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Jazman

As of today, Drive Pool (StableBit) or Drive Bender

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Boris

Did some more testing with DrivePool and discovered that it supports several features I like. One of which is the ability to duplicate to N-number of drives. When setting up duplication at the folder level I set up some REALLY important test files to replicate to 4x drives, just in case. Additionally, I got past the "hiding" of the drives, just by going into Disk Manager and removing their drive letters. No problems.

 

Last but not least, CRC looks like it was implemented in one of the earlier beta builds (see: http://forum.covecube.com/discussion/872/file-rebalancing-and-crc-checks/p1) however I've been unable to find any reference to it in the current 2.x stable build. If DrivePool has CRC, it's a no-brainer otherwise I'll do some more testing with DriveBender and try to get past some of the initial hurdles. I checked by storing a .txt file that was replicated to all 4 drives. Then I went directly into the "DrivePool" hidden folder and modified the text file on all 4 drives. DrivePool had no clue it was serving up bad files... it just served up one of the random 4. I don't know how it chose the drive it reads from, but it was consistently the same drive. Some type of error-correction checking is a must. Big disappointment. At least I should be notified that copies on different drive no longer match each other and ask me what to do.

 

The one nice thing about DrivePool over PoolHD is that when you remove a drive out of the pool the data is verified to be duplicated and removed from the drive. PoolHD doesn't do this, it just removes the drive from the pool and unhides the backup directory. Then when you re-add the drive back to the pool there's a new "PoolHD.GUID" hidden directory created with duplicated data. This is definitely not a big deal if the end user understands what's going on, but DrivePool's implementation should be more intuitive for the masses.

 

I'll be posting more musings as I make more discoveries...

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Boris

Doing this all piecemeal due to other obligations, so my apologies.

 

Checked out DriveBender further and it seems I didn't notice there was a duplication option which I didn't enable last time. I noticed it scattered more files across more disks, however there's something wrong with its implementation as I was easily able to lose data. For the CRC check, I modified one of the underlying backed up files and it basically corrupted that file in the main pool - I was unable to open it. The software didn't give me notification that anything had happened, etc. Additionally, while the pool was active I "accidentally" formatted one of the drives within the pool and lost data that way too. The software was none the wiser. So the CRC option seems to be useless and the duplication is just as well.

 

Even when removing drives from the pool, by using the UI, I've lost files. I had weird Memory Access Violations and a service crash/disconnect with it when trying to remove drives too. Granted I'm TRYING to break it, but PoolHD and DrivePool didn't exhibit such instability.

 

I still feel the interface is too busy and advanced options could be hidden for advanced users. It does have more advanced options with multiple mount points, thin provisioning, and so on -- similar to Storage Spaces in WS2012 (not Windows 8), but it could do better. The loss of data is inexcusable though.

 

Again, unless I've missed something, which is entirely possible, I couldn't recommend DriveBender.

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Boris

I ran a few more tests on PoolHD and DrivePool in regards to trying to corrupt data, drives, etc. Both had some minor glitches, but nothing that they didn't recover from within a few clicks. It just required dropping the "bad" drive and either adding it back in the pool to get reinitialized (in the real world, that would be just plopping in a new drive). No crashes or other hiccups of any kind. I definitely think that on a standard desktop, PoolHD would win just for simplicity. For my server, I'd rather use DrivePool because there are a few areas where it's just a little more polished, but more importantly, it has more advanced options, without being "too advanced." Additionally, DrivePool is the only one that "self heals" when duplicate files are removed and will re-duplicate them right away. PoolHD requires the user know about this and click the Repair button - not something I'd do, monitor or know about on a server.

 

So hopefully those who have gone with me on this "amazing" journey of reading through all the crap that I wrote understand the reasons for my conclusion:

 

DriveBender: NO!

PoolHD: great for a desktop as a better alternative to mirroring (not using an entire drive and just keeping certain content duplicated on multiple drives for additional protection)

DrivePool: the best of the three and actually works very well - looks like that will be my choice for my server (though it would work just as well on a desktop). Just wish it had CRC! More notification options would be gravy :)

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ImTheTypeOfGuy

Thanks for the review. I liked drivepool the best when they all first came out. Good to see it is still there.

