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Home Server has Piqued by Interest but.... RRS feed

  • Question

  • I recently built a Windows 2003 Server to house my movies all stored in uncompressed IFO/VOB format.  I've been using TVersity to stream them to multiple TV's in my house through an HTPC, a D-Link DSM-320 and an XBox 360.  I have been reading a lot about Home Server and I'm pretty impressed by all the features.  I'm all but ready to pull the trigger and go out and buy it and install it but I am hesitant because I'm not sure if the current hardware configuration in my server will play nice with WHS.  I have 7 Seagate 750GB SATA II drives attached to a HighPoint RocketRaid 2340 Raid controller with an 8th 750GB desgnated as a spare.  I currently have these 7 drives setup as a raid 5 array.  I also have a 9th SATA drive as a dedicated boot/system drive.  I bought this raid controller card specifically for its 16 channel capability.  My Lian-Li server case is easily capable of handing the 16 drives that can be attached to this card and I eventually plan to add 8 more drives to my server.  Would I be able to use this controller card and the 16 drives I eventually plan to attach in WHS?  I just read a PDF document about the WHS Drive Extender and it mentioned that while hardware based raid is not recommended, multiple drives setup as Just a Bunch of Disks (JBOD) is the recommended approach.  So is this as plain as it looks?  I setup my 8 drives as a JBOD and drive extender plays nice and everyone at home is happy watching movies again?  Thanks.

     

    Andy

    Sunday, December 9, 2007 12:31 AM

Answers

  • Andy, in your case I might not think that Windows Home Server is an ideal solution. There are several obstacles that I can see to using that hardware in a Windows Home Server PC.

    First, installation. When you install Windows Home Server, it will format all drives it detects. To solve this you could perhaps remove the RAID HBA when you install, then add it back later and install drivers for it.

    Second, data preservation. When you give WHS a drive (or array) to manage, it will format that drive when it's added to the storage pool. You will have to move the data off the array first.

    Third, software limitations. If you add your array as a single logical drive, Windows Home Server will use the MBR format, rather than the GPT format. There is a limitation of this format; it doesn't support single drives larger than 2 TB. As a result, any space beyond that point will be unavailable for any use. You can break the array and give the individual drives to WHS; as long as they're smaller than 2 TB there's no problem. Or you can install the array, but not make it part of the storage pool. In that case, you're not able to manage it in any way: you'll have to create users and assign permissions yourself.

    Finally, data integrity. In your environment, I assume you don't want to risk having to rip all your DVDs again. Windows Home Server provided data integrity by duplicating files in shares marked as reliable. This means that a file occupies space on two physical drives, effectively doubling in size.

    I would recommend very strongly that you purchase the 120 day evaluation version of Windows Home Server. (It's fully functional but time limited.) You'll pay for shipping and the cost of the media. This will give you time to install it in a lab environment and see if it will meet your needs.
    Sunday, December 9, 2007 3:10 AM
    Moderator
  • When your RAID controller card is in JBOD mode, the WHS will see each physical hard drive separately, so you won't have an issue there.

     

    HOWEVER, you will still need to move the data off your RAID array, as you will lose the data when you break your RAID 5 to turn it into JBOD. And WHS will format every drive you add to the storage pool.

    Sunday, December 9, 2007 4:22 PM

All replies

  • ive built two home servers and everything i put in them is server 2003 compatible and works perfect. however no raid in windows home server, you have a faster set up i think it would be a downgrade for you.

     

    Sunday, December 9, 2007 12:48 AM
  • Andy, in your case I might not think that Windows Home Server is an ideal solution. There are several obstacles that I can see to using that hardware in a Windows Home Server PC.

    First, installation. When you install Windows Home Server, it will format all drives it detects. To solve this you could perhaps remove the RAID HBA when you install, then add it back later and install drivers for it.

    Second, data preservation. When you give WHS a drive (or array) to manage, it will format that drive when it's added to the storage pool. You will have to move the data off the array first.

    Third, software limitations. If you add your array as a single logical drive, Windows Home Server will use the MBR format, rather than the GPT format. There is a limitation of this format; it doesn't support single drives larger than 2 TB. As a result, any space beyond that point will be unavailable for any use. You can break the array and give the individual drives to WHS; as long as they're smaller than 2 TB there's no problem. Or you can install the array, but not make it part of the storage pool. In that case, you're not able to manage it in any way: you'll have to create users and assign permissions yourself.

    Finally, data integrity. In your environment, I assume you don't want to risk having to rip all your DVDs again. Windows Home Server provided data integrity by duplicating files in shares marked as reliable. This means that a file occupies space on two physical drives, effectively doubling in size.

    I would recommend very strongly that you purchase the 120 day evaluation version of Windows Home Server. (It's fully functional but time limited.) You'll pay for shipping and the cost of the media. This will give you time to install it in a lab environment and see if it will meet your needs.
    Sunday, December 9, 2007 3:10 AM
    Moderator
  • Ken, thanks for your response.  As you probably guessed I am currently using GPT format in my raid array partitions.  So does WHS support GPT or only MBR?  Since it's based on Windows 2003 Server I would have thought Microsoft would have left that feature intact.  If I'm limited to creating a JBOD no larger than 2TB in order to remain within the parameters of WHS's capability to manage my storage space, then the software limitations you mention do kind of put a damper on the whole thing.  I mean the whole purpose of using WHS is to take advantage of features like drive extender.  If I have to bypass it just to force the point of having a raid array then I'm probably better off with my current environment.
    Sunday, December 9, 2007 5:00 AM
  • When your RAID controller card is in JBOD mode, the WHS will see each physical hard drive separately, so you won't have an issue there.

     

    HOWEVER, you will still need to move the data off your RAID array, as you will lose the data when you break your RAID 5 to turn it into JBOD. And WHS will format every drive you add to the storage pool.

    Sunday, December 9, 2007 4:22 PM
  • Thanks Richard that helps.  Since I'm running Windows 2003 Server with SP2 I just learned about Windows Media Services which is included in that service pack.  Like most Microsoft server based products I had it up and running in a few minutes.  It seems to work pretty well as long as I'm streaming media it can handle by default (.asf, .wma, .wmv, .wm, .mp3 or .jpg).  All 4TB of my movies are uncompressed IFO/VOB files and unless I can find a third party Windows Media Encoder that can process IFO/VOB files or learn about and write one myself, I'm looking at possibly having to convert all my movies to some other format like .wmv and probably lose quality in the process, not to mention the time involved.  I don't understand why this has to be so complicated.  WMP 11 on my Windows XP Pro machine plays individual VOB files and multiple VOB's through the parent IFO file.  Server 2003 and XP Pro are similar and many drivers, codecs, etc... are interchangeable.   

     

    Andy 

     

    Monday, December 10, 2007 2:51 AM