iSCSI, Windows Home Server 2011, and Live/Recorded TV - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-09-2012, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Over the weekend I was investigating iSCSI as a potential way to get reliable client backup now that WHS is dead in the water. I loaded Windows Server 2012 Data Center into a VM under VMware 2012 Tech Preview, as my thought was that it was not possible to test iSCSI under WHS 2011. Well... I did end up getting Server 2012 to work and managed to wire up a client to it using iSCSI. My thought is that Windows image based backup to an iSCSI drive served by Server 2012 might be the ticket (could even use the new data de-duplication to conserve on space).

In the end, I also ended up getting the free Microsoft iSCSI target installed and running on my WHS 2011 box. It involved a little editing of the .MSI with Orca. Not really supported as Microsoft obviously doesn't want you doing this, but it did work. And the performance on my gigE network seemed pretty good.

I'm still not sure that is a good solution for backup, as it is quite a pain to setup a client, and some of the automatic management of historical backups goes away (ability to keep particular backups, automatic keeping of N daily, weekly, monthly backups, automatic scheduling overnight, etc.)

OK... so that is on the back burner, and for grins I decided to try setting the TV Recorder storage in Win7 Media Center to an iSCSI target on my WHS 2011 server. To my surprise it worked! It seems this might be an answer for those wishing to create a Media Center box in small cases where there isn't room for both an SSD and a hard drive. Or for those wishing to create a more silent machine with only an SSD for Windows and recording always to the iSCSI target...

My question is has anyone tried this long term? If so, what were your impressions? Does it really work as well as it seemed?
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-10-2012, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanM View Post

My question is has anyone tried this long term? If so, what were your impressions? Does it really work as well as it seemed?

As I mention in more detail in the reply to your post at Missingremote.com, I have been using an iSCSI drive to record TV (from a network available Ceton PCIe tuner) on my small, SSD-only MCE clients. I've used this setup with no issues for the past 6+ months.
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-10-2012, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tcs2tx View Post

As I mention in more detail in the reply to your post at Missingremote.com, I have been using an iSCSI drive to record TV (from a network available Ceton PCIe tuner) on my small, SSD-only MCE clients. I've used this setup with no issues for the past 6+ months.
Thanks... I saw your post there, I guess there is some "user overlap" between these sites...

I have switched my main HTPC to using an iSCSI Target on my WHS 2011 server and it is currently working like a charm. I'll know more when I go to watch the shows that are now recorded there.

I'm thinking about building an HTPC for our bedroom, and it would be nice to not have to buy a HDD for it. Just SSD for system drive and iSCSI for TV recording drive. It just might work.
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-11-2012, 05:22 AM
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One of my MCE clients that uses this setup is in the bedroom. I love the setup because I am able to use this very small case (http://www.mini-box.com/M350-universal-mini-itx-enclosure) and hide it behind the TV. The only thing visible is the standard USB-based IR receiver sitting on top of the TV .
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-11-2012, 07:00 AM - Thread Starter
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I had a chance to watch some TV with it last night. First of all Live TV worked fine. I didn't notice any glitches or stutters. And watching recorded TV was flawless as well. 30 sec skip is slightly slower than local media (barely perceptible). And trick play (FF, RW, etc) does tend to use a lot of bandwidth on the network. I saw spikes up to abut 148mbit/sec during a full speed FF. So you wouldn't want too many clients doing FF at the same time.

Ideally, you would have two networks, one for the SAN separate from the LAN. But that would involve running double the cat6 and for each client/server to have two NICs. I think for home use, this will work fine on a shared network. We usually have only one TV going at a time... sometimes (rarely) two, so I think a dual purpose gigE LAN can handle it.

Thanks for the link on the case. I'm going to need something like that.

Amazing...
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-16-2012, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by DeanM View Post

In the end, I also ended up getting the free Microsoft iSCSI target installed and running on my WHS 2011 box. It involved a little editing of the .MSI with Orca. Not really supported as Microsoft obviously doesn't want you doing this, but it did work.

