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Rather than fix its Drive Extender technology, Microsoft has decided to abandon it in the new version of Home Server.  (Source: Dave's Computer Tips)
Episode is latest in Home Server's rocky history

Selling servers to home users isn't exactly a trivial task given that most either don't have the money to buy the devices or don't have the understanding to set them up and make them work.  Still, Windows Home Server represented a fairly intelligent effort to bring consumers on board.  It sold home servers under the premise of home backup and media machines, and it came bundled with reasonably priced, super easy to set up hardware from companies like HP.

Unfortunately, bugs plagued the OS in the beginning.  For months a bug that corrupted users' files went unfixed.  And now in the wake of that mess and the eventual fix Microsoft has made the curious decision of abandoning one of its key technologies for the operating system -- Drive Extender.

The decision only applies to the new version of Home Server, code-named "Vail", that is currently in beta and will soon go on all the new server products.  It also applies to Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2.  The existing version of Home Server will not be impacted.

With the move Microsoft has made the risky decision of throwing out what was one of the primary selling points of the operating system.  Drive Extender was a feature that would take all your internal and external drives connected to the server and combine them into a single storage pool.  With that single storage pool in place it was much quicker and easier to make backups or share a large media library.

Problems did plague the feature, though.  Backups proved problematic, and when the backups failed users were left with no way of recovering their lost files as the Server OS's didn't have the same recovery features as Windows 7.  Furthermore, Microsoft says that users should just go out and buy bigger hard drives.  It says that the advent of relatively affordable 1 TB and 2 TB drives makes drive extender obsolete.

The decision to ditch Drive Extender was announced blog post.

Many customers who were hoping to purchase a Home Server with the intent to combine a bunch of old hard drives into a single storage site are now even more irate.  They apparently wanted Microsoft to 
fix the feature, not ditch it.

States one commenter, "Well, congratulations.  I have 3 HP MediaSmart servers in my family, and was planning on going with a new one based on Vail when it got released.  Good job, MS- you've just shot yourself in the foot."

Another remarks, "Most stupid decision ever. It was THE main selling point. All the people I sold a home server got it for THAT reason. Else, they would have bought just another NAS."

There are always some sour grapes with any major decision to drop features, but in this case one has to wonder whether Microsoft's decision seems highly questionable.  After all, it has effectively eliminated one of the biggest selling points of its Home Server OS.  And given that it was a tough sell in the first place, that could be disastrous to the future of Home Server.

Home Server "Vail" products will launch in the first half of next year.



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Stupid...stupid....stupid
By SkullOne on 11/24/2010 9:48:24 AM , Rating: 2
MS has been doing very well recently with their decisions but this is stupid. DE is great. Love being able to upgrade an HDD in my main computer to something faster/bigger and just drop the old one, regardless of brand, in my WHS machine and walk away. Now I'll have to be picky about what I buy and will probably have to deal with RAIDed drives again.




RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/24/2010 9:58:31 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly! This move is beyond dumb. Adding a new drive to the data pool and removing one is so friggin' simple. And I use folder duplication to protect my pictures/documents/music. I'm especially anal about my pictures now as I had a 300GB external HDD fail on me a few years ago taking years of pictures along with it.

DE was one of the key selling points for me getting an HP EX485 which I use with my MacBook Pro and my wife's MacBook Air (via Time Machine), as a media extender for my PS3, and as a uTorrent server.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By Lord 666 on 11/24/2010 10:10:21 AM , Rating: 3
Curious, why didn't you just go for hardware PCI-e raid card?


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By Topweasel on 11/24/2010 10:15:29 AM , Rating: 2
Because it can be accomplished without any new hardware purchases by DE.

DE means never having to buy a disc specifically for WHS.

DE means never worrying about the size of the drive.

DE means that everything about WHS can be completely underpowered and secondhand.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By Taft12 on 11/24/2010 12:35:35 PM , Rating: 4
I think you've just shown why reason MS had to torpedo DE (and had plenty of problems getting it to work right in the first place).

The featureset is only something that can exist in the land of make-believe.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By Lord 666 on 11/24/2010 1:32:28 PM , Rating: 2
I have successfully tested failing drives from my 3Ware 9650 4 port drive and never lost data. Is that even possiblewith WHS?

I was a beta tester of that product and based on that experience, part of the reason why I went hardware RAID. Nothing beats a true RAID array on performance and reliability. My pictures (well over 20,000) and music are worth the added expense.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By DanNeely on 11/24/2010 2:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
YOu might want to talk to the engineers who wrote ZFS for Sun. They managed to do it and make it scalable for high end servers instead of the less demanding consumer market.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By vortex222 on 11/24/2010 3:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
im using windows storage server 2008 with the windows software raid. So-far i have found it excellent. It is using Self Healing NTFS and more importantly it has a usable gui interface which i think can put it on par to ZFS in many area's.

