locked
WHS Fun & Trials - or adventures in raiding. RRS feed

  • General discussion


  • I've noticed the hardware forum has died down a bit over the past few weeks.  Hopefully that means everyone's systems are working great!  As a conversation piece (or not!) I'll provide an update of some changes I decided to do to my WHS installation.

    For a while my WHS installation has been running on an older AMD socket 939 motherboard (Asus A8N-SLI Premium) using a AMD 3800+ X2.  The motherboard has 8 sata connections.  I was using two drives, a 500gig & 400gig.

    For the last few months I've been planning on using Intel's new southbridge (ICH10R) to set up WHS with a RAID 1 array for the system disk using 2x250gig WD REs & a RAID 5 array using 4xseagate 320 hdds for storage (just a quick tip, never buy harddrives before you need them! they depreciate too quickly).  I wanted to use a microATX board, so I waited for the ICH10R microATX boards.  Do to a delay with the G45 embedded gfx - it ended up being longer than I expected.

    I chose to use onboard RAID for a few reasons:

    -inexpensive
    -if the controller dies there's plenty of motherboards with the ICH10R southbridge & it appears Intel south bridges stick around forever.
    -the intel ICHxR southbridges have been favorably reviewed in regards to their RAID capabilities
    -I could migrate to the next ICHxR southbridge if I needed to
    -hopefully avoid the 'my system doesn't see drive X on my <favorite controller card>' issues
    -this guy gave a favorable review of matrix raid

    Of course there are cons:
    -slower than a hardware raid solution
    -limited to six sata ports
    -despite being on numerous motherboards there wasn't a lot of RAID literature on the ich10r chipsets
    -RAID isn't supported by WHS - possibly getting this post deleted :P

    The G45 boards with the ICH10R southbridge arrived.

    I bought an ASUS P5Q-EM motherboard because it has six internal SATA ports & I've had good luck with Asus boards in the past.  I ended up buying the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 cpu to go with the motherboard.

    Somewhere along the line my storage requirements grew and I decided to not do the system drive as RAID 1.  Instead I used a 500gb drive from my HTPC (replaced by 2.5" 500gb drive).  Unfortunately I already had the 320gig drives, so I decided to go forward with using them in a RAID 5 configuration.

    So, the few days before the new installation I spent copying data off my server onto backup hard drives.  This is a big pita & is where most of the time was spent.

    For RAID support on the intel chipset you need to change a bios setting from IDE to RAID.  This has been common on virtully all onboard RAID setups that I've experimented with.

    I installed the system drive.  The Intel RAID config on POST doesn't allow you to enter it when you only have one drive.  So right to WHS installation...

    Of course now I had to provide disk controller drivers in order to install WHS.  My only hiccup was mistakenly thinking I could use a USB drive to install them.  This worked for the first install, but the F6 install would never stop on F6.  So I had to make a 3.5 floppy disk and install them that way.

    Once I verified WHS was up and running, I shut down and installed the 4 320gig drives, entered the Intel RAID utility and set up a RAID 5 array.  When I logged into WHS the new array was shown as a single drive in the console.  I added the array and viola - I had an additional ~900gigs of space.

    Now, in hindsight I should have performed some low level benchmarks before adding the array to WHS.  But I didn't, so that's that.

    Initial low level benchmarks gave an average read of 200MB/s.  The graph was a little wild, (up to 240MB/s) but I satisfied.  System benchmarks for write were horribly slow.  They'd start out around 40 or so MB/s and very quickly drop to less than 1-2 MB/s.

    After some digging, I realized that Intel sets write back caching to off by default.  Enabling this gave me a nice and tidy benchmark graph for reads (still ~200MB/s average read).  More importantly my writes were fast - at least in the benchmarks.  The most accurate benchmark I got for writes was around ~150 MB/s for sequential writes.  PeformanceTest v6.1 was giving me rather high #s - 300+MB/s writes - but this could be because I didn't set the test up properly.  Although burst speeds are well over 1000 MB/s - so that could skew the tests.

