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Thread: DIY Windows Home Server Build - JukeBox MkII

  1. #1

    Default DIY Windows Home Server Build - JukeBox MkII

    It's hard to believe, but its four and a half years since we built our first proper rackmount media server for the Automated Home. Our tutorial for the MkI is still one of our most popular articles and it's easy to see why. It's something that people are doing every day as they realise they need to move all their digital media to a central server that can be accessed by the many IP devices we have now come to rely on. But nothing lasts forever and this week we've pulled the old girl out of the rack ready for a heart transplant...

    read on...
    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/Revie...eBox-MkII.html

  2. #2
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    Default A few WHS Related Comments 0a - Background

    I had been looking at replacing my NSLU2 for a while as the NTFS emulation leave a bit to be desired and I was going to store greatly larger amounts of data and need backups. The smallish amount of critical data is ROBOCOPYied to a NSLU2 in my garden shed via IP over mains. This is what I started out to do (From an earler UKHA_D post but included here for completeness): (Update 02/11/09 - URLs had moved at SCAN)

    I went for a green ish solution. Atom MB which only has two SATA ports and one PCI so I went for a port multipler supporting SATA card (3xINT, 1xEXT). With three different manufacturers 1TB disks and an old 120G PATA drive as system disk WHS runs about 65w maybe up to 70 when very busy. Idles about 60w. Hopefully all three drives won't fail at once and at the moment there will be an external removable backup array (see later).

    The card is a Lycom ST 125NR:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Lycom...ost-(Non-Raid)


    and there is space for several more drives in a tower case that will be hidden horizontally on the top of a boxed in shelf in the garage.

    The idea is that as time and money permits I'll put in one of these drive arrays and add disks which by then will be cheaper and bigger.
    Array (Icy Dock MB-455SPF):
    < http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Icy-D...ap-Best-Seller >

    And put in one of these internally. Lycom ST-126RM Port Multiplier

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Lycom...or-Rack-Mount)

    as not all drives will need to be accessed at high speed at once.
    The SATA cards with a larger number of ports look good but they rapidly get very expensive.

    I've tested the PM going to an external drive array I made out of an old Wide SCSI 4 way expansion case and the Icy Dock array and it works well. I've a couple of 1TB drives in that and intend to connect it now and again via a long eSATA cable for backup.

    As a point of note I measured two different PSUs with my Maplin Power meter. All I did was connect them to a PSU tester and there was a large difference in their idle power consumption so be careful selecting tehre as well..

    I'm still at the testing stage with un-activated copy of WHS and trying various failure scenarios. Before it goes "live" I want to test the ATOM MB with my Geovision card to see if it runs and I can justify another MB with the saving.

    I considered VMing but I think I need to run WHS on the metal and I'm not sure what the options would be to virtualise that.

    Any comments anyone?

    Simon.

    (Next a few WHS observations).
    Last edited by Simon P; 2nd November 2009 at 09:10 AM. Reason: (edited to correct URLs where possible)

  3. #3
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    Exclamation A few WHS Related Comments 1 - Client Recoveries

    (Logically and time wise the VM tests and build stuff is here but lets skip that for now)

    After some VM testing I tried WHS on real metal - using the 120 day freebie from MS and without activating. See my previous post for details of the hardware.

    I've backed up XP and Vista systems so far but not tested recovery of the Vista system as it is a laptop and hard drive games are harder.

    When it was backing up a VM Full OS disk client recovery seems to work ok. When I tried with real world machines things were different.

    (1) Recovering an "old" XP ST62K shuttle back to XP after a quick (non-backed up) trip to W7 failed. After promising to finish in 3 then 5 then 7 then 13 then 17 minutes it just sat there. For hours. At the moment the WHS is in my office not hidden in the Garage so I could see there was no HD IO. Tried downloading the latest recovery boot CD. More sophisticated app but the same again. Googling the percentages/times didn't help. Various different scenarios tried. Empty partition/full partition the works. Eventually took out the HD and put in a caddy and booted my VM test machine with no other drives off the recovery CD. Recovered the partition no problems first time. Straight back to the real box and working with no activation problems.

    (2) On the ATOM fanless machine that was going to be the WHS until I realised that I needed to add more drives than was possible with that box (tranquil T7). This couldn't even find the WHS. After numerous attempts I spotted that the network LED was going out as the windows PE was running. It turned out that despite listing the REALTEK LAN adaptor as installed it wasn't getting a working driver. A quick driver copy to a USB key sorted that. Looks like you may have to add drivers even when it say it recognises them. This may be because the PE environment that Client Recovery runs is Vista based rather that XP and it may have picked up some XP stuff. Again when it worked a dream to do.

    I guess the moral of this chapter is that a backup isn't a backup until you've tried it and that it probably pays to check it before too late. But the option of recovering the Client on a different machine then moving the disk over is interesting. I'm thinking about either testing the restores for my important machines in a VM guest or even slotting in a spare blank HD as a boot disk in the actual machine and testing each restore and booting off the real metal. Obviously I'll get bored of that really soon but will do that either side of next time I make a hardware change.

    Next chapter: A short one on backing up the shares to an external drive.

    Later on AH forums (in no particular order):

    (a) add-ins (so if anyone is reading this have they any ideas).
    (b) OS drive recovery - you loose loads when that fails and you can wipe out all your data.

    Any other suggestions? Any other builds? Someone once said that USENET was the first WRITE-ONLY medium.

    Simon

  4. #4
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    Cool A few WHS Related Comments 2 - Backing up Shares

    Sorry for the gap - I've fubared my WHS doing rather destructive tests for a later chapter.

    Just a quick addition to the item above "A few WHS Related Comments 1 - Client Recoveries". I forgot to mention that recovering an individual file or directory on a client is easy and quick. The recovery software mounts which every version backup as a drive on your client computer and then you can just copy across the files you are interested in. It could be slightly smoother in that it sticks out a screen saying Ignore the message about restarting then produces the standard windows device manager "your new device might not work until reboot" but it works fine.

    Back to backing up shares.

    Even with duplexing enabled there is still a risk of data loss from either loosing the whole machine (theft, fire, water leak gross electrical failure) so it is useful to be able to backup the entire share(s) to an external drive. This was added with a Power Pack(WHS has Power Packs rather than Service Packs as they add functionality). Sounds OK until you try to do it.

    For instance on my machine when I go to back up the shares I get the following


    but in the drop down boxes you can only select whole drives at the root level. You can back multiple shares up to the same place but it doesn't pre calculate whether it will fit. I guess they don't know what level of compression you may get or what files are unchanged from last time. They have to be local drives known to WHS by name rather than drive letter which limits the games you can play to get round a fairly obvious shortcoming. The shares are backed up to



    i.e a date and timestamped directory. Eventually when the destination HD fills you get this:



    I've checked this which a multi Gb backup as well as the trivial case here and it is the same. As the WHS chooses the underlying directory name there is no easy way of cheating and putting some sort of hard link/junction point/mount point in there to enable it to span volumes.

    This shortcoming is disappointing to say the least. As you can see with my share names I decided to split up the big stuff so the total wouldn't be larger that my biggest disk. I object to this as it will lead to wasted backup space and manual playing at backup time. Important, personal stuff will be backed up separately and off-sited in a similar way to what I do now and I guess I'm not going to back up the big stuff that regularly. I don't have the tens of Tb of files others have but I wanted a system that would expand. The idea is that I plug the external drive array I've mentioned previously into the eSATA and do the backup then put the array elsewhere in the house. An overnight operation but job done.
    (for those people used to proper backups there isn't an automatic method of doing Grandfather/Father/Son either), but it is smart enough to not backup unchanged files. It doesn't appear to share the smarts of the client backup so duplicate files in different folders/shares duplicate space.

    Restoring works well. You have to restore the whole share (see below)
    and it lists every share backed up on that drive in that backup session for restoration. You can't redirect the restore.

    When the restore runs it is clever enough not to do any damage overwriting files. See


    As a result of the limit with the share vs HD size I am rethinking my share setup for DVD images. I intend to use this as a back end for a Popcorn hour jukebox so will probably split the movies by certification. Even then the backup should be smarter. I was hoping that it would just see my external array of x Tb and backup to that, across physical volumes if necessary.

    It looks like this was designed (like a lot of WHS) as a simple mechanism for not particularly computer literate users.

    Next I may cover the rather delicate issue of backing up the OS partition and the D drive and trying recovery scenarios. Sorry I couldn't imbed the screenshots into the flow of the text.

    Simon

  5. #5
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    Default Sorry for the Delay to Your Service - Leaves on the Line

    Sorry I haven't had a change to post the next chapters - I'm not sure how to present them.

    I've been doing other things with the machine - see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ukha_d/message/158498

    I should get back to WHS when the tests finish early next week.

    Thanks,

    Simon

  6. #6

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