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Moving files to WHS removes all traditional Windows safety nets?! RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Hi,

    I have been considering getting a WHS for some time now, and I even installed the WHS trial. However, the more I learn about it, the less I like it. As I see it, a server should be the central place for keeping important files/music/videos/pictures etc.  But it seems like by buying an expensive additional device for your home and paying a larger electricity bill, you will  actually put your personal files at a significantly higher risk, and get less features from Windows,  than if you just kept them on your local hard drive. Here are 3 examples:

    1) When deleting a file that resides on the server from your local computer,  it just vanishes without going into the local or server recycle bin. Recycle bin was introduced in WIndows 95, but obviously not considered important for people willing to put their trust into a Home Server ?!

    2) Restoring files or folders to earlier versions is not supported and off by default on HP MediaSmart devices. It has also been adviced by the WHS team to turn it off until they come up with a solution (they have been searching for a solution since March 2008 and obviously still have not come up with one). The Shadow copy feature has been in client windows since XP if I remember correctly, and was greatly improved in Vista. Being able to revert back to an earlier file version or restore a deleted file has saved me countless of times.

    3) You no longer have access to all your files from your local start menu search. You will have to use different search methods for finding local e-mail and documents as opposed to documents on the server, and cannot get them in the same view. Unless you download a Windows Search add-in, which however is unable to open folders or document locations, nor can it show the file path for documents on the server.

    But then again, maybe WHS is just supposed to be a an expensive always-on backup system for client computers, and not a server at all? Because I don't know how I could live a life without Recycle Bin and Volume Shadow Copy... :O Any thoughts?


    • Changed type kariya21Moderator Saturday, January 3, 2009 9:43 PM not a technical question
    Saturday, January 3, 2009 5:21 PM

All replies

  • Hi,
    some kind of you may be right, the rest is a matter of reception. Especially there is a difference between a server and a local client.
    1. If you share a folder in what ever Windows OS and delete files through that share, they are gone. This is nothing new and valid also for Windows 9x. Some people even prefer, that if they are deleting files, they are really deleted and not too easy be recovered by anybody who has access to their PC.
    2. Previous versions have not been in Windows XP at all, only System Restore. So data was still unprotected by Shadow Copies in that OS. Windows Server 2003 introduced the Previous versions feature, and I go with your opinion, that this should have been a selling point for Windows Home Server instead of being cut or disfunctional at all. But at least you still have the option to backup your shared folders to an external drive from a central place instead of from 5 single PCs in your network.
    3. Search. Hm, the search implementation in Windows was never a feature, I liked, since it tended to not find, what I was searching for. Too often the good old dir command was and is not only faster, but also delivers more to the point. As I said: reception.
    So a server is a server, if he offers services to multiple clients. And as with each server, it is your job to not allow this to be a single point of failure instead of a client PC.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Saturday, January 3, 2009 5:59 PM
    Moderator
  • Fredrik70 said:


    [..] But it seems like by buying an expensive additional device for your home and paying a larger electricity bill, you will  actually put your personal files at a significantly higher risk


    By centralizing your data, you centralize your risk. Agreed.  But the risk of losing data due to hardware failure is definitely much less! Not only because of WHS file duplication but because the solution is centralised with standard procedures for restoring lost data.

    Hard disks have a habit of failing sooner or later. So unless you take precorsions you will loose important data at a certain point. Let's say you have that one single document of unreplaceable data. Also this document (e.g. text or program database) has different versions.

    A. Whiteout WHS one would use a proper backup strategy to make sure all its different versions are not lost (just make sure the PC or device is backed up on a scheduled basis)
    B. With WHS you can store it locally on a PC  (safeguarded by an automatic PC backup on WHS) or store it on a WHS share (safeguarded by WHS file duplication and server backups). No need to take additional actions.

    Now picture my household with at least 4 PC's that are used on a daily basis - all containing multiple instances of unreplaceable documents I do not want to loose.  And then there is about 100G's of family photos and video that I want to have available on every PC in the house - loosing this would be a disaster. Before WHS I had a "fulltime job" of keeping all this secure running arround with USB disks and disk-imaging tools. With WHS all securing is automated. All I have to do once a month is plug-in one of my USB external drives (stored off-site) to backup the WHS shares with a view clicks!