I have debates with my friend who runs Solaris and ZFS for his NAS about which setup is actually better. I have come to fully trust windows raid after having a few drives die on me, including hardware failure on brownouts. (a good and expensive UPS is now in service)

The reading i have done on ZFS and the testimonials for it are encouraging, it looks fantastic. And it is most likely slightly better then 2k8-R2's software raid under the hood. However the gui interface and familiarity of windows wins me over there. And its reliability have been of no question for me, especially with all the problems that the server has endured at no fault to the server or the OS itself.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By wolrah on 11/25/2010 12:33:09 AM , Rating: 5
No, it was actually a fairly simple implementation and very easy to do.

All the drives in the pool were simply formatted NTFS. In the root of each drive is a hidden folder, IIRC creatively named "DE". Within that folder would be folders for each of the shares you defined, then in each of those are all the files and folders from the pool that got assigned to that drive. When you accessed the pool, it just provided a combined view of all the drives. New files were created on whatever drive had the most free space and a task would run regularly to balance the drives. Last, you could tell the system that a share was to be duplicated, in which case any files/folders in that share would be copied on two drives.

This has huge advantages over any kind of RAID. You could add any drives you wanted whenever and all shares would have access to the total capacity of the pool. Duplication allowed for RAID 1 levels of reliability, but you only have to waste the disk space for the files you actually find important. Moreso, due to the way the pool works if you had a drive die you'd only lose the specific files that had been placed on that drive. All the rest would keep working just fine and any duplicated files that had a copy on that drive would be copied off the remaining good one to some other drive. The best part of course was that you could also lose the server itself and just pop the drives in to anything that reads NTFS to recover all your files.

For home users it is the ideal solution. Drobo doesn't have any way to easily access data if your Drobo bites the dust. Linux LVM pools (what I'm currently using) work below the filesystem layer, so if you lose a drive you might lose everything depending on the filesystem in use. RAID and ZFS both require that you add disks in groups which must match size, so that just sucks from a home user's perspective.

WHSv1 is simple, reliable, and solves a notable problem with home servers. Microsoft is absolutely pants-on-head retarded for killing this feature.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By DanNeely on 11/24/2010 11:17:30 AM , Rating: 3
With DE you can add/remove additional drives to the storage pool without needing to rebuild your array or worrying about them not having identical capacities/timeout rates/etc.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By keegssj on 11/24/2010 11:44:03 AM , Rating: 4
Because:

I can use multiple drives of different sizes.

All the drives appear as a single drive.

If I need more space, I just add a new drive.

I don't have to worry about managing a RAID system.

I don't have to figure out what size to make partitions on a RAID system, the WHS drive size expands as drives are added.

I don't have to worry about matching of drives of similar sizes for RAID.

I don't have to worry about not being able to re-purchase the RAID hardware if that model isn't available anymore.

I don't have to worry about losing my data if my RAID goes belly up, because...

I can simply pull a drive out of WHS and read the data on any windows computer able to read NTFS.

I can select the folders that need to be duplicated and which ones don't need to be duplicated.

Drive externder was THE reasone that I started with WHS as opposed to building any other type of server with RAID duplication.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 12:30:17 PM , Rating: 2
That post was dead-on. I have had my WHS for a few years (at about 18TB now) and I have an even bigger axe to grind.

First off, the ability to grow/shrink an array on the fly with a few clicks and at most a 20 minute 'wait' is unprecedented. Only the most expensive hardware RAID cards can change on the fly. Only a few software solutions (unRAID) can make use of various disk size. What WHS offers is both, without any hardware expense and it offers full speed as well. My WHS can saturate gigabit ethernet both reading and writing. Software RAID has pathetic performance.

Second, with the original WHS the data on the drives was still fully accessible - just like any other drive formatted with NTFS. If your motherboard dies you can just pop the drive out and read it. Vail is eliminating that with a custom file system which can only be read by Vail. So if your install dies, your data is gone temporarily. If you can't get it to reinstall when the bad hardware is replaced, your data is gone forever. What is the purpose of this besides poking the user in the eye?

Third, the #1 requested feature for WHS since its inception is mediacenter support. Even this article mentions media functionality. Vail has no mediacenter / media player functionality at all. None. So all the people hoping to get one and stick some HDTV or Cablecard tuners in the box (or on the network) can just suck it. Right now I have a whole extra computer (nettop) that acts as an always-on second HTPC and makes use of my network-attached dual-tuner HDHomerun to record the shows that I want. Adding Mediacenter functionality would eliminate the need for ANOTHER always-on PC for recordings and of course be storing all of the content right on the SERVER. Gee, is that a really hard idea. Is MS really that retarded, or do they just like to be dicks?

