Using Windows Home Server

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Posts Tagged ‘USB

Adding eSATA hard drives to Windows Home Server on a Friday night

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Equipment required:

eSATA external hard drive(s)

eSATA cable – Not SATA

eSATA connection or Add-On PC card (the HP MSS has this connector already)

2 Beers (not shown)

Windows Media Center streaming your favorite 365 station

Friday Night Kit

Background

I have a Dell SC440 PowerEdge running WHS that I built last year. The server came with 6 USB ports to which I immediately connected three external drives (only one is part of the storage), one UPS, a mouse and keyboard. I have often wondered where I would plug in my next drive when the time comes. The release of Power Pack 2 now offers Windows Media Center support and I have decided I am going put the rest of my 120 DVDs on the server. I am going to need more space eventually and Seagate was having an outlet sale so here is the article. My wife wants to know what is in the boxes that keep showing up at our doorstep. I hope she does not look in the server closet any time soon.

I currently have 1.5 TB in the case and a 500GB Free Agent Triple connected via USB. I purchased a second 500GB Triple from the Seagate outlet store this week and for the new eSATA card, the drive and the two new cables, I spent $115. I know I could spend $150 on just one 1 TB eSATA drive but I like to buy drives in stages and replace the older ones. You probably have your own logic on how you like your drives. I am also wondering if I will get any increase in file transfer speeds since I am moving to a faster interface on the duplicated drives. I am going to run some times before and after to see if files transfer faster. It currently takes 1:17 to upload the Voyager 952 MB file.

I thought you might find some of the speed standards interesting shown in the table below:

Device Speed (bit/s) Speed (bytes/s)
USB 2.0 480 Mbit/s 60 MB/s
FireWire 400 393.216 Mbit/s 49.152 MB/s
eSATA (SATA 300) 2,400 Mbit/s 300 MB/s

All external Seagate drives that offer FireWire connectors use the FW400 standard. Over the years I was always led to believe that FireWire 400 was really fast. Who really checked? I guess if you want to be able to daisy chain then you can use FireWire. USB 2.0 is still preferred for most of my applications.

Enough of the specs. Lets touch some hardware. Let the good times roll.  Viva WHS.

Installation

The Dell Server was made for easy access and card installation. You can do pretty much everything you want inside the system without tools. I removed the cover and pushed two plastic pins to get the card bay open. As you can see I can also get to everything else in the same fashion.

Inside Dell Server

I bought the PCIx1 slot card since it had two eSATA connections and the 3.0 Gbps speed. Your hardware will be different of course. I added the card I bought from Newegg and it went in without any issues.

Adding the card to the Dell Server

Mental Note: I recently read about how much work is required to change the RAM on a HP MSS and I just about hit the floor. I hope my parents never decide to start streaming media with their MSS!

I put everything back together (without tools) and put the server back in closet. I connected all of the cables, including the two new eSATA cables on the card side and pressed the power button. Come on baby. Do your thing.

Ok, so my WHS booted back up and I am waiting for the CTL-ALT-DEL screen. For those of you with HP MSS you should have skipped all of these steps. You also skip the “normal” log in screen like those of us with the OEM version and a monitor. Personally I have a hard time trusting a system without a monitor. I need to see the boot process and log in. Yes, I know I am strange.

Great, my WHS actually found the new hardware without my help and is downloading the driver. Is this really going as smoothly as it seems? It is all done. Seriously?

I am now connecting the new drive. Sweet. WHS sees the new drive. Notice that it shows 76% free before I add the drive.

Windows Home Server Console

I select the new drive and click on Add. Here we go again…

Adding the new drive

I expect you and I appreciate the warning but just flippin add the drive already.

More adding the drive

Drive added. Thank you. 80% free? I totally expected more of a delta. We covered the math a few articles ago so I will now console myself with another beer.

Hey did you notice that my first Free Agent drive is now listed as Internal (SATA) also? Before the screen shot I just unplugged the USB and reconnected it with the new eSATA cable and the drive was recognized and the location was relabelled. How cool is that?

It is now time copy some files and check that everything is working on the client side. It is getting late and the wife will be asking questions soon so I better hurry.

I just copied my 952MB Voyager test file and there was no difference in the time from before I changed to eSATA. I am kind of bummed about not seeing any change but I guess the WHS balances the loads before it copies to external drives. I am ok with everything else. You can see my two eSATA drives below and my other USB Free Agent that I use for backup.

Tim's Hard Drives

You could also see in the Console shots earlier above that I also have a second backup drive that I keep in a small USB safe. I rotate this smaller drive off site by backing up the database and all folders BUT the videos folder due to space limitations. You can never back up too much. Seriously.

I have the extra space I need so it is time to start backing up my DVDs.

See you next Friday night.

Timothy Daleo

A good website that has all of the speed standards is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_device_bandwidths

If you go to the link above you can see that the new USB 3.0 is going to kick ass in the next few years. Seriously.

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Written by Timothy Daleo

April 5, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Backing up Windows Home Server on a Friday night

with 2 comments

Equipment Needed:

External Hard Drive

WHS BDBB Add-In available at http://www.mediasmartserver.net/downloads/WHSBDBB.zip or http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php?autocom=downloads&showfile=90

Advanced Admin Console Add-In or remote desktop connection

2 Beers (optional)

Home Server Show Podcast #37 playing on iTunes (you can also substitute any episode of Jericho Season One)

Background

So I love the automated backup function of WHS. We all do. In addition to the regular backup of my networked computers, I run the folder backup of the WHS server to my external USB drive. We all do. I take an additional step to secure my data. On the weekends, usually every Saturday morning while I browse the discount tech sites and the wife is still sleeping, I copy the backup database to another hard drive that I take off-site. The backup database contains all of the files WHS would use if I needed to restore any PC backed up from the network.

I do this backup each weekend for three reasons:

  1. If the server ever goes tits up I have everything I need to do a complete and easy restore
  2. I enjoy saying that I have “off-site backup” protocols
  3. Saying “off-site” is cool. 

The Process

Let me start by saying that you might have a different order of doing this same process. The important thing is that you follow some sort of plan on a regular basis. Seriously. How much easier can MS make it? Keeping your data safe is the whole reason we do this, right?

Since I run the regular backup every few days all I need to do is copy the remaining backup database files to the same external hard disk. My typical WHS folder backup look likes this:

Pic0

The WHS backup database is not duplicated by this standard WHS folder backup process. For this reason, according to MS, “you may want to periodically copy the entire backup database from your home server to an external hard disk that you attach to your home server. The external hard disk should not be added to the Server Storage on your Windows Home Server.” I found this information at:

Home Computer Backup and Restore

I followed the MS directions and start by accessing the Command Prompt from within Advance Admin Console and using the directions listed in the link above.

Pic1

Mental Note: Disable the Remote Notification (if you have it installed) before you stop the backup service to avoid the extra SMS messages.

Once you have stopped the pdl and backup service, access your external hard drive from the Advanced Admin Console and create a folder on the external hard drive in which to copy the backup database as shown below:

Pic2

Give your folder a name that makes sense to you (preferably with the date) and is easy to recognize.

Pic3

The WHS backup database is stored entirely in the folder D:\folders\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4}. We are just going to copy it. Use the Advanced Admin Console and navigate to that folder. Once you are in the folder, select all, and then copy those files to the new folder you created.

Pic4

This is the point where Jericho and the beers come in to play. You now have some free time. I have Netflix on the second monitor and the wife is watching her shows in the living room. I wonder if I could EMP-proof my server? A ruggedized Windows Home Server? Could I successfully build a Faraday cage in the server closet? Faraday is also the guy on Lost. Maybe he is the great great great great great grandson of Michael Faraday who developed the electromagnetic field concept in physics and the cage. I love Wiki. I love Lost. I love WHS. Seriously.

Pic5

My files took 56 minutes to copy during the manual process. There are some massive files sizes so be patient. You mileage will vary depending on the speed of your external hard drive. I keep a special USB drive in a small fire-proof safe. My safe was $100 on sale at a local retailer and the drive is a little 320GB Seagate for about $80. This ends up being cheaper than some of the dedicated fire-proof drives and lets me expand and change drives easily. An additional added benefit is that it is USB powered and does not constantly run off of AC power. Find the right combination that suits your needs and budget.

Pic8 

Installation of the WHSBDBB Add-In – An Easier Way to Backup

There is an easier way to backup the backup database. I found a file during my adventures that automates this process for you. I had probably looked at this Add-In before but since the name was WHSBDBB I just kept going. It was only until I read a related article on accident that I gave it a second look.

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/downloads/WHSBDBB.zip

Once you download the file install the WHS BDBB Add-In by copying the WHSBDBB.msi file to the Software\Addins folder of your Windows Home Server. Start the Windows Home Server Console, click on Settings, then select Add-Ins. Choose WHS BDBB from the Available tab, and click "Install". The Add-In installation is a standard install although I had to reboot twice to get the Add-In to work.

Automated Backup

Ready? Open the Add-In click on Backup and choose your drive.

Pic7

I actually perform this backup twice; once to a hard drive in my little safe and once to the off-site hard drive that I switch out. Switch out? Yeah, when I drop off the hard drive I backed up today I pick up the hard drive from last week. I rotate two drives that I got from the Western Digital outlet. Can you ever backup too much? Well maybe…

Pic6

The manual copy of 73GB took 56 minutes total while the WHS BDBB took 60 minutes. I am not sure why there was a delta (I used the same drive) but the simplicity of the Add-In offsets any extra time.

For more information about Windows Home Server Home Computer Backup and Restore, and why you should look into it, go to the Community Forums at the Microsoft Web site ( http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=100263).

We are all done and backed up. Nice.

See you next Friday night.

Written by Timothy Daleo

March 21, 2009 at 9:37 am