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WHS Installation and Usability problems RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I recently bought a Dell Poweredge T110 and put WHS on it, but I have to say I have been disappointed with the experience.

    First of all, WHS blue screened with my initial install. I found out later that I needed to change the bios setup from ACHI to ATA. There was no way to add drivers in the text only setup as I do not have a floppy drive. This was very frustrating.

    Upon reinstallation, there is no easy way to switch the mode. I would like to run ACHI but am running ATA now. Even when I click the install drivers icon in the first setup phase, and browse to the CD and load the drivers it still thinks the disks are ATA.

    Once the server was installed in ATA mode, I got another weird error. Upon goggling I found out that the install CD needs to be inserted or it gives a cryptic error message. Why can’t it just say please insert CD?

    Next, it started downloading the windows updates before the WHS was completely installed. When I finally got it to install, the installation was corrupted. Dr Watson kept loading every second or so as some process was crashing. I had to re do the entire installation for a third time, this time with ATA mode and the CD in the drive and the network cable unplugged and then it went smoothly.

    Next, I realized that I it does not work properly with Volume shadow copy. I need this feature badly, so I decided to remove one of my disks from WHS and load it as an independent windows share, with VSS enabled.
    When I try to stream media from the server to my windows 7 pc, the sound skips.  My media player started putting 2 entries for each song in my library, one from the local drive and one from the network!!! I could not figure out how to make it remove the duplicates listed on the network!

    I do not like the concept of drive extender. All those empty stubs make be wary. Why not use a dynamic disk and extend it via the core Windows servers features. I do like the fact that you cannot copy files directly into the D drive, you have to go through the network. I think WHS needs to be rewritten to use the core windows server features and not something slapped on top, honestly the likelihood of something breaking is too great and makes for a fragile system. I do not want a fragile system, I want something rock solid.

    WHS should allow you to use the OS disk mirroring. Its build into windows server, why not allow it? I’ve finally decided I’m going to use WHS for PC backups only. All other shares will be standard windows shares, preferably mirrored (RAID) with VSS enabled. Anything else does not cut it for me.

    For the record, I like Microsoft products, but WHS is still very much a work in progress :)

    -Kevin

    • Edited by ksheth Tuesday, November 24, 2009 2:47 PM
    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 4:56 AM

All replies

  • I recently bought a Dell Poweredge T110 and put WHS on it, but I have to say I have been disappointed with the experience.

    First of all, WHS blue screened with my initial install. I found out later that I needed to change the bios setup from ACHI to ATA. There was no way to add drivers in the text only setup as I do not have a floppy drive. This was very frustrating.

    That's because the underlying OS (Server 2003) is 6 years old, long before SATA drives were commonplace.  As for a floppy drive, they are really cheap these days.  :)

    Upon reinstallation, there is no easy way to switch the mode. I would like to run ACHI but am running ATA now. Even when I click the install drivers icon in the first setup phase, and browse to the CD and load the drivers it still thinks the disks are ATA.

    Once the server was installed in ATA mode, I got another weird error. Upon goggling I found out that the install CD needs to be inserted or it gives a cryptic error message. Why can’t it just say please insert CD?

    Next, it started downloading the windows updates before the WHS was completely installed. When I finally got it to install, the installation was corrupted. Dr Watson kept loading every second or so as some process was crashing. I had to re do the entire installation for a third time, this time with ATA mode and the CD in the drive and the network cable unplugged and then it went smoothly.

    Next, I realized that I it does not work properly with Volume shadow copy. I need this feature badly, so I decided to remove one of my disks from WHS and load it as an independent windows share, with VSS enabled.
    When I try to stream media from the server to my windows 7 pc, the sound skips.  My media player started putting 2 entries for each song in my library, one from the local drive and one from the network!!! I could not figure out how to make it remove the duplicates listed on the network!

    I seriously doubt that has anything to do with WHS.  That is more likely to do with how 7 handles Libraries.  You should remove the songs from either the local drive or the network (or change the library settings so it doesn't look at both locations).  If nothing else, try setting up a share on another PC, point your media player to that share and see if it does the same thing.

    I do not like the concept of drive extender. All those empty stubs make be wary. Why not use a dynamic disk and extend it via the core Windows servers features. I do like the fact that you cannot copy files directly into the D drive, you have to go through the network. I think WHS needs to be rewritten to use the core windows server features and not something slapped on top, honestly the likelihood of something breaking is too great and makes for a fragile system. I do not want a fragile system, I want something rock solid.

    That will never happen.  That goes way beyond any reasonable expectation of a non-technical user (the target audience of this product) to understand.  If you want a full-fledged server (and have the technical expertise to administer it), you should be using 2003/2008/2008 R2 instead.

    WHS should allow you to use the OS disk mirroring. Its build into windows server, why not allow it?

    Because it's not part of the concept:  simple to use for the non-technical user.

    I’ve finally decided I’m going to use WHS for PC backups only. All other shares will be standard windows shares, preferably mirrored (RAID) with VSS enabled. Anything else does not cut it for me.

    For the record, I like Microsoft products, but WHS is still very much a work in progress :)

    -Kevin
    I don't agree.  WHS works well if you leave it alone and let it do its job.  I think one of the biggest problems some people have is that they expect a full-fledged server with all of the traditional "bells and whistles" that accompany it, but you're not going to get that with this product (especially not at the current OEM license price).  If you want a full server, you're going to have to pay a lot more than 100 bucks for it.
    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 6:31 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for your reply kariya :) I agree the price point of WHS is very attractive. And yes dynamic disks have their own problems, and DE solves some of them. However, I hope my post is taken as constructive critcism; I kind of went on a rant; but here would be my recommendations for the next version of WHS:

    - Should be based on 2008 server to get latest hardware support
    - Installation needs to be more streamlined with proper error messages
    - VSS functionality very important (one delete should not be able to kill all your data)
    - You should be able to turn duplication on or off in a child folder
    - Access Permissions should be able to be set on a child folder
    - Disable functions of windows server that interfere with WHS (there should not be a way to toast your system from the control panel)
    - Media streaming performance needs to improve or if it is  client side issue, better setting of client side defaults. (For eg, I get a file copy rate of 10MB/sec, but streaming music still skips on my windows 7/WHS setup.
    - Allow it to be 64 bit, so more data can be cached in memory.
    - Should hook directly info the filesystem (instead of the network subsystem) , so that I can move folders around locally without messing up WHS



    -Kevin

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 2:40 PM
  • Hi Kevin,
    let me give you some points back:

    The next generation of Windows Home Server will for sure not any more be based on Windows Server 2003, but on a more current OS.

    About the installation - this depends on how a next version will be marketed. Currently Windows Home Server as it is is not designed as a product sold in a shiny retail box, the concept of it was intended to be OEM only. And it has to be assumed, that these OEMs know more about there customized installation mechanics than you, who just has purchased a disk.

    VSS works under some circumstances, but I agree, it should be part of the concept and not be "unsupported".

    Not sure, if I would go as far as to allow duplication folder based. This adds another level of invisibility and therefore potential customer confusion for the main target audience.

    The same goes for permissions on a sub folder base. While it would be nice (i.e. having a limited subfolder for adult videos), it would remove simplicty in access control, as it is currently offered by the console.

    Disabling functions of Windows Server was not possible in the past, because the original SBS Server 2003 was code frozen and could not be touched by WHS team.

    Also using the Home Servers desktop was never part of the concept, thats why the OEM machines don't have VGA out.

    Media Streaming or overall network performance depends from many factors, which are out of control of Microsoft and the WHS team. This begins with the network drivers, continues with the total infrastructure and configuration and does not even end with compatibility of the various systems or Virus scanner interception.

    It has been stated (if you search the Internet for Vail), that the next version of WHS will be a 64 Bit OS, so this wish seems to be fulfilled.

    And your last point: logging in the the WHS locally or via Remote Desktop is unsupported, and I don't see that this policy will change.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 8:22 PM
    Moderator