And finally, if you didn't already know existing WHS can't even be updated to Vail. Most likely because Vail is 64 bit. I love 64 bit OS's and all, but really there is no flipping reason for any type of storage server to need to be 64 bit. There is absolutely no need for more than 1GB of RAM, much less having more than 4GB. MS doesn't want to meet the needs of the market, they want to manipulate the market by using their monopoly.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By DanNeely on 11/24/2010 2:35:32 PM , Rating: 2
If the rumors about Win8 being 64bit only are true MS has a very good reason to make Vail 64bit only. A 32bit version would push forward the amount of time they need to maintain the 32bit kernel along with the 64bit one. Had DE2 not crashed and burned writing it for 64bit windows would have also allowed them to push it up the chain into enterprise windows storage servers.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By randomly on 11/24/2010 10:38:17 PM , Rating: 2
Spot on.

I've gone through a lot of systems and a lot of drives. Twice I've had RAID hardware fail, one a card the other a motherboard. Neither were still in production and were a nightmare to recover from.

Although hardware raid is faster I'm extremely reluctant to use it, the WHS1 is more than fast enough for my needs.

my WHS1 started at 1T about 3 years ago, it's now up to 7T. I've lost one drive in that time, and no data. I don't have to think about it, it just works. I love the simplicity of adding drives and recovery from a drive failure. No matter what hardware dies I will always be able to get replacements and the system up and running again.

I was looking forward to upgrading to Vail because WHS1 has poor peripheral support (Xonar cards won't run under it amongst other things). Media center support would have been nice to, but not essential.

With Drive extender gone from Vail, there is absolutely no reason for me to upgrade to WHS2 anymore. I'll have to stick to WHS1.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By Reclaimer77 on 11/24/2010 6:33:56 PM , Rating: 1
And you can still do all of that. DE is only being dropped in the new release of WHS. It's not like they are breaking the functionality of it in YOUR WHS.

And they will probably reverse this decision anyway based on all the negative feedback. Either way, it's not like you are being affected. Not like anyone needs to go buy the newest Windows Home Server every time it's released, right?


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By GotDiesel on 11/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 12:33:36 PM , Rating: 2
WHS does an excellent job backing-up multiple PCs. It does it automatically, incrementally (so you can pick what 'time' to restore to), and because it doesn't duplicate backup data the actual backups are small since all files that are found in the PCs are only saved once in the server.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By Taft12 on 11/24/2010 12:36:53 PM , Rating: 4
Because a real server OS is overkill and overly complex for home users


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By DanNeely on 11/24/2010 2:37:13 PM , Rating: 2
Not just home users; it's easier for windows power users/admins who don't also do a lot of stuff on the unix side.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By cditty on 11/24/2010 10:39:13 AM , Rating: 2
Just keep using the old version. I use it, and it does everything I need it to. I agree, I will not upgrade, because I like DE. But I really don't have a reason to upgrade, either, because all of my features are being met.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By icemansims on 11/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By Morphine06 on 11/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By DanNeely on 11/24/2010 11:19:45 AM , Rating: 2
Support for the current version runs out in jan 2013.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By erikstarcher on 11/24/2010 5:23:40 PM , Rating: 2
Just because support runs out doesn't mean you can't still use it.


RE: Stupid...stupid....stupid
By MCKENZIE1130 on 11/29/2010 8:05:40 PM , Rating: 2
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Not that bad
By bluemanta on 11/24/2010 10:48:41 AM , Rating: 5
I am probably going to be the only one who "defend" MS's decision while everyone is so outraged about their decision to drop the DE fro WHS.... but the pil is not that bad if you look into the details...

Windows Home Server is using a RAID (yes RAID!) configuration called JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disk). You can briefly read about it here:
http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/perf/raid/levels/jb...

JBOD is actually the least efficient way to configure raid because it will perform according to the lowest and slowest disk in the the array. So from performance perspective, WHS didn't offer a great platform. In addition 95% of the motherboards today ship with RAID controller that includes JBOD and a few other better configurations.

To be honest, I never understood why MS tried to re-invent the wheel and create their own implementation of JBOD while it is so widely available and accessible.

IMHO, their decision do drop the DE makes completely sense from any point of view. Rather than focusing on replicating something that is better implemented in the hardware level (RAID controller) MS seem to focusing on the file management of WHS and allowing the users to benefit from the best of both.
You can create any type of RAID you want at the hardware level and then install and configure WHS to meet your special needs, including backup and redundancy.

Eyal Kattan
www.medianexus.us




RE: Not that bad
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 10:57:42 AM , Rating: 2
i agree with you... though everyone else is going to argue that DE is "easy". I believe that this is just a big mass overreaction. It's never fun to watch a feature go away but in my case I'd never use that feature anyway. I'm glad to see that there are others out there who look at things from a similar perspective. My post was a bit harsh but i was momentarily overwhelmed by the ridiculousness of the situation.


