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Preparing to install WHS and wanted some opinions RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I am planning to install WHS for the 1st time and wanted to get some opinions based upon my hardware before I start.

    Basics:

    1.) Will install WHS Retail
    2.) Have put together a PC using spare parts I have lying around. Plan to use this as a 6-12 month test and re-install on a custom built WHS machine after I've determined WHS is worth the investment based upon my usage.
    3.) My machine: Sempron 1600+, 1.25GHZ RAM, 80GB HDD and 640GB HDD

    Questions: If this was a standard OS install, I would put the OS on the 80GB drive and leave the 640GB for storage space. I realize WHS is very different and have read that, with the RC realease at least, it is greatly beneficial to install WHS on the largest drive.

    a.) Using WHS -Retail, is it best to install on the 640GB drive or is it acceptable to put it on the 80GB drive?
    b.) If it's best to install on the 640GB drive, why?
    c.) When I decide it's time to upgrade my machine, I will probably want to do a fresh install of WHS. Will it give me the "Call Microsoft Tech Support for confirmation" nag I used to get with OS transfers? Often, if the OS determines the Hardware is very different vs the registered installation, it will require you to call Microsoft to get a confirmation code before activating during installation. I don't mean the "Certificate of Authenticity" code everyone has to input to prove the license exists, I mean a second code that the Microsoft technical help group provides after the validate your reason for the re-install.

    For question c.) I assume many users have gone through this process so I was hoping to hear back on their experiences.

    As always, everyone's help is greatly appreciated

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 3:47 PM

All replies

  • First, there is no retail version of Windows Home Server. You can purchase it two ways: as a hardware/software package from an OEM/system builder (HP for example), or as the OEM/system builder software only package for installation on your own hardware. If you purchase the system builder software package, you are subject to the same conditions as a system builder would be; the primary considerations being that Windows Home Server is not designed to be easy for the end user to install, and that there is no free support from Microsoft for the product.

    As for your questions:

    Which drive to install on: In practical terms, it won't matter. Windows Home Server will partition the system drive, creating a 20 GB system partition and an "everything minus 20 GB" data partition which serves as the root of the "storage pool". However, I would recommend that you either match drive sizes in pairs, if you start with two drives, or use the 80 GB drive as the system drive and get another 640 GB drive if you want to use the 80 GB as the system drive. This will allow you to make more efficient use of the share duplication feature which protects files in your shares from hard drive failures by keeping copies of files in such shares on two separate drives.

    Upgrades: depending on how much hardware you upgrade, you may be asked to reactivate. This will involve a call to Microsoft. Strictly speaking, your EULA ties the software to the hardware you initially install on, however Microsoft will normally reactivate as long as you aren't running two copies on two computers.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 7:23 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Ken,

    1.) The version of the WHS I purchased was listed as "Retail" but, upon further investigation (as in, reading the fine print) it's the OEM System Builder version. Sorry for the confusion.

    2.) My initial question was based on one of your prior posts:

    "The primary reason has to do with a limitation in Drive Extender in beta 2. Specifically the largest file you can copy to your server is limited to the amount of free space on the primary drive. So if you put an 80GB drive in there, and we use 10GB of it for the system partition, you have 70GB left. The largest file you could copy would be something less than 70GB."

    From that, I gathered I was better off installing WHS on the 640GB drive, however, it was specific to BETA 2. Your response posted above indicates I should install on the 80G drive, did something change bewteen BETA 2 and the version I'm installing? I'm not clear on what's best.

    3.) Upgrades. OK, thatnks for making that clearer. Hope Microsoft won't be too picky about that, but, we'll see.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 7:50 PM
  • That's a two year old post you're quoting. A lot has changed.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 7:54 PM
    Moderator
  • OK. That's great news, so the choice of SYS drive really doesn't matter as long as it's minimum 80GB (minimum specification)? That being the case, I could take my 80GB SATA drive as the SYS, and add the other vdrives I have lying around as storage (80GB IDE + 640GB SATA).

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009 8:39 PM
  • OK. That's great news, so the choice of SYS drive really doesn't matter as long as it's minimum 80GB (minimum specification)? That being the case, I could take my 80GB SATA drive as the SYS, and add the other vdrives I have lying around as storage (80GB IDE + 640GB SATA).


    Yes.  However, in terms of easy installation/reinstallation, you should either A) use your 80 GB PATA (IDE) drive as your primary drive or B) set your SATA ports to IDE/Legacy mode.
    Thursday, July 9, 2009 1:27 AM
    Moderator
  • Interesting. What are the benefits of using the 80GB PATA as SYS drive? I would think the 80 GB SATA would be a better (faster) drive.

    Thanks for the input.

    Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:05 AM
  • Interesting. What are the benefits of using the 80GB PATA as SYS drive? I would think the 80 GB SATA would be a better (faster) drive.

    Thanks for the input.


    Yes, SATA is faster.  However, WHS doesn't have SATA drivers, so you have to supply them yourself (which can be difficult, especially during reinstallation).  That's why I said "easy installation/reinstallation".  Besides, the real bottlenecks are the network and Drive Extender, so a faster drive won't really matter much.
    Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:15 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks, very helpful. The responses I receive in these forums are outstanding. Invariably, my initial course of action is changed/altered through the insight you all provide. Given the advantages of installing on an IDE drive, I will ceratinly go that route. I will look for the Server 2003 drivers for my other (SATA) drives just to be sure I have them on hand. From other posts, I see that my backup should be to use the XP drivers if Server 2003 drivers are not available.

    Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:44 PM
  • I had to deal with the SATA driver issue when I installed my WHS.  At the time, I was using the Trial version that I downloaded the ISO for from MS, so I simply added the SATA drivers to the ISO before I burned it to a disc, and then pointed the installation to the drivers when it asked for them. 

    However, since you'll be using the OEM discs, I'd reccommend putting the drivers on a thumb drive, as I seem to recall that the WHS installation will load up USB drivers for use with them.  Or you could rip the OEM disc to an ISO and slip in the drivers and then burn a new disc.  Either way should work fine. 
    Friday, July 10, 2009 1:17 PM
  • Thanks. That leads to my concern over finding the drivers. Read a lot on other threads, apparently, need to find the drivers for my specific Motherboard? Also saw that I may ve able to get away with Generic SATA Win XP drivers? Any insight would be helpful.

    Will probably go the Thumb Drive route for loading the drivers. If that goes well, I'll create an complete ISO including the Drivers afterward.

    Friday, July 10, 2009 1:58 PM
  • A quick follow-up. I decided to build an Atom 330 machine with 2 GB RAM and 640 GB SATA drive. Installation went very smoothly. No driver issues. Haven't updated BIOS yet, but don't expect that to be a major issue. To date, I find the system speed more than adequate and I feel the bottleneck is Network speed rathan than CPU. Incredibly quiet and cool.
    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 2:41 AM