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SLicK

Add'l server for redundancy - thoughts!

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SLicK

I've been an avid listener to the podcast for some time (started listening in the 70's range) - good work guys, and thought perhaps I'd solicit some feedback here.

 

I was an early adopter of the HP EX470 shortly after it came out and was thoroughly impressed with what was being made available to the home user at that time. I say this because as a business person who also has to wear the hat of a computer administrator for our small office that was (that's the past tense) running Windows SBS 2003 I remember thinking at that time I set-up the HP that if only SBS had been that easy. I felt we never ever fully utilized the SBS feature set and that the WHS probably would of met all our needs had it been available at the time. Well, here 7 years later our SBS gave up the ghost big time after running flawlessly for that long of time - I've been told by IT professionals it should of packed it in long ago. I beg to differ. Now, in my panic to get our staff up and running I almost went with SBS 2008. You see IDE drives are obsolete, our RAID controller, this and that all out dated hardware. That said, our data was all secure - the hard drives were fine even though we have backups. :rolleyes: I had really no reason to put our small business on that tread mill of always upgrading because what we had worked and worked fine! Never-the-less, setting up any new server takes time and that time is down time in most businesses.

 

I've implemented an HP EX495 - perhaps not as powerful as a Frankenbuild or even a true SBS but it's performance is better than what we had and I feel we are actually utilizing most of it's capabilities. And the extra 5 CALS over SBS doesn't hurt either.

 

So as my thoughts turn to the future - that is, thoughts of a potential hardware failure like the one we experienced I'm thinking having an extra EX495 sitting in box might not hurt. I don't see why one couldn't simply yank the drives out of a failed WHS and plug them in to an identical machine as the one they came out of. If I had this option with our SBS I'm sure our down time would of lasted as long as it would of taken me to pull the drives and plug them in to the "back-up" server. At first thought anyway I can't see an issue but I'm certainly interested in anyones comments. I'd also be interested in any other solutions someone may of thought of.

 

Craig

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jmwills

Conventional thinking tells me that two identical boxes should be okay as long as the host names are different. If one fails, then rejoin the clients to the new box. Backup the shares from the production server and restore them from time to time to the new one and, if you can, have a spare client machine available fore testing the restore to the new server. Only testing will prove your theories but the key to the plan is your backup and restore regiment. It has to be solid.

 

SBS 2003 was a breeze as long as you stuck with one NIC and I think 2008 is just as easy to implement. For your purposes, you may want to consider Aurora, which is a "cross-premises" server. That means the AD part is still kept local along with backup, shares, etc. The "cloud" part of this equation is hosted by Microsoft to include Exchange, Share Point, etc.

 

Personally, I like things to be local, so when available I will be moving from SBS 2008 to SBS 7

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SabatonFan80

Another option for recovering from a hardware failure would be run your homeserver inside a virtual machine. This way, even if the hardware completely croaks, you're still covered if you have another machine that you can move the drives to.

 

For my setup, all my WHS drives are either external (yay eSata!) or in drive cages. My VM Hosts are two identically configured machines (same motherboard, disk controllers etc). If I want to switch from one host to the other, all I need to do is power down the host, disconnect and reconnect the drives and I'm back up and running once I load the VM. Takes less that five minutes all told, and I don't have to open the chassis.

 

The other advantage of using virtualization is that you're free to upgrade your host hardware without having to muck around with the WHS virtual machine. (If you bought OEM WHS boxes, you'd be limited to whatever performance options you or upgrade paths they might provide..)

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jmwills

A good point for keeping everything virtual, as long as you can keep the drives external in either an IcysDock or Drobo box. At this point, you are just are ready to create your own SAN which would really be nice. One big box up in the office with all the drives tucked away in a network closet. I could see this getting expensive.....more time in the desert!!!!!

 

All good stuff.

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SLicK

Conventional thinking tells me ...

Thanks for the reply.

 

I'm not sure I'm reading you right with respect to the host names. After all, and perhaps I wasn't clear, but I wasn't thinking of having the second server actively running but simply sitting in a box available in the event that the production server failed. In that event, I wouldn't need different host names because I'd pull the drives from the production server, stick them in the backup server (which up to this point hasn't even been used) and fire it up. My thinking tells me that the server or drives for that matter wouldn't even know the difference. That the worst case scenario would be re-activation of the software which I'll have the key for from the second server.