 

Sent from my Lumia 928 using Tapatalk

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Joe_Miner

I ran a few more tests on PoolHD and DrivePool in regards to trying to corrupt data, drives, etc. Both had some minor glitches, but nothing that they didn't recover from within a few clicks. It just required dropping the "bad" drive and either adding it back in the pool to get reinitialized (in the real world, that would be just plopping in a new drive). No crashes or other hiccups of any kind. I definitely think that on a standard desktop, PoolHD would win just for simplicity. For my server, I'd rather use DrivePool because there are a few areas where it's just a little more polished, but more importantly, it has more advanced options, without being "too advanced." Additionally, DrivePool is the only one that "self heals" when duplicate files are removed and will re-duplicate them right away. PoolHD requires the user know about this and click the Repair button - not something I'd do, monitor or know about on a server.

 

So hopefully those who have gone with me on this "amazing" journey of reading through all the crap that I wrote understand the reasons for my conclusion:

 

DriveBender: NO!

PoolHD: great for a desktop as a better alternative to mirroring (not using an entire drive and just keeping certain content duplicated on multiple drives for additional protection)

DrivePool: the best of the three and actually works very well - looks like that will be my choice for my server (though it would work just as well on a desktop). Just wish it had CRC! More notification options would be gravy :)

 

 

Thanks Boris.  Have you looked at Scanner in combination with DrivePool?

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revengineer

DriveBender: NO!

PoolHD: great for a desktop as a better alternative to mirroring (not using an entire drive and just keeping certain content duplicated on multiple drives for additional protection)

DrivePool: the best of the three and actually works very well - looks like that will be my choice for my server (though it would work just as well on a desktop). Just wish it had CRC! More notification options would be gravy :)

 

Not sure I buy all this as an unbiased review, but I appreciate you putting the time into testing, which I certainly do not have. Neither do I have the time for a detailed response to your claims even though some points about Drivebender are certainly incorrect. Let me just say that, as a heavy Drivebender user for the past 12 months and owner of licenses for all three products, not only am I pretty happy with Drivebender, but I also have yet to find evidence of any of my pools loosing data. It is interesting that PoolHD appears to be much more robust than Drivebender, even though the underlying engine is a custom build of Drivebender. I find it hard to believe that they would create a more stable product for a 3rd party than they would sell themselves at the time (PoolHD has since been acquired by Division-M). In any case, no need to drive people away from Drivebender, it's a fine product just as I am sure the other ones are.

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Boris

Thanks Boris.  Have you looked at Scanner in combination with DrivePool?

 

I have not, I was just testing the robustness of the duplication packages themselves. Will check it out, though. Thank you.

 

Currently playing around with DrivePool, PoolHD and drive encryption to see how well everything works together. DrivePool doesn't seem to be aware of drive encryption and unless a drive is auto-mounted, has some gnarly failures upon start-up. Not a big deal, just things I need to be aware of prior to "production implementation."

 

 

Not sure I buy all this as an unbiased review, but I appreciate you putting the time into testing, which I certainly do not have. Neither do I have the time for a detailed response to your claims even though some points about Drivebender are certainly incorrect. Let me just say that, as a heavy Drivebender user for the past 12 months and owner of licenses for all three products, not only am I pretty happy with Drivebender, but I also have yet to find evidence of any of my pools loosing data. It is interesting that PoolHD appears to be much more robust than Drivebender, even though the underlying engine is a custom build of Drivebender. I find it hard to believe that they would create a more stable product for a 3rd party than they would sell themselves at the time (PoolHD has since been acquired by Division-M). In any case, no need to drive people away from Drivebender, it's a fine product just as I am sure the other ones are.

 

Well, it's not an official review per se, but it is most certainly unbiased. I have no association with any of these products or vendors. Now, it is possible I don't understand how the software works and have expectations that it can't meet, so this review was by me, for me and my expectations :).

 

I'm more than willing to provide the steps to you if you'd like to recreate the issues I've mentioned. I should also make it clear that I wasn't testing "happy day" scenarios. I was testing scenarios where a drive gets wiped, where it fails to mount (dead), where it dies while the pool is active (dead), where data gets corrupted on one of the source disks and so on. So DriveBender may work very well for you - but how will it behave when one of the scenarios I tested happens? Unlike the other two, which notified me immediately when a drive was taken offline, DriveBender didn't seem to know, so I don't even believe it has event listeners - the data is just poof, gone.

 

My testing was done on a Windows 8 Enterprise VM with 3 iSCIS and 3 IDE virtual drives @ 50gb each. The OS drive is 80gb and wasn't part of any pool.

