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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First let me say HELLO to everyone.


I am getting ready to start building a WHS server and I have a cople of questions. I have read many posts where people say WHS does not support RAID. WHS prefers / is desined to use Drive Extender. Well, being in IT for about 13 years, I have learned the difference between hardware raid / software storage solutions. Ultimately I believe hardware raid to be more reliable. Now onto the questions.


The goal is to build a WHS server with about 15-16TB of space. Here are the cases I plan to use.

Server Case

Sata Case


Now, the SATA case uses 2 Port Multipliers hosting 10 drives. The server will host 8 drives, 6 of which I want to be a part of the same VOLUME as the 10 drives in the SATA case.


QUESTION 1: With this hardware is it possible to run the 16 drives in a RAID 6 configuration? or am I going to be stuck with JBOD or Software RAID?


QUESTION 2: What RAID card/cards would you recommend that can host all 16 drives?


FYI: I would like to go SAS but I like the case design and dont want to spend another 600-800 on a decent SAS case.
 

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There's no point to using WHS if you're not going to use drive extender. Without drive extender, WHS is just a crippled version of Server 2003. You'll be stuck with all the limitations and not get the one big advantage of WHS. Use Server 2003 if you need server functionality beyond file sharing, or use XP if you don't.


Your two-case design seems unnecessarily complicated. It might be possible to have drives from both cases on the same RAID, but it won't be easy. Why not just get one big case for everything? NORCO makes a 20 bay SATA/SAS case that has got to be cheaper than those two iStar cases together.


I can't give you a personal recommendation on a 16x RAID card, but I can tell you to expect to pay about $800 for SATA and closer to $1000 for SAS. I suggest you read some of the reviews on Newegg .
 

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Thanks candre. I'm in a very similar situation to b. I downloaded the trial version of WHS (twice). I was never able to get it to install properly on a couple of test PCs. Being the IT guy in my company I was able to get my hands on an old Compaq ML330 server, but the company owns the OS. I thought i would try WHS to kick the tires. Unfortunately, the server didn't have enough RAM or disk for WHS (but was running Server 2003 in a production environment for 5 years!)


What I decided to do was buy a copy of Server 2003 and (eventually) an external drive cage and hardware RAID card. I also need to share some printers and a few other things, so I don't think I'll miss WHS.
 

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I run WHS on a Norco 4020 case with 8 1TB in RAID 5 on a Areca 1220 card. I had to cut up the array into 2tb drives because of the WHS limitation. Then let WHS do its drive balencing on those volumes without the need for folder duplication.


If you want to use WHS for the WMC intergration, backup and olther included tools, then go for it. If you are just using it for basic file sharing, go with the Norco case and spend the money you will save on a copy of 2003 server.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, the reason I want WHS is to use some of the functionality for centralizing my movies, music, etc, using the connector for Media Extenders, which you can't do with server 2003.


I am not sure if this is possible in 2008, but I dont want the overhead of all the other crap in the OS.


And I like the idea of centralized backup of the workstations. I dont know why more people aren't using RAID in WHS. The drive extender wiht folder replication seems like alot of wasted drive space.


I think I know 2 ways to do it but one is arbitrary, and the other is expensive.


I have heard the NORCO is boisy, and the asthetics aren't appealing.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by b_weeks /forum/post/16964116


I dont know why more people aren't using RAID in WHS. The drive extender wiht folder replication seems like alot of wasted drive space.

Because most people are using WHS as it was originally intended, which is not what you're doing



The key word in "Windows Home Server" is "Home". It's meant for regular people, and regular people don't buy hard drives by the bakers dozen. Instead, what most regular people want is something that is a bit more functional than a NAS, but not much more complicated. They want to buy a box with one or two drives in it to store their home movies and crap, and maybe stick another drive or two in it down the line if they run out of room.


This is where drive extender has RAID beat by a country mile. RAID is complicated and picky. All the drives have to be identical, and adding to the array is a ***** and a half. WHS is simple. You can add any drive you like at any time and it just works. And lets not forget that a 16-port hardware RAID card alone costs twice as much as a standalone 1TB WHS box . Somebody who wanted a simple home server with a handful of drives probably couldn't imagine why anybody would want the cost, complexity and hassle of hardware RAID.