    If things go wrong with my documents I just restore a backup or put in a restore CD to restore a complete PC.
    If the server gets in trouble or - worse - gets lost - just follow the standard precedures.

    Theo.

    (BTW - Backing up the server itself i.m.h.o. is mandatory: It could be lost due to external influences one can not control)



    No home server like Home Server
    Sunday, January 4, 2009 10:33 PM
    Moderator
  • Theo van Elsberg said:

    By centralizing your data, you centralize your risk. Agreed.  But the risk of losing data due to hardware failure is definitely much less! Not only because of WHS file duplication but because the solution is centralised with standard procedures for restoring lost data.

    Hard disks have a habit of failing sooner or later. So unless you take precorsions you will loose important data at a certain point. Let's say you have that one single document of unreplaceable data. Also this document (e.g. text or program database) has different versions.

    A. Whiteout WHS one would use a proper backup strategy to make sure all its different versions are not lost (just make sure the PC or device is backed up on a scheduled basis)
    B. With WHS you can store it locally on a PC  (safeguarded by an automatic PC backup on WHS) or store it on a WHS share (safeguarded by WHS file duplication and server backups). No need to take additional actions.

    Now picture my household with at least 4 PC's that are used on a daily basis - all containing multiple instances of unreplaceable documents I do not want to loose.  And then there is about 100G's of family photos and video that I want to have available on every PC in the house - loosing this would be a disaster. Before WHS I had a "fulltime job" of keeping all this secure running arround with USB disks and disk-imaging tools. With WHS all securing is automated. All I have to do once a month is plug-in one of my USB external drives (stored off-site) to backup the WHS shares with a view clicks!

    If things go wrong with my documents I just restore a backup or put in a restore CD to restore a complete PC.
    If the server gets in trouble or - worse - gets lost - just follow the standard precedures.

    Theo.

    (BTW - Backing up the server itself i.m.h.o. is mandatory: It could be lost due to external influences one can not control)



    No home server like Home Server



    I agree with everything you said up until the last line.  IMO, backing up the "server itself" (assuming you mean the OS files) is completely unnecessary.  You can reinstall from the DVD at will as many times as you want.  IMO, those are the files on the server that are replaceable with virtually no effort at all.  (If you didn't mean the OS files, then disregard this post.  :)  )
    Monday, January 5, 2009 12:51 AM
    Moderator
  • Theo van Elsberg said:

    ... Hard disks have a habit of failing sooner or later.


    Hard disks, like everything else, have a 100% failure rate with the passage of sufficient time. (For a drive that survives more than 2-3 weeks, that will probably be at least a couple of years.) WHS centralizes the risks, yes, but it also centralizes the management of them, which reduces TCO if one assumes one's time is worth more than a few cents an hour.

    My own server backup plan uses robocopy to put the shares on external media, which I rotate off site regularly. This is fully automated (I have robocopy running nightly as a scheduled task). Using the WHS server backup tool, you would need sufficient discipline to actually do a backup every now and then, and take it off-site.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 5, 2009 5:26 PM
    Moderator
  • Backing up data on my server:

    - I use external USB drives stored off site like Ken
    and
    - I use KeepVault Backup to store all shared data online over the internet (for disaster recovery)

    Like the other posters said: It's much easier to handle a single centralized location of data.

    Regards
    Martin

    LightsOut - Power Management for Windows Home Server http://www.home-server-blog.de/add-ins/lightsout/#en
    Monday, January 5, 2009 6:22 PM
    Moderator
  • kariya21 said:

    I agree with everything you said up until the last line.  IMO, backing up the "server itself" (assuming you mean the OS files) is completely unnecessary



    That's correct Kariya. Important enough to not disregard your comment: I did not mean the OS files. To restore the server one "just follows the standard precedures" (i.e. server reinstallation :-)

    Theo.

    Eh...
    Before you all start replying: yes, one should have some additional 'custom' procedures to redo any server customizations.

    No home server like Home Server
    Monday, January 5, 2009 7:51 PM
    Moderator
  • Olaf, you are right in that moving your documents to any windows server, you no longer are protected by Recycle Bin from accidental deletions.However, because this is a "Home" server, intended for "stupid" end users, I see no technical or logical reason to why this is not or could not be implemented as a default option. I think it is actually very odd that, as computers get more and more networked, depending on where a file is located on your system you sometimes are protected by Recycle Bin, sometimes not, and no indication is given when you delete that file from your File explorer window. I really think that the WHS R&D team should  look into it.