RE: Not that bad
By Taft12 on 11/24/2010 1:14:53 PM , Rating: 2
Another agreement here. What MS was trying to offer is something that the industry had not been able to provide for DECADES of disk redundancy R&D.

They were bound to run into problems with the complexity of the scope of features they wanted to offer, and it finally got to the point it just could not be done, at least not without sacrificing reliability and the integrity of their customers' data (which is much worse than cancelling the feature, frankly)


RE: Not that bad
By davepermen on 11/24/2010 11:32:56 AM , Rating: 3
DE is not just a JBOD.

whs does not have the performance issue you describe, as the disks run independently. if you access a fast disk, you get your data fast. access a slow one, and your data will be slow.

DE does not have the problem of JBOD to not have ANY data security. DE fixes this by having the option of having data stored on more than one disk automatically. but (and that's nice compared to other raids), it's optional. you might not need to have your dvd rips secured, as you still have your dvds at home in the worst case. but your other media or whatever files, you don't want to lose, ever.

so, it's sort of JBOD 2.0, or JBOD++, or what ever you want to call it. and the ++, or 2.0, that's what we lost today (yesterday).


RE: Not that bad
By bluemanta on 11/24/2010 11:55:29 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure what you are trying to say. You basically agree that WHS is JBOD (regardless of flavor).
Why not using RAID5, RAID6 or RAID10 or any of the other RAID configurations that offers both redundancy and UNIFIED performance?

It takes exactly 2 minutes to configure your drives as RAID in the controller's BIOS and you are done. Then install WHS and run.


RE: Not that bad
By AlexWade on 11/24/2010 12:49:00 PM , Rating: 2
The current WHS is RAID unfriendly. I created a WHS for a small business with RAID 1. I had to connect another hard drive, install the Windows Server 2003 drivers, then disconnect the extra hard drive. If I didn't do that, the setup process would not let me search for RAID or SCSI drivers. Using RAID is far from ideal on WHS.


RE: Not that bad
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 12:51:00 PM , Rating: 2
Why on earth would anyone want to combine WHS and RAID1? Select all folders to be duplicated - ta-da - RAID1.


RE: Not that bad
By Fritzr on 11/26/2010 3:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
Drive Extender is removed...how did you implement that RAID1 again? How do you plan to continue using a nonexistent feature when you cannot find a copy of WHS w/DE for the new box??


RE: Not that bad
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 12:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
WHS is selective JBOD/RAID1. If the data is duplicated it will pull it off of both drives, doubling performance.

Also, you cannot compare software versions of RAID (besides 0) if you want any performance at all. Software RAID blows. Hardware RAID is awesome, but requires EXPENSIVE cards and all drives must be the same size.

In addition, only folders designated for duplication are duplicated. Automated computer backups are not duplicated (there is no need to, they are the duplicate). When I backup critical data offsight I move that data to a non-duplicated folder. With hardware prices what they are today, why would you sacrifice data integrity and speed to save a little space. You would probably need at least four drives to even see a cost/GB savings.


RE: Not that bad
By BigDH01 on 11/24/2010 2:21:32 PM , Rating: 2
It's not really RAID.

Create a JBOD array in your RAID controller. Go to Disk Management and make a very large volume from that array. Rip out one of the disks.

Create a pool in WHS. Add your drives. Rip out one of the drives.

See the difference?

This is something I recently looked into when I was choosing WHSv2 or Server 2008 with a RAID setup. I went RAID before this announcement but DE definitely has some advantages (like not losing the whole pool if a single drive goes).

Selective mirroring is also nice. I was pretty happy with my WHSv1 machine, I just wanted something a bit more secure with RAID 6, even if it meant dropping some $$$ on a controller and hard drives.


I don't get...
By Motoman on 11/24/2010 10:35:54 AM , Rating: 2
...what the fuss is all about with this thing.

Find an old PC. Stuff a 1Tb drive in it and connect it to your network. Share drive. Done.




RE: I don't get...
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 10:59:20 AM , Rating: 2
Your solution is my solution :)


RE: I don't get...
By Fritzr on 11/26/2010 4:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
1x1TB drive ... your duplicate files are on which drive when that hardware fails?

WHS DE is not traditional JBOD or RAID. What it is is a virtualized drive that allows it's hardware layer to access each physical disk as an independent device at whatever actual speed that device allows. In addition, the file system supports the option of storing 2 copies of each file or folder on separate hardware storage.