    In real world tests - I do get fast write speeds but really only for the length of time it takes to run a benchmark.  Then the speeds drop to the 50-60MB/s range.  I'll have to do more tests (and look at my notes, right now I'm writing from memory - I'll fix this with edits if I'm drastically wrong).

    Happy enough with the array - I should have left things alone...

    Considering I had an extra 400gig drive lying around (the other 500gig I had started dying when copying data back to WHS) - I added that to WHS.

    After a day or so - I thought perhaps I could expand the raid 5 using that 400gig - (disimilar drive!).  Ignoring all red flags; I looked into it.  Intel's website FAQ explicitly states that RAID 5 expansion is unsupported/not available.  I have some experience with FAQs & they're not always up to date.  I looked at the Intel Matrix Storage Manager software and low and behold it does support RAID 5 expansion (not sure how far back it's supported in terms of chipsets).

    Then in a short sighted move I decided to try and expand the RAID 5 array.  For some reason I didn't bother to think what would happen to the WHS volume that the RAID array was already a part of.

    So 90% of the way through expansion process - I had the sudden though of - hmm, wonder what WHS is going to do when the drive is suddenly bigger.  The expansion process finished 'migrating' & there was no difference in the size of the RAID 5 array.  A second step is required to expand the RAID 5 to use all available space - well, I got lucky with the first part, WHS still worked - so I went ahead and expanded the array to use all avaible space - this is the initialization process - and took about 1.5 hours.

    So that finished, Intel's software sees the RAID 5 volume as a full sized volume.  However WHS doesn't, WHS still thinks it's the same size.  Perhaps a blessing. :)

    More work to do...

    cont...

    I rebooted the computer and took a look at the disk management tool.  The RAID 5 array had an unallocated section representing the added disk.

    The WHS console listed the RAID 5 array with the correct size, however the PIE chart showed the unallocated space as being system space (i.e. unusable).

    To get WHS to recognize the new space I needed to extend the RAID 5 parition.  Fortunately WHS ships with Diskpart, which allows users to extend partitions (there are restrictions).

    I used Diskpart to extend the RAID 5 partition into the unallocated space (I had to format the unallocated space to NTFS first).

    Now WHS console showed the RAID 5 array as missing & could not calculate the pie chart.

    I rebooted, and now the WHS console had the RAID 5 array as healthy and the pie chart was showing the correct allocations.

    So my adventures are over for now.  I'm not going to vouch for the stability of my WHS system - but it seems fine for now.

    In the next few months I'll be replacing the RAID array with 1 gig drives.
    Cheers

    Here's a couple of disk benchmarks with Intel ICH10R Raid 5 w/ five disks (4 seagate 7200.10 320gig & 1 samsung HD400LJ)

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us 

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

    • Edited by Chris H Saturday, September 6, 2008 10:47 AM testing images
    Saturday, September 6, 2008 7:53 AM

All replies

  • While I admire Lliam's dedication (really; try writing a useful "how to" article and you'll understand why) I will remind people that RAID, and everything Lliam had to do to get it to work, is unsupported. In addition, several of Lliam's steps require manipulation of drives that are part of the Windows Home Server storage architecture in Disk Management or using diskpart, tools which can severely damage server functionality or destroy data. Should you make a mistake, or your server eat a terabyte of your data right off a RAID array (unlikely, but half-baked drivers are always a possibility) there won't be much help beyond sympathy for your plight.

    And no, Lliam, the post wasn't deleted. :) RAID isn't a useful solution for probably 99% of the people buying and using WHS for a variety of reasons, but if someone is determined to try it, it's better that there be real world examples of people who've had success. Or failure, please remember to let us know if your server eats your array next week... :)

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Saturday, September 6, 2008 2:59 PM
    Moderator

  • Thanks Ken, I was going to mention that I don't advocate RAID for WHS.  I don't believe it's necessary.  RAID setup is a time sink, expanding the array is a timesink (and a ____ shoot depending on controller).  I was perfectly happy at the 30-50MB/sec transfer rates I was getting with individual drives. 

    I don't see why WHS would support RAID.  There are so many controllers out there that behave differently it would be nothing but headaches.  It's bad enough that people have troubles with controllers in JBOD setup.

    This was done purely out of interest (and boredom to some extent).  While I did have data on the array I was ok with it going poof.  I backup important files, CD rips, etc... on external drives, in addition I have all the hard copies of anything I've ripped.  My storage requirements are mainly for my re-rips of CDs to a lossless format & recorded TV (through MediaCenter).


    Saturday, September 6, 2008 4:21 PM
  • Hello Liam,

    Although I would never consider using RAID for WHS (nor advise anyone to try this) I really enjoyed reading your post.
    Thanks for sharing this with us!
    No home server like Home Server
    Saturday, September 6, 2008 6:53 PM
    Moderator
  • Nice write-up. Lliam.  I am curious about the drivers you used for your board.  I have the P5Q (vanilla) which I am building right now for a WHS (my first WHS build).  It has much of the same functionality of your board, minus the graphics.  Did WHS need any additional drivers for the storage/chipset hardware?  I've not seen anything on Asus' website for 2003 server drivers for the P5Q family, but for the last two days I haven't been able to access the site.  Thanks for any info you can provide.  
    Wednesday, September 24, 2008 9:37 PM
  • Lliam,

    I have a system very similar to yours.

    I would like to mirror my system drive.

    However, every time I try to install WHS with raid enabled I get a blue screen shortly after seeing the "press f6 to load raid drivers" prompt. I get this bluescreen whether I press F6 or not.

    I do not currently have a floppy drive.


    Do you know if this is happening because the installer is expecting to access a floppy with the raid driver on it (regardless of my input)? Might I be able to solve my problem by going and getting a floppy drive?

    Thanks for your help.

    OBTW, the error code was:

    STOP: 0x0000007B (0xF789AA94, 0xC0000034, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)

    Thursday, September 25, 2008 8:54 AM
  • Ryan,

    Unfortunately the only way to solve this (afaik) is to use a floppy drive.  I could never get the install to recognize the F6 keypress (perhaps because I was using a USB keyboard?).

    Even with a floppy drive you may need to run the install over again (which I had to do).  After running the install over again, using the floppy drive to specify driver location in the first install part, the second part still asks to hit F6 but it did install fine.

    I used a standard non-usb floppy drive.  I do not know if a USB floppy drive would work (presumably it would).
    Thursday, September 25, 2008 3:17 PM
  • No, thats great... I just needed to find someone in my exact situation to make sure there was a solution. Thanks.
    Thursday, September 25, 2008 3:53 PM
  •  
    Good write up.  A few notes of interest.

    First, you are gambling with onboard RAID controller.  Read my post, where I lost everything using my onboard raid in my southbridge.

    As for the "advice against raid in WHS", I see the ups and downs of not using raid with WHS.  The main issue is with expanding the array.  You really squeezed out the limits of that onboard raid system, I will grant you that!  But, my solution is using Adaptec for their support and long-term dependancy.  I posted recently about asking the great powers-at-be here about running such a solution.  The answer is simply not to expand the containers and the headaches you went through; but, instead you want to just create additional containers added to the harddrive pool - then add the container as additional HDDs within WHS.

    http://eduncan911.com
    Thursday, September 25, 2008 5:54 PM
  • Out of ignorance, I just built a WHS with 3 1T drives in a raid3 configuration using a Netcell controller.

    I've dealt with enough drive failures over the years that I wanted to be able to hotswap one that died, hence the RAID - but I went at it differently.

    I had a pair of Maxtor 300's and a pair of Maxtor 250's so I built initially with those for data and a 120 for the system drive (I like keeping system drives separate - I'm an old mainframer....) and did my initial build with them, then started rebuilding my media library.

    I must say that WHS has done a good job with space management, but doesn't allow too much hope for things like databases that tend to expand.  Nevertheless, I was doing pretty well - until one of the 250's got flaky.  I told  WHS to remove that 250, and it did - overnight, then failed to complete because it couldn't write a file.  I found the file it couldn't writee to be alread there so I deleted it and was then able to rerun the remove process successfully.

    I had the 3 1t drives and a hot-swap raid cage on the shelf, so I built it up and learned that Silicon Image controller was a bad idea.  TYhen I got the NetCell and everything came up.