    Also, I think that Shadow volume copy has become pretty much standard for both Windows and Mac systems of today, and is an extremly useful, even more so with no recycle bin protection. I am a bit upset that a feature that is on by default, has some serious issues, and those issues have not been resolved by Microsoft after 10 months. So to be protected, you not only have to buy a home server, you have to buy an additional hard drive/external drive to backup the documents you moved to the server.

    After reading the other posts in this thread, I guess the real benefit using a Home Server comes only when you have several computers in your home and you want to centralize. Me having just one computer and a Media Connector will get almost no benefit (automated backup, yes) and a lot of drawbacks compared to storing the files on my local computer. So I probly will just buy a backup-program and an external hard drive... Although it would have to be a large one since I have more than 1 Gigabyte of media files...
    Monday, January 5, 2009 11:02 PM
  • reviving this thread after an experience I had tonight...

    Theoi wrote "...or store it on a WHS share (safeguarded by WHS file duplication and server backups). No need to take additional actions."  Well tonight, I discovered that isn't entirely true.

    As others mentioned, the beauty of the concept of WHS is that you have a server with important files in one place, and you don`t have to remember where they are and manage them centrally.  So I have several "shares" on my WHS, one of which is "financial records".  I mention the name because its importance is kind of self explanatory.

    I was reorganizing my files, and decided to eliminate one particular folder.  Before I did that, I selected the files in that folder, and moved them up to the parent folder.  Then I wanted to delete the subfolder, but something went wrong...The subfolder was gone, as were all teh files previously in that folder.  This is true despite the fact that I had taken the precaution to mark these files as "read only".  The paper copies had previously been shredded after getting scanned, so I basically just wiped out part of my records.

    At this point, the fact that I had duplication on for that folder means nothing.  Duplication only protects me from a problem with one of the drives, not a problem like this one.

    And since there is no "recycle bin" for files deleted on the server, they are gone for good.  I have browsed this site, and there appears to be no real way of recovering them.

    So now, as others have said, my choices appear to be
    1- backup my shared folders on WHS onto an external backup (Ken's approach)
    2- move these folders back onto one of the PCs, share that folder with teh other two PCs on my home network and let WHS work as merely an automated backup device...

    If someone has a theory about how this could happen, please enlighten me!!! (I do this type of folder hierarchy reorganization from time to time on my PC and never accidentally killed files teh way I just did on WHS)

    That is frankly disappointing.

    PS:  Will now go and move years of digital family pictures off of its own folder on WHS and also move that back to one of the PCs.  These took years to shoot, organize and cherish, and I realize that I lived an illusion thinking that files I saved on WHS were inherently backed up by virtue of being on two drives. 

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 4:42 AM
  • reviving this thread after an experience I had tonight...

    Theoi wrote "...or store it on a WHS share (safeguarded by WHS file duplication and server backups). No need to take additional actions."  Well tonight, I discovered that isn't entirely true.

    As others mentioned, the beauty of the concept of WHS is that you have a server with important files in one place, and you don`t have to remember where they are and manage them centrally.  So I have several "shares" on my WHS, one of which is "financial records".  I mention the name because its importance is kind of self explanatory.

    I was reorganizing my files, and decided to eliminate one particular folder.  Before I did that, I selected the files in that folder, and moved them up to the parent folder.  Then I wanted to delete the subfolder, but something went wrong...The subfolder was gone, as were all teh files previously in that folder.  This is true despite the fact that I had taken the precaution to mark these files as "read only".  The paper copies had previously been shredded after getting scanned, so I basically just wiped out part of my records.

    At this point, the fact that I had duplication on for that folder means nothing.  Duplication only protects me from a problem with one of the drives, not a problem like this one.

    And since there is no "recycle bin" for files deleted on the server, they are gone for good.  I have browsed this site, and there appears to be no real way of recovering them.

    It might not be too late.  You should immediately shut down your server and start looking at data recovery (either DIY or a professional service).

    So now, as others have said, my choices appear to be
    1- backup my shared folders on WHS onto an external backup (Ken's approach)
    2- move these folders back onto one of the PCs, share that folder with teh other two PCs on my home network and let WHS work as merely an automated backup device...

