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Microsoft Access Back-end database on a WHS RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • CAN SOMEONE FROM THE Microsoft WHS TEAM ANSWER THIS AND PROVIDE GUIDANCE?

    Below is a question I posted on the Microsoft Access forum with several responses.  I've been asked to post these here to see if I can get an official response from Microsoft.  I'm sorry in advance for the lenght of the information below but I'm including it for clarification purposes.

     

    To simplify the strings below, does Microsoft support a WHS with three hard disks hosting an Access backend database in a shared folder with duplication turned on?:

    Thank you all in advance,

    Chuck ---------------------------PLEASE READ BELOW

    Begin: Does Microsoft support running a Access database backend on the Windows Home Server?  The front end runs on a networked PC that's connected to a share on the Windows Home Server where the backend is located.

    A Forum response: I've never trief it but I am pretty sure it would.  An access backend is just a file... so really the question is can you use windows home server to serve files. - yes

    A Forum response:  You should be able to, depending on how the shared drive on WHS is mapped.

    My Response:  To be honest, the two responses make me a little nervous; "I'm pretty sure it would." and "You should be able to.....".  I was told today by HP when I called in about a hardware issue that because of the way WHS manages storage across several hard disks, there could be problems when the OS is managing the information and moving data to balance the drives.  In another thread I saw someone who said, "You can store your back-end dbs on WHS, just don't put it in a share that's created through WHS.  you can add a drive to the server, but not to the storage pool and store your dbs there."

    Since Microsoft Access and Microsoft WHS are obviously both made by Microsoft, I hope I can get an "Official" answer from Microsoft on this.  If the last point in the paragraph above is true, does that drive get backed up by WHS so I have my data "duplicated"?  Remember, I'm talking about a back-end to a database that resides on WHS and I need it backed up in case of a drive failure.

    Another Response: Although (to my knowledge) no corruptions of Access databases have been reported by the bug, we can't guarantee that it won't affect them. Certainly the problem won't occur on servers having only a single physical hard disc, so if yours only has one hard disc, you can run Access with no danger. In any case,Microsoft report that the Power Pack 1 update resolves the bug.

    My Response:  To further clarify your comments, if you were referring to the bug in the early days of WHS, I'm using Power Pack 3 so I current.  I also have three hard drives in my server with folder duplication turned on for all key folders, including the one that contains the backend to my Access database.  So I'm still trying to understand from the Microsoft Access team does Microsoft support that configuration running on a home server, (in my case a HP MediaSmart server), with Power Pack 3, multiple drives and folder duplication turned on?

    My followup Response: All, I had another detailed discussion with HP this morning and they opened the possibility that because the Access back end is being "edited" because it's "talking" to the front end that WHS might timeout when it tries to balance the files across the disks which is causing the server to freeze and giving iaStor0 errors.  They want me to turn off folder duplication on the folder that contains the Access back end.  It's hard for me to imagine that a WHS/Server 2003 would freeze if a file is being "edited" when it wants to balance disks.

     

    My Response: Thank you very much for the reply.  It would be helpful to me to understand the, "the story gets a little different when you start talking about....".  I don't understand what they're saying.  Backups in my environment occur starting at midnight and are over a few hours later.  I also don't understand, "diff syncs that work across machines and across networks".  This network is pretty simple; 2 or 3 computers with wired Gig-E connections to a router with Gig-E ports to a WHS with Gig-E ports.  The 2 or 3 computers all have a local copy of Access and a copy of the database front-end on them and they're accessing the back-end database in a shared folder on the WHS that's been mapped to a drive letter on their PC.

    Please clarify their concerns if you can.

    Last Forum Response: Sorry, I just paraphrased what I was told. My contact wasn't talking officially as a member of the team, just as an individual who happens to use WHS at home. I think maybe I should direct you to the WHS forum, where you can get the kind of information you're looking for.

     
      http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en/category/windowshomeserver</FO NT>
     
    I would appreciate it if you would be kind enough to post back here what you discover so others can benefit from your findings.

    Chuck

    I'm really hoping I can get Microsoft to provide an official answer that says this is a supported configuration; Access front end running on a networked PC with the Access back end in a WHS folder with folder duplication turned on. 

    A Forum Response: The Access team has not specifically tested your scenario, but since folder duplication on WHS happens at or below the filesystem level, there shouldn't be any funny business going on that would put your data at risk. The story gets a little different when you start talking about making backups of other machines using WHS because then you're talking about diff syncs that work across machines and across networks and there's probably more opportunity for odd behaviour.

    • Changed type Chuck Coleman Wednesday, July 21, 2010 8:28 PM Need Microsoft to Answer
    • Edited by Chuck Coleman Wednesday, July 21, 2010 8:33 PM
    Monday, July 19, 2010 12:33 AM

All replies

  • While I'm sure you can install everything you need it's going to be unsupported, as Microsoft doesn't support the use of the Windows Home Server desktop. By design, everything the average home user of Windows Home Server should need to do can be done through the console, assuming the server is functioning properly.

    If you want to experiment with it, I'm sure it can be made to work without a loot of difficulty. If you want to deploy it in a business environment, I personally wouldn't use Windows Home Server for the purpose, I'd use some flavor of Windows Server 2008 R2. However, the warning not to store the database in the shares managed through the server's console is a valid one; likely the files that underlie the database will be held open more or less permanently by the database engine. Because of the way Windows Home Server manages the shares, it will alert when it's unable to access the files that contain the database for a period of time (24 hours).

    If the Windows Home Server team provides any sort of "official" response I would expect it to be along the lines of "we haven't tested this scenario, therefore it's unsupported." Which is more or less the sort of response you've already had.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, July 19, 2010 2:19 AM
    Moderator
  • Ken,

    Either I didn't understand your reply or you didn't understand the scenario.  In an Access database that's split, the front end of the database resides on an individuals computer.  The front end contains all of the forms that allow the user to interact with the application.  The backend houses the data; it's just a file that resides on the server and the data it contains is "accessed" via the front end forms, reports, etc.  To be clear, I"m not using the Windows Home Server desktop.

     

    Chuck


    Chuck
    Monday, July 19, 2010 12:53 PM
  • Sorry, I (mis)took your requirement to be a back end RDBMS with an Access front end. I assume you're talking about a Jet engine database? (An RDBMS back end would be a more robust solution, BTW; Access didn't handle concurrency very well when I was working with Jet engine databases, and I doubt that has changed.)

    What you propose should work, with the usual caveats about Access and concurrency. I doubt you'll get Microsoft to say "this is a supported scenario", though, and I'll stand by my recommendation that you use plain old windows Server if this is a business use you envision. Or consider Vail (Windows Home Server V2, now in beta) as a platform; the storage manager has been completely rewritten to eliminate managing shares and duplication at the file level.

    As an example that this sort of thing can work, and work well, I use a book/cd/video catalog application (installed on my server, completely unsupported :) ) that has it's database stored in a share. The engine is Hypersonic SQL (which uses a flat file to persist data on disk, and manages data in memory) and all I have to do is have a batch file that runs as a scheduled task to stop/restart the engine (with 2 hours of downtime, to allow DE time to do it's thing) every night. This has worked on V1 for over 3 years, and is working fine on Vail today.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, July 19, 2010 2:06 PM
    Moderator