Don't think of WHS as a full-fleged server OS, because it really isn't. Think of it as an embedded OS for a consumer-grade appliance. But if you really want the built-in backup functionality (which isn't all that great, FYI) and media extender service, and you think you can get it to work with your setup, then I hope it works out for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by b_weeks /forum/post/16964116


I have heard the NORCO is boisy, and the asthetics aren't appealing.

It's a server case, not a lawn sculpture. It's not meant to be quiet or pretty. It's meant to sit in a room with a bunch of other loud, ugly boxes and get the job done. Stick it somewhere out-of-the-way and the noise and appearance won't be an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
OK, forget WHS. Can any one tell me what RAID card to use?


Server with 8 internal Sata 1 TB drives + external storage 10 1 TB drives, external storage case has 2 Port Multipliers.


So I need a Hardware Based Raid card that will support atleast 8 internal drives (Sata II or 2 internal Mini SAS with breakout cables) and 2 external Sata II ports that support Port Multipliers or FIS based switching.


All drives to be 1 VOLUME...
 

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I'm running WHS with 6.0 TB total storage and it works great. If you want 1 large volume I think WHS is the ticket. Not sure what other poster meant by 2 tb limit as I have not had any problems with that.


I think the main advantage to raid is for redundency you only need 1 extra disk. WHS duplication need double the storage space to duplicate everything. Raid also needs a pricy raid card and if the array fails for some odd reason you lose everything. If WHS fail you can alway take each disk out and pull data on another machine. Each disk can be read seperatly. Also you can add disks as needed and they can be any size.


I think both have advantages but for me WHS is the easiest.
 

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I am also running a 6Tb RAID array on WHS with no problems. The RAID is not in the drive pool but shows up as one large drive. I have one drive in the RAID as a hot-swap drive. I have shared folders in the RAID that are available in the shared folders on client Pc's. I'm using a 3ware 9550.
 

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So your not using drive pooling at all? Im running WHS and have been thinking of going to raid before I add any more storage.



I like the drive pooling feature BUT want to dump the replication feature due to the wasted space.


Will I need to have all the same size/brand drives?

Can I still use drive pooling? I like the ability to add drives on the fly and have the single storage view.


What do you recommend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dabish /forum/post/16981808


I am also running a 6Tb RAID array on WHS with no problems. The RAID is not in the drive pool but shows up as one large drive. I have one drive in the RAID as a hot-swap drive. I have shared folders in the RAID that are available in the shared folders on client Pc's. I'm using a 3ware 9550.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babbitt 1080P /forum/post/16981683


I'm running WHS with 6.0 TB total storage and it works great. If you want 1 large volume I think WHS is the ticket. Not sure what other poster meant by 2 tb limit as I have not had any problems with that.

The console showed the correct amount, but also showed it at 80% full. When going to the actual folders the drives were only 40% full.


I had two raid5 arrays, 5 500GB drives and 5 1TB drives, both had the same issue. Each was on a different make and model of raid cards.


Rebuilt the array, just maxed out one of my raid cards with 8 1TB drives created raid5 array and divided it up into 2TB chunks(1.8TB after format.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
No, I am not going to be using drive pooling. I only want to use certain functionality within WHS, that rie in and provide central storage for Media Center.


Other than that, there is no data that needs replicated on this server. I am wanting to use raid for shear VOLUME (1 massive volume) and redundancy / hot swapability / expansion capability. Also I like the options WHS offers. The ability to access my files through the internet. The ability to remote contorl any system in my house connected to my WHS server from any where. PC Backups/Restores. And all the benefits it brings to having an HTPC connected to it (future media extenders)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by b_weeks /forum/post/16981885


thanks for the info.


Does any know of a RAID card that will support 8 Sata drives internally, and 10 drives externally through 2 port multipliers?