You get the speed of multiple drive letters, you get the oversized storage of JBOD using small disks, you get the redundancy of RAID 1 without the requirement that the disks be matched sets. In addition the duplicated files will not allows be duplicated across only 2 disks, so even in the rare event of a double failure, some of the files still survive. Finally in the event of a total loss of the OS, the individual files can be recovered by plugging the individual disks into ANY machine capable of reading an NTFS filesystem. That could be Mac, Linux, NT3.x, NT4.x, WinXP or later etc. ...you do not need to find a driver for a proprietary disk level filesystem to recover the files.

Now aside from writing a custom application that will appear on the network as a remote file device and will report the local storage drives A: thru Z: inclusive as a single monolithic filespace while duplicating (selected only) files across multiple drives. Drive Extender currently has no replacement available on the consumer market.

Finally as mentioned above, the drives used can be the castoffs from other upgraded client systems that have been replaced because they are "too small to be useful". No need to have a pair of 64GB drives to add them to the array, just one adds 64GB to the total space available.

As far as speed, when you run out of spare connectors, just toss the slowest existing drive each time you add a new one. The system will respond at the speed of the individual drive being accessed, so the slow drive will be slow, the fast drive will be fast, the middling drives will give middling performance...totally unlike RAIDS (including RAID0) that operate at the lowest available speed.

MS can support DE as a user level device driver. All it needs to do is report to the OS that it is an accessible drive on the user side and to present the OS's own drive interface on the driver side.

There is no special programming needed to support unusual drive types that is not already built into Windows with the exception of drivers that directly modify the OS filesystem driver API.


RE: I don't get...
By davepermen on 11/24/2010 11:29:32 AM , Rating: 1
drive dies: data gone

drive too small: add a new drive, expose a new share, hope that new drive doesn't die as the old one above

both cases fixed with whs:
drive dies, replace, data all there.
drive to small: add new drive, say "add to pool", and your disk just got bigger.

that plus simple user management, automatic backup of all your systems, extendability (mine autorips movie disks i insert, and puts them into the shares, with all movie information right there, ready for the media center to grab), external access etc.

your solution might work. but you will not be happy the moment it stops working. my solution works, and no matter what happens, continues to. now, thanks to dropping DE in the new version, the new version does not have that savety guarantee, nor the extendability guarantee.

in essence, the new one is just what you have.


RE: I don't get...
By Motoman on 11/24/2010 11:44:17 AM , Rating: 2
Bleh.

Seems like virtually every motherboard in the world for the past few years has had RAID support, including JBOD if that's what you want.

If you can't set up a RAID array on your own, any local mom & pop PC shop near you could do it for no more than an hour's labor.


RE: I don't get...
By keegssj on 11/24/2010 11:57:36 AM , Rating: 2
What happens when the MB dies, and you can't get a replacement?

Is your data still available? Not always, it depends on the hardware and how you set up the RAID.


RE: I don't get...
By Taft12 on 11/24/2010 12:47:54 PM , Rating: 2
This has happened so many times to so many companies, I can't recommend Linux software RAID strongly enough. Yes the performance isn't up to dedicated hardware RAID (although it is very close or even better for 5 disks or less) but when you need to scour eBay to find a used hardware RAID card that has gone EOL, you need to make a major change in the way you plan your installations.


RE: I don't get...
By Fritzr on 11/26/2010 4:06:33 PM , Rating: 2
Requires a non-techy Windows user to learn basic Linux in addition to Windows ... you've just lost the simplicity that was the main selling point of WHS.

Might work for you, but not for the majority of people who want to plug it in and just see it work.


RE: I don't get...
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 12:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
Software RAID is amazingly pokey, especially writing. I write to my WHS at over 110MB/s. You would be lucky getting 10MB/s if the OS had to do parity calculations (I am assuming you meant RAID5 as the option to providing fault-tolerance)

Now if you meant a bunch of drives running off of a 3Com or Adaptec hardware RAID card that can auto-extend, you will need to budget for the $1k card in the server.


RE: I don't get...
By iDarwin on 11/24/2010 5:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to see a source on that 10MB/s...
My 10 drive raid 6 array maxes the gigabit card going into it and judging by the CPU usage, double parity calculations aren't a problem. Also, I don't need to worry about any raid cards dying because recovery is a live cd away...

It may not be as fast as hardware raid, but why would I care in a home environment where I'm bottlenecked by the network?


May not be necessary in Vail
By Flunk on 11/24/2010 10:09:58 AM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing that most people here weren't involved in the Windows Home Server (Vail) beta test.

The main shares: Documents, Music, Videos, Pictures are all based on Microsoft's "Libraries" functionality so it doesn't matter what physical volume the information resides on. You can have a share that's actually the contents 3 or 4 drives combined without any noticeable difference. You can create your own custom libraries too.

It's different, but it does make the virtual volume extender functions no longer really essential which is probably why Microsoft thinks that killing them off is acceptable.




