Jump to content
RESET Forums (homeservershow.com)
dugn

Need Advice On a WHSv1 Replacement

Recommended Posts

dugn

Like many folks, my WHSv1 is finally getting long in the tooth and I want to build a replacement before lightning I have to.  I’m not rich, I don’t mind spending money to build or buy a solid, reliable solution.  So except for a Murderbox-style solution, price is not an object.  It’s also not urgent.  I’m planning ahead while my WHSv1 is working just fine.

 

Today’s WHSv1

My WHSv1 is presently fully populated with four full bays in an original HP EX475 (w/2GB RAM and EX495 Software) plus an additional 4-bay enclosure (Sans Digital JBOD connected via eSATA) for a total of 14TB of useable space (8x 2TB).  I’m not interested in investing further in a dead (WS2003) platform or the EX475 hardware (2TB drive limit unless you hack it).

 

I like everything about WHSv1, so if there was simply a modern version that supported 4TB drives and the addition to external drives, I’d just move to that.  But alas, there isn’t.

 

I also use nearly everything about the WHSv1: automatic nightly backups, streaming music/movies, remote access. I don’t use it for photo sharing or transcoding (as HP EX495 software allows) or Apple Time Machine.

 

I’d like something that’s big now (starts with 12TB) and can expand to 16TB, 24TB and more over time without a complete rebuild (hopefully by adding drive bays/enclosures).

 

I use my WHS to store backups for 8 home PCs performed automatically each night.  And to share tons of movies and music to these PCs and the Media-PC in the living room.

 

THING I FEEL I SHOULD HAVE

  • Support for 4TB drives per bay (obvious, but want to call it out)Ability to stream movies/music to Windows PCs, Windows Media PC and iPadsQuiet server/enclosures that keep drives cool to reduce failures
  • Backups: Passive, non-intrusive (‘it just works’) backups of all 8 PCs in house (one XP, the rest Win7 and Win8/8.1), daily diffs – like WHS, if possible.
  • Reliable Restores (see first ‘nice to have’ below).  Everything claims it can back up PCs.  But if restoring is a PITA, it’s sometimes almost not worth it.
  • Expandable over time – I’d like to add drive bays/enclosures/pools as needed for growth (multiple eSATA ports?).  If I can add a card + an additional 4 or 6 bay enclosure in 2 years, and maybe another card + enclosure 2 years after that, that would be a good, easy way to expand.  I prefer a non-hacky expansion plan.

 

NICE TO HAVE

  • File-specific as well as ‘bare-metal’ PC restore like WHSv1/v2 provided.  If not this, a good alternative that makes restoring as easy and quick as possible.  I dread the days of installing an OS, customizing it, reinstalling all programs, then restoring all files – then the many days or tweaking things to get them just the way they were before a meltdown.  WHS did this well.
  • Remote Access to PCs (like WHSv1) so I can remotely access all PCs on the network
  • Remote Access to files/backups (WHS never allowed me to grab a backed-up file remotely – I had to perform a local, partial restore to grab earlier file versions).
  • SMART or some other mechanism to help identify failing disks before they die
  • Reuse existing 4-bay enclosure.  While I expect to ditch the HP EX475 unit, if the new solution allows me to use one or more Sans Digital (or other branded) 4-bay enclosures to add drives/drive pools, that’d be nice.
  • Looks nice (black/black w/blue lighting).  I’m fond of the HP EX475 lighted indicator for each bay.  I can’t imagine there’s an equally attractive piece of hardware, but alas – I figured I’d ask.

 

Don’t Care About At All

  • UNIX – I’m less interested in UNIX-based solutions only because I don’t know UNIX.  So if push comes to shove, I imagine greater frustration fiddling with something where I’m no expert if things go wrong.
  • Speedy Drives – While copy times for my amount of data is unpleasant, the bulk of my use is backups and streaming a single movie to a Media-PC.  So I don’t need fast drives.  Cool, slower 5400RPM HDD or SSHD hybrid drives will do just fine. 