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Drashna Jaelre

I'm glad to hear that you like StableBit DrivePool. Though I *am* biased. Though I loved the product beforehand. :)

 

 

As for the corruption/integrity issues you mentioned, StableBit DrivePool and StableBit Scanner do work fairly close together. Though, still no "CRC" checking as of such. But it's requested feature and may be added in the future.

 

However, DrivePool does have a setting to "verify on copy" (or move), so that when it's duplicating or balancing, it will check the files at that time. To make sure they copy correctly.

 

And as for the drive letter, you can do whatever you want to it. Even remove the drive letter, and DrivePool won't have an issue. Though you may want to check this out:

http://wiki.covecube.com/StableBit_DrivePool_Q4822624

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Boris

I'm glad to hear that you like StableBit DrivePool. Though I *am* biased. Though I loved the product beforehand. :)

 

 

As for the corruption/integrity issues you mentioned, StableBit DrivePool and StableBit Scanner do work fairly close together. Though, still no "CRC" checking as of such. But it's requested feature and may be added in the future.

 

However, DrivePool does have a setting to "verify on copy" (or move), so that when it's duplicating or balancing, it will check the files at that time. To make sure they copy correctly.

 

And as for the drive letter, you can do whatever you want to it. Even remove the drive letter, and DrivePool won't have an issue. Though you may want to check this out:

http://wiki.covecube.com/StableBit_DrivePool_Q4822624

 

Christopher,

 

Thanks for the info, I'll check out verify on copy, but that's still not going to help someone when it comes to data corruption. When storing data we have two problems we're fighting: data loss and data corruption. Data loss can be handled via duplication - either manually or using software such as DrivePool, data corruption is handled via CRC checking (md5 or sha1) and in case a problem is detected, the bad copy can be overwritten by the good copy. I've still yet to use Scanner, but it seems that would be a good feature to include. It's something that we get with the server version of Storage Spaces via ReFS, but not something available in the consumer market/Storage Spaces. It's easy to implement and would give StablBit a competitive advantage even against Microsoft.

 

I did discover what you've stated about drive letters and implemented that during testing. It worked fine...

 

By the way, during my testing, I did find what I would consider to be bugs with all software, including DrivePool. Here are a few off the top of my head that you guys may want to look into:

1. When removing a drive from the pool, DrivePool doesn't ask the user whether this is something they really want to do IF they need that drive to achieve replication to N-number of disks.

     For example, let's say you have 3 hard drives and most of your data is just duplicated. However, you've set one of the folders to replicate 3x. Well, if you remove one of the drives in the utility, DrivePool just goes into a Warning state, but it didn't even ask if this is something I wanted to do. It should pop up a message saying that "Xyz folder will not be able to replicate to 3 drives, are you sure you want to continue?" Etc.

2. When removing drives from the pool, every drive is "wiped" of data (DrivePool.GUID folder is deleted). During this phase I didn't see that it was checking that the data matched on all drives prior to removing one of them. What if the data we have left is incorrect? Again, this relates to CRC checking and may be handled as part of "Verify on Copy" that you've mentioned - though I have't tested that

3. Last but not least, along the same lines, when removing the LAST drive from the pool, there's no confirmation to check if you really don't want to keep your data. From memory, I believe the DrivePool.GUID folder is NOT deleted from the last drive and is just unhidden - I don't remember - but for things as potentially disastrous such as removing a drive from a pool, for whatever reason, verification should be made at a minimum

 

The above aren't terrible, they're more just suggestions so that people can't accidentally get in trouble... but I'm sure I ran into bigger issues that are escaping me right now.

 

As I type  this, I'm installing Windows 7 Ultimate on my new toy: ThinkServer TS140 (Xeon) which will be my new Windows Media Center server and the N40L MicroServer will be relegated to NAS duty. I just trust Storage Spaces w/ReFS way more with my data at this point.

 

By the way, I watched the latest HomeServerShow (Feb 11th, I think?) and it seemed people were poo-pooing Storage Spaces, but it's the only one that's passed all my tests with flying colors and has automatic recovery, thin provisioning with multiple levels of protection and so on. The only thing it doesn't have is the ability to put the drives in "any" machine and read them, since it doesn't store data on an NTFS partition. Of course, those not running Windows Server 2012 don't have access to these features, so DrivePool to the rescue ;).

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Pisces

im curious as it doesnt seem the drive bender or poolhd products are supported anymore there havent been updates in forever. V2 drivebender looked promising but never materialised so i may be going with drivepool myself as it still looks as tho its supported

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