In my last post, I rebuilt my HP MediaSmart EX470 Server with Windows Home Server (WHS) 2011. The whole process proved to be a little more complex than I had thought given that many people had already achieved and documented the same thing.
The next step in the process was to figure out my storage approach given that WHS 2011 does not come with the Drive Extender technology. On doing a little research there seemed to be a couple of major options:
There are bound to be others, but I decided to go with Drive Bender because DrivePool is on beta currently, though I would recommend watching that space. I learned a couple of things during the installation…
1: You can never have too many backups… I had made two full backups of my data and discovered that two had problems. It turns out that I had a damaged drive, leaving me with a single backup remaining. Unfortunately I only discovered this after using the drive convert function (see below).
2: Never assume anything… In this case, I had a heart stopping moment after I had created the drive pool. All seemed well and I then decided to convert the existing drive and bring the data in to the drive pool. One thing I should have taken in to account is that the Drive Bender guys state that their system is non-destructive. I can concur that the data did still exist and the resolution turned out to be straight forward. I used the Server Manager… Storage tool to assign a drive letter to the volume and was then able to access the data. I found the best solution was to re-create the drive pool with empty drives and then copy the data back in. This worked well.
3: Drive Bender added CPU and memory load to the server. The HP MediaSmart machines by default come with a 1.8Ghz Sempron 3400+processor. Even with upgraded memory (2Gb) on board, I found when copying a larger numbers of files, there was significant load on the machine. This did settle down, but is something to consider if you are going to ask the server to run a number of task on an ongoing basis. I solved this one by upgrading to the 2.6GHz AMD LE-1640 Orleans processor. Don’t ask me why I had one of these sitting around, but you can still find them on online. I have also seen articles about upgrading to a dual core CPU.
The long and short of all this is that I still remain unconvinced that adding something like Drive Bender is the right way to go, but I plan to try the machine for a while and see if how it copes with the extra load. To me having a reliable system is more important than nice to have’s like a a pooled drive.
I have a few more things I will try out on the server, such as the Windows phone 7 application and connector add-in, MyMovies for WHS 2011 and setting up a secure remote web access solution, so watch this space.