WHS 2011 over Server Essentials 2012

dalekphalm

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 30, 2012
Messages
195
Hey everyone

So I recently got a new gaming desktop, and decided to retire my old WHS v1 media server. My Old gaming machine (Socket 775 Xeon 3050) has since replaced the WHS v1 machine and is currently running Windows Server Essentials 2012.

I had been planning this for quite some time because of the supposed ease of using Storage Spaces as a Drive Extender equivalent, but I keep encountering issue after issue.

Storage Spaces isn't properly trimming itself when I delete large files, I keep encountering authentication issues, and it's just overall too much hassle so far.

I've been thinking of migrating to WHS 2011 instead (I have TechNet, so I can try any Windows OS), but I require Storage Spaces like functionality. Specifically, I require the ability to pool lots of randomly sized drives together (I have 2x 3TB, 1x 2TB, 1x 1TB, and 3x 500GB currently) to form one large volume on which to store my network shares.

I would also like to have some form of redundancy (Any important files, such as documents, are backed up to an external HDD), but don't wish to do 1-way mirroring because A) I don't have equal amounts of all sizes, and B) I wish to maximize storage capacity.

Eventually I will be doing hardware raid 5 or 6 with a bunch of 2TB drives, as I have an LSI 8888ELP, but until then, it must be some sort of software solution.

I know there are third party solutions, like the one from StableBit, but need recommendations.

The most important factor for me is stability. I want the drive pooling solution to just work with little fuss.

The next most important factor is flexibility, as all my hard drives are mismatched and of different sizes. After that comes maximizing pool capacity, and ease of use comes in last.

What can you guys recommend based on your personal experiences? I don't want to use a Linux based solution such as Amahi/Greyhole, as this is just too time consuming for setup/maintenance. I'm not a linux expert, and if something goes wrong, it'll take too much effort to deal with it.
 

Khadgar

Weaksauce
Joined
Feb 18, 2006
Messages
90
Look into FlexRaid. I've heard good things about it (at least the snapshot function, realtime not as much).
 

dar124

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jan 21, 2012
Messages
1,549
I've been using WHS 2011 with StableBit DrivePool (Lights Out and Advanced Admin Console) for a little over a year and have been very happy with the setup. My server currently has two 2TB drives, a 250GB drive and a 160GB drive for the OS.

Here's a link to a wiki which gives some decent info on StableBit. StableBit wiki
 

dalekphalm

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 30, 2012
Messages
195
I've been using WHS 2011 with StableBit DrivePool (Lights Out and Advanced Admin Console) for a little over a year and have been very happy with the setup. My server currently has two 2TB drives, a 250GB drive and a 160GB drive for the OS.

Here's a link to a wiki which gives some decent info on StableBit. StableBit wiki

I have seen this (And even looked at it and Drive Bender back when WHS 2011 was in Beta - but Drive Bender - the one I tested out - was extremely buggy for me) and it DOES have a lot of features I like.

However, in terms of redundancy, is it file/folder duplication only? I like the idea of parity better, since then I can have parity on my 2.5TB of HD media without sacrificing too much HDD space, but if it's duplication, I would likely disable it on the HD Media folders (At least until I have more HDD's free).
 

dalekphalm

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 30, 2012
Messages
195
Look into FlexRaid. I've heard good things about it (at least the snapshot function, realtime not as much).

Have you used FlexRAID at all? I've been looking at that since you mentioned it, and it does seem pretty good. I looked on their site to "buy" a license, and it has 3 options:

$30 for Protection mode which includes RAID-F (is this the Realtime parity?) but no storage pooling.

$30 for Pooling mode, which includes storage pooling but no RAID-F. Does this still include the Snapshot parity?

$50 for Protection + Pooling - includes both pooling and RAID-F. So basically the "Full" version.

... Upon a bit further research, it looks like The "Pooling" license has no(0/zero/ziltch) redundancy at all (snapshot or realtime). So I would really want to get the full version.

Gotta say, FlexRAID looks good, but DAMN their website makes it unclear between the differences and what is/is not included. I have to spend a while on Google to find out what RAID-F is and what is actually included in the different bundles.

So right now I'm leaning towards FlexRAID, with DrivePool as a close 2nd.

FlexRAID:
-Parity/RAID
-Still flexible in drive sizes

DrivePool:
-WHS 2011 plugin included
-Cheaper ($20 vs $50)
-Seems easier to use
 

Cool1Net6

Limp Gawd
Joined
Dec 21, 2008
Messages
299
I recently took some time to check out all of these solutions as I wanted to follow a similar upgrade path like you. Here is what I know:

StableBit DrivePool is very nice. Its much simpler and easier to use than Drive Bender, is cheaper, and provides the same features and data protection as Drive Bender without all of the clutter. It also handles your files better; the amount of accompanying files needed for Drive Bender was ridiculous. DrivePool just makes a simple "PoolPart.{GUID}" folder on each drive that contains just your files, and you can easily yank them out without loss of data.

I never really liked FlexRAID, even when I discovered it years ago. I also heard not so great things about the pooling functions, so I decided to look for alternatives. SnapRAID is what I use now. It works the same as FlexRAID Protection (w/o realtime) and is cross platform and has a better checksum. Its command-line only, but the software looks bullet proof.

If you wanted, you could mix these products to produce the best of both worlds (pooling + parity redundancy). In my tests, both the pooling solutions (Drive Bender, DrivePool) and the snapshot RAID solutions (FlexRAID, SnapRAID, disParity) play nicely together, however, recovery is not as straightforward as using a single app. All of these options allow single-drive file access times and multiple drive sizes with varying levels of redundancy.

A comparison chart for various file storage solutions.

Hope this helps!
 

kirbyrj

Fully [H]
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
29,063
I've used DrivePool for a while now and haven't had any issues with WHS 2011. Set it and forget it basically.
 

Adidas4275

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Mar 11, 2006
Messages
5,986
when is WHS 2011 EOL?


Just looked, it is 2016, but that just means no new security updates.. not sure about domain forwarding
 
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Quartz-1

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
May 20, 2011
Messages
4,257
Something else to consider: WSE 2012 can back up UEFI/GPT systems; they've only just released the patch for WHS to do this. I'm waiting a couple of months before reverting.
 
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