Can you detail what you edited in the .msi to get it to install on WHS 2011? I downloaded and installed Orca and opened the installation file for editing, but this is new to me and I don't know what to change. the msi is iscsitarget_public.msi, which I believe is the installation file for Microsoft iSCSI Software Target. The other file, iscsitargetClient_public.msi is for client PC's to connect to the iSCSI target I'm trying to install on WHS 2011, right?
I appreciate any help on this. If I couldn't get this to work I was going to install over WHS 2011 with Windows Server 2008 R2 which should have iSCSI Target support built in, but I was hoping not to have to do this.

My ultimate goal is to set up iSCSI targets on my home server and connect to them with my PC, each which has a 4-port NIC (gigabit) plugged into a Netgear GS724T switch. I want to set it up to get the most throughput; trying to do it through LACP (802.3ad) didn't work as I hoped, I could only saturate GBe speed with a max transfer rate of 125MBytes/sec though I had 4GB connections between the 2 PC's. All the hardware is already in place, I just need to set up the software part correctly!
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post #7 of 16 Old 07-16-2012, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bengrimm View Post

Can you detail what you edited in the .msi to get it to install on WHS 2011? I downloaded and installed Orca and opened the installation file for editing, but this is new to me and I don't know what to change. the msi is iscsitarget_public.msi, which I believe is the installation file for Microsoft iSCSI Software Target. The other file, iscsitargetClient_public.msi is for client PC's to connect to the iSCSI target I'm trying to install on WHS 2011, right?
I appreciate any help on this. If I couldn't get this to work I was going to install over WHS 2011 with Windows Server 2008 R2 which should have iSCSI Target support built in, but I was hoping not to have to do this.
My ultimate goal is to set up iSCSI targets on my home server and connect to them with my PC, each which has a 4-port NIC (gigabit) plugged into a Netgear GS724T switch. I want to set it up to get the most throughput; trying to do it through LACP (802.3ad) didn't work as I hoped, I could only saturate GBe speed with a max transfer rate of 125MBytes/sec though I had 4GB connections between the 2 PC's. All the hardware is already in place, I just need to set up the software part correctly!
I loaded the iscsitarget_public.msi into Orca, then went to the LaunchCondition table. You will see 5 rows in that table. The last one, IsSupportedSKU = "1", is the row you remove (just hit Del and confirm). Then use "Save As..." to save as a new .MSI.

I'm not sure what the other iscsitargetClient_public.msi is for. The description on Microsoft's site was somewhat obtuse. I didn't seem to need it.

The iSCSI initiator is built in to Win7 client, so after you create an iSCSI target on the server, you can connected with it using the built-in initiator in Win7. At one point in creating the target there is a bit of a confusing part -- where you add identifier(s) for client(s) that may access the target. First of all, it doesn't make sense to allow the target to be connected to more than one client (I believe you'd have file system corruption), nor does not make sense to have more than one target accessing the save VHD (same corruption issue), but it seems to allow both. I just did the simple thing and created 1-each target/VHD combo for each client. So, that out of the way, you do have to identify the client that will be accessing the target and for that you need the IQN name from the client when you setup the target. You can get this from the Configuration tab of the iSCSI initiator on the Win7 client. Add that name to the target and your client should be able to see it. The whole process of creating a target and connecting it to a VHD within the iSCSI target software is otherwise pretty straight forward.
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-16-2012, 11:56 AM
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NM, i found the LauchCondition section and deleted a couple of rows from there, saved it and I was able to install! Got stuck for a sec but found out I had to close Orca before double-clicking on the .msi
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-16-2012, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DeanM View Post

