Is there any way to test drives that are not being used RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have an HP system loaded with 3 1/2 TB of drives and a external SATA tower with 3 TB of drives.  The 3 drives in the tower are 99% free and unused.  They appear to be recognized by the system but until they are written to and data is stored, I don't trust that the ESATA port of the HP is fully recognizing the drives.  Is there any way to test these 3 drives to see if they really will work when required.  The drive area shows I have 5.91TB of storage and I don't want to add more until I can see if the installed ones are working properly.


    I also have the smallest drive as the primary which is the 500 G drive the unit came with.  I am getting error codes telling me that I cannot copy music and video to my shared files as I do not have enough space but my system shows I have 3.89 TB open.  If I copy in smaller lots will it work and rebalance the drive loads later on? 


    Is there any way to force a drive rebalance of the system to spread out the storage more evenly on the 7 drives.  I hate to see one drive 99% full (not the primary drive) while 4 others are empty.

    Monday, July 7, 2008 10:26 PM

All replies

  • Regarding the errors you're seeing, are you using Power Pack 1? If so, you may be interested in this blog post by Chris Gray, one of the Dev Leads on the Windows Home Server team.

    As for forcing "rebalancing", there is no way to do that, and Windows Home Server doesn't load balance across the drives anyway. The algorithm it uses is to put files on the fullest drive that has room; this has the effect of keeping files together if they're written at the same time. While there are ways to manipulate files to encourage them to move off the system drive, they're pretty invasive, labor intensive, and not as effective as one would want.
    Tuesday, July 8, 2008 3:18 AM
  • Hi eidos

    As you've got the 500G dive as the Sys drive, you'd be limited to copying 500 - format overhead - 20GB Sys partition in any one file copy.   Copying in batches less than the remaining space on the primary drive should work in theory.

    The article that Ken pointed to http://blogs.msdn.com/chrisgray/archive/2008/07/04/a-brief-description-of-the-balancing-algorithms-used-in-power-pack-1-s-drive-extender.aspx(and also mentioned on WeGotServed) explains why WHS will not ever have nicely even disk storage utilisation... but as long as Drive Extender all works perfectly (!!) then it shouldn't matter.

    Tuesday, July 8, 2008 8:51 AM
  • Ken, Thanks for the reply I have read Chris Gray's blog post and reviewed the entries in the system using regedit.  The two entries he mentions are not there.  The problem that I am having is that everything I put into a shared forlder is going to the primary drive.  It is going intact and not ever being transfered to any other drive despite the fact that I have over 4 TB of free drives ready and waiting. The system does not try to rebalance the storage and even worse I don't see any tombstones but entire large graphics, photos and video files intact on the primary drive.  The system does not appear to be transfering files and making tombstones to track the storage.  The sytem only says it is balancing the storage when I reboot but it doesn't really do anything.  The primary drive is still at 5% storage and hasn't changed.  The system will set there all day long and not move one file but Chris's paper states that it rebalances every hour?


    I thought when I purchased an HP server I would get a reasonably working system but it seems that even the basic operations like storage balancing are not working.  Please note that I haven't changed any setting on the server since I have owned it.   I have invested a lot of money in 7 TB of storage and hardware and feel like I cannot get even some basic items working.  I want to move the majority of what is on the primary drive to one of the massive empty drives and have the system try to do what it should do without overburdening the primary drive with data.  Do you have any ideas on how to get this done?


    Here is my registry file.  You can see that I have changed the date to 50 Gig and 60 Gig:



    The only references like Chris menetions are:

    PrimaryFreeSpaceBuffer             Reg_Dword   0x00000800(2048)

    SecondaryFreeSpaceBuffer         Reg_Dword   0x00005000(20480)

    SecondaryFreeSpaceBufferLow   Reg_Dword   0x00003800(14366)


    The two that he mentions are definately not there.







    Tuesday, July 8, 2008 11:45 PM
  • Hmm. It's possible that nothing is wrong, that you really have fallen afoul of what Chris was writing about. First, have you added the large drives to the storage pool using the console? In other words, do they show up in the console Server Storage tab under Storage Hard Drives?

    If they do, can you move (not copy) about 50 GB of files off your server, then back onto the server? See where they wind up?
    Wednesday, July 9, 2008 4:31 AM
  • Ken, the 7 drives in the system, 4 in the HP server and 3 in a SATA tower are added into the server resources and indicate they are healthy.  They just are not getting data.

    I took my primary drive to 1.4GB left out of 500G to try to force any type of reaction.  I got none in over 8 hours.  The only way I could get a rebalance was to shut down the system and reboot and it stated that it did a storage rebalance but it did nothing.  I took off 40 GB and then sent it back and it went right to the primary drive as what appears as full files, not tombstones.  I refilled the drive to only have 9 GB left and got no response by the server to rebalance the files and drives.  I left it for 16 hours and it did not rebalance the resources one time or create tombstones.

