locked
HD configuration question RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello,

    I've just purchased new hardware to build a windows home server and have a few questions. I had originally planned to use a spare 160GB drive for the primary drive and purchased 2 1.5TB drives for the secondary drives. After reading through the forums and Microsoft's technical brief, I see the recomendation is to make the largest drive the primary.

    I plan to add additional drives later on, but having a 1.5 TB drive as the primary seems to be a huge waste of space. My understanding is that WHS will not store any actual files here unless there are only 2 drives and duplication is turned on. Ideally I don't think I want any files stored on the primary drive to simplify recovery in the event that this drive fails. It seems that the reason for using the largest drive as the primary is because it is used as a landing area when files are copied to the server. I thought I read an old post that this limitation would be addressed in PP1, but I didn't see mention of this in the release notes. Is this still an issue?

    My primary use will be storing media files and computer backups. My media is currently stored on a flaky NAS that I will be retiring. If I use the 160 GB drive and am limited to ~130 GB transfers I can manage, although it will be a minor nuisance to copy the 2 TB over in smaller chunks. The bigger problem would be if backups are affected by this limitation. Would I only be able to backup computers with less than 130GB of data?

    Alternatively, I have 5 500GB drives in my NAS that I was planning to add to WHS after copying the data over. I could probably manage to move this data to a temp location freeing up a 500GB drive that I can use for the primary drive. It seems I would still be wasting a lot of space, but significantly less that using one of the 1.5 TB drives and I could now copy up to ~450GB at a time (If I understand this correctly).

    2 more quick questions, sorry this post is getting so long....

    Any support yet for tape drives? I was lucky enough to score an old library and blank tapes from work and would like to use it to back up my movies and music instead of using WHS duplication for these shares.

    Finally, I was thinking of mirroring the primary drive. I know MS does not support RAID, but understand that it is possible. Anyone had trouble with it or a compelling reason why I should not do this?

    Thanks for actually making it to the end of the post,

    Brent
    Tuesday, February 10, 2009 9:19 PM

Answers

  • Hi Brent,
    during a server reinstallation also the tombstones will be recreated.
    If a server reinstallation fails (i.e. due to lack of drivers or other reasons) or is not offered, this FAQ describes how you can access your data on the disks for manual recovery.
    The primary drive will be the drive, which is seen by WHS setup as the boot drive (so it depends from the port to which it is connected and from the settings in Bios).
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    • Marked as answer by brent.b Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:07 PM
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 8:01 AM
    Moderator
  • Making the largest drive the system drive is no longer as critical as it was at release. Recent updates have removed the copy limitation based on the free space on the system drive.

    There is no compelling reason to use RAID with Windows Home Server. If you do so you will guarantee yourself an adventure if you need to perform a server reinstallation (as could be required in the event of OS corruption even with RAID), as you will need to deal with the "F6 prompt" to install additional storage drivers. I advise strongly against it.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by brent.b Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:06 PM
    Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:13 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Making the largest drive the system drive is no longer as critical as it was at release. Recent updates have removed the copy limitation based on the free space on the system drive.

    There is no compelling reason to use RAID with Windows Home Server. If you do so you will guarantee yourself an adventure if you need to perform a server reinstallation (as could be required in the event of OS corruption even with RAID), as you will need to deal with the "F6 prompt" to install additional storage drivers. I advise strongly against it.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by brent.b Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:06 PM
    Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:13 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Brent,
    tape support is not included in Windows Home Server. You will get ntbackup or another Windows Server backup software to run with any Windows Server 2003 compatible tape drive. The problem is, that the backup software must support backing up from shared folders instead of from the file system. If the file system is used, you will run into the risk, that tombstones are backed up instead of files or the backup fails at all.
    Also backup software may interact with Windows Home Server components in an unexpected way, causing unexpected side issues.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:55 PM
    Moderator
  • Whether you back up from the shares or the file system, you will back up only the tombstones when using NTBackup.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:14 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for the quick replies.

    Olaf, I suspected that. I guess I could just map drives on another computer and connect the library to it. Not a huge deal since this data won't be changing much, but I guess it kinda defeats the purpose of WHS.

    Ken, that is good news. When installing the OS I should just have the smaller drive attached otherwise one of the larger drive will automatically become the primary, correct? Regarding the RAID, I'm comfortable with adding additional drivers during install and worst case I could just break the mirror set and reinstall to a single drive, but this does bring up another concern I have. What if I do need to reinstall and don't have a good backup of the primary drive? Since it contains all the tombstones pointing to the files, are the files invisible to the fresh os or can the tombstones be recreated? Is there any documentation about recovering from a primary drive failure? I guess if it's relatively painless then the RAID would be unnecessary.

    Just checked UPS and my toys should be here tomorrow so I can't wait to start playing.
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 4:34 AM
  • Ken, just noticed your 2nd response. Doing what I proposed above would get around this right? I have about 10 TB of tapes that I'd really like to use so I can save the disk space for ripping the rest of my DVD collection.
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 4:43 AM
  • Hi Brent,
    during a server reinstallation also the tombstones will be recreated.
    If a server reinstallation fails (i.e. due to lack of drivers or other reasons) or is not offered, this FAQ describes how you can access your data on the disks for manual recovery.
    The primary drive will be the drive, which is seen by WHS setup as the boot drive (so it depends from the port to which it is connected and from the settings in Bios).
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    • Marked as answer by brent.b Wednesday, February 11, 2009 3:07 PM
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 8:01 AM
    Moderator
  • As I said, using NTBackup (or similar software) will not get the files, only the tombstones. This is true whether you connect the tape drive to your server and back up D:\Shares, \\SERVER\<share> for all the shares, or connect to some other computer and backup \\SERVER\<share> for all the shares. Tapes are, in any case, less reliable as an archival medium than disk drives. (Though not by all that much; a disk drive that's not used for a couple of years may become unreadable according to some research I've run across.) So relying on duplication for local data integrity, and the server backup tool (available through the WHS console) to create a backup of some/all shares on an external drive for off-site storage, are going to be a better bet in the long run.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 6:46 PM
    Moderator
  • Ken Warren said:

    As I said, using NTBackup (or similar software) will not get the files, only the tombstones. This is true whether you connect the tape drive to your server and back up D:\Shares, \\SERVER\<share> for all the shares, or connect to some other computer and backup \\SERVER\<share> for all the shares.


    Hi Ken,
    are you sure?
    I just performed a test:
    • Backed up the content of a share on my server using ntbackup.exe on the server.
    • Copied the backup.bkf file to my Vista PC.
    • Installed the NT Backup Restore utility for Vista.
    • Powered down my server.
    • Initiated a restore to a local folder (had to disable restore of security settings to complete successfully).
    • Tested to open the files - and could.
    So those files have definitively not been tombstones.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 7:36 PM
    Moderator
  • I am sure that it used to work that way as recently as a few months ago. I haven't tried it since then, however. If it works, great, but people should bear in mind that backing up the server (or any part of it) by any means other than the server share backup tool is unsupported. In this case, that means that if there is some subtle problem that only manifests when it really matters (like you really need to recover a file) and you lose a lot of data, there will be sympathy but little to no help. And the ability to use NTBackup may go away again at some point in the future with no warning or explanation.

    Also, on a test server (not your production server) please try restoring some files from that backup to a share. Then test to your data integrity, watch for WHS errors (manifested as network health warnings) inaccessible files, etc. I found when I last tested that using NTBackup to restore a backup to a share on the server created a lot of file conflicts, errors, etc.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 9:22 PM
    Moderator