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My WHS 2011 Upgrade


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I have decided to take the jump into WHS 2011. Without DE in Vail, I have decided to go RAID instead of the 3rd party DE replacements. ..mostly due to “read” performance reasons. Outside of data storage and backup, the server hosts Recorded TV and movies primarily to the HTPC and four Xbox units. I’m writing this up to document my experience with the upgrade and to get any feedback from others that may have already tried the upgrade at this scale.

Starting with my current WHS v1 system:

•Norco RPC-4220 (20 Hot Swap bays) Case

•Gigabyte GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AMD motherboard (6 SATA-II)

•Corsair CMPSU-750TX

•AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz

•Crucial 4GB Ram (2 x 2GB)

•Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 8-port SATA Controller PCI Express x4 Card

•Current Drives:

2 – 320GB WD Scorpio Black (2.5”) – Attached to Motherboard (0 & 1) – Non-RAID

7 – 2TB WD 32MB Cache Green

-4 Attached to motherboard (2-5) – Non-RAID

-3 Attached to 8-port SATA Controller

3 – 2TB Samsung 32MB Cache Green - Attached to 8-port SATA Controller

1 - 2TB Hitachi 32MB Cache Green - Attached to 8-port SATA Controller

Below is an image of the Disk Management Add-In I have running that basically shows how my drives are setup. The one unmanaged disk was actually supposed to be used as a FlexRAID parity disk, but due to complications I had abandoned that venture.



My current folder capacities are as follows:

• MovieBackups – 6.4 TB

• Music – 205 GB

• Photos – 45GB (duplicated)

• Recorded TV – 5 TB

• Software – 32 GB (duplicated)

• Users – 83 GB (duplicated)

• Videos – 2.6 TB


The plan is to have a mixture of RAID types based on the data type

• OS – RAID 1 (2 x 320GB WD Black Scorpio)

• Crucial files – RAID 0+1 (4 x 2TB)

Photos, Software, & Users (160 GB currently)

• Non-crucial files – RAID 5 (16 x 2TB)

MovieBackups, Recorded TV, Videos, Music


The problem I was questioning initially was how to put all these drives under RAID control. I have decided at this point that I am going to try the following:

• Motherboard RAID controller (RAID 1 for OS and RAID 0+1 for Crucial files)

• 2 x HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL 8-Port PCI-Express 2.0 x8 SAS/SATA RAID Controller (RAID 5 x 2 for all other files)


So at this point, I have ordered the following equipment to help with the transfer:

• 2 x HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL 8-Port PCI-Express 2.0 x8 SAS/SATA RAID Controllers

• 3 x Seagate 2TB 64mb Cache Green


I also have in my possession that hasn’t been installed yet:

• 1 - 2TB Hitachi 32MB Cache Green


These are the steps I envision I will need to take:

1. Backup Crucial files

2. Turn off data duplication on server

3. Remove the 320GB and three of the 2TB drives from the data pool. (Files may need to be removed to provide the space.

4. Find the files that are located on the C:\ drive included in the pool in order to backup.

5. Shutdown, pull all drives out except for the 2 x 320GB drives.

6. Startup BIOS and enable RAID controller. Setup RAID 1 on the two drives.

7. WHS 2011 installation.

8. Once the server is installed, shutdown and add the empty 4 x 2TB drives.

9. Enter BIOS and set the drives up in the controller as RAID 0+1

10. Setup the RAID 0+1 array in the OS.

11. Shutdown server and install the one of the two RocketRAID controllers as well as the three new 2 TB drives.

12. Boot up and setup the new drives in a RAID 5.

13. Insert one drive at a time and copy the data off the drives. To start, I will need to do this to three drives. The data will need to be placed in the existing RAID 5 and RAID 10 folders to accommodate the space needed.

14. Shutdown server and install the remaining RocketRAID controller as well as the three old 2 TB drives.

15. Boot up and setup the old drives in a RAID 5.

16. Insert one drive at a time with the remaining drives and copy the data off of them.

17. For each drive, I will attempt to increase the size of the RAID 5 until all 8 drives are added.

In the end and once this box is filled up, I should have access to:

• 320GB - OS

• 2 TB – Crucial Files

• 2 x 14TB – Non Crucial Files

Currently, step 1 is underway. The hardware I’m waiting for should be in early this week.

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Nice plan and write up. IMO you made some good choices. Besides the read performance, there is a much greater risk of incompatibility with things like antivirus, drive utilities and backup programs. Very impressive setup and please post some pictures when you get it going.

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Thank you. When I first set the rig up back in late 2009, I wanted to be able to expand my storage as needed. This case rocks for that, but I will say that WHS2011 has put a slight kink in things with no DE. Honestly, the more I think about it though, it should help in the WAF front though since it should get rid of any of the stuttering I currently get on playback.


I ran into my first glich though...

I'm trying to finish stage three (working on the last drive atm) when my console disappeared. Whenever I try to bring it back up, it flashes on the screen and immediately disappears. I'm looking at the current processes in Task Manager and see demigrator.exe running, so I'm pretty sure things are doing what they're supposed to. I'll just have to wait until morning to see what the results are.

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Woke up to see demigrator.exe still up, but sitting idle as well as three instances of chkdsk. I also lost all control of the server through RDP...I was just able to view what I had up on the screen from last night.


Did a remote shutdown/restart and the system came back up fine. I checked the disks and it shpwed that the HDD still had 14% worth of data on it, so I restarted the wizard to remove the disk. It seems to be chugging along nicely now...only 4% of the disk left after about 1.5 hours.