RE: May not be necessary in Vail
By SkullOne on 11/24/2010 10:14:51 AM , Rating: 2
Lack of DE means no Folder Duplication. Sorry that's a huge fail. If DE isn't part of WHS then you're better off using FreeNAS and saving that money for that extra drive you're going to need for your brand new RAID setup.


RE: May not be necessary in Vail
By Flunk on 11/24/2010 10:48:49 AM , Rating: 2
You can, but it has to be the entire partition with mirroring.

I should admit that my Home server has and has always had hardware RAID so I didn't have a need for the folder duplication feature.


RE: May not be necessary in Vail
By Flunk on 11/24/2010 10:51:05 AM , Rating: 2
As a follow up, if this makes you really annoyed you should take a look at alternative OSes, Linux for example makes a great home server platform with great partition and volume management features. Nothing tells a company you're unhappy more than not purchasing their products. Look at the Kin as an example.


RE: May not be necessary in Vail
By drycrust3 on 11/24/2010 11:59:39 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Microsoft has made the curious decision of abandoning one of its key technologies for the operating system -- Drive Extender.

quote:
Linux for example makes a great home server platform

Maybe Microsoft will release their own Linux / Unix distribution.


RE: May not be necessary in Vail
By trisct on 11/29/2010 3:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
Bingo. FreeNAS just leapfrogged WHS, I was planning on WHS for a home server, but now the feature set doesn't justify picking it over a free solution. FreeNAS is pretty simple to set up and given the near-feature-parity now, it is a no brainer, unless you need to run a full blown Windows for some other reason. In which case WHS probably doesn't fit the bill either.


RE: May not be necessary in Vail
By leexgx on 11/24/2010 10:20:57 AM , Rating: 2
does it support auto file duplication to 2 disks? (the same file ends up on 2 disks) the thing that WHS does


RE: May not be necessary in Vail
By priusone on 11/24/2010 12:49:31 PM , Rating: 2
I heard something about Windows Home Server, then the next thing I heard was it had a major flaw.

Right now, my pseudo home server are external USB drives that are setup to share folders, but are limited by there physical size, 1.5TB. This DE concept sounds awesome; I can't believe that I didn't read about that feature. Time to do some research I guess.


By davepermen on 11/24/2010 9:45:12 AM , Rating: 2
https://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer/fe...

In the last 20hours or so, there was a massive uproar about the choice of dropping DE. I try to make sure that the unhappy customers all collect their complains on one place.

I'm very disappointed about the news. DE was by far the best and best-selling part of WHS. need some more storage? plug in a new disk (of any kind of size, manufacturer, connection type). need your data to be save? choose "duplicate" for the share. need to replace a disk? remove from pool, wait till all is put away and saved to other disks.

It's so simple, so fast, and now it's gone. Very very sad news.




By weskurtz0081 on 11/24/2010 9:47:08 AM , Rating: 2
I'm on my way over there.... this is just nonsense and I don't know why MS thinks this is a good idea. I literally will not buy home server without extender... what would be the point?


By Gungel on 11/24/2010 9:51:51 AM , Rating: 2
Well then, I'm just getting a NAS if Microsoft is removing DE. Why pay for WHS?


By Topweasel on 11/24/2010 9:58:11 AM , Rating: 2
I have had a WHS setup since it first was available in OEM form. One of my favorite purchases. Without DE I might as well just get a NAS and put drive Image from Acronis on all my workstations.


DE, the reason i choose WHS over RAID
By ShadowVlican on 11/25/2010 9:46:32 AM , Rating: 2
the ability to combine different drives AND have some redundancy (in your control) was the reason i have a WHS

it's just awesomely convenient to have my "\Music\" share folder larger than a single hard drive

you can duplicate this in linux, but not without a ton of work... nowhere near as convenient and automatic




RE: DE, the reason i choose WHS over RAID
By karielash on 11/28/2010 7:28:15 AM , Rating: 2
"you can duplicate this in linux, but not without a ton of work... nowhere near as convenient and automatic"

What you mean is.. you have never used Linux and don't have a clue what you are talking about, in Linux it's simple.

The only slightly challenging FS to implement/manage this in is ZFS, although the rewards for doing so is an exceptional, scalable and incredibly fault tolerant file system which beats NTFS, EXT2/3, Reiser into the ground.


By Fritzr on 11/29/2010 12:14:01 PM , Rating: 2
I believe you just made his point

For a Windows User.
1) Install WHS
2) Read the help files on DE
3) Activate Drive Extender
4) Start copying files to WHS

For a Windows User moving to a Linux home server
1) Learn basic Linux administration
2) Get a distro with ZFS integrated
-- If not integrated, then learn how to add ZFS
3) Learn how to correctly configure ZFS to offer DE V1 function
-- If I read earlier comments about ZFS, it actually allows large RAID volumss, not aggregating the access at the file manager level. Add a SourceForge project to emulate DE V1 to the to do list
4) Now install Linux w/ZFS and whatever you are using to emulate DE V1 functions
5) Configure the Linux server to operate hands off as a Windows accessible single volume with file mirroring selectable at the single file level.
6) Relax and enjoy

Yes Unix/Linux/FreeBSD could substitute, but for the average home user who does not want to be a computer tech it is a non-starter.

I am not down on the Unix variants. For many purposes they are superior to Windows. But for ease of use by non-tech users who have years of experience with Windows, learning Linux is not as simple as installing WHS would be.


Why all the fuss?
By HrilL on 11/24/2010 12:24:33 PM , Rating: 1
Just use linux... You can software raid any types of drives together... I don't really see the big deal here. Isn't there some other software raid applications for windows?




RE: Why all the fuss?
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 1:30:39 PM , Rating: 2
Software RAID = Sloooooooooooow

And makes you vulnerable to a hardware dependency.


RE: Why all the fuss?
By HrilL on 11/29/2010 12:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
actually its not really slow at all. 4 1TB disks in raid 5 I get about 400MB/s With the same drives and a good hardware raid card 1.2ghz chipset and 512MB of ram. I get about the same. Also with software raid I can get away with using WB black drives and not the enterprise class ones that you need for hardware raid.

Are you kidding me? Hardware raid is far more dependent on hardware then software raid. I'm not talking about using a software raid card or one built onto the motherboard (these solutions are almost comical so if that is what you're referring to then yes they are slow) If your raid card dies you'll lose your array. If my motherboard dies I don't lose my array as this is all done in software with linux...


It's
By damianrobertjones on 11/24/2010 10:16:54 AM , Rating: 1
...quite odd that this news has just hit as I have my WHS right next to me in work, copying the data across.

What I had:
Windows Home Server V1
4x 2Tb drives WD Green
2x 2Tb Samsungs
2x 1.5Tb drives
2x 1Tb drives
(Yes, a lot of storage)

What I now have:
Windows Server 2008 R2
4x 2Tb drives RAID 10
2x 2Tb drives, backup

As much as I liked WHS, along with many other people, there where a few niggles that I simply couldn't get rid off with regards to media playback (Probably all due to Wireless). As I'm waiting for V2, I thought I'd ditch V1 and go for R2.




RE: It's
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 1:18:23 PM , Rating: 3
Windows Server 2008 R2 - $633 (lowest price I could find online)
Windows Home Server - $99

Please at least try to compare apples to apples.

And wireless is clearly your problem. My WHS saturates GigE, so you wireless is clearly the weak link.


if no DE then what?
By kleinma on 11/24/2010 11:13:54 AM , Rating: 2
I have a custom built WHS that has 9TB between a few 2TB, 1TB and 750GB drives.

I knew there was no upgrade path to V2, but I had come up with a method to migrate data over a little at a time (using 1 or 2 shim drives to store data as I moved each drive over to the V2 installation)

So I read the blog post, and this article, that DE is toast, but what exactly is the replacement? I don't get it. Will you now just have several drive shares? Will it require hardware raid? They talked about killing the feature, but nothing really about how it will work without the feature. Anyone know?




RE: if no DE then what?
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 1:26:22 PM , Rating: 2
They are using Libraries instead.

However, the client computers already use WHS folders as Libraries - so all this really does is more closely bind Vail to Windows desktops. Just to be clear, there is no user benefit to ditching DE since current Windows desktops already use the old WHS shares as Libraries.


Most important feature?
By Murst on 11/24/2010 12:12:38 PM , Rating: 2
I realize that DE is a valuable feature, but saying it is the most important or defining feature of WHS seems crazy to me. How often do people really pull disks in and out of their WHS? Since I got my WHS, I have not needed to extend the storage even once. I started out with 3TB, and I'm probably not even up to 500GB yet.

I guess I'm probably in the minority in the way I use my WHS, but the main features of it that I like are:

1. Being able to do automated daily backups with virtually no setup or maintenance effort by me.
2. Running a file share that's accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. I can always have access to all my files at home.
3. Running a gallery app on the WHS that automatically takes all the pics I have on the server and lets my family see them (via my homeserver website), as soon as I move them to the WHS.

Everything that I do with WHS can probably be done by many other solutions out there. However, WHS makes it pretty trivial to do all of these tasks, and that's something that I think is worth paying for. From all the complaining, it does seem that I use my WHS in a different way than most, which is rather surprising to me.




RE: Most important feature?
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 1:29:10 PM , Rating: 2
You have not yet discovered the joys of backing up your media (DVDs, BluRays, CDs) to a server. When that happens, your capacity needs will grow.


Want DE back in v2? Vote!
By ipay on 11/24/2010 12:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
Visit

https://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer

and login with your Live account when prompted, then click the link under "Join". Next paste this URL into your browser and hit Enter:

https://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer/fe...

Then please upvote the Connect request.

(These convoluted steps are necessary, if you try to navigate directly to the 2nd link you get a "Page not found" error...)




RE: Want DE back in v2? Vote!
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 1:47:05 PM , Rating: 1
I was already part of the beta.

I don't even try to help MS. They never listen. They just do what they want to do and assume the market will just bend to their will.

I really don't see much need for Windows anymore. When Windows gaming dies I will probably get the PS4(?) and run Linux clients and server in the house. WHS was really one of the most brilliant ideas MS ever had, but instead of fixing it by adding mediacenter functions and native media transcoding - they decided to break it.


Unworkable?
By melgross on 11/24/2010 1:05:32 PM , Rating: 1
Have any of you guys thought about the fact that after all this time working on this feature, MS might believe that it's effectively unfixable, so they gave it up? I understand that some think it's very desirable, and so did MS, or they wouldn't have come up with it in the first place. As they just did drop it, it's not likely they made that decision lightly.

It wouldn't be the first time a company gives up on sometihing they've poured lots of money and time into. Apple gave up on Copeland, and MS gave up on Longhorn, both vastly more important to them than this one feature is.




RE: Unworkable?
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 1:32:47 PM , Rating: 2
DE isn't broken. It had a vulnerability for the first 4 months after launch in which there was a chance for corruption if you opened files directly from the server, changed them, and saved them back. That was fixed 2-3 years ago.


By imaheadcase on 11/24/2010 10:39:33 AM , Rating: 2
It was not effecting a lot of users, WHS was good from the start for me, never had any file corruption errors.




RAID
By TheNuts on 11/24/2010 1:07:08 PM , Rating: 2
So, at $100 a drive, I now have to spend $300 in order to get 2/3 of the raw space whereas I spend $300 for 3 disks and get near 100% usuable space in WHS. And I only can add an equal or greater sized drive to the array when expanding. Sounds logical to me *sigh*

For those using 2008 R2, why would the average consumer pay $500-$600 for a 2008 R2 Standard license rather than $100 for a WHS OEM license? Also, I personally think RAID10 for WHS is waaaay overkill. Do you really need that many IOPS on a file server?




My linux media server does just fine
By eegake on 11/24/2010 9:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
It has been in place for much longer than the Windows alternative has been around and has easily grown with hardware over time, migrating over 3 boxes and a couple dozen hard drives. Of course, it didn't come as a candy-coated empty promise with a technology life dictated by a flakery, so it can't possibly be as good ;-)




WHS and SBS2011 Essentials
By leexgx on 11/25/2010 7:32:29 AM , Rating: 2
i am currently at an VIP-computers uk event and they are saying WHS v2 and SBS2011 Essentials will have DE still ?

ask questons here




By aart12 on 11/25/2010 12:42:03 PM , Rating: 2
O.k., so the new v2 DE technology was not going to work (I am assuming so, since it was pulled). But DE v1 was/is still viable... so why pull the plug on the whole feature? At least re-implement v1 into Vail until the technology can be improved! Drobo, URAID, and others, have apparently found a viable way to implement this technology (pooling drives). Surely MS can figure out a way to do it, or better... and if indeed not, then license the technology from one of them!

By completely pulling the DE component, you (MS) are cutting your own throats. Not just with WHS, but your standing as a technology leader. This move only reinforces the growing perception that MS is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Your "argument" that customers have inexpensive access to large drives (around 2TB drive MAX) and therefore do not need a DE technology is absolute nonsense and is a staggeringly obtuse cop out. DE allowed much larger volumes/pools than the individual drives to be created easily and provided an easy way to add new drives of any available size.
RAID, as you must know, does not provide an easy means to do this, and they must all be identical in size and specification, severely limiting the use of any existing drives the user may have. Even most technically competent users who do use RAID find it frustrating, cumbersome, and flawed.

If you really are listening to your customers, as you claim to be doing, you would know that what you had in DE v1 is the direction needed, and one that the consumer wants. NOT RAID!




RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: RAID... idiot.
By davepermen on 11/24/2010 10:02:24 AM , Rating: 4
raid is not the answer. DE was the answer to raid.

raid does not let you just plug in an arbitary disk on an arbitary sata, usb, pata port on your system, and say "add", and your storage grew. raid does not let you selectively chose which data should be secured, and which data can be lost if a disk fails.

my home server started with two 1tb disks, as they where best price performance disks. once it was full, i got a new, 1.5tb disk, plugged in, and done. lately, it got another 2tb disk. each disk was the best price performance ratio given the moment of storage need.

raid is static, fixed, and thus lacