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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Are there any options similar to FlexRAID, that will create data redundancy (not sure if that's the correct terminology) without the need to purchase a raid card or setup a raid array in Windows?


Flexraid looks great, but I feel it still has a way to go before it becomes more user friendly. I would use unRAID but I need the machine to run Windows. Something like unRAID that runs in Windows would be perfect!


Any suggestions are welcomed.


Thank You.
 

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I think that what you are after is pretty much the Holy Grail of home media storage. A lot of people seem to be waiting for the same thing !


It is possible to get unRAID working in a virtual machine in Windows or get Windows working in a virtual machine running on unRAID (by installing vmware server or virtualbox within unRAID) but it looks like it requires far too much Linux info for my liking.


At the moment it would seem that Windows (XP, 2003, Vista or WHS) + flexRAID is your only hope. THe GUI for flexRAID is in development and should be out soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by anthony.s /forum/post/14219280


I think Windows Home server does what you want.


From Wikipedia


Data redundancy - Guards against a single drive failure by duplicating data across multiple drives

I have done a lot of research about WHS, and the concept for it is fantastic. But it still has major bugs like the bug where if you edit data directly on the server it gets corrupted (oops Microsoft) until Power Pack 1 comes out WHS is not a good option. I have also heard that it puts great stress on hard drives and rebuilding a "fallen" hard drive can take over 24 hours! Even if there was not a lot of data on the server.


@lanstrom:


I've read about using a Virtual Machine with unRAID but since unRAID runs from ram, if you restart the computer, I believe that you would need to set everything up again. I also think that it's a bit to much Linux for me.


I guess I'm looking for the Holy Grail



Another issue I had with flexRAID is that since it's in development how will upgrading to new versions affect data? The idea is great but it needs more development to become main stream.
 

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There is a way to install the RAID 5 feature from Windows 2003 Server on XP. May not be something your interested in, just thought I would throw it out there.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrashnBrn /forum/post/14221181


I have done a lot of research about WHS, and the concept for it is fantastic. But it still has major bugs like the bug where if you edit data directly on the server it gets corrupted (oops Microsoft) until Power Pack 1 comes out WHS is not a good option. I have also heard that it puts great stress on hard drives and rebuilding a "fallen" hard drive can take over 24 hours! Even if there was not a lot of data on the server.

I don't know where you heard it can take 24 hours to rebuild a drive. There is no rebuilding needed as everything is mirrored. Just pop in another drive and data is copied(assuming it needs the space from that drive to maintain redundency, if not there is nothing more to be done) It won't affect performance. I stream HD movies off of it while it's balancing with no issues. It's RAID 5 that would take forever to rebuild and I believe the array would not be available while rebuilding.

The only time your WHS is not available is when you are removing a drive.


The corruption bug only affects some people, actually very few. Certainly not all. You have to be using 2 or more drives and edit apps directly on the server using specific apps. So it's something that only happens under very specific circumstances. Playing video from the server is not affected by this at all. And I have used those apps known to cause problems to edited directly on the server with no problems.

Also, you can download the beta of PP1 now. I have been running it since the beta came out and the corruption bug has been fixed, speeds have been increased and a host of new features added. Final release should be very very soon.
 

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Don't suppose there is any chance of MS adding native parity support (like flexRAID) any time soon ? The mirroring of data seems very wasteful of space.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lanstrom /forum/post/14235264


Don't suppose there is any chance of MS adding native parity support (like flexRAID) any time soon ? The mirroring of data seems very wasteful of space.

Not in the current version. Rumor is WHS v2 is the next project after PP1 and MAY be built on Server 2008. As to whether or not it has parity I have no idea. I hope so.

I have 4tb+ of storage in mine and have everything mirrored except for the movies. And I connected an external so I can backup the server to it. At least everything except the movies.

I may turn off duplication on what I am backing up to the external as it's already protected and then turn duplication on the movies. But I haven't lost a drive yet and the movies are easy to replace.

It's also nice as unlike RAID(or convoluted linux configs) I can use drives of any size and any type very easily. So while I may lose space or rather not use space as efficiently as parity I think i'm gaining space in the freedom to use drives of any size.

Typically in RAID you need to use drives of the same size(aside from convoluted linux configs).


I also like the ability to have WHS backup all my windows machines. I have the ability to do bare metal restores rather quickly and be right back up and running. And then there is the ability to log in remotely just with a web browser and get my files, and then the wide selection of apps to run on it. It serves alot more purposes than just holding data. So for me it justifies the mirroring.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lanstrom /forum/post/14235603


Other than fixing the corruption bug what else does PP1 add ?


Did you say you have tried flexRAID with WHS yet ?

After reading up on flexraid and asking questions it doesn't make any sense to use it with WHS as I would have to give up anything that mattered in WHS. Better to use flexraid with a server OS and DFS.


This covers the bulk of new features in PP1:
http://blogs.technet.com/homeserver/...er-pack-1.aspx


There are also bug fixes and speed improvements.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow thanks for all of the great replies.


I'm currently playing around with unRAID, but I will certainly give WHS a try.


The only thing really bugging me about unRAID is linux. I have tried messing with linux one to many times and have always come back to windows.


I kept reading about slow speeds rebuilding drives. How does data protection work in WHS? Do you choose what data you want to protect from drive failure and it creates a mirror image of it? If so and you wanted to protect all of your data,would you need double the space of your data?


Also is there a spin down option that will conserve power when not in use?


I'm also going to do some more research on Storage Foundation and my other options.


