You can read the contents of an UnRAID drive on Windows. It's been stated several times in this thread already.
But I don't want to install a special program to read or transfer a different HDD file system. I just want it to work. Anything is possible with PC's. But I am not interested in the extra effort required. I am fully capable but simply choose to spend my efforts in other areas. I rebuilt a flexraid server and it was easy... I did not have any of the issue OP is facing. That's my point. Flexraid offer this serious benefit over Unraid.
When I rebuild my 20TB Flexraid server I was able to keep all 20TB of my data, and set up a new server with a new mobo, cpu, Ram, additional hard drives, new IBM sata card etc... etc.... I just installed my old drives. Some stuff I copied to organize. But in general it was pain free. I'd imagine moving from end of life unraid server to a new server would not be so easy. That is the benefit.
Why would UnRAID be any different?
Because like I just stated above- I can't just add a full drive to a new server. I can't naively read the contents from my unraid machine in another machine. What if your unraid server crapped out ? You'd have to install something to read the file system and then copy or transfer the media from the drives right ??? Sounds like PITA. Same story if you just want to upgrade your unraid server right ?? again... PITA. I might be different but I upgrade my stuff all the time, I value high performance- and my own personal time. I don't expect to keep something like a unraid server for years and years and years. Knowing the upgrade process or rebuild process is easier with Flexraid is an advantage to someone like me. It's not a problem until it is a problem- Like the OP is facing.
Exactly. People rarely read their server drive on their desktop, but they like having that option. UnRAID gives you that option.
It's not like I grab a drive out of my server all the time and install it on my desktop. It's more that I have that option, and some flexibility if something was to go wrong (like my server died).
It's not that you would do it all the time. It's that you can easily when you need to do it. When the day comes (LIKE THE OP NOW) you will appreciate the simplicity. Not sure why your trying so hard to dismiss a very obvious benefit.
I too can rip directly to my server. But sometimes I work with stuff locally. It''s nice being able to add either full or empty drives to my storage pool. That is a real benefit of flexraid that should not be overlooked also.
It's not that it's being overlooked, just that it's irrelevant for >99% of media server users. The only advantage to working with drives locally is faster transfer speed. Since HDDs top out <150MBps and Gigabit Ethernet is ~100MBps, the only practical advantage would be with *huge* file transfers (terabytes). The largest file transfers to an established media server are Blu Ray rips. Since ripping is limited by optical drive speed rather than network speed, ripping to a local drive provides no benefit.
Why do you work with stuff locally? I don't understand.
It's not that you work with stuff locally versus over LAN. It's that Flexraid is able to add or remove any drive from the pool at any time both empty and full. I can add a full drive. I can add an empty drive. I can remove a full drive. I can replace a drive.
This is nice. I recently replaced all my WD green drives in my server, while keeping the 7200.14's. It was so easy.... I sold the 2TB WD Greens on ebay for the same cost per TB as I was buying up better Seagate 3TB drives- replacing a nearly expired warranty product with a brand new superior product with full 2.5 years more warranty for no cost. Stuff like this is impossible with Unraid.
Unraid might make sense for someone who is going to build the unraid box, use it for 5+ years without touching a thing, provided none of the drives or hardware dies. As soon as you start messing around, changing, upgrading... or parts fail you'll quickly see the benefit in a Flexraid server over an Unraid server.
Not to mention that the benefit is you can run a full OS like WHS that does much more than simple server duties, including remote access, automated backup, off site access (Yes I can access my server away from home) and run tons of windows based programs and tools. It's got way more potential IMO.
And Lastly- Performance. I can read or copy paste to or from my Flexraid server @ consistent 115MB/sec! You'll never write/read consistently from an Unraid Server. The higher end speed and performance of a great unraid server is often considered a bug, or a performance problem with Flexraid. 40MB/sec on Unraid is normal.. it's a sign of a problem and poor performance with Flexraid.
I hate to make this an unraid versus flexraid debate- but your dismissal of obvious real benefits of Flexraid as being worthless is forcing my hand at debating this. It's great you are happy with unraid, but why are you trying to convince everyone it's as good or better as flexraid, or that Flexraid doesn't have many huge advantages over unraid ???? What real advantages does unraid have over flexraid ??? (Answer = Nothing)