2007-11-02, 02:09 PM
update and review
2007-11-02, 02:09 PM
update and review
2007-11-02, 02:18 PM
Another interesting review (http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/whs.asp) from Paul Thurrott's site. Once of his concerns is mine, the ability to back up your home server!
My local computer store now has the OEM version now so it appears to be coming to stores now. (pricing $159 to $177 is what I've seen, although please use the Deals forum if you wish to discuss best pricing, where to buy etc)
2007-11-02, 02:23 PM
Bhoward, the 120 day trial edition is now up on the Windows Home Server page.
To get in Canada will cost you $10 shipping. (never knew it cost that much to mail a CD!)
2007-11-02, 02:31 PM
Paid subscribers to the Windows Secrets newsletter can now get a free download of a couple of chapters from a new WHS book. One chapter is quite interesting since it describes how to work "under the hood." It describes how using some standard Windows utilities and administration tools can cause serious problems with WHS. It also explains how to accomplish some of these tasks safely. A must read IMHO.
2007-11-02, 08:16 PM
Well, I played nefariously and I have since formatted and gave up as for veteran IT people or well versed hobbyists, there is no real value in WHS. To which, I am VERY glad I never spent any money on it.
I HATED the drive add and remove process. It took me all of one day to play freaking musical hard drives with data to get everything on. After that, the stupid thing seems to constantly be balancing files across the drives. This just kills the overall drive/network performance.
The biggest thing that I ran into was totally unexpected. It is also what immedately made be torch the box. In a strange twist, if your WHS box crashes, it is as impactful as if you lost your domain controllers in an AD setup in a business!!! But seriously, I went to reboot a PC (A couple days after setup) and when it came back up, it sat there at the loading personal settings for ever. I went to another PC, same thing. Then a third and when it did the same thing, the lights came on. I went down to the wiring/server area in the house and there was the WHS box all nicely locked up. I rebooted it and went back upstairs and oh to my wondering eyes did appear but 3 properly working and logging in PCs!!! I rebooted them all and they all were back to normal. The exact behaviour as if they were on an AD domain and things went south.
After getting all the drives out of the storage pool and again playing musical hard drives with the data (I cheated a bit by deleting all of the VOB rips that I had done), I decided to try something interesting and installed Server 2003 Standard. Well, it is a hell of a lot more responsive and because of all of the hardware I have to use, I still had redundancy via a RAID 1 pair to hold any of the sensitive data (The RAID controller used does not lay down a funky format on RAID 1 or JBOD arrays so a controller failure is not catastrophic).
So here is the hardware matrix that I used in both the WHS and Server 2003 testing:
Common Hardware config
Gigabit networking was used at all times
Athlon XP 2500+
2 x 512 MB PC3200
120 GB 7200 RPM - Boot Drive run from motherboard controller
Promise SX6000 Pro 6 channel hardware level IDE RAID card
3 x 250 GB 7200 RPM and 1 x 320 GB 7200 RPM all set to individual drives to allow WHS to "run the show" (In the firmware, this works out as 4 separate JBOD arrays with only one drive in each)
Server 2003 Config
2 x 250 GB - RAID 1
1 x 250 GB - JBOD (By itself)
1 x 320 GB - JBOD (By itself)
I really don't know what they did to Server 2003 when they turned it into WHS, but they broke something because WHS is a lot slower to do everything. Boot, copy files, load the cute management utility that they made for it. Just plain everything is unresponsive. I was never able to get file copies across the network under WHS to use more than 12% of the network connection. Under Server 2k3, I can easily see 25% or higher.
Now, the unfortunate part is that Server 2003 is not cheap. An oem copy is about $800 so it is well out of the reach of any but the most cash flush people for home use. Where previously to usung the WHS setup, I had a goofy mesh of shared drives from all of the PCs in the house and had no file transfer/copy performance issues, I assume that an XP Home/Pro install in place of the Server 2k3 would be just as satisfying performance wise.
My ultimate opinion is that WHS is not ready and that if anything, the best opportunity of 2008 is for someone to build a low cost application that effectively turns an older PC running XP Home/Pro into a "Home Server". Build something like that and sell it for say $69 and it could be a hit. That, or a seriously big opportunity exists for someone to make a Linux port that does everything that WHS does but better and faster.
As for me, I will not be revisiting or spending any $$$ on WHS until version 2.
2007-11-02, 09:59 PM
For me it's working as advertised, but it's only been a week. I installed it on brand-new hardware. I don't buy their claim of using an old pc for it, I wouldn't trust my backups to be on 'old' hardware.
- Mini ATX case
- Asus M2NPV-VM motherboard
- AMD 4200+ dual core cpu
- 2GB ram
- 2 500GB Seagate SATA III drives
- Gigabit switch to connect to clients
I used to have a BSD box running with manual backups and this is much more conveniant.
2007-11-02, 10:15 PM
hedge, keep us updated
2007-11-03, 12:20 AM
Since it is an OEM OS, I also decided to get some new hardware. So for me, my setup will be
Asus P5E-VM DO (6 SATA 2 connectors)
Partriot PC-6400 2GB
Seasonic 600w PSU
2 of Promise SATA300 controllers
Storage pool will be 1 x 300gb IDE + 2 x 320GB SATA2
Movies will be 5 x 500gb + 2 x750gb
I also have 4 x Coolermaster 4-drive containers each cooled by a 120mm fan.
I went with the E2140 because at idle it sips just 12w and 27w full load. Compared to my P4 2.8 Prescot, I should save a lot of power.
I was not comfortable with installing on a 5 year old MB with an abused 4 year old CPU with the main data on 4 x 200gb IDE drives that are al least 3 years old.
2007-11-03, 10:40 AM
The biggest thing that I ran into was totally unexpected. It is also what immedately made be torch the box. In a strange twist, if your WHS box crashes, it is as impactful as if you lost your domain controllers in an AD setup in a business!!!
que3jxp, thanks for posting your results.
As much as I really really really want to buy WHS, I have decided not to.
I was really looking for a rock solid back-up and file serving solution that would be quick and easy to administer. The reviews I have read thus far along with your post and bhowards (post #81) earlier really tell me that this is a wait for WHS 2.0 or 3.0
I have now investigated WHS, Linux solutions and a Buffalo terrastation live and I have decided to add some drives to a current computer and use that as a music server and back up server for a year. It's a little kludgey but its technology I can work with until I find a solution that really delivers on the promise.
2007-11-03, 10:42 AM
...was not comfortable with installing on a 5 year old...
Except for the RAID card, mobo and CPU, everything in my system is 2 years old or newer. The only thing truly old is the use of IDE drives for everything but given that in sufficient numbers, IDE drives will still deliver a huge amount of data to compete with SATA II drives. I should also note that I used a Fortron Bluestorm 500 Watt power supply to guarantee no power shortages/under voltages.
And aside from the power consumption of an XP 2500+ and the PC3200 RAM, that is not exactly a slouch of a setup for simple file sharing. Terastations are run with less horsepower and are more responsive than the WHS install I did.
I guess, at the least, MS needs to get some kind of service pack out for WHS and fast. And I guess to support my stance, we have no further to look than the major manufacturers like HP and see that they delayed launching any WHS appliances until MS delivered some needed enhancements...
2007-11-03, 10:45 AM
...and I have decided to add some drives to a current computer and use that as a music server and back up server for a year. It's a little kludgey but its technology I can work with until I find a solution that really delivers on the promise.
This is exactly what I had done for the last 2 years and when you add a cute little tool from Microsoft called SyncToy, you can achieve nearly all of the promises of WHS.
2007-11-03, 10:50 AM
thanks q, I will download Synctoy today.