    I added the RAID array as a single drive, then removed the three remaining PATA drives (2x300 and 1x250)  It took a while to migrate the data, but it did work, so I now have a large data space with the system space on a separate drive - which is what I had wanted.  I also have plenty of space on the system drive if I need it and find out I can use it.

    I removed the 300's - they will becone a mirrored array on my desktop machine which also has its own system drive (an 80 gig), the remaining 250 will is now a drive not in the storage pool to run NewsBin, an internet newsgroup binary robot - and it seems to be working well as I have pulled nearly 100 gig from the internet without a burp, and moved it into the storage pool.

    I would rethink the RAID array just to get the terebyte I'm giving away to parity - but as cheap as 1`TB drives are these days, if I want more space, I'll build a similar array and add it (probably using 2TB drives and then migrate off the current array and move it to another machine on the home network.)

    WHS remains unaware of the array as anything but a huge drive, and it seems to like it that way - and I am spared the background moving around of stuff to do the balancing.

    I did this because I've built a lot of servers, Windows, Novell and Linux, but never a home server, and based on my experience it seemed good.  Maybe it is overkill, and a drive may bever fail before getting replaced with something much larger - but the only safe option I could see was to build a big pool and tell WHS to duplicate EVERYTHING - and that would have used more space than this solution.

    What have I failed to understand?  Have I shot myself in the foot, or have I done it well within the limits of what the design team anticipated?   Since i stream media over my home, and have more than a terebyte already, this seemed a better solution than a bunch of disks and hours to remove and add one if I ran short of space or if one croaked.


    Tuesday, February 17, 2009 7:16 PM
  • I've tried multiple RAID scenarios (0, 1 and 5) during the betas with bad results. I eventually ended up rebuilding without RAID and my systems have been stable since.

    Personally I don't care if WHS doesn't use parity (although if DE 2.0 offers a parity option that is as stable as DE is now I might use it) nor do I care that I use a few more drives for duplication. What I do care about is stability and RAID wasn't stable. Also, don't be lulled into a false sense of security with RAID, I've seen arrays that couldn't be rebuilt when they should have. RAID doesn't always protect from data loss but with duplication in the pool your data is pretty safe. Even if your mobo dies you could take the drives out of WHS and read them on any NTFS capable computer, you can't always do that with RAID.

    Also remember that RAID is no substitute for backups. Even in enterprise networks they back up RAID arrays.

    YMMV...

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Tuesday, February 17, 2009 8:58 PM
  • I understand the need for backup - I've been in the business more than 40 years - but here at the Police Department where I work, RAID3 and RAID5 are used - and the backup is to tape, which is an option I can't afford.

    I have managed to shoot myself a couple of times with mirroring - but never with raid3 or raid 5.

    Not to say it can't happen - which is why I do frequent backups of critical parts, and keep good notes on where I get things.  Maybe I've jsut been in control for too long, and after some of the fiascos with some earlier products (my server farm at work is a mix of Novell, Linux and Windows servers - more than 40 in total) I like to think I know where stuff is, and how to get it back.

    All that having been said, I'll print your note and put it up on the wall so that if this pup fails before I can do something else I'll be able to point at it and say HE TOLD ME SO.
    Tuesday, February 17, 2009 9:35 PM
  • I don't recommend tape anymore, hard drives are too cheap (and fast) to use tape now days. (although I do still have a tape drive or two lying around somewhere)

    I have had RAID 5 arrays lose data when they couldn't be rebuilt after a controller died but that data was backed up so it was restored. I've also had stripes and mirrors that failed and had to be restored from backup.

    I'm not posting anything to say "I told you so" if it fails, I'm just relaying my professional and personal experience so hopefully people won't lose data. Some people actually think that you can't lose data if you have RAID and that's just not so. As you know, RAID is not a substitute for backups.

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Tuesday, February 17, 2009 10:29 PM
  • I am still early enough in the game that I can peel off what is in the raid array and do it over again.

