WHS 2011 - Few Questions (incl Software RAID 5) RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Hello everyone!

    I have upgraded my desktop and now have a spare parts. Looking at the WHS pricing at $50, i seriously considering to consolidate a few of my media and backup services into into it.


    1. All files i wish to store on a RAID 5 array comprising of three disks of 2TB. My onboard AHCI controller only does mode 1. If i install the OS on a non array disk, will be able to build this within the OS? Is performance acceptable, are there any other drawbacks?

    2. Is there support for time machine backups? I have two Macbooks in the network

    3. I presume there is a similar feature for Windows 7 machines comparable to the time machine that i will be able to use with WHS?

    4. Media streaming. I have a PS3 which does work very well with the media stream from Win7. I have not read up recently, but does anyone have experience if this has improved? I have been using PMS over the years instead.

    5. Will this config do for my tasks?

    Q9300 Quad-core

    6GB RAM

    3-year old 640GB as a system drive

    Some Dell MB (dont know the chipset) 


    I appreciate these are pretty basic questions, so thanks for any replies! 

    Monday, August 8, 2011 11:00 PM

All replies

  • Please start your reading here.

    As for your questions:

    1. Software RAID 5 offers relatively poor performance. If you insist on RAID, use a good hardware RAID controller. Another factor to consider: the server backup tool built into the product won't back up a very large array (> 2 TB).
    2. "Support" in the sense that there's a connector which will install on a Mac, yes . "Support" in the sense that Microsoft and Apple play nicely together, not so much. The latest version of OS X includes an Apple Launchpad which can't coexist with the Microsoft connector.
    3. See the link above, and the information you can find in that part of the Microsoft site.
    4. Windows Home Server includes a DLNA compliant media server.
    5. Probably, but I don't recommend using older hardware for your server; older hardware has significant wear and tear already, and is years closer to some failure or other.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 2:08 AM
  • Thank you for taking the time to reply, Ken.

    1. Is it actually possible to set up a RAID 5 in the storage manager? Performancewise I am hoping that the 1000Mbit network to be the bottle neck here. Does anyone have experience? The 2TB limit is fine for now. I will be allocating 3x 500GB for the three clients in the network (2x OSX via Timemachine, 1x Win7), and the rest (2.5TB) will be storage for a file server. As this will run on a RAID 5, I hope not to have to back this up in its entirety (4TB) - am I thinking correctly here?

    2. This sounds like i need more reading and experimenting on my side. If it doesnt work i have my existing timemachine via a WD World Edition (though if that fails i am screwed, which is why i'd like that on the RAID...)

    4. Yes, so does any Win7 machine. However, this plays very poorly with streaming videos to a PS3 or and Ipad/phone. I was curious as to whether this has improved over the past 18 mos. Frankly, apart from low-res flicks i was never ever to stream anything to anything with Win7 onboard tools. I can see that there are plenty of media server related add-ins, I'll just toy around with that.

    5.  Noted, and I agree with the reliability. However, new processor, RAM, and motherboard will set back $200-300. I was hoping to void that.

    New question : Is there is a 30-day trial like with Win7? I cannot find reference on their site. 

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 2:19 PM
  • RAID (levels other than RAID 0) provides local data protection against the loss of one drive, or more than one if using an appropriate level. Some RAID levels also offer increased performance in certain scenarios It offers no protection against the class of events often referred to as force majeure: fire, flood, theft, "acts of God", "acts of war", etc. Disasters of more than minimal scope, in other words.

    My own take on data reliability and disaster recovery is fairly simple: get a backup off-site regularly. Once you're doing that, you will quickly come to the conclusion that you don't need RAID for reliability any more. Hardware is pretty reliable in general (disks will either fail within a week or two or spin for years), and taking RAID out of the equation makes for a simpler implementation (unless your RAID HBA offers online capacity expansion and RAID level migration, which is pretty costly for a home user).

    As for setting up RAID 5: you can do ("software RAID" only, of course) so using the Disk Management tool from the server desktop. Doing so is technically unsupported, and frankly I don't like the performance. Or you can use a motherboard with a RAID controller of some sort "integrated"; note however that these don't offer great RAID 5 performance (if RAID 5 is even an option), as most RAID functions are tied to the storage drivers so they're not dramatically faster than software RAID (Intel RST is pretty good overall, and CPU use is relatively low even for RAID 5, but still...). Or you can buy a RAID HBA with hardware acceleration (at a minimum, hardware parity calculation) which are good overall but expensive.

    As for Apple vs. Microsoft: I honestly don't think Apple introduced the Lauchpad in OS X Lion to spite Microsoft. I think it's a "fortuitous coincidence". :) But Apple doesn't care if Microsoft's tools work or not, since Apple offers their own backup tools, namely Time Machine and Time Capsule. that said, however, you may find it more difficult to get a backup to work from your Apple computers to your home server.

    I've found that the streaming built into Windows Home Server 2011 is adequate in general, if you're not a power user. Video in common formats will stream, and if you're a digital video enthusiast presumably you already have experinece sorting out codec issues. Audio is pretty robust on the whole, but there's one thing I personally don't like: no support for Apple Lossless. (I have quite a lot of Apple Lossless audio, which means I have to rip all my music again... :P )

    As for age of hardware: use what you have, if you must, but understand that you will have to face a migration to newer hardware sooner rather than later, and that migration isn't likely to be painless. Definitely use new drives, including replacing the 3 year old system drive. As long as the rest of your hardware supports a 64 bit OS, though, it should do the job for now.

    The only trial of Windows Home Server 2011 is the online experience that you've doubtless already found on Microsoft's site. It's enough for a quick taste, but that's about all. There's no downloadable "30 day trial".

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 3:28 PM
  • I have installed Serviio  as a DLNA compliant media server. (It also has a add-in for WHS) and it supports almost every device. Very easy to configure and lot of information about it.
    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 8:50 PM