What would be a show stopper for me given my understanding of Vail RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • <Warning - Diatribe/>


    I have played around a bit with the latest Vail release and I have been reading what has been posted in the forums lately.  I must say, I have gone from being very excited about Vail to wondering if I will continue with the product at all.  I am a developer and have a rather complex network at home.  I manage the family computers and in order to save me headaches I have created a domain so I can enforce policies on all the computers.  My backups consisted of a single 80GB tape drive where I would use Windows backup on all the computers to save to a share and then use a tape drive to back it all up.  Tapes were shipped to my mothers house in Vegas (from San Diego), just in case another wildfire hit.  The tapes were usually a little out of date, but I would only lose at most a month if the house burnt down.  I needed something to simplify my life, WHS helped a lot.


    I signed up for a pre-release right off the bat and provided feedback for bugs, oddities, and made some suggestions.  Finally WHS 1.0 was released.  I put up with a lot of v1.0 issues, but always accepted that this was a first release and it would get better.  Over time, performance got better, issues were resolved, and I was able to take a couple of drives, throw them in an old box, and off I went.  Backups for the most part worked very well, remote access was acceptable and I did not have to use a lot of NATting in my firewall.  Some of the features I was skeptical of became my friends and plug-ins would help with the shortcomings of the system.  Some shortcomings have never been addressed and I have learned to live with them.  With the simple setup I have, I was able to get some very high data rates (tweaked the network a bit for Jumbo frames) and was getting ready to host a media server with my entire DVD collection hosted on my WHS.  If you have kids, friends, and DVD's, you find that DVD's have the capability of deciding to leave under their own power and never return.  Hosting them on a server would allow me to store the DVD's so I always had the original and with additional boxes by the TV's, I could always stream a movie.  It was time to upgrade the box, and then I heard about Vail.

    I was a little slow at getting into Vail as I had little free time.  One thing I really wanted to try was hosting WHS as a virtual system on my server.  Why?  Well, because I don't like using the electricity associated with my server and all the drives that I have spinning.  It would be great if I could have one less box I would need running 24/7.  For now, I use lights out (awesome plug-in), which shuts my server down, but sometimes, I need it up all the time, like when I travel over seas.  My system used over 120W of power, thus, running it 24/7 would use about 100kWh of electricity per month, which can be very costly ($12 - $50 per month depending on what "Tier" I ended up in for the month).  So, here was my chance, run Vail in a VM, dedicate three hard drives to the system (for performance reasons), and start running benchmarks.  Here is where things went south in a hurry.

    • The install of Vail in a VM was great, came right up, however, the install of the client (another VM running Windows Server 2008 R2) failed.  Yes, I know that there are workarounds for it, but digging into this lead to more depressing questions.  By the way, WHS-1 works perfect with my Windows Server OS, and yes, it is running in my home.  There goes the backing up of my domain controller and DNS.  If I can't do that, why do I want to move to Vail?
    • After Microsoft said not to use RAID in WHS 1.0 and that WHS was designed to handle the redundancy of data, all of the sudden with Vail RAID is the way to go.  Talk about an about face.  One of the problems with using RAID is that you have to use drives the same size (well, you can purchase a larger drive, but the excess space is wasted...and no, I don't want to get into the controllers that can create another partition with the extra space.)  I believe that this is a giant step back.  RAID does not optimize the blocks the same way as the current manager does in WHS.
    • Domain issues.  I had read somewhere that if a computer is on a domain that it will not work with Vail.  I do not know if this is true or not as I never saw any validation of this as fact.  If so, Vail will not work for me as I have a very small domain.  In addition, no version of WHS will allow the syncing of passwords for the domain.  Really, if the system is limited to working with 10 boxes total, why not let WHS work with a small domain?  Why not have an inexpensive add-on for more than 10 boxes?  Most homes do not have more than 10, but I do have some VMs that I would like to back up as well, which would put me over 10.
    • CPU / Memory limitations.  My main question is, why?  The statements in the forum that I have seen is that Microsoft is limiting WHS to a single CPU and 8GB of RAM.  What is Microsoft so afraid of with creating a high performance file server for the home?  Again, limit it to 10 boxes / connections.  What about Intel CPU's that have hyper-threading built in?  Does this mean that the OS will not allow the hyper-threaded CPU?  As with any Windows box, having at least two cores is always beneficial as the OS will suck up some CPU time, you want the application(s) to have the ability to run full speed.  Since Vail requires an x64 architecture, any modern x64 chip has at least two cores, really, we can't use it?  


    Microsoft, I have been a user and active programmer of Windows since version 2.1.  I have always liked the fact that you have continued to move forward.  I have even thought you bent over a little too much to still run on old hardware and not break anything.  Seeing that you are pushing all of your products to x64 and no longer supporting x86 (32-bit) code I feel is the right thing to do.  You are pushing technology forward.  But what you are doing with Vail is simply breaking it.  Take a long look at Vista which was not what the people wanted.  I think the only people that were happy about Vista were the folks at Apple.  You are turning WHS into the next Vista.  Try listening to the people who purchase and use the software.  There is already a thread for people looking for other alternatives to WHS, which I would bet will be a Linux based product.  Probably not what you want.


    Everyone else.  It would be nice to hear from the other people evaluating the software to see if there are additional issues with Vail that we should be aware of.  Oh, and if anything above is not accurate, call me on it.  It would be great if everyone told me that I was full of ____ and everything above was not true.  At least that way I would be able to embrace Vail.



    Thursday, December 9, 2010 9:45 AM

All replies

  • Server as clients: Never mind that it works with V1, it's not supported. Microsoft has chosen to block this in Vail, to emphasize that it's not supported.

    RAID: Microsoft isn't saying that "RAID is the way to go." They're saying that RAID is an option. But you're riht that this is a step back. We'll have to wait and see what Microsoft does around expanding storage.

    Domain issues: your sources are wrong. You can add a domain-joined computer to Vail as a client.

    CPU: Seems to me that this is to protect their server business. If you, as an individual or small business, have a need for a server with multiple CPUs and/or very large amounts of memory, then you'll have to buy Windows Server 2008 R2 instead. Consumers don't have that need, so they'll probably never see this as a limitation.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, December 9, 2010 11:04 AM
  • BTW, Microsoft considers a socket to be a 'CPU' for licensing. You can use anything you want in that one socket. A fairly reasonable constraint for something that's primarily a file server. Besides, they have to justify the higher price for the other SKU's somehow.


    Thursday, December 9, 2010 2:50 PM
  • Ken,

    Thanks for setting me straight.  I realize that Servers are not officially supported, but the software does work and I have had to use it.  I think that the power users are going to get stuck having to be treated like an SMB, which is really expensive for a home user.  On the domain front, it would be nice if you didn't have to "match" passwords between the domain and WHS.




    Thursday, December 9, 2010 4:48 PM
  • … On the domain front, it would be nice if you didn't have to "match" passwords between the domain and WHS.

    You don't. You can use the LaunchPad to enter/maintain Windows Home Server Vail credentials, which can be separate from your Windows credentials.

    As for power users getting stuck, that's the eternal complaint of the power user. The problem with power users (including me) is that we expect a huge amount of functionality, and as consumers we don't want to pay for it. Sadly, that's not how the world works.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, December 9, 2010 6:03 PM