Will Drive Extender create confusion? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am setting up my WHS test system and started thinking about drive extender and how it would likely be used by the average WHS user. When I think of a "WHS" system, I immediately think a system to "vault" all those irreplaceable files (home video, music, documents, etc.) which today have a high potential for loss in a typical home, with everything stored on one or more desktop computers with no data redundancy.


    The first problem I see is that users who "fill up" their WHS will likely be confused that they really need to buy two new 500GB, 750GB, 1TB, etc. drives and not just one. I would expect that most users with WHS would consume most of the WHS storage space with redundant folders to store irreplaceable data, like home video, music, etc. So, once their "out of the box" WHS server quickly fills to capacity storing/vaulting their precious video/data, the user goes out and buys a new 750GB drive to get them another year's worth of storage. When they plug it in, they find that they can't create any redundant folders. Ok, back to the store to buy a second 750GB drive, then plug that in to find out that they still only have 750GB of storage (but they can now create redundant folders).


    Since it would seem that in most cases, WHS would at best be able to perform drive to drive mirroring, resulting in at best 50% usable WHS storage, will the WHS documentation clearly describe this for users so they aren't left wondering what happened to all their WHS storage (i.e. Hey, I bought a 1TB WHS server but all I get is 500GB of storage)?


    I have a number of friends who would be good candidates for WHS and I have been starting to get them interested in the idea of getting a WHS. These families are shooting a lot of home video, with the average around 4 hours or 50GB a month (these are typical families with young children in various sports, school, etc. activities). The problem being that they don't have any backups of the video stored on their desktop hard drives. One friend added a new 500GB HD to their desktop computer last Fall and it is already over 50% full. She likes/needs to have much of her many hours of video easily accessible for making home DVD movies, viewing in MCE, etc. At least she has all the original camcorder tapes as archival backups, some families are reusing their camcorder tapes after capturing the video to their desktop computer. I see this problem getting worse as camcorders move away from tapes in favor of HD camcorders. With an HD camcorder, there is no option for tape archival, so once the video is transferred to the home computer, the camcorder HD will be erased and there will be only one instance of that video (yikes!).


    Also, in the case of storing home video, I don't see the WHS desktop backup as a viable solution for data storage or vaulting redundancy. Accidental modification or deletion on the desktop would be reflected in that day's backup on WHS, causing complete loss. Even moreso for users with 500GB-750GB+ of video data that only have 200GB-300GB or less of desktop storage, the WHS will be the only place that data exists.

    Wednesday, April 4, 2007 4:41 AM


  • WHS doesn't use mirroring. Mirroring is a type of RAID (RAID 1), and WHS doesn't use any type of software RAID. If you install a hardware RAID HBA (even chipset RAID) and configure it, WHS is capable of using that, because it is presented to the OS as a single large SCSI disk. Instead of RAID, Drive Extender stores multiple copies of files on multiple hard drives, as long as there is more than one physical drive attached, and there are at least two drives with enough space to store the files.

    Drive Extender shows the full amount of storage attached to WHS, so if you have 4x 500 GB drives, it will show you slightly less than 2 TB. To determine how much of that storage is being used by duplication, run the console and look at the Server Storage tab. The pie chart to the right will include a wedge for Duplication if it's turned on for any folders.

    Backups are stored according to a retention policy set by the user. By default, that's the first backup of the month for the last 3 months, then the first backup of the week for the last three weeks, then the first backup of the day for the last three days. If you're really talking about files stored on WHS, not backups, then it uses a feature similar to Vista's shadow copies, which allows you to roll files back to older versions. This is detailed in the documentation and the help files.

    As far as DE causing confusion in the average WHS user, don't worry. The average user will buy something like the HP MediaSmart Server, not installation media for use on their own hardware. The manual won't mention DE, I'm sure. Instead it will explain how to use those features that can be adjusted by the end user, which means it will explain folder duplication (the only one exposed in the console). Technically savvy users will turn to online forums (like this one) and/or an SDK for additional details.
    Wednesday, April 4, 2007 11:31 AM