SATA Port Multipliers suck. There are no hardware RAID cards that support them. Your only choice is Silicon Image's solution and it's not good. If you really want that many disks, buy a proper storage server case that houses them all inside one case, like the Norco cases referenced above. The cheap way to feed that many ports is to use one or two of the MV8 cards shown at the bottom of this page. These work well with WHS. They are NOT RAID, just 8 SATA ports per card that are not too expensive. If you want RAID, buy a proper 3Ware or Areca hardware RAID card. You can use them in the WHS pool or not, but you will have to present 2TB chunks (volumes) to the OS since it's like XP 32bit and can't handle a single volume or disk bigger than that. WHS should be able to put a single file system on top of multiple volumes like XP does in Disk Management. The AVS Power Buy Bundle of 3Ware cards is still available here. It's two 12 port PCI-X (special server-type slot) cards that are obsolete models, but it's a smoking deal for what you get.


Good Luck,


- Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by miimura /forum/post/16982683


SATA Port Multipliers suck. There are no hardware RAID cards that support them. Your only choice is Silicon Image's solution and it's not good. If you really want that many disks, buy a proper storage server case that houses them all inside one case, like the Norco cases referenced above. The cheap way to feed that many ports is to use one or two of the MV8 cards shown at the bottom of this page. These work well with WHS. They are NOT RAID, just 8 SATA ports per card that are not too expensive. If you want RAID, buy a proper 3Ware or Areca hardware RAID card. You can use them in the WHS pool or not, but you will have to present 2TB chunks (volumes) to the OS since it's like XP 32bit and can't handle a single volume or disk bigger than that. WHS should be able to put a single file system on top of multiple volumes like XP does in Disk Management. The AVS Power Buy Bundle of 3Ware cards is still available here. It's two 12 port PCI-X (special server-type slot) cards that are obsolete models, but it's a smoking deal for what you get.


Good Luck,


- Mike

Your link for AVS Power Buy takes me to an empty shopping cart and no information about the group buy.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanglx /forum/post/16982170


So your not using drive pooling at all? Im running WHS and have been thinking of going to raid before I add any more storage.



I like the drive pooling feature BUT want to dump the replication feature due to the wasted space.


Will I need to have all the same size/brand drives?

Can I still use drive pooling? I like the ability to add drives on the fly and have the single storage view.


What do you recommend?

I use both. The raid array does not use any drive pooling. I have 2 500Gb drives that I use drive pooling on. I save the raid array mostly for big stuff like movies, image backups, software image copies, etc. I use the 2 500Gb for WHS client backups and other not so large stuff. I have all the same drive models in the raid array.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well I am changing my strategy just a bit. I have looked at about EVERY Raid card manufacturer, and could not find a sngle TRUE hardware raid card that supported internal sata drives and external via PM or FIS based switching.


So I am going go to a SAS configuration. I will install a SAS expander board in the sata case, and a Areca ARC-1680ix-8 SAS RAID Controller in the server.


This also gives me room for expansion in the future by adding another SAS/SATA case if I need to.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by b_weeks /forum/post/16982949


Is there a link to information on the cards?

The Powerbuy Thread is here. It has a link to the specs and some discussion about the fact that the card is End-of-Life/discontinued. However, the 8 and 16 port versions of the card are still current product, so the drivers are still maintained.


You mentioned above that you want to go with an Areca card and an SAS expander. I would consider that to be "experimental" at this point. The other thing you can do is use a card that has internal ports like the power buy 3ware card and use multilane cables and adapters to go to another chassis if you must. You can see them here . Actually, since the 3Ware 9550SX-12MI is a little odd and has SFF-8470 connectors, you could just use a 8470 to 8470 cable to go directly out the case to the second chassis. The "cleaner" alternative is 8470 to 8087 internal cable, a slot bracket 8087 to 8088 adapter, and 8088 to 8088 cable to the second chassis. Using a mature SATA hardware RAID card will be cheaper than the Areca SAS card and is certain to work smoothly.


Come to think of it, you could use one of the power buy cards to run this chassis . I think there is a typo on that page though. It says "Three Infiniband Multilane 4X 4-channel SFF-8088 external female connectors, thumbscrew-type." Infiniband Multilane 4X is SFF-8470, not SFF-8088. Also, the picture looks more like 8470 than 8088. Anyway, I'm just throwing out ideas. It would be much cheaper to just use the 20 bay Norco case and be done with it. If you don't like the build quality of the Norco, there's always the Supermicro SC846 which also comes in a version with a built-in SAS expander that is on the 3Ware supported hardware list for their SAS controllers. The SC836 is nice too if you only need 16 bays.


- Mike
 
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