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Building a Windows 8 Home Server


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So I've been following that chain of articles as well and am really leaning towards making that jump. I am especially intrigued with having a Windows 8 home server in order to utilize its Storage Spaces and File History and then running Windows Home Server 2011 VM inside it for remote media playback, etc. Has anyone else actually tried this setup? Did it work?

 

I also have a practical question. I've had a WHS 2011 for the past 1 1/2 years with the following setup:

- AMD Phenom II X2

- 4GB RAM

- 64GB OS SSD drive

- 1TB Data drive

- 2TB Backup drive

 

A recent brown out ruined my install (at least that's what I think happened) and WHS 2011's native install repair process couldn't find a working OS image. This may be because of the whole 160 GB OS drive requirement. So now I'm kinda starting again from scratch and am rethinking the most optimal setup. I just sold the CPU and RAM on eBay and ordered a Phenom II X4. Planning on getting 8GB RAM as well. But if I'm really going to follow Terry Walsh's advice, will the 64GB SSD be sufficient for Windows 8? It'll be always on, so I'm not terribly worried about the Hibernation file. I guess I'll be installing WHS 2011 VM on the 1 TB data disk.

 

What do you all think? I kinda feel like I'm groping in the dark and would rather talk it through than go down some routes that end in dead ends. Maybe my experience will help others as well!

 

Thanks. By the way, love the show!

 

Well I was pretty excited about Storage Spaces and all that I had read on using Win8 for my new home server (was on WHS v1 previously). But in the process of setting it up I learned that while Storage Spaces has been touted to be the next best thing since Drive Extender - it doesn't quite live up to what DE could do. The basic functionality and ability to do 2-way & 3-way mirrors and the Parity approach sounded wonderful and better than DE - but a few key aspects of DE that made it so easy to work (automatic re-balancing of data when a drive is added or removed, and the ability to remove a drive and have DE move your data) are sadly missing. With DE, no matter what sized drive you added to the pool, your data was always balanced to make the best use of all of the space. SS doesn't re-balance at all, ever. Check out the link below - quite detailed and includes an MS tech response on the underlying science of SS - which is fine if the average person understood that (certainly isn't explained that way).

 

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w8itprogeneral/thread/c9830be3-f6b9-4db9-9603-e4e7fd73e85b/

 

I hadn't looked at WHS 2011 in quite some time and the last time I looked into it, there was no solid solution to replacing DE (yeah, it's been a while - but my WHS v1 was doing it's job!)...but now it seems DrivePool has emerged as a great alternative - so I ordered a copy of WHS 2011 this weekend and looks like I'm going to scrap Win 8 as a server at this time. One other thing I liked about DE was the ability to copy my data to the pool and THEN turn on the duplication - that sped things up in populating the data initially.

 

As for running WHS 2011 as a VM - the idea is intriguing but I'm wondering if that means the computer specs need to be beefed up given the VM sucks up memory? Haven't read into that at all so will take a look...

 

If you move forward with this - drop me a PM, I'd be interested to hear details.

Edited by Puulima
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DrivePool, from StableBit, is also highly spoken of by some forum members. It also works well with StableBit Scanner I'm told; and if you buy one of them you get a discount when you buy the other.

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Just so it is clear, DE did not balance data across drives.

 

Maybe it was a different function but integrated, but if I added a new drive - data was moved from other drives to it - opening up space on all drives so new data could be duplicated easily on multiple drives. And if I chose to remove a drive - WHS took care of moving the data to other drives first and then allowed me to safely remove the drive. There was never an issue adding drives - regardless of the size, DE (or some integrated process) took care of keeping the drives "balanced".

 

I'm looking at implementing DrivePool and potentially Scanner myself. From a home user perspective - WHS v1 did the trick for me all these years. I liked the "sexyness" of attempting to use Win 8 - but with this lack of balancing issue - it's the proverbial straw for me.

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ImTheTypeOfGuy

Well, DE did do balancing of a sort; that's what DEmigrator was all about.

Maybe it was a different function but integrated, but if I added a new drive - data was moved from other drives to it - opening up space on all drives so new data could be duplicated easily on multiple drives. And if I chose to remove a drive - WHS took care of moving the data to other drives first and then allowed me to safely remove the drive. There was never an issue adding drives - regardless of the size, DE (or some integrated process) took care of keeping the drives "balanced".

 

I'm looking at implementing DrivePool and potentially Scanner myself. From a home user perspective - WHS v1 did the trick for me all these years. I liked the "sexyness" of attempting to use Win 8 - but with this lack of balancing issue - it's the proverbial straw for me.

 

Again, it did not do drive balancing. As new data was added it would start putting it on the drive with the most free space. However, if you added a new drive and no new data and did not do backups, that new drive would never have any information on it. As an example, I have three 2 TB drives in my WHSv1 and they have been like that for 6 - 9 months. The used space on my drives are 97%, 93%, and 61%. Drive balancing would have all of them at the same percentage.

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Again, it did not do drive balancing. As new data was added it would start putting it on the drive with the most free space. However, if you added a new drive and no new data and did not do backups, that new drive would never have any information on it. As an example, I have three 2 TB drives in my WHSv1 and they have been like that for 6 - 9 months. The used space on my drives are 97%, 93%, and 61%. Drive balancing would have all of them at the same percentage.

 

Well it all depends on how full your existing drives are when you add the new drives. While DE didn't "even out" the data, it did do some load balancing to ensure you could always save new files and have them duplicated on secondary drives. You'd NEVER run into a situation where you had added a new drive and couldn't use it - which is what happens with storage Spaces. With SS you have to add 2 drives to keep adding data once your existing drives fill up as nothing gets moved ever.

 

This Technical Brief on DE explains what it does. I ran a WHS v1 for 4+ years with no issues ever. My Win 8 SS experience hasn't been so rosy.

 

http://download.microsoft.com/download/2/f/c/2fc09c20-587f-4f16-aa33-c6c4c75fb3dd/Windows%20Home%20Server%20Technical%20Brief%20-%20Drive%20Extender.docx

 

And I think we've wandered a bit off topic here ;-) Bottom line, unless you want to setup a number of other processes and workarounds still sounds like WHS is the way to go...that's just my opinion of course after playing on and researching Win 8 for the past few weeks.

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Hey - you guys were holding out on me ;-)

 

I could have sworn I read up on DrivePool NOT being available for Windows 8 - but I just got WHS 2011 installed and went to download and purchase DrivePool and low and behold - the Windows 7 version lists Windows 8 as one of the supported OS's! So potentially I could have made a go with Windows 8 and just skipped Storage Spaces and used DrivePool with it? I think I would have liked to try that out. All in all though I am liking WHS 2011 so far...familiar but like a new car...it has that new server OS smell.

 

But out of curiosity - anybody out there using DrivePool with Windows 8?

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Wasn't aware Alex had it out for Win8 yet; must be pretty new I guess. Don't forget, WHS2011 will give you bare metal restore backups of your client PC's. Win8, with out without DP, can't do that.

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Storage spaces and DE are not the same beast at all nor do they work the same. Storage spaces is basically a way aggregate storage with no real intelligence nor is it particularly reliable. DE migrated your data around different drives when you had duplication on and based on the number of drives would determine what drive it was going to use. "If" I was going to something other than a hardware solution, I would use one of the third party programs that let me pull drives out to another system as well as add or remove drives. Though it has been awhile since I have use one, they where much faster and more flexible than storage spaces. Wait for V2 of storage spaces, in the mean time use an alternative. I do not believe that using drivepool with Windows 8 is an issue but I am sure if you contact them they will confirm it.

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