server for Dummies, and I'm either too smart for it, or....
    Friday, August 15, 2008 2:06 PM
  • Mostly you're too smart for it. Smile

    You should have used a larger drive for the system drive. You can't exclude the system drive from the storage pool, and you have no real control over how Windows Home Server uses the drives that it has available to it, other than installing a drive physically but not adding it to the pool. That will result in a drive that WHS won't manage for you at all; you will have to do everything by hand. Don't worry about tombstones filling the drive, though. At 4k each, a million files is only 4 GB of space.

    Regarding RAID: pretend for a moment you don't know anything about RAID. Now think about how long it might take you to figure out how to rebuild an array that's lost a drive, how long it would take you to replace a drive the first time, or even just how long it would take to configure an array without knowing what you're doing. Could you configure it if you don't know what you're doing? That's the main target audience for Windows Home Server. In order for WHS to work as well with RAID as it does without, Microsoft would have to build a huge amount of additional intelligence into the operating system to mask and deal with all the issues that RAID can create.
    Friday, August 15, 2008 3:20 PM
  • Another question - I understand the whole "redundancy" thing.... to a point.  What happens if the single drive failure is the 'primary' drive?  Those tombstones aren't replicated anywhere are they?  Is it possible to recover your original file structure?  I'm assuming that you won't actually lose the data on the storage drives like you would if a RAID0 drive failed?  This seems to me the one place I would want RAID in my WHS... setup the primary OS partition on a RAID1, maybe 2x500GB, so that even if one dies, I have a mirror that can boot and maintain the file system.  Am I still overthinking this??

    Before I go any further and acutally buy+activate WHS, do I need to re-evaluate my hardware?  Is the 80GB system drive going to be a big issue?  I do plan on having my girlfriend's XP computer backup to WHS, and it has more than 50GB of documents and data on it.  Is WHS smart enough to back it up in pieces, or will it try to copy it all at once and fail like my iTunes library?  I guess I could put a 250GB or something in there for the system drive, but I would have to buy it (grrrrrrr), and I thought I was all done with hardware!  Serves me right I guess for not reading before clicking "install".


    Ah, heh heh.  I just realized that WHS was trying to prevent me from being a moron, and I actively worked against it.  When I was installing the OS, it kept trying to put the OS partition on one of the 1TB drives, even though I had the 80GB IDE set as the boot drive in the BIOS.  I got quite mad that I couldn't specify where to install the OS, so eventually I just unhooked the 2 SATA drives, installed WHS, then reconnected the storage drives and added them to the pool.  I see now that WHS was trying to use a big drive as the primary.  This should be made a little more clear!!!
    Friday, August 15, 2008 4:42 PM
  • Replacing the system drive involves rebuilding the tombstones. Assuming the server was in good shape before the drive failed or was replced for other reasons, everything needed is on the other drives in the system. So you replace the drive, use a special installation mode called server reinstallation or server recovery, and the tombstones will be rebuilt. If you have a lot of data, that could take a long time...
    Saturday, August 16, 2008 12:41 AM