 

Things I Don’t Know

  • WHS 2011 vs. Server 2012 Essentials vs. something else – I don’t know the differences between WHS 2011 vs Essentials, but I like the idea of a Storage Space that can be transferred to another OS or Windows platform (unlike DE-based systems).  And I hear Essentials is a ton faster on file transfers than either WHS.
  • RAID vs. Storage Spaces vs. Something else – RAID arrays take so long to rebuild.  And as crazy as it sounds, I have less confidence in RAID 5 or RAID 6 due to the likelihood of a second drive failing during a lengthy rebuild.  So something that’s redundant, can recover to useable state quickly and doesn’t require a lot of fiddling to restore to a good state (again, like WHSv1, but better).  I’m hearing Storage Spaces and other solutions out there can do this.  I’m all ears for good recommendations here.

 

My initial thinking is to build a Windows Server 2012 R2 machine using Storage Spaces and the ability add expandable 4/6/8-bay enclosures and/or expansion cards as needed.

 

I would very much appreciate insights from those more tech-savvy than me on options for meeting these needs and getting off my beloved (but ancient) HP EX475.  Thank you in advance.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jcollison

It might help you in the discussion if you dig in a bit on the features of WS2012R2 Essentials and WHS 2011 before others start to chime in on this.  You have a bunch of questions here, some are overlapping and some are opinion.

 

Look here for 2012:  https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/windows-server-2012-r2-essentials/default.aspx?Search=true#fbid=TvPo1vtHma4

Look here for 2011:  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/products/windows-home-server#T1=protect

 

There are trial versions for both and I would encourage you to try before you buy.  You get 180 days on the trial.  You said you were not in a hurry.

 

Storage Spaces is covered here:  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/storage-spaces-pools (PC Doc has the best handle on actual performance of SS) http://thedocsworld.net/storage-spaces2012-essentials-r2/   You will more info from others here about RAID.  With as much storage as you are looking for, not sure you are going to be able to get around it, but you can try.

 

You have a pretty good handle on this just from your write up.  Others will chime in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe_Miner

Hi Dugn and welcome to the Forums!

 

Some background information/research may be in order on your part about WHS2011 and S2012ER2 ($60 and $400 respectively at Newegg today).

 

WHS-2011 Resources Datasheets White Papers     S2012E Resources Datasheets White Papers    

S2012ER2 Data/White Paper

 

I have done some testing on Storage Spaces and while I think it would meet your criteria my preference for my “live” server is StableBit DrivePool married with StableBit Scanner.  StableBit DrivePool more closely followed what I had come to expect from V1 with the ability to recover my data in NTFS format from an individual drive on any Windows machine if my server experienced a major disaster – plus DrivePool is easily transferred if/when you decide to upgrade your OS (you could start in WHS2011 and move to S2012ER2 two years down the road if you wished) – I have mine set so that if Scanner detects a failing drive it will start to move data off of the drive automatically – neat!

 

Some references on Storage Spaces Performance (also check the references in the documents):

 

StableBit DrivePool & Scanner employed with WHS2011 and Performance data (it can be employed with S2012ER2):

Check out the Drive Extender Replacements Discussions at: MicroServer Hardware Links and check --

 

When you study the NASP tests for Essentials and WHS2011 you’ll see that with SS and DP they both approach the theoretical limit transfer rate on a Gigabit network so IMHO there’s little difference between the two in that regard.  If you are looking for fast transfer of data within the machine then you are looking at RAID, IMHO. 

Just a note that while a lot of my testing has been with MicroServers I'm not pushing MicroServers in any way -- the test results are generic in most respects and would be applicable on many platforms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dugn

Those are all great links.  I think I was able to find many of those before posting.  This place has a TON more information about home servers than any other place.  Nice work.  And thanks for taking the time to reply and review my needs.

 

Based on what I've read and reviewed, I'm headed in the direction of re-purposing my HP MediaSmart EX475 WHSv1 into a Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2 using Storage Spaces.  I'll get speed and an up-to-date OS.  If I can find a Marvell eSATA driver that'll run under WSE 2012 R2, I'll be able to use a 4-bay enclosure. to double my drive bays from 4 (EX475) to 8 (+4-bay enclosure).

 

In the longer term, it seems like I should build a new, small form-factor WSE to which I can eventually port my Storage Spaces pool.  This new hardware should have plenty of either open slots for eSATA-based expansion (adding additional 4/6 bay units) or a NAS that participates as part of the Storage Spaces pool.  Having some of my storage split to a NAS would be new for me.  Not sure what the risks are, but seems like people are doing it.  If a NAS is a reasonable option, it might be nice to move the device into the garage and keep noise and heat out of my in home office.

 

Unless I misunderstood the documentation, with WSE 2012 R2, it seems I'll be leaving image-based backups.  Big sad face.  I still don't care for RAID.  While I love it in the enterprise, today's rebuild times and growing HDD sizes put me in the Storage Spaces/DE camp allowing dynamic additions to pools, portability and - what I hope will be - less hand's-on time (I hate waiting for RAID arrays to rebuild before I'm functional.  At home, this seems like overkill).  I'd like 'self healing' as much as possible.

 

While I like tweaking and fiddling at the beginning, my goal is a hand's off system that doesn't need babysitting to automatically back up my home PCs and server as a media server for movies, music and photos.

 

How does this sound so far?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jcollison

I think you are on track.  Many ways to do it.  The best way is the one that works for you.  Keep us posted!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ikon

Welcome to the forums dugn. A couple of things from your post struck me:

  1. I don't understand why you say you'd be leaving image based backups. AFAIK, WSE2012r2 can do BMRs of your clients, just like WHSv1 & WHS2011.
     
  2. Most RAID cards allow you to use the array(s) before they're rebuilt. That said, I'm just now in the midst of moving from a RAID arrangement for my main Data Pool to DrivePool. I'll be outlining the reasons and so forth in a separate thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pcdoc

Like many folks, my WHSv1 is finally getting long in the tooth and I want to build a replacement before lightning I have to.  I’m not rich, I don’t mind spending money to build or buy a solid, reliable solution.  So except for a Murderbox-style solution, price is not an object.  It’s also not urgent.  I’m planning ahead while my WHSv1 is working just fine.

 

Today’s WHSv1

My WHSv1 is presently fully populated with four full bays in an original HP EX475 (w/2GB RAM and EX495 Software) plus an additional 4-bay enclosure (Sans Digital JBOD connected via eSATA) for a total of 14TB of useable space (8x 2TB).  I’m not interested in investing further in a dead (WS2003) platform or the EX475 hardware (2TB drive limit unless you hack it).

 

I like everything about WHSv1, so if there was simply a modern version that supported 4TB drives and the addition to external drives, I’d just move to that.  But alas, there isn’t.

 

I also use nearly everything about the WHSv1: automatic nightly backups, streaming music/movies, remote access. I don’t use it for photo sharing or transcoding (as HP EX495 software allows) or Apple Time Machine.

 

I’d like something that’s big now (starts with 12TB) and can expand to 16TB, 24TB and more over time without a complete rebuild (hopefully by adding drive bays/enclosures).

 

I use my WHS to store backups for 8 home PCs performed automatically each night.  And to share tons of movies and music to these PCs and the Media-PC in the living room.

 

THING I FEEL I SHOULD HAVE

  • Support for 4TB drives per bay (obvious, but want to call it out)Ability to stream movies/music to Windows PCs, Windows Media PC and iPadsQuiet server/enclosures that keep drives cool to reduce failures
  • Backups: Passive, non-intrusive (‘it just works’) backups of all 8 PCs in house (one XP, the rest Win7 and Win8/8.1), daily diffs – like WHS, if possible.
  • Reliable Restores (see first ‘nice to have’ below).  Everything claims it can back up PCs.  But if restoring is a PITA, it’s sometimes almost not worth it.
  • Expandable over time – I’d like to add drive bays/enclosures/pools as needed for growth (multiple eSATA ports?).  If I can add a card + an additional 4 or 6 bay enclosure in 2 years, and maybe another card + enclosure 2 years after that, that would be a good, easy way to expand.  I prefer a non-hacky expansion plan.

