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Why are there so many major issues with WHS? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have been running WHS since the time of the beta around Feb 2007 and I am getting concerned that this product is not getting the attention it deserves due to the major issues.   (The major issues that I am talking about are (1) the corruption issue that was fixed with PP1 but that should never have occurred in a final product that touts data backup as its raison d'etre, (2) file conflict errors which I (and many others) get repeatedly, and (3) backup restores failing at 79% which I have had intermittently and seem very common).

    While I have not had any data losses or issues I am wondering how much confidence I should have in WHS given these major issues?

    Is WHS an extraordinarily complex piece of software which is why we are having this issues?  Is there some other reason for this - i.e. lack of resources dedicated to WHS by Microsoft?
    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 5:55 PM

All replies

  • I second your concerns about how much confidence to place in WHS as a safe storage & backup mechanism.
    I absolutely love WHS for its media sharing and remote access capabilities.
    But I maintain copies of all my vital data on all 4 of my PCs, as well as on 2 online services.
    The PCs are backed up daily by Norton Ghost, as well as by WHS.
    Just can't see putting full trust in WHS to not lose my files or to absolutely be able to restore a PC in case of a crash.
    WHS doesn't feel solid enough, and I hope Microsoft is actively working on this.
    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 8:08 PM
  • Hello,
    I think, while the issues are annoying and in some situations even catastrophic for the victim, they did not have a mass effect. The problem is in this case one time more called "propaganda", at least I think so. If the issues would have widely affected the customers, we would see much more traffic here in the forums, since usually the people with problems hit this place to find some support.
    The results of the bad reporting hurt in this case more, than the real issues did. And it took some time too long to provide a fix for the data corruption bug to the public.
    The other question is here, how many people run WHS on a hardware platform, which is suboptimal?
    I control two WHS systems - one, which never had issues in production use in a small office and my own box, which hit multiple hardware changes and beta versions of WHS. The last one developed it's share of problems, but is silent since the last reinstall after PP1 (besides the issues with homeserver.com registration during the last weeks).
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 8:12 PM
    Moderator
  • Bobsie said:

    Just can't see putting full trust in WHS to not lose my files or to absolutely be able to restore a PC in case of a crash.
    WHS doesn't feel solid enough, and I hope Microsoft is actively working on this.

    you should never trust a single machine to hold your only versions of important files.
    There can happen to much to destroy such a machine, even outside the scope of the software.
    So only multiple copies, ideally also not all in the same building, give the level of security to sleep without fearing data loss to much.
    If this is a lesson, people learned from the incidents, this is a good thing.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008 8:15 PM
    Moderator
  • But there are also basic design problems.

    For one, I think we'd be better off with RAID than with WHS's unique way of handling duplication and the distribution of the data amongst the various drives.

    There should be a proper way to schedule backups. A window of opportunity, granular only to the whole hour, makes for very inconvenient situations. As does the unpredictability of what order the client PCs will back up on any given day. You should be able to specify a set schedule for each PC.

    WHS would likely be more widely acceptable if it adhered to what the user community perceives as norms, such as those I've mentioned above.
    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 10:40 AM
  • Hi,
    Bobsie said:

    For one, I think we'd be better off with RAID than with WHS's unique way of handling duplication and the distribution of the data amongst the various drives.

    There should be a proper way to schedule backups. A window of opportunity, granular only to the whole hour, makes for very inconvenient situations. As does the unpredictability of what order the client PCs will back up on any given day. You should be able to specify a set schedule for each PC.

    WHS would likely be more widely acceptable if it adhered to what the user community perceives as norms, such as those I've mentioned above.

    RAID has it's drawbacks also. It gives a wrong sense of security, although it only protects against one situation - a disk going lost.
    But what, if a thunderstorm kills all disks in your computer by overvoltage? And you cant handle different disks that well with RAID.

    Yes, more controllable backup schedules would be welcome. I would also like to have one PC only backup weekly, another one daily or monthly.
    And give one system priority, which missed a few backup cycles.

    WHS is still version 1.0 (or with Power Pack maybe 1.1) and will for sure see more developement in the future, which may include the realization of user wishes.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:08 AM
    Moderator
  • (I am only going to hit a few high points...)

    Prevalence of the errors people see reported in the forums: Every error you see reported here is extremely rare, at least in terms of the number of users actually experiencing it compared to the number of WHS users. The forums are self-selected for people with (usually) moderate to excellent technical skills and (almost always) issues with the product. People who never have a problem with the product, especially those with lower technical expertise (which is most of the user base, I'm sure) probably never visit (or at least never post in) the forums. 

    All of this means that Microsoft typically doesn't have a large number of bug reports for any of the issues people are concerned/posting about. That makes it harder to fix those issues, and in some cases I suppose it's possible there will never be a fix, per se, just a workaround. So when you experience one of the issues which seem common on the forums, please post a bug report on Connect, even though others may already have done so.

    Trusting WHS: Personally, I do. As in it is now my only in-house (hah! :) backup tool. However, no backup strategy that relies on only one backup medium, or one storage location, is complete. I take regular copies of my shares and backup database off site on external drives. I have restored every PC in my house at least once from WHS, and find it reliable; I've never lost data that I didn't know and plan to lose (usually through doing something I knew would cause problems).

    RAID: Please read Why RAID is not a consumer technology. If Windows Home Server is to succeed in the marketplace, it needs to be simple. RAID isn't simple. Yes, a technically proficient enthusiast (you and I) can configure and use RAID technologies to create a more reliable storage platform, but my brother-in-law certainly can't, and not only that, he doesn't want to. I'm an enthusiast, he's a core user. WHS is built first for the core users. 'Nuf said?