    I called HP and they were of no help.  They should have to read your website for training.  I was asked to remove the drives in the SATA tower from the server resources.  I did and then disconnected the tower.  I left it over night and it did not rebalance the storage one time. The last restore date and time were 12 hours old.  I was told if that didn’t work to use the server recovery disk so I did that and guess what!   I lost 3.5 TB of backed up files even though I did not do a factory reset.  I am now in the process to re-backup my computers. 

    The system is still backing up the large computer and it is putting all of the files onto one of the 1TB disks on the HP server and not on the primary drive.  Maybe it is working now, but only many more hours of backup will really tell.

    I now watch the server like I would a rattlesnake with no rattle.  I know it’s there and I always wonder what it is doing because I can’t see or hear it doing anything!

    I’ll let you know what happens after I restore 3 computers.

    Ken, I have a few questions.  Is there any way to:

    ·         Easily look at files on the server to see how they are being stored and if tombstones are being created.

    ·         Do all shared files go to the primary drive only and stay there?

    ·         If my photos, music and movies are already backed up and I put them into shared folders also, why does it take space up twice?  Can’t the system recognize that the shared files do not need to be backed up twice or is this for security to make sure that your children do not delete files accidently?

    ·         Has anyone successfully installed an external SATA tower?  I know there are postings but I don’t see many successes.  My tower has a 4726 SATA port multiplier and uses software for RAID.  I am not using the software (never installed it) and have the tower set up as a JBOD and the HP server happily see the disks but it seems to not use them.  It appears the server software likes to write and fill one disk completely before it goes to another.  This seems to be a dangerous practice and it would be more logical to spread files around in case a drive would fail.

    Thanks for your help.


    Wednesday, July 9, 2008 11:21 PM
  • There is no easy way to determine how Windows Home Server is functioning. Some familiarity with the internals will allow you to go digging through the server and figure things out, but honestly it either works or it doesn't, there's no "quick fix" if Drive Extender isn't working.

    Shared files go to the primary drive first, then to the secondary drives, or at least that's how it looks from outside the server. Internally, Microsoft has said that files go directly to the secondary drives, but the tombstones start out looking like they're the full size of the file; they only get shrunk down later. With PP1 Drive Extender has been changed so that even tombstones appear to be the full size of the file. They still don't occupy more than 4k on the drive, though.

    Drive Extender is unaware of the contents of your Home Computer Backup database. So if you have a file on your server, and one of your client PCs, it will be in the database and the shares, and if the share it's in has duplication turned on, it will be duplicated.

    Home Server Hacks has an article on installing a port-multiplier equipped external enclosure. But you are correct that Windows Home Server doesn't use an empty drive until there is no space on any other full drives. This has the tendency to keep files that are logically associated (a group of MP3s from a CD, for example) physically together on one drive. If a drive fails and you lose 20 audio tracks, would you rather rip one track each from 20 CDs or one CD with 20 tracks?
    Thursday, July 10, 2008 5:32 PM
  • Ken,


    Just a quick update.  I am 20 hours into backing up the first main computer.  Microsoft in the middle of the night decided to update Vista and blew my backup off line when the Vista computer rebooted.  Strangely enough the backup has written 900 G to one drive in the HP Server and nothing to the other 6 drives including the primary drive.  I haven’t retransferred my shared files yet to see what happens now.

    I was curious about the SATA Tower because the CFI seems to work and several people had had success.  I used an AMS Venus 75 DS2350S tower that seems to work in JBOD but since it has never been written to I can’t tell is the HP Server really will send files there over the ESATA cable.

    I am eager to see a new update of the Windows Home Server software as I see needs for improvement in many areas.  I just wonder how good the new version will be or will it be buggy.  I am about to buy another Quad Core with Vista 64 bit and I have been waiting for the updates to make sure that it is reasonably working.  Thanks for your help and comments.


    Thursday, July 10, 2008 8:27 PM
  • I believe that I have found a way to prove that external towers are working and also how the HP Server fills up disks.  First of all I had to restore the server as it appears that it did not work properly out of the box.  The system never went into a system rebalance and when I transferred data to the shared folders it went to the primary drive and stayed there until it was full. I mean FULL.

    After I restored the server sofware, I had to back up the computers again.  The server fills the hard drives installed in it like you pour a glass of water.  It fills the drive above the primary until it is full, then the second and then the third.  I then turned on the shared folder function and transferred data to shared folders on the server in about 5 to 7 GB chunks.  The transfer began at 50MB over a 1000T line and about ½ the way through the transfer it slowed to 20 to 25 MB as the lights on the external Sata tower drives came on one at a time as data was written to them.  I verified this by using disk manager to check the used space on each drive.  This did not work this way before I restored the HP Server with the Recovery Disk.

    Now that the system is working properly, the shared folder data is not stored on the primary drive as it transfers but only the tombstones (I can tell by the size of free space reduced on the primary drive).  The data is written on the next drive (not filled) in the HP Server and transferred to a drive in the SATA tower for the duplication.

    I then told the server not to create duplicates of the shared folders and it immediately erased the data stored on the external SATA tower.

    I can only assume that the original Home Server Software on the new server out of the box was not correct.  I made no changes and it simply did not work.


    Friday, July 11, 2008 1:52 AM