Vail as a production server - risks and mitigation (it's unsupported and not recommended I know) RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello all,

    I'm loving the beta and have had no problems so far (aside from original installation) other than those already reported. Now I know it's definitely NOT recommended and NOT supported but I know some of you out there are running Vail as a production server so I'd like to know your thoughts and what you have done to minimise risks.

    From my testing the biggest worry would be data. I've had no problems so far and would obviously backup daily (at least) to an external USB drive. I am less concerned about client issues since key data is stored on the server.

    I don't mind having to rebuild each time a new beta version (please hint when!!!) comes out but what else should I be worried about?

    And finally....yes I know it's a beta and shouldn't be used in production, and maybe I was spoilt by using the first W7 beta as a production client but real life testing demands something other than a play in a virtual machine with small amounts of data.

    I know the risks - how do you mitigate what you percieve as your biggest risk?


    Thursday, June 10, 2010 2:02 PM


  • The only real risk is loss of data. There are two areas where I'm concerned about this: home computer backups and shared data.

    Shared data: my "server of record" is my V1 server. With one exception, all data in my Vail server's shares is copied from this server, using custom scripts and robocopy. (The exception is the data for a book/video/Cd catalog database, which flows the other direction. I hope that doesn't bite me, but if it does I only have a few months of work to re-enter everything. <groan>) In addition, I do regular backups of both servers. The V1 server is done using custom scripts and robocopy, which is a solution I had in place long before V1 had the ability to back the shares up to external storage. The Vail server is done using Server Backup. I'll admit I find backups annoying at the moment: I have 6 copies of my data. Those are V1 and Vail, plus two backups of each (one on site, one off site, rotated weekly). My wife growls (loudly) every time I mention "more storage". But the data in my shares is as secure as I can make it.

    Home computer backups: Options for minimizing risk are limited. You can have a home computer joined to only a single Windows Home Server computer, so you will have to choose which computers you will join to Vail, and they will no longer back up to your V1 server after that. In my case, all of my home computers were backing up to V1, so as I move them to Vail I lock the final backup on V1. I have never (knock wood) had a problem with my backup database, but I consider it fungible nonetheless. If it becomes corrupted, I'll back them up again (moving them back to V1 for the chore).

    Migration from Vail "preview" to the next beta: I'll wind up trying it several times. First I'll go through the "non-default storage" option (i.e. disaster recovery) to make sure that's solid. Then I'll flatten the server and try restoring data from my server backup. Note: the bare metal restore story for the server is incomplete today, so much so that I haven't even attempted one. (I know of a couple of people who have, with somewhat spotty results.) I have no doubt I could get it to work, but even though I'm using Vail every day my exposure is basically nil, so I'm content to wait for bare metal restore to be further fleshed out.

    Future versions of Vail: the mind of Microsoft works in mysterious ways.  Based on previous experience with V1, I would expect 2 or 3 more beta releases prior to RTM, the final one of which will effectively be the RTM release. But when they will happen is anybody's guess. (Soonish would be nice, I agree. :) ) I've speculated about the RTM date elsewhere. This is only speculation based on past history, however.

    "Beta" in production: I have lots of hardware (obviously). Speaking as an IT pro, a sometime SQL Server development DBA and data architect, and all around nice guy (well, I think so anyway!) the only way anyone should be using Vail as their primary server (as I do) is if they have a similar pile'o'PCs. If you have a single server, it's running Vail, and you have irrepplaceable data on that server and that server alone, the kindest thing I can think of to say is that you're foolish. Your family will not love you if Vail eats several years of family photos and videos and you don't have them anywhere else. In other words, you need fully tested backups that you can access without Vail. If you have that pile-o-stuff and can guarantee data integrity no matter what happens with Vail, more power to you and welcome to the enthusiast-as-spendthrift-fool community. :)

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, June 10, 2010 2:56 PM