I loaded the iscsitarget_public.msi into Orca, then went to the LaunchCondition table. You will see 5 rows in that table. The last one, IsSupportedSKU = "1", is the row you remove (just hit Del and confirm). Then use "Save As..." to save as a new .MSI.
I'm not sure what the other iscsitargetClient_public.msi is for. The description on Microsoft's site was somewhat obtuse. I didn't seem to need it.
The iSCSI initiator is built in to Win7 client, so after you create an iSCSI target on the server, you can connected with it using the built-in initiator in Win7. At one point in creating the target there is a bit of a confusing part -- where you add identifier(s) for client(s) that may access the target. First of all, it doesn't make sense to allow the target to be connected to more than one client (I believe you'd have file system corruption), nor does not make sense to have more than one target accessing the save VHD (same corruption issue), but it seems to allow both. I just did the simple thing and created 1-each target/VHD combo for each client. So, that out of the way, you do have to identify the client that will be accessing the target and for that you need the IQN name from the client when you setup the target. You can get this from the Configuration tab of the iSCSI initiator on the Win7 client. Add that name to the target and your client should be able to see it. The whole process of creating a target and connecting it to a VHD within the iSCSI target software is otherwise pretty strait forward.

Thanks for your reply!

I'm trying to figure out the MPIO thing now, so I can get the most use of 4 gigabit ports on my server. Wondering if I have to create 4 iSCSI targets and 4 initiators...off to Google
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-16-2012, 12:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bengrimm View Post

Thanks for your reply!
I'm trying to figure out the MPIO thing now, so I can get the most use of 4 gigabit ports on my server. Wondering if I have to create 4 iSCSI targets and 4 initiators...off to Google
You will need a target per client for sure.
The initiator is just software used on the client to create a connection to the target(s).

My thought on your server using its 4 gigE ports. I would think you would just "team" them. Not sure if WHS supports teaming though... But then again, I probably don't completely understand what you're trying to do... my server only has on gigE port as it is using a desktop Intel board (DH67BL).

Good luck.
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post #11 of 16 Old 07-16-2012, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by DeanM View Post

You will need a target per client for sure.
The initiator is just software used on the client to create a connection to the target(s).
My thought on your server using its 4 gigE ports. I would think you would just "team" them. Not sure if WHS supports teaming though... But then again, I probably don't completely understand what you're trying to do... my server only has on gigE port as it is using a desktop Intel board (DH67BL).
Good luck.

I tried teaming them, but instead of quadrupling my throughput as I fantasized, it just maximized my throughput equalizing 1 gigabit connection (125MBytes/sec), which was better than I was getting since it's at the theoretical limit of Gbit speeds, but not the 3x or 4x speed that I had hoped.
I enabled teaming on my switch and created teams on both server side and client PC side, but 125MB/s was the best I could get transferring files b/t the two.
I read another forum post where the guy has the same setup as me with 4-port NICs on both sides and he got 3.2Gbit/s using the iSCSI with MPIO (Multi-Path I/O) method that I'm trying to set up.

About the iSCSI target(s): I have 2 VHD's set up right now (a Witness Disk and a Shared Storage Disk). When I create the 4 diff iSCSI targets do I set them up to all use the same 2 VHD's or do I create 2 VHD's for each iSCSI that I create?
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post #12 of 16 Old 07-16-2012, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bengrimm View Post

I tried teaming them, but instead of quadrupling my throughput as I fantasized, it just maximized my throughput equalizing 1 gigabit connection (125MBytes/sec), which was better than I was getting since it's at the theoretical limit of Gbit speeds, but not the 3x or 4x speed that I had hoped.
I enabled teaming on my switch and created teams on both server side and client PC side, but 125MB/s was the best I could get transferring files b/t the two.
I read another forum post where the guy has the same setup as me with 4-port NICs on both sides and he got 3.2Gbit/s using the iSCSI with MPIO (Multi-Path I/O) method that I'm trying to set up.
Sounds interesting. I'm sure people here will be interested in hearing about what you come up with.
Quote:
About the iSCSI target(s): I have 2 VHD's set up right now (a Witness Disk and a Shared Storage Disk). When I create the 4 diff iSCSI targets do I set them up to all use the same 2 VHD's or do I create 2 VHD's for each iSCSI that I create?
If you intend for each of your clients to have 2 iSCSI-based drives, then you'll need to create two targets, with a private VHDs for each target. Think of the target and it's associated VHD as the SATA connector and physical HDD, respectively, connected to the client. I would think things would go horribly wrong if there were multiple clients accessing the same target, or multiple targets tied to the same VHD. The file system on the VHDs would (I think very quickly) become corrupt.
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post #13 of 16 Old 07-31-2012, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Just an update on this. There might be some issues with the iSCSI target software from MS combined with Intel 82579V NIC (on-board NIC on DH67BL). I don't know... maybe it is just exposing bugs in the Intel driver. I've had my server twice now flooded with interrupts, in one case making contact with the server almost impossible. The interrupt/DPC activity uses about 10-12% of CPU on my i3-2100T on the server. I had one HTPC recording fail because of this (Olympic Opening Ceremony). Fortunately, I was able to record a later broadcast, so no big deal.