Thanks again!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrashnBrn /forum/post/14239231



I kept reading about slow speeds rebuilding drives. How does data protection work in WHS? Do you choose what data you want to protect from drive failure and it creates a mirror image of it? If so and you wanted to protect all of your data,would you need double the space of your data?


Also is there a spin down option that will conserve power when not in use?

Alas there is no spin down option. That's one of the things I really wish it had. I heard talk of a 3rd party option for that but can't recall what that was.


No slow speeds rebuilding drives as there is no rebuild. Just a glorified, behind the scenes copy and paste.

To protect data you right click on the share, select properties and check the box for duplication. Done.


When trasnferring data to WHS it gets placed on the D: partition. Think of that as loading area. It takes the data that arrives and then places it at it's final destination. It chooses which drive to place the data on and if duplication is enabled it places it on two drives. All behind the scenes.


If you wanted to protect all of your data it will use twice the space. I did ask on the WHS forums if they plan to use parity in a future release and I was told probably not because software RAID 5 at the OS level is slow and selling the servers with hardware RAID cards would be expensive.

But nothing is written in stone and there are places on the forums and on microsoft connect to make suggestions.
 

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One more idea about other alternatives.


Ciprico now has the RaidCore product line. They recently released a version of the software from their add-on RAID cards that can access the integrated SATA ports on motherboards that feature the Intel ICHxR southbridge chip. It can be found here . I've never tried it and I don't know how reliable it is. I just thought it might be a better solution for home media servers than the drivers/software that comes with the motherboards and creates an expandable environment should you need to add more ports to an existing mobo-based array.


There is a 30 day trial available.


- Mike
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by archer75 /forum/post/14239269


Alas there is no spin down option. That's one of the things I really wish it had. I heard talk of a 3rd party option for that but can't recall what that was.

Are you sure there is no spindown option ? If thats the case then I would have to look at Windows XP as the main OS with flexRAID on top.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by miimura /forum/post/14240004


One more idea about other alternatives.


Ciprico now has the RaidCore product line. They recently released a version of the software from their add-on RAID cards that can access the integrated SATA ports on motherboards that feature the Intel ICHxR southbridge chip. It can be found here . I've never tried it and I don't know how reliable it is. I just thought it might be a better solution for home media servers than the drivers/software that comes with the motherboards and creates an expandable environment should you need to add more ports to an existing mobo-based array.


There is a 30 day trial available.


- Mike
Interesting that you mention Raidcore. I have been playing with their software HBAs for a few days now, will have a full review soon. But the initial impressions are very very good. With their HBAs, I'm seeing throughput in excess of 500MBps with RAID5, with 8 drives. And their software is very mature and flexible (remember, these are "softraid" cards, they have no XOR engine or memory onboard), it spans seamlessly (and I mean seamlessly) across up to 4 HBAs AND any onboard ports from Intel ICH controller (I have been testing with ICH9, dunno about others).


They make 4/8/16 port cards, so you could build really huge, really fast arrays on the cheap. These are one of the few cards that can create a SINGLE RAID 5 array across all 4 controllers, with 32 or more drives. The only other way to do that would be with Linux software RAID, which is neck to neck with it as such. But their management software is real slick, and offers all of the needed functions like OCE, ORLM, hot spares. (You could do the same in Linux, but with these cards, you get to do all that within their management console/driver, so you could run Windows on top of it, while maintaining excellent throughput).


More to come.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lanstrom /forum/post/14250690


Are you sure there is no spindown option ? If thats the case then I would have to look at Windows XP as the main OS with flexRAID on top.

I am sure. Though I was told there are 3rd party add ons.


It's not really a big deal though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone /forum/post/14251347

Interesting that you mention Raidcore. I have been playing with their software HBAs for a few days now, will have a full review soon. But the initial impressions are very very good. With their HBAs, I'm seeing throughput in excess of 500MBps with RAID5, with 8 drives. And their software is very mature and flexible (remember, these are "softraid" cards, they have no XOR engine or memory onboard), it spans seamlessly (and I mean seamlessly) across up to 4 HBAs AND any onboard ports from Intel ICH controller (I have been testing with ICH9, dunno about others).


They make 4/8/16 port cards, so you could build really huge, really fast arrays on the cheap. These are one of the few cards that can create a SINGLE RAID 5 array across all 4 controllers, with 32 or more drives. The only other way to do that would be with Linux software RAID, which is neck to neck with it as such. But their management software is real slick, and offers all of the needed functions like OCE, ORLM, hot spares. (You could do the same in Linux, but with these cards, you get to do all that within their management console/driver, so you could run Windows on top of it, while maintaining excellent throughput).


More to come.

That software looks very promising! Correct me if I'm wrong but you are also able to use different size drives? Please let us know when your full review is ready.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrashnBrn /forum/post/14253017


That software looks very promising! Correct me if I'm wrong but you are also able to use different size drives? Please let us know when your full review is ready.

Yes, the software can use different sized drives, it's actually very Linux like in that regard. You can even part an HDD into chunks and do RAID on the chunks...(not that I'd recommend that)..



Still playing with the configuration....too much work..too little time..
 

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btw, the new version of the Raidcore software now supports the following "onboard" chipsets:

Quote:
Intel

Intel 82801 IR ICH9R

Intel 82801 HR/HH/HO ICH8R

Intel 631x ESB 631x ESB

Intel 632x ESB 632x ESB

Intel 82801 GHM ICH7M/R

Intel 82801 GR ICH7R


AMD

This version now supports AMD SouthBridge SB600/SB700 chipsets
 
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