    I strongly encourage people who think that WHS is lacking in an area to post suggestions on Connect. I have done so, and continue to do so. If you want e.g. more control over backups, telling us (forum users) doesn't really get the message to the WHS team (well okay, I pass the word along when I see a hot topic, but you get the idea I'm sure). Just realize that Microsoft has to sell WHS to the masses, not create the perfect tool for a small group, so if a suggestion is going to require a complex interface with lots of options, it's a less likely to make it to the top of the pile. To Olaf's point that some user wishes may be included in future versions of the product, that's why server backup was included in PP1. Microsoft saw how many enthusiasts were demanding it, and found a way to implement it in a relatively simple fashion.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 4:21 PM
    Moderator
  • Olaf Engelke said:

    Bobsie said:

    Just can't see putting full trust in WHS to not lose my files or to absolutely be able to restore a PC in case of a crash.
    WHS doesn't feel solid enough, and I hope Microsoft is actively working on this.

    you should never trust a single machine to hold your only versions of important files.
    There can happen to much to destroy such a machine, even outside the scope of the software.
    So only multiple copies, ideally also not all in the same building, give the level of security to sleep without fearing data loss to much.
    If this is a lesson, people learned from the incidents, this is a good thing.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf


    This is a very 'business minded' sense of thinking.  You really cannot expect a home user to make multiple backups of their backups... This is why one would by home server.

    I deal with enough IT issues in my work life, I purchased home server in hopes of a 'set it and forget it' mentality.  I've gotten things how I want them, but it was far more time consuming than it should've been.

    I blindly purchased home server and really wish I had tried the trial beforehand.  I would've just bought a couple of external hard drives for automated backups and called it a day.

    I now have a home server that works as designed, but I still not trust it.  Offsite backups are a piss poor excuse for shoddy software considering the point of the home server OS.



    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 5:20 PM
  • Evening,

    I concur with every word of Ken's post.
    I sell WHS's, and now have in excess of 30 customers with these set up. Not one of them would have a clue what Raid even means, never mind expecting them to re-build arrays etc.
    Also, none of them have ever lost any data and none of them experienced the pre-PP1 bugs. (They all knew of the possibility, and all had a 'loaner' USB drive and a RoboCopy script to alleviate the possibility).

    If you think that you don't need off-site backups, then you don't have data that is important to you. Again, all the above customers have external drives which are rotated off-site, and every single family understand and appreciate there options.

    As well as these, I also have sold a few to small businesses who use them either stand-alone, or as a backup to SBS. Again, none of them have experienced problems.

    Colin





    If anyone answers your query successfully, please mark it as 'Helpful', to guide other users.
    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 6:16 PM
    Moderator
  • Jacob, if you don't have an off-site backup, exactly what do you expect will protect your data if your house burns to the ground? And how would that protective mechanism work?
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 6:29 PM
    Moderator
  • Take this for an example of design problems.
    My backups were getting flaky so I decided, through Toolkit, to delete them all & start over. Rebooted the server before starting new backups.
    I started with the fastest PC. As of this writing, WHS has taken 8 HOURS to back up 139 GB over a gigabit network, and it's only 92% complete.
    Norton Ghost does this same thing in about 45 minutes.
    There's something basically wrong here.
    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:35 PM
  • Ken Warren said:

    Jacob, if you don't have an off-site backup, exactly what do you expect will protect your data if your house burns to the ground? And how would that protective mechanism work?


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)


    The issue is WHS's stability and problems affecting data, not my house burning down.  I can accept losing things if my house catches on fire, but I can't look the other way when there's some landing zone mishap or what have you and WHS won't restore a backup.


    Relying on off site backups doesn't make it ok that WHS has problems.  The 'pro-whs' people act like it doesn't matter that there is data corruption, landing zone, 74% restore problems and etc because you "should rely on your offsite backups"

    To me, that is ridiculous.  Every time there is a post questioning WHS data integrity I see the same 3-4 people chiming in about the off sites and it's just not a valid argument.


    I'm actually pro MS on just about everything.  I am all MS where I work (sharepoint, server 2003/2008, config manager, DPM, probably missing a few) and am an avid Vista Media Center user at home (multiple extenders, HDHomeruns, etc etc etc).  Of all people to defend MS I would probably be the first.

    However, I feel outright ripped off by WHS.  I bought it at full price just to end up being an unpaid beta tester.  It took way too long to get setup how I wanted, lacks (imo) expected features, had to register at these forums (and even more time spent here...), and still am not happy.  I can't believe this doesn't integrate better with media center - MS's own product.  I look forward to updates, I just hope it's not released as a new OS to pay for..


    ....Sorry for the rant, and I don't mean to blow up at you, I'm just disappointed at WHS and MS. 
    Thursday, October 30, 2008 12:31 AM
  • WHS has saved me more than once.  Helped a friend do some backups and changes to his system.   Allowed me to upgrade hard drives easy.  My whole family can now view photos of my 2 year old as soon as I put them on the server.  My wife understands the shares and can get to the photos/videos/music.  It streams everything to my PS3, my whole family loves this feature.

    WHS had it's issues, but I believe that most have been fixed.  Also people that visit forums are usually the minority, those few who do have issues tend to speak up a lot louder then those that are happily enjoying a trouble free product.

    athlon 3400, 2gb ram, 9 drives totaling about 3.5 tbs.
    Thursday, October 30, 2008 3:36 AM