At this point, I've updated to the latest Intel NIC drivers and will test it some more.

I have only seen this interrupt flood one other time (a long time ago before I was using iSCSI) so perhaps it is just an Intel driver bug that happens intermittently...

Makes me wonder if installing a server grade NIC might help.
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post #14 of 16 Old 08-09-2012, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by DeanM View Post

Just an update on this. There might be some issues with the iSCSI target software from MS combined with Intel 82579V NIC (on-board NIC on DH67BL). I don't know... maybe it is just exposing bugs in the Intel driver. I've had my server twice now flooded with interrupts, in one case making contact with the server almost impossible. The interrupt/DPC activity uses about 10-12% of CPU on my i3-2100T on the server. I had one HTPC recording fail because of this (Olympic Opening Ceremony). Fortunately, I was able to record a later broadcast, so no big deal.
At this point, I've updated to the latest Intel NIC drivers and will test it some more.
I have only seen this interrupt flood one other time (a long time ago before I was using iSCSI) so perhaps it is just an Intel driver bug that happens intermittently...
Makes me wonder if installing a server grade NIC might help.

Thanks for the update. I have a 4-port I340-T4 Intel server NIC and I haven't seen this issue. I've always gone to station-drivers.com and gotten the latest WQHL drivers from there for Intel NICs. Right now I'm running Intel Network Connections software 17.1.55.0 that I DLed from there, no problems, although Windows update has told me that there are newer drivers for my NICs I set it to hide/ignore (I'm not sure if I trust Windows Update for drivers, esp NIC, video card, sound card, etc.)

As for my own setup, digging through dozens of web pages I discovered that Windows 7 does NOT support MPIO, so I was obviously not successful in setting it up. Unless there is some kind of work around (all of the checkboxes relating to MPIO are greyed out), I will stick with my current setup. I settled on a 4-port LAG (team with LACP) on my server side and a similar 4-port team on my PC. Both go through a Netgear GS724Tv3 24-port smart switch. I set up my iSCSI target and initiator on that network connection b/t the PCs, and I have a D-Link DAP-1522 bridge supplying internet to the switch, which then allows all (both) PCs to connect to the 'net. The bridge may be my bottleneck right now as some clients can stutter while streaming high bandwidth HD video. I'm planning to upgrade that bridge to an N300 capable one, hopefully I can get everything streaming smoothly with multiple clients. I tried streaming multiple HD streams simultaneously on my desktop PC, smartphone, iPad, Nexus 7, and also copied large mkv's over the network; I still got a bit of buffering and I think the ethernet bridge gets maxed out or can't handle the load, cuz everything outside the switch seems to be affected.
I got the inspiration for the testing from this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycbq_gTqT5M
where he has multiple file transfers going at 110MB/s or is streaming multiple videos simultaneously, but I think all his test PC's are running through the same switch, i.e. wired.
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post #15 of 16 Old 08-09-2012, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I think my issue is just a quirk. Like I said, I've seen it one other time when not doing iSCSI (almost a year ago)... Haven't seen it again since upgrading drivers (not that that means anything). My equipment is not nearly as industrial as yours... just a D-link DGS-2208 switch and a Cisco e4200 router. I'm not doing anything with wireless though -- everything wired with cat6 (except for internet access for laptops). Wireless is great for web browsing, but pretty much sucks for anything else.
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post #16 of 16 Old 08-19-2013, 05:54 PM
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Anyone have the MSI file altered so it will run on WHS 2011? Trying to set this up.
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