    If someone has a theory about how this could happen, please enlighten me!!! (I do this type of folder hierarchy reorganization from time to time on my PC and never accidentally killed files teh way I just did on WHS)

    I do that sometimes as well and I've never had that happen (and obviously it shouldn't).  What are the compoent numbers in your Console (Settings button, Resources tab)?

    That is frankly disappointing.

    PS:  Will now go and move years of digital family pictures off of its own folder on WHS and also move that back to one of the PCs.  These took years to shoot, organize and cherish, and I realize that I lived an illusion thinking that files I saved on WHS were inherently backed up by virtue of being on two drives. 


    To be honest, you should have an off-site backup of your most valuable data anyways.  Right now, a fire, flood, theft, etc. would cause you to lose the exact same data you lost...
    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 6:19 AM
    Moderator
  • responding to Kariya21`s request for component numbers:
    Windows Home Server Console: 6.0.2423.0
    Windows Home Server Backup & Restore: 6.0.2423.0
    Windows Home Server Drive Extender: 6.0.2423.0
    Windows Home Server Remote Access: 6.0.2423.0
    Windows Home Server Storage Manager: 6.0.2423.0

    I have auto update on, so I presume this would be the latest...

    I have an external USB drive that I was using before I set-up WHS.  I guess I will start using that again too.
    So my take-away from this experience is:
    - No more shared files kept only on WHS for me.  I will bring them back to one of the PCs and map network drives into that PC instead
    - use WHS as an automated backup only
    - make a secondary backup and store it in my fireproof safe
    Tuesday, March 2, 2010 1:39 PM
  • Although you mentioned "despite the fact that I had taken the precaution to mark these files as "read only" " was this achieved through the properties of the file or the security settings?  I think using the NTFS security to set special permissions for "sensitive" folders may provide a more robust method of preventing accidental deletion.  The security setting could be changed to allow all "normal" access and then specifically deny "deletion".  Perhaps one of the WHS gurus/experts could pass comment on this as a potential approach to prevent accidental deletion.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 11:59 PM
  • Although you mentioned "despite the fact that I had taken the precaution to mark these files as "read only" " was this achieved through the properties of the file or the security settings?  I think using the NTFS security to set special permissions for "sensitive" folders may provide a more robust method of preventing accidental deletion.  The security setting could be changed to allow all "normal" access and then specifically deny "deletion".  Perhaps one of the WHS gurus/experts could pass comment on this as a potential approach to prevent accidental deletion.


    Changing any security permissions like that (meaning outside of the Console) is unsupported and can have adverse side effects, plus those permissions could get changed back to their original settings by some update in the future.
    Thursday, March 4, 2010 12:18 AM
    Moderator

  • So my take-away from this experience is:
    - No more shared files kept only on WHS for me.  I will bring them back to one of the PCs and map network drives into that PC instead

    I am way behind the rest of you here on the learning curve, but my thought as I ease into life with my WHS (in more than backup mode) is to keep files on WHS Shared Folders, but sync the files to the clients where I need to use them.  Something like SyncToy tied to a script that runs it at each login and logout... I haven't entirely decided whether Synchronize, Contribute, or Echo would come closest to the desired functionality.

    This isn't bulletproof against accidental deletion, and would be a mess if multi-user write access is needed to any files... but I mostly have people who want to work on their own homework, look at each other's pictures, and listen to each other's music. 

    This sync approach also requires disk space on the clients, something I'd hoped to minimize by going to a Server...  but at least gives two or more copies of each file, plus the ability (at least within one login session) to say 'oops' and go find duplicates for accidentally deleted files.

    Just my two cents, pardon my thinking this through out loud...

    Eddy

    Thursday, March 4, 2010 1:08 AM
  • Sorry, but it's a bad plan. This will have an impact on everything that Drive Extender does, given how file, tombstone, and file shadow ownership are controlled by Windows Home Server.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, March 4, 2010 3:25 AM
    Moderator
  • To answer Kariya`s question, I had marked it as "read only" by right clicking the file name, selecting properties, and clicking the "read only" attribute checkbox on the general tab then the OK button.

    Ken, so this is increasingly sounding like there is no "safe" way to ensure one doesn't accidentally delete files on a share, if that share is being used as an active folder, rather than merely as a backup.  I realize I could ceate a different user name for myself, and give myself read only privilege to that share, but that defeats the purpose.

