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WHS - What about data safety? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Greetings all,

     

    Once I installed a 250GB hard drive in a Windows 2000 box and did not yet know about the 137GB limit. My drive seemed to install and operate just fine until the day I crossed that 137GB limit. Then, my drive started screwing up. When the computer was restarted, chkdsk.exe started running automatically and when it completed my data on NTFS was unavailable. It seemed that chkdsk.exe had somehow messed up my file system. After researching on the web, I became aware of the whys and whats of this matter, and discovered that third-party software would restore the file system to usability, and that I needed to enable support for Large LBA. In my case, I’m a tech rat, and managed to figure it all out okay, and saved my data, and can’t help but feel pity for the poor bustard that loses his data, or ends up sending his drive in for “repair”. (Something I suspect has happened to many a drive experiencing that 137GB problem.)

     

    Now, you may be wondering why I mention all this in a WHS forum.
    Well, it’s because of the way I felt Microsoft had let me down with respect to data recovery. Why, for instance, after having received multiple service packs, was chkdsk.exe not updated to the extent that that at the very least a warning message was not issued? And why was it necessary for me to resort to third-party software to regain access to my files? I know from my web-research, that I was not the first to experience this trouble - in fact, far from it - many people on the web were seeking solutions to this same problem. I felt it “un-neighborly” that Microsoft did not take this situation more seriously.
    When one installs a large disk drive, one is at large risk. Backup is essential, and that I why I never buy just one disk – drives must be obtained in pairs with one being used to backup the other.

     

    Enter WHS.

    I have long wanted to setup a RAID, but I worried about an alternate set of problems:
    What would I do if the RAID failed? Wouldn’t it be prudent to keep a second controller card around just in case? I thought maybe using Windows built-in RAID capabilities might be best in this regard – eliminating the need to keep identical dedicated RAID cards. I also worried that once the RAID was setup, I would feel that backups were no longer necessary and that I would have “too many eggs in one basket”. I never setup that RAID, and instead, I continued with my removable SATA, multiple-drive-method.

    So now I am excited about WHS and have a few questions;

    How safe will my data really be?
    How seriously will Microsoft be about providing tools to deal with even the most unlikely situations?
    I would like to see a commitment on their part, guaranteeing that an ongoing effort would be made to guard the customer’s data to what one might call “a diligent extent”.
    What happens to a user with, say, ten SATA drives and one controller goes bad?
    Are any tools provided to assist in hardware diagnostics – especially contrived for WHS use?
    What about removing all drives from one WHS box, and installing them in a different box?
    Can you see the problem of, say, having 5-terabytes of data on a WHS, and then not having sufficient reserve space to store all that data in the eventuality that the computer running WHS has to be replaced?
    It is possible (or desirable) to run two WHS boxes? (With one backing up the other.)
    And what about very large data pools; 5-to-25 terabytes? How recommended would WHS be for such large data pools?
    If WHM can deal with a one-disk failure, how will it deal with two-failed-disks?
    What will become of the data pool in the unlikely event that multiple drives do fail? Will all be lost? Or will some mechanism exist to scientifically recover what is possible?
    What are the pros and cons of keeping one large data pool on a WHS, and using it for *total storage* - keeping all user-profiles stored on it, all docs, and all settings, forever and ever until death should us part?
    You see what I worry about? I don’t want to do a total data commitment to a box that is not as safe as it can be.

     

    Jesus may save, but does he do backups? And should he use WHS? :-)

     

    Thoughts?
    Ideas?
    Suggestions?

     

    Thanks all,

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007 1:50 AM

Answers

  • I suggest you do a little research of your own; virtually every question you asked is answered in either the WHS docs (which explain how WHS operates) or Multiple posts here in the forums (which have discussed extensively methods to recover data off the WHS drives).

     

    Remember:  The Lord helps those who help themselves.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007 3:04 AM
  • I'll answer some of your actual questions, but I really suggest you read the documentation and help files, and look around the forums a lot more. Just about all of this has been covered elsewhere.

     StanShankman wrote:
    How safe will my data really be?
    Assuming you have at least two drives in your WHS, and assuming you turn on share duplication for all shares, then your files on WHS are protected against the loss of any single disk.
     StanShankman wrote:
    What happens to a user with, say, ten SATA drives and one controller goes bad?
    SATA controllers are commodity items. Go buy another. At worst you'll have to reinstall the base OS, but the files on the drives should be fine.
     StanShankman wrote:
    Are any tools provided to assist in hardware diagnostics – especially contrived for WHS use?
    Do you see any? And does Microsoft provide those tools for other operating systems?
     StanShankman wrote:
    What about removing all drives from one WHS box, and installing them in a different box?
    Do it one at a time, and copy your files off of each drive before you add it to the storage pool. Adding a drive to the storage pool requires formatting it.
     StanShankman wrote:
    It is possible (or desirable) to run two WHS boxes? (With one backing up the other.)
    No. Well, not out of the box. It would require third party tools to mirror the data between the two servers.
     StanShankman wrote:
    And what about very large data pools; 5-to-25 terabytes? How recommended would WHS be for such large data pools?
    My opinion is that WHS is better suited for that environment than Windows Server 2003 for Small Business Server, the base OS on which WHS was built. But it's not something that I would recommend.
     StanShankman wrote:
    If WHM can deal with a one-disk failure, how will it deal with two-failed-disks?
    The loss of any single disk, in a WHS with more than one disk, will not result in data loss. The loss of more than one disk may result in data loss, depending on how Drive Extender allocates files.
     StanShankman wrote:
    What will become of the data pool in the unlikely event that multiple drives do fail? Will all be lost? Or will some mechanism exist to scientifically recover what is possible?
    If WHS itself is still functional, then you don't do anything. The data pool recovers itself. If WHS is no longer functional , then you're back to taking out the disks and transferring them to a new server.
     StanShankman wrote:
    What are the pros and cons of keeping one large data pool on a WHS, and using it for *total storage* - keeping all user-profiles stored on it, all docs, and all settings, forever and ever until death should us part?
    An interesting question. You obviously have an opinion; why not air it? Smile


