Removal of Drive Extender from Windows Home Server
November 28, 2010 at 8:00 AM
There has been a lot in the WHS news lately about the removal of the drive extender from WHS Vail. My reaction is mixed as to the removal of the drive extender from the upcoming version of Windows Home Server. I would actually like to be able to choose not to use the drive extender but don’t think it needs to be removed.
I understand the need and usefulness of drive extender, being able to group together multiple drives into a single storage unit, without having to use raid is a good solution for those who need/want it. And since WHS implemented this feature so easily, it was a great option for simply adding on storage. But here has always been my argument against this.
My Original WHS Setup
When I first got my WHS it came with a single 500GB HD, of which 400+GB were available for storage after setup. I added a second 500GB HD and extended the storage on the server. This worked great, literally took minutes to do. with almost 1TB of storage I thought things where relatively safe, my home pc’s all backed up to WHS, so did my laptop. Even had a small (250GB) USB drive hooked up to my WHS that stored daily backups of my most important data. All was great until the main/original drive on my WHS failed. The system was down to about 100GB left when the drive failed, and HD upgrades was something I was planning on, but came too late. Sure I had my USB drive data backups but there was a lot of other data that I didn’t have on an external system/drive. Since the other 500GB drive was an extension of the WHS Drive Extender, I couldn’t simple plug it into another pc and mount it and it potential wouldn’t have all the data anyways. After a few days of attempting to get my data back, I gave up and moved on, with a lesson learned.
My current WHS setup
I replaced the failed 500GB HD with another 500GB HD, and re-setup WHS. Same setup, but with one big change. I added a third drive, a 1TB HD that is not part of the WHS system; it’s a simple NTFS drive on the server. The data on the two 500 GB drives is backed up to the 1TB drive. And since the 1TB drive is not part of the drive extender, I can remove the drive and plug it into another pc if needed. I feel much safer with this setup, but would actually prefer to not use the data extender if I could. I would prefer a simpler setup, 500 GB drive for the main system, 1TB data drive, and a 1TB backup drive that must has a copy of the data drive. Yes more of the traditional raid setup, but I would skip the raid setup and just have two independent drives.
But in my opinion the drive extender still is an essential part of WHS, and for many WHS users it’s a major feature. So the complete removal of it is a great loss. Hopefully with all the uproar about its removal something will be done to put in back on the WHS feature list.