    And now that I understand that Microsoft has not implemented the  recycle bin on WHS (as pointed out by Fredrik, one has to be really careful!  Once a file is deleted, its gone!)

    I just made some additional tests to try and replicate my problem, and I did note that at least when working on the WHS share, I still get the "are you sure you want to ..." pop-up dialog box.  My HP wireless keyboard has  the Delete key right next to the Enter key.  So that dialogue box is a good safeguard for those with fat fingers.  But  I know for sure I did not get that that warning the other night.  However, I did the same thing again just now to try and replicate the problem.  Moved a file to the parent folder.  File was still there.  Deleted the subfolder (now at the same level as the file).  Nothing happened to the file (unlike the other night).

    Now i went on to try something else.  Selected the read only file.  Pressed delete.  Was asked if I wanted to go ahead, and I pressed yes.  The file got deleted!!!  Now clearly I was uner the mistaken understanding that I could not delete a file marked Read Only.

    On one of my on-board drives, its not so bad, because I can always recover it from the recycle bin.  But on WHS, if I mistakenly do that, KABOOM!!!  both copies are gone forever from WHS... (try it on your own WHS....)

    • Edited by Bernard Chenevert Friday, March 5, 2010 12:46 AM removed incomplete sentence at the end
    Thursday, March 4, 2010 9:29 PM
  • To answer Kariya`s question, I had marked it as "read only" by right clicking the file name, selecting properties, and clicking the "read only" attribute checkbox on the general tab then the OK button.

    Ken, so this is increasingly sounding like there is no "safe" way to ensure one doesn't accidentally delete files on a share, if that share is being used as an active folder, rather than merely as a backup.  I realize I could ceate a different user name for myself, and give myself read only privilege to that share, but that defeats the purpose.

    And now that I understand that Microsoft has not implemented the  recycle bin on WHS (as pointed out by Fredrik, one has to be really careful!  Once a file is deleted, its gone!)

    It's not just WHS.  It's any OS where the file is stored on a network share.

    I just made some additional tests to try and replicate my problem, and I did note that at least when working on the WHS share, I still get the "are you sure you want to ..." pop-up dialog box.  My HP wireless keyboard has  the Delete key right next to the Enter key.  So that dialogue box is a good safeguard for those with fat fingers.  But  I know for sure I did not get that that warning the other night.  However, I did the same thing again just now to try and replicate the problem.  Moved a file to the parent folder.  File was still there.  Deleted the subfolder (now at the same level as the file).  Nothing happened to the file (unlike the other night).

    That's how it should work.  You might want to run chkdsk /or on all the drives in your server (in case you are having issues with one or more of them).

    Now i went on to try something else.  Selected the read only file.  Pressed delete.  Was asked if I wanted to go ahead, and I pressed yes.  The file got deleted!!!  Now clearly I was uner the mistaken understanding that I could not delete a file marked Read Only.

    If the user account set through the Console has read-only permissions for a share, that user account cannot delete any file in that share (unless there is something wrong with the underlying Server 2003 permissions).

    On one of my on-board drives, its not so bad, because I can always recover it from the recycle bin.  But on WHS, if I mistakenly do that, KABOOM!!!  both copies are gone forever from WHS... (try it on your own WHS....)

    There's no need to do that because that's how all network shares (not just WHS) work.

    I can lose a drive and still have a copy on the second drive, if I had "duplication" on.  But lets say I have fat fingers and accidentally hiton . 

    Thursday, March 4, 2010 11:23 PM
    Moderator
  • Kariya21,
    thanks for the point by point response.  Clearly these differences that apply to network shares weren't well understood by me when I developed my plan about how to use WHS.  It does remain an excellent automated backup tool.  I guess the network shares on WHS are still a good idea for "media" type files whcih are essentially useable in read only mode such as music, photos, video.  But form now on, I will avoid using these for documents that are actively being modified in an ongoing manner.  I will leave these on my PC so that I avoid 1) the risk of accidental and irreversible erasure on a network share, and 2) benefit from the backups on various past dates whcih WHS offers.

    Case closed for me.  Thanks for all your help in understanding these finer points of operation!
    Friday, March 5, 2010 12:45 AM