    What you're probably really trying to say is that WHS is not an enterprise class storage server. And you're absolutely right. What it is, though, is enormously better than anything else available for the home. It excels in three critical areas for home users:

    1. It makes backups easy and transparent.
    2. It protects the data stored on it in a way that's (relatively) easy to understand and work with.
    3. It makes a family's data available anywhere, anytime.
    Possible the best thing, though, is that WHS is intended to supply these core functions to a technically unsophisticated audience, while still being extensible for those of us who want to do that.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007 4:31 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • I don't see the need for the Jesus comments in your message. Please have a little consideration for others.
    Wednesday, June 27, 2007 2:06 AM
  • Wow Stan,

         What to say...

     

    I do not think that Microsoft is giving any guarantee of the 'What If' scenario.  Yes, multiple drives can fail, and SATA controllers, but what about fire, earthquake, floods?  WHS is designed for the typical home user.  If you are that afraid of losing your data then WHS is not for you.  You should have a large scale server in some air conditioned datacenter with hourly backups and off-site tapes.

     

    Microsoft is not going to guarantee your data, against hardware malfunctions because they do not sell the hardware nor do I think you’re going to get segate, or western digital to guarantee your data.  If I have a drive go bad and I lose years of work, or years of family pictures there is no way in hell that I am going to call up WD and say, 'Hey guys, um, I didn't have any backups, and your hard drive crashed on me, you’re going to pay to recover the data right?'  I would get laughed at, because they only warranty the operation of the drive and not the data.  Anything you store on a drive is up to the user to protect.

     

    WHS has given home users some new options such as folder duplication, workstation backups, and drive pooling.  This greatly lessens the event of failures but does not guarantee your data.  There are a million 'What-If's' that could happen to cause a data loss, but I doubt that Microsoft is going to guarantee you from any of them. 

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007 2:18 AM
  • I suggest you do a little research of your own; virtually every question you asked is answered in either the WHS docs (which explain how WHS operates) or Multiple posts here in the forums (which have discussed extensively methods to recover data off the WHS drives).

     

    Remember:  The Lord helps those who help themselves.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007 3:04 AM
  • I'll answer some of your actual questions, but I really suggest you read the documentation and help files, and look around the forums a lot more. Just about all of this has been covered elsewhere.

     StanShankman wrote:
    How safe will my data really be?
    Assuming you have at least two drives in your WHS, and assuming you turn on share duplication for all shares, then your files on WHS are protected against the loss of any single disk.
     StanShankman wrote:
    What happens to a user with, say, ten SATA drives and one controller goes bad?
    SATA controllers are commodity items. Go buy another. At worst you'll have to reinstall the base OS, but the files on the drives should be fine.
     StanShankman wrote:
    Are any tools provided to assist in hardware diagnostics – especially contrived for WHS use?
    Do you see any? And does Microsoft provide those tools for other operating systems?
     StanShankman wrote:
    What about removing all drives from one WHS box, and installing them in a different box?
    Do it one at a time, and copy your files off of each drive before you add it to the storage pool. Adding a drive to the storage pool requires formatting it.
     StanShankman wrote:
    It is possible (or desirable) to run two WHS boxes? (With one backing up the other.)
    No. Well, not out of the box. It would require third party tools to mirror the data between the two servers.
     StanShankman wrote:
    And what about very large data pools; 5-to-25 terabytes? How recommended would WHS be for such large data pools?
    My opinion is that WHS is better suited for that environment than Windows Server 2003 for Small Business Server, the base OS on which WHS was built. But it's not something that I would recommend.
     StanShankman wrote:
    If WHM can deal with a one-disk failure, how will it deal with two-failed-disks?
    The loss of any single disk, in a WHS with more than one disk, will not result in data loss. The loss of more than one disk may result in data loss, depending on how Drive Extender allocates files.
     StanShankman wrote:
    What will become of the data pool in the unlikely event that multiple drives do fail? Will all be lost? Or will some mechanism exist to scientifically recover what is possible?
    If WHS itself is still functional, then you don't do anything. The data pool recovers itself. If WHS is no longer functional , then you're back to taking out the disks and transferring them to a new server.
     StanShankman wrote:
    What are the pros and cons of keeping one large data pool on a WHS, and using it for *total storage* - keeping all user-profiles stored on it, all docs, and all settings, forever and ever until death should us part?
    An interesting question. You obviously have an opinion; why not air it? Smile


    What you're probably really trying to say is that WHS is not an enterprise class storage server. And you're absolutely right. What it is, though, is enormously better than anything else available for the home. It excels in three critical areas for home users:

    1. It makes backups easy and transparent.
    2. It protects the data stored on it in a way that's (relatively) easy to understand and work with.
    3. It makes a family's data available anywhere, anytime.
    Possible the best thing, though, is that WHS is intended to supply these core functions to a technically unsophisticated audience, while still being extensible for those of us who want to do that.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007 4:31 AM
    Moderator