    Would you say that I would be safer just using the 3 1TB drives rather than RAIDing them - with the caveat that I make sure I don't stray onto the third drive until I have a fourth ready to put in place in case one croaks, then tell it to duplicate everything?  That way, when larger drives are cheap, I can swap them out onesy-twosy, lose nothing (except time) and be as safe as I would be as I am? 

    Is it a safe assumption that the duplicated data is (where multiple cpindles are available) spread between spindles, so that the primary and the backup are never colocated as long as there is space enough not to colocate them?

    I am not to old to learn, but I am a cheap SOB, and don't want to be buying drives for the fun of it - if I change approaches now is the time (and I can sell the RAID cage and controller....)

    I stil think I will need a drive or two not in the data space to run NewsBin and some other servers / collectors that I run, but that should not be an issue, as I will control those spaces - and when it goes bump in the night I can go find a mirror, look in it and scream at the image I see there.

    How am I doin'?
    Tuesday, February 17, 2009 10:47 PM
  • The concept behind duplication is that there will be two copies of your file, on two separate physical devices. (If you have a single large RAID array with multiple logical volumes, obviously all copies would be on the one array, but all WHS would see is the volumes.) If there is insufficient space on your drives to store two copies of a file on two separate drives, Windows Home Server will raise a Network health warning so that you'll be aware of the situation and will presumably be able to do something about it.

    Regarding keeping a drive "in reserve", if you want to do that, don't install it or (if it is installed) don't add it to the storage pool. There is no supported way (and no need) to control what data is on what disks.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, February 17, 2009 11:27 PM
    Moderator
  • How "safe" you are depends on predicting future events. If your array never fails then it's safe. If it does fail and it can't be rebuilt then you're not.  However, if all of your drives are in the pool and your critical data is duplicated, that data is pretty safe too. It would take human error, a fire or maybe a lightning strike that fried multiple drives to lose data. That's what I've done, I started with some smaller drives and replaced them with bigger drives and added more as time went on and need increased.

    Yes, if duplication is enabled it places a copy on two different drives. Duplication is similar to mirroring.

    An array with parity is more space efficient but it's also more risky than DE. I don't see DE as buying drives for the fun of it.

    Why would you need drives out of the pool for that? If the drive is out of the pool you might as well put it in the pool an just not duplicate specific shares. Having drives out of the pool is likely to waste more space.

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Tuesday, February 17, 2009 11:35 PM
  • From prior times, I run things on the server - and am just unfailiar enough with the file system to have an uncertainty about what I  ought to allow to run.  From what I have read, and see here, the design of the server and its data management favors having everything run on a client machine.  I fun a newsgroup robot, but have been goosy about running it on WHS and using WHS's DATA area directly for its output, because what it collects I reorganize, separate, classify and store in its own "location" (not physical byt logicaal - movies, TV shows, music, etc.) and have been doing most of the maintenance using a laptop upstairs from the server, out of a concern that movint things in and out of its DATA area when it is busily Doing Things in that area was asking to get something bent or broken.  If this concern is misplaced, I'd like to know that.

    The isntallation is new, and I have a lot of flexibility - when I get all the media files loaded, things will be a great deal harder (and slower) and I prefer to do things once.
     
    Is it safe to manipulate the shares from the server itself, or is it safer to usa a satellite machine to do that?

    I appreciate the time youall are taking with me - Some of my past experience can get in the way of gtting things done, and all input to keep me straight with new things is appreciated.
    Wednesday, February 18, 2009 3:02 AM
  • By design, all user/administrator access to the server is through one of three paths. First and most obvious is the shares. Second is the Console. Third is the Remote Access web site, which (for the most part) gives you a way to get at your shares and the console from afar. Anything else is unsupported.

    It's safe to manipulate the shares as shares from the server, using Remote Desktop or physical console. There's a link on the administrator's desktop that makes that easy. Direct access to files in the file system is unsupported, and it's possible that there are applications that will cause problems if installed on the server and pointed at e.g. D:\Shares\Music.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, February 18, 2009 6:13 AM
    Moderator
  • I am a little slow sometimes - but here's what I think I understood you to say:

    WHS is a NAS device - never intended to supply services (althouhgh IIS works and some other stuff works) - and if I should choose to use WHS as I have used my other servers - as a desktop machine, running something out of convenience, or scheduling things (as I would do in XP) to occur, and I attempt to reach the data there as anything with a drive letter (I am assuming that the UNC would not bite me; perhaps a dumb assumption) I am asking for trouble.

    If, on the other hand, I run my robots from XP desktops (for an example) and just use the shares I should be OK.

    This isn't what I wanted to do, but I also didn't want to license a 10-user 2003 server, so I'll have to live by the rules.

    FWIW I am still up because I listened and ripped the machine apart, and now have a daata pool with a pair of 1T drives, a and a pair of 300GB drives - after which I told it to duplicate everything in shares.  I gave the third 1T drive to system backup without understanding what I was doing, but unable to find something that would tell me that I didn't have to have dedicatged backup space.  If I needn't have done that, I'll go and buy another 1T drive and give all 4 to the data pool, removing the smaller drives.

    Am I getting close to understanding?

    Thanks for all your assistance - I am 67, but believe that I can still learn.

    Bob
    Wednesday, February 18, 2009 7:38 AM
  • Windows Home Server is more than a NAS device, because it's extensible and has (under the hood, where end users should really never need to get at it) the full feature set of Windows Server 2003. Many end users have, nonetheless, made some degree of use of the "under the hood" features. Where those features are not exposed by the the product, they are unsupported. That doesn't mean the don't work, however you should be cautious because WHS expects that it has complete control of it's operating environment, and it expects that environment won't change. So a change that you might think innocent could cause problems with some bit of WHS functionality. Thus, everything except the product as designed, and every access other than through the approved interfaces, is "unsupported". You use them at your own risk.

    Regarding your drives, using a drive for server backup isn't a bad idea, however I would recommend an external drive for the purpose. The server backup tool that's available as part of the product will back your shares up on demand, but the intent is really to make it possible for you to implement a disaster recovery plan that includes an off-site backup.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, February 18, 2009 1:06 PM
    Moderator
  • It's more than just a NAS device but WHS is not a desktop and the data should be accessed through the shares not the drive letters. However, MANY (maybe or maybe not most) users do install and run SW that is technically unsupported. What *will* bite you kind of depends on what it is, how it's installed and how it works. The problem with NNTP clients is most of them require a lot of user interaction which is why they're more of a desktop app. The type of SW that works best on WHS is the "set it and forget it" type of SW and even that has caviats.

    You could remove the "backup drive" and just add it to the pool, they don't have to match and they don't have to be installed in pairs. You could also leave the smaller drives in and use virtually any number of drives. You're only limited by your case, number of ports, your power supply and your needs.


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Wednesday, February 18, 2009 1:13 PM
  • OK, I think I have it now.

    Anything I use outside the interfaces supplied may break and if it does I own the pieces.

    My NNTP piece is Newsbin, which runs unattended - the only thing I have to do is gather up what it pulls down out of the binary newsgroups and stick those things where I want them - and if I don't do that regularrly, I can fill up a 300 gig drive in less than 2 days (fiber optics direct to my home.)  To date, I have left it's download area on a drive not in the pool, and then just used drag and drop to get stuff from there into a share.  So far, I have got away with it, and if I understand, I should be safe doing this.  Other than that, I may run a mail server but not much else.

    The remote access looks a little less useful than I had hoped - it seems to be an FTP-like interface only so I cannot do any big operations, like moving a bunch of files and directories at once to a share.  I know that there are bandwidth issues - but I have fiber at home and at work, and a pipe almost as big as the cat-5 pipe inside either place - and I would have liked to be able to log in remotely and join the workgroup and just get my folder of shares no matter if I was inside or outside.  I guess that is a thought I should post elsewhere, and as soon as I find the are I will do that.

    I get that I can throw any assortment of drives at it, but am trying to maintain some sort of symmetry so that I can change them out when it pleases me to do so and, with replication turned on for all shares, be reasonably certain that my fatfingers can't break anything.  So far it seems to do a really good job of keeping me from shooting my own feet off, but I've only been messing with it for a week or so., and still am finding ways to do things that don't involve the tools I have been accustomed to using on Windows servers.

    Each day a new adventure!  Thanks for all your help.
    Wednesday, February 18, 2009 3:49 PM


  • My NNTP piece is Newsbin, which runs unattended - the only thing I have to do is gather up what it pulls down out of the binary newsgroups and stick those things where I want them - and if I don't do that regularrly, I can fill up a 300 gig drive in less than 2 days (fiber optics direct to my home.)  To date, I have left it's download area on a drive not in the pool, and then just used drag and drop to get stuff from there into a share.  So far, I have got away with it, and if I understand, I should be safe doing this.  Other than that, I may run a mail server but not much else.

    The remote access looks a little less useful than I had hoped - it seems to be an FTP-like interface only so I cannot do any big operations, like moving a bunch of files and directories at once to a share.  I know that there are bandwidth issues - but I have fiber at home and at work, and a pipe almost as big as the cat-5 pipe inside either place - and I would have liked to be able to log in remotely and join the workgroup and just get my folder of shares no matter if I was inside or outside.  I guess that is a thought I should post elsewhere, and as soon as I find the are I will do that.

    I get that I can throw any assortment of drives at it, but am trying to maintain some sort of symmetry so that I can change them out when it pleases me to do so and, with replication turned on for all shares, be reasonably certain that my fatfingers can't break anything.  So far it seems to do a really good job of keeping me from shooting my own feet off, but I've only been messing with it for a week or so., and still am finding ways to do things that don't involve the tools I have been accustomed to using on Windows servers.

    Each day a new adventure!  Thanks for all your help.


    > Anything I use outside the interfaces supplied may break and if it does I own the pieces.

    For the most part, if anything breaks with WHS you own the pieces.  With officially supported bits you can file a bug.

    > My NNTP piece is Newsbin, which runs unattended...

    While this isn't supported behavior, and perhaps things like this break the EULA...and I may get crucified by a MVP for saying this...it seems that Microsoft silently encourages non standard usage of WHS.  Everything done with WHS that is outside of the documented usage of it is a potential feature down the road.  While WHS is over a year old, I believe the product management is always actively looking for new and exciting ways that WHS can be used.

    > The remote access looks a little less useful than I had

    Actually, I find it more useful.  Primarily because it allows you to remote desktop to any of your clients & your server as well.  Users have written some excellent addins that allow you to create websites, listen to music, etc...all using WHS.

    Good luck. :)
    Chris

    Thursday, February 19, 2009 1:20 AM
  • Chris H said:

    While this isn't supported behavior, and perhaps things like this break the EULA...and I may get crucified by a MVP for saying this...it seems that Microsoft silently encourages non standard usage of WHS.  Everything done with WHS that is outside of the documented usage of it is a potential feature down the road.  While WHS is over a year old, I believe the product management is always actively looking for new and exciting ways that WHS can be used.

    There is a class of usages that are sufficiently far outside of the design parameters of Windows Home Server for various reasons that they tend to get shot down, yes. I believe you're absolutely correct, though, in that everything someone tries to do with WHS is another pointer on the road to things that might make an appearance in a future version.

    The things that I feel are too far outside the design parameters are things that require using your server as a desktop PC, things that rely on knowledge of the way that WHS makes use of disks or other hardware, server roles that aren't enabled out of the box by Microsoft, etc. Everything else is fair game. (Even if it's unsupported, deprecated, and frequently even if it's pooh-poohed by MVPs like me. :) ) And even some of things on the "don't go there" side are probably not a bad idea, conceptually, they just require too much customization, tweaking, or outright continuing hand-holding to be a really worthwhile endeavor.

    When someone asks me about some of the more labor-intensive (on WHS) customizations, I always like to ask this question: "Okay, it will take you xxx hours to figure out how to do that with your WHS PC, even though you know exactly how to do it with (insert other OS of choice). Now, how much do you normally bill an hour?" Because for the time they spend, they could often go buy a copy of Windows Server 2003, and a PC to put it on, and have a better experience overall than trying to force Windows Home Server to do something completely outside it's design parameters. And they'd still have their WHS PC to do the things it's good at.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, February 19, 2009 1:55 AM
    Moderator