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    FlexRAID Drive Pool for WHS 2011


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    #1 Neophyte

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    Posted 05 November 2011 - 07:38 AM

    Has anyone here in these forums seen or heard about this as another option besides StableBit and DriveBender for WHS2011?

    I have heard of FlexRAID before, but know nothing about it. I also will probably not be using any of the DE replacements as I have built my current box with hardware RAID and am enjoying its stability and performance. Just wanted to bring it up so it could be discussed as a possible option for others.

    (Posted this inappropriately in another section, I am trying to move to here)
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    #2 pcdoc

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    Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:05 AM

    Heard the name but that is about it. It looks a bit messy. You made a good choice going with hardware RAID. The more I try to break RAID, the more I realize how robust it is. These DE replacements are fascinating and have a place, but as I look back to the V1 days I realize the more I realize that much of the improvements for me switching to 2011 came from the 2008R2 base and the loss of DE. I can never go back to that now. Thanks for link and I may have to try this just for the challenge.
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    #3 tojoski

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    Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:37 AM

    I tried Flexraid back when I was running Server 08r2 and all I can say is that its at best a complicated mess..
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    #4 ikon

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    Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:43 AM

    Interesting. I wonder where it sits in the Windows infrastructure: i.e. is it at a low level inside Windows so that NTFS can see it as an integral part of Windows, or is it an app?

    I tried Flexraid back when I was running Server 08r2 and all I can say is that its at best a complicated mess..

    According to the WHS2011 'spoiler' page, he has worked very hard on improving the user experience, making it much more automated.
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    #5 hopester

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    Posted 23 December 2011 - 06:06 AM

    I'm testing 2.0 beta 11 on my test media server at the moment and its working pretty well. I use the snapshot raid and the storage pooling (It has serveral modes including realtime).

    If you do test it out I would recommend not using the Cruise control mode first as I've found that unstable and liable to crash when I tested restoring a 'failed drive'. But the Expert mode seems a lot more robust and I had no problems restoring data.

    I run the snapshot raid feature once a day overnight to protect the data as its all static files ie films, tv episodes, music. The storage pooling feature I like as you can can set it folder based, so I can control where the data goes ie films on one disk(s) and tv on another. This then allows only the drive that has the file to spin up if you are into energy saving.

    The predefinded shares are still a bit messy but can be moved to the pool (follow the wiki guides).

    Finally speed wise its the same as accessing the disks normally if used in snapshot mode so no buffering.
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    #6 msawyer91

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    Posted 23 December 2011 - 11:38 PM

    Interesting. I wonder where it sits in the Windows infrastructure: i.e. is it at a low level inside Windows so that NTFS can see it as an integral part of Windows, or is it an app?


    According to the WHS2011 'spoiler' page, he has worked very hard on improving the user experience, making it much more automated.

    I can't speak for FlexRAID but Drive Bender "hides" the actual physical drives that are in the pool and creates new virtual drives, and works directly with NTFS. I've swapped some emails with the folks at StableBit (and Drive Bender) over concerns using BitLocker Drive Encryption in WHS 2011. StableBit and DB both work with BitLocker, but there are some gotcha's to watch out for, particularly with encrypted USB/FireWire disks, because these don't auto-unlock at boot time (even if auto-unlock enabled) and the pool file system drivers are initialized when the OS is booting.

    One thing Alex at StableBit mentioned is that in the next release of StableBit DrivePool will behave more like Drive Bender (my words, not his) in that rather than the pool behaving like Drive Extender (runs below NTFS), it will actually implement its own NTFS virtual volumes.

    Overall I've been happy with both Drive Bender and StableBit, and both seem faster than Drive Extender. The fact that WHS 2011 is a 64-bit OS probably helps, since it can leverage all the capabilities of 64-bit processors, whereas WHS v1 is hobbled by being 32-bit.
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    #7 luangm1

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    Posted 27 December 2011 - 06:13 PM

    Hi All,

    I've been using FlexRaid Beta10 for about 2 weeks now, I think I just found the "perfect" solution for me (mostly a media collection of BD-Rips). Just wanna share my 2cents.

    FlexRaid is by far the best implementation of "Drive Pooling" solutions out there. (NOTE: Not Raid, I only use drive pool features, for backups use syncToy etc.)

    There is literally NOTHING that Flexraid changes to your existing partitions. You just install flexraid, run the software to "pool" the drives into a large drive and that's it.
    All of your existing folders and files are collected together in a single drive.

    Reading from a pool has always been easy, what's smart about flexraid is the write part, which separates it from the rest.
    The default mode is "Folder-priority" which means when you try to write a file to the pool:
    1. Flexraid tries to find if the directory exist in any drives.
    2. If yes to 1, Flexraid checks if the free space is above the "reserve space" which is default as 10GB but can be changed.
    3. If yes to 2, Flexraid writes to it, in order to keep relevent files in a single directory in the same drive.
    4. If no to 2, Flexraid moves to the next drive with the same directory, check space and save etc.
    5. If no to 1, Flexraid creates the directory in the first drive with available space. Note the drives are ordered in the config.
    6. If no to 4, See 5.

    This means that if you want all "Games" to be stored to Disk 3 for example, by passing Disk 1 and 2, all you need to do is to create a "Games" directory in Disk 3 before you add it to the pool and All future copies to the Games directory will go to Disk 3 directly. When Disk 3 is full, a new "Games" dir will be created on Disk 1 and all future files will be send to disk 1.

    Removing a drive from the pool is as easy, just remove it and you are done. You will not have access to the files in the pool.
    You can move files between different drives if you mount the drives as NTFS folders, and the drive pool will be unaware of any changes.

    All in all, FlexRaid is WHS drive pool feature done right.

    Note I don't recommend Flexraid for backup or performance reasons. The max performance is single drive performance.
    Again, I don't actually use the Raid feature for my BD-Rip pool.


    For my home server with 20x 2TB drives in a norco case on WHS 2011
    I divide my data into three separate groups:
    - Important documents, software source codes, family photos etc (~1TB, Mirrored onto 2x 2TB drives, Backed Up onto 2 External 2TB drives rotated for off-site storage)
    - High-Performance Applications (~1TB for now, VMs, Client Backups using WHS2011, Network Softwares, Games etc, 4x 1TB 7200rpm Hardware RAID5 using RocketRaid 2720SGL)
    - Media Collection (~20TB for now, FlexRaid drive pool ONLY, 14x 2TB Green drives)

    If One of the green drive fails, I lose max 2TB of BD-rips, which I can re-do in an afternoon from original disks, so no big deal.
    I can't use HW Raid because If I lose more than 1 drives, I will lose everything, which will take forever to re-rip.

    Also I don't backup (as in off-site backup) the client backups. HW raid 5 is sufficient for that.
    All my important documents have 4 copies each + Dropbox cloud mostly for versioning (i.e. source codes, word docs, excel etc.)
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