 

NICE TO HAVE

  • File-specific as well as ‘bare-metal’ PC restore like WHSv1/v2 provided.  If not this, a good alternative that makes restoring as easy and quick as possible.  I dread the days of installing an OS, customizing it, reinstalling all programs, then restoring all files – then the many days or tweaking things to get them just the way they were before a meltdown.  WHS did this well.
  • Remote Access to PCs (like WHSv1) so I can remotely access all PCs on the network
  • Remote Access to files/backups (WHS never allowed me to grab a backed-up file remotely – I had to perform a local, partial restore to grab earlier file versions).
  • SMART or some other mechanism to help identify failing disks before they die
  • Reuse existing 4-bay enclosure.  While I expect to ditch the HP EX475 unit, if the new solution allows me to use one or more Sans Digital (or other branded) 4-bay enclosures to add drives/drive pools, that’d be nice.
  • Looks nice (black/black w/blue lighting).  I’m fond of the HP EX475 lighted indicator for each bay.  I can’t imagine there’s an equally attractive piece of hardware, but alas – I figured I’d ask.

 

Don’t Care About At All

  • UNIX – I’m less interested in UNIX-based solutions only because I don’t know UNIX.  So if push comes to shove, I imagine greater frustration fiddling with something where I’m no expert if things go wrong.
  • Speedy Drives – While copy times for my amount of data is unpleasant, the bulk of my use is backups and streaming a single movie to a Media-PC.  So I don’t need fast drives.  Cool, slower 5400RPM HDD or SSHD hybrid drives will do just fine. 

 

Things I Don’t Know

  • WHS 2011 vs. Server 2012 Essentials vs. something else – I don’t know the differences between WHS 2011 vs Essentials, but I like the idea of a Storage Space that can be transferred to another OS or Windows platform (unlike DE-based systems).  And I hear Essentials is a ton faster on file transfers than either WHS.
  • RAID vs. Storage Spaces vs. Something else – RAID arrays take so long to rebuild.  And as crazy as it sounds, I have less confidence in RAID 5 or RAID 6 due to the likelihood of a second drive failing during a lengthy rebuild.  So something that’s redundant, can recover to useable state quickly and doesn’t require a lot of fiddling to restore to a good state (again, like WHSv1, but better).  I’m hearing Storage Spaces and other solutions out there can do this.  I’m all ears for good recommendations here.

 

My initial thinking is to build a Windows Server 2012 R2 machine using Storage Spaces and the ability add expandable 4/6/8-bay enclosures and/or expansion cards as needed.

 

I would very much appreciate insights from those more tech-savvy than me on options for meeting these needs and getting off my beloved (but ancient) HP EX475.  Thank you in advance.

 

Here is my two cents.  First off, I would go with 2011 as for the price it will provide you with everything you are asking for in terms of features.  The capacity and looks thing are more about the case you choose and less about the software.  Second, I completely disagree with your comment on RAID.  Rebuild times are faster with a RAID controller (5-6 hours for 15T) than any other solution I have seen, and with a 5/6 implementation, it wastes less drive space than any other solution.  Almost every other solution requires some sort of mirroring/duplication effectively making two copies of everything and the parity features of storage spaces are a bit laughable (I am being generous).  You might argue that expandability might be an issue but you can always add a second card and if you are starting with with 4T drives, and you start with an 8 port card, you can easily add another 12T with little effort.  If you run a RAID 6 config and set your card to email you in the event of failure, you could replace the drive and be rebuild your array long before any other solution out there.  Just my two cents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Drashna Jaelre

For storage, you could use a software solution such as StableBit DrivePool, Drive Bender, PoolHD or some of the others.  They allow for on the fly expansion and file level duplication/mirroring.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×
×
  • Create New...