External Hard Drives and the Octopus

Windows Home Server was designed to use external hard disk drives as additional server storage.  One of the primary goals of Drive Extenderwas to enable people to reuse any existing hard drives for more space on their home servers.  The paradigm is a little different than what people are used to doing with external hard drives - with Windows Home Server you plug them in and leave them attached to your home server until you tell your home server that you want to remove them.

There are two things you need to remember:

  1. After plugging in an external hard drive, you have to tell your home server that you want to add the hard drive to your 'Server Storage' by using the Windows Home Server Console.  The drive will be formatted, so if you have any important files on the drive, plug it into one of your home computers and copy these files to your home server prior to adding it to your Server Storage.

  2. You need to tell Windows Home Server that you want to 'Remove' a hard drive from your Server Storage before physically unplugging the USB 2.0 or FireWire cable.  Windows Home Server will move all of the Shared Folder data and home computer backups off of the hard drive that you want to remove (assuming you have enough space on the remaining hard drives, otherwise you will get a warning prior to proceeding).

If you unplug an external hard drive prior to telling Windows Home Server that you want it removed, the health of your home server will turn red (critical) and your home server will report the hard drive as 'Missing'.  If this happens, the best thing to do is plug the hard drive back in and tell your home server to 'Remove' it via the Windows Home Server Console or just leave it plugged in ...

I saw a home server the other day with 8 external hard drives of varying sizes from 80 GB to 750 GB attached to it.  The owner affectionally called it "The Octopus".



Comments (3)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Greenleaf, I too would like some of those options for backing up WHS.

    The octopus effect is exactly why I will not be using external drives to expand WHS.  I believe that the majority of consumers will avoid that too and stick to the oem’s expansion capabilities (drive carriages, etc.).  The only WHS solution I might consider that uses external drives is a stackable solution.  I’m reminded of acomdata’s rocketpod & rocketdrive.  RocketPod is supposed to allow you to stack drives without additional power & interface cabling.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think there should be a couple more options available when plugging external drives into Home Server: Back Up To This Drive and Restore From This Drive.  That way those of us that are paranoid about data loss would have an easy way to make those oh-so-important offsite backups mentioned in the documentation and various places on the Home Server websites and forums.

    It would be nice to plug that nice shiny new 750GB external hard drive into Home Server and have the server duplicate the shares, backups, and server settings to that hard drive in a similar manner to the backups performed of the home computers, so that when something happens to the server (note that I said when, not if) recovery of absolutely everything is only an external hard drive and a few hours (depending on how much you’re storing) of recovery time away.

    Home Server could also be set to monitor the status of these backups in much the same way it monitors the PC backups, but with a different time span.  Perhaps if no backup of the server is made within a week’s time, the server could change the network health status to At Risk, and then a few days later change it to critical.  This could be turned off of course, but, in my opinion, should be turned on by default.

    Companies that are building Home Servers could even provide a large external hard drive as part of the Home Server package.  This would up the price somewhat, but it would make it more likely that consumers would actually perform some sort of backup on their Home Server.

    That’s just my 2 cents’ worth.

  3. Anonymous says:

    On another topic..product showcasing.  Where do you think a WHS should be showcased in stores?  Should it be located with PCs and Laptops?  Or would storage devices & accessories be more appropriate?

    Fyi, NetGear just purchased Infrant Technologies.

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