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Great post, thanks for sharing. This has me thinking about my v2 server and how I could use a similar Raid approach. I have lesser needs (only 3.2T of data) for a server and was thinking of this approach:


Currently data/drives are allocated as:


Drive 0: 500GB WD RE4

Drive 1: 1.5TB WD EARS - Movies

Drive 2: 1.5TB WD EARS - Music

Drive 3: 1.5TB WD EARS - Server files (Pictures, Software, Users) = Critical data

Drive 4: 1.5TB WD EARS - Videos - HD

Drive 5: 1.5TB WD EARS - Videos - SD


I also do a full nightly backup to external drives using Syncback via eSata and to my 7TB v1 server.


This works fine and I have room to grow on each drive for now, but will eventually fill a drive and have to split things up further. For example, my Music drive currently has 322 GB of free space, but it grows slowly, so no big hurry to allocate more space.


Following your approach to have a mixture of RAID types based on the data type, I am considering this approach:


Drive 0: 500 GB WD RE4 - no change, and I don't feel the need to mirror the OS drive.


2x1.5TB as Raid 1 = 1.5T for critical data (Pictures, Software, Users, etc.)


5x1.5TB as Raid 5 = 6.0T for AV Data (Movies, Music, Videos, Recorded TV)


I have the two additional 1.5T drives needed for Raid 1, all I'd need is a Raid card and SAS cables for about $130-$150, and the time to build the arrays and restore the data.


I was planning to use one of the DE replacements (Stablebit, etc), but now may go this way instead.


Also, on your post above, I'm confused, you are removing pool drives in v1 and stalled... if you have a current backup, why not just blow the v1 system away and install v2 fresh and then do a restore from backups.

Edited by TechMule
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That sounds like a decent plan. The only reason I went with mirroring the OS is because I already had the drive.


I'll more than likely get the Stablebit Scanner for v2 once it's out to make sure everything stays in check.


Also, on your post above, I'm confused, you are removing pool drives in v1 and stalled... if you have a current backup, why not just blow the v1 system away and install v2 fresh and then do a restore from backups.


My backup is only of critical files...not the non-critical files. I don't have enough space on anything else to provide backup of my movies, tv recordings, and music.


My last drive should be finished as I type this...I'll be checking on it in about an hour. Once it's complete, I'll need to pull all the drives out except the C:\ drive and backup the non-critical files it has left on it somewhere else (critical files have already been backed up) before I can blow it away.

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Well, last night was a very busy night.


Step 3 was complete by the time I was off work and finally home for the night.


The easy method to complete Step 4 was to remove all the drives except the C:/ drive, boot up and look for the DE folder. It took about an hour to transfer the last of the data I wanted off the drive.


Step 5 ended up being put the other 320GB drive back into the case.


Step 6 was pretty much what I expected:

•Boot into the BIOS

•Select Integrated Peripherals

OnChip SATA Type
OnChip SATA Port4/5 Type



•Save settings and Exit which will reboot with the RAID controller.

•Select the option to enter the RAID utility (Ctrl-F on this machine).

•Setup the RAID to use the two drives in RAID 1.




Step 7 - Install WHS 2011...finally!!

Gotta love the ghetto DVD-Rom drive connection to the server...



Had to load the RAID drivers via USB before getting the drive to be recognized by the install.




Step 8 - Put the four 2TB drives in that will be RAID 10



Step 9 - Setup the RAID on the drives...check.



Step 10 - Setup the partition for the RAID 10 in Disk Manager and format it...check (I slept on it, so no idea how long it took).


Currently, I'm sitting in the middle of Step 11...



I have the first of the two HighPoint 2720SGL card's in the rig, drivers loaded and ready to roll...just waiting on UPS atm to deliver my new HDDs.

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Well, I got the new drives added to the RAID and assigned to a drive. All was looking good until I shutdown to add the other RAID card. On boot-up, the machine failed to see the boot drive. What was happening was the RAID-5 array was trying to boot and there was no way in the system BIOS to prevent it from happening.


I remember seeing something somewhere about an add-on card with a Gigabyte mobo:



Using this info and a little searching, these are the instructions to get the card running without booting:

  1. Find the hptflash.exe
  2. Once the application is started, click the Backup button.
  3. Save the current BIOS setup to a new file.
  4. Select Open and select the file you just saved.
  5. Select Config...
  6. Set the Reallocate EBDA and the INT 13 support to Disable.
  7. Select OK
  8. Select Flash!


I repeated these steps for both cards and now all is good.


I'm now at step 13/14...I put the second RAID card in the box before transferring the data since I needed the card to get the drives to interface with the computer to transfer the data.


I'm expecting the final hurdle will be when I start trying to increase the size of the RAID...should be smooth sailing until then though.

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Well, I'm nearing the end...so to speak.


I'm at steps 16/17 where I have already created the last RAID 5 array with three of the older 2TB 32mb cache drives. I added a fouth to the array last night...well, I started the OCE procedure last night. Right now it's 20% complete with the rebuild which has taken about 7 hours so far. It's showing about 28 hours left in the build...ouch!!


I would stop the procedure now and rebuild with the four drives, but I am using this rebuild as a test. I had the original three drive array created with no data, started the OCE rebuild, and then put some data on during the rebuild. After the rebuild is complete, I will try to expand the size of the partition and see if I get any data loss in the process.


If successful, this will take me into next week easily to build this array up to eight drives.


Long gone are the days of easily dropping a disk in for more storage the day I need it. However, I did notice my speeds to transfer data from one drive to the other even during the rebuild seemed 2x faster than in the past, so I'm more than sure the performance afterwards will make up for the long build.

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