 

I can see your point if my intent was to have each server running at the same time and "mirroring" each other for lack of a better word.

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jmwills

The clients may not have an issue and it all depends on how the code is written. Clients within an AD Domain see a SID rather than a hostname but this is a Workgroup so the only way to know is to run tests and see how they react to two different servers with the same hostname. I understand they will not be running at the same time. The virtual box may be the best idea as long as the hardware allows it.

 

I know the clients will accept any connection to a WHS (one at a time) but to access the backups created on another server is not something I have tried. I guess I might as well try it this weekend since I now have three of these things running (2 virtual and 1 physical).

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SLicK

The clients may not have an issue and it all depends on how the code is written. Clients within an AD Domain see a SID rather than a hostname ...

That is true as far as my tests showed. Even though I could access the identical shares in this case between a Acer and HP I did have to re-install the connector software. I'm now waiting on another EX495 to test with - maybe those results will be better. That said, re-installing the connector software might not be an issue as long as the client backups are retained but even if their not that might not be an issue. A client going down isn't as much of an issue as the server. We also keep a spare client handy. That is something that'll I'll add to my list of tests.

 

I must admit it is kind of interesting trying to cover as many bases as possible in the event of some kind of failure - especially in business!

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jmwills

I know you can go in and change the Sharing and Security Permissions the old fashioned way so these ideas should be able to work....always have that back door.

 

Good luck.

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diehard

Thanks for the reply.

 

I'm not sure I'm reading you right with respect to the host names. After all, and perhaps I wasn't clear, but I wasn't thinking of having the second server actively running but simply sitting in a box available in the event that the production server failed. In that event, I wouldn't need different host names because I'd pull the drives from the production server, stick them in the backup server (which up to this point hasn't even been used) and fire it up. My thinking tells me that the server or drives for that matter wouldn't even know the difference. That the worst case scenario would be re-activation of the software which I'll have the key for from the second server.

 

I can see your point if my intent was to have each server running at the same time and "mirroring" each other for lack of a better word.

 

This a great option. Just have a 2nd EX490 sitting there for spare parts. There will be no issues taking out the drives from 1 EX490 and putting it into a 2nd EX490. Just make sure that the system drive ( bottom most drive is placed in the same bottom most slot on the 2nd machine). The other drives don't matter. Use a large marker and write on the drive.

 

A EX490 single core does not run as fast as a EX495 dual-core. But that might not be an issue for you if your not using any transcoding. You can even disable the Twonky Media service if your not using it and your server Console will be much quicker.

http://www.wegotserved.com/2010/08/08/speed-hp-mediasmart-server-hp-data-vault/

http://usingwindowshomeserver.com/2010/03/11/twech-twip-on-a-twuesday-twuring-off-twonky/

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SLicK

This a great option. Just have a 2nd EX490 sitting there for spare parts. There will be no issues taking out the drives from 1 EX490 and putting it into a 2nd EX490. Just make sure that the system drive ( bottom most drive is placed in the same bottom most slot on the 2nd machine). The other drives don't matter. Use a large marker and write on the drive.

 

A EX490 single core does not run as fast as a EX495 dual-core. But that might not be an issue for you if your not using any transcoding. You can even disable the Twonky Media service if your not using it and your server Console will be much quicker.

http://www.wegotserved.com/2010/08/08/speed-hp-mediasmart-server-hp-data-vault/

http://usingwindowshomeserver.com/2010/03/11/twech-twip-on-a-twuesday-twuring-off-twonky/

Hey there. Thanks for your thoughts and I enjoy listening to you on the podcast - a fellow Canadian. Haven't set it in my profile but located here in Regina.

 

Anyhow, to change the subject a bit. Didn't I hear you in a podcast talking about how you - using laptop drives or something mirrored your system disk. I know I've heard you comment on more than one occasion about easy recovery methods other than using the Restore CD and that is something I'm interested in. Can you tell me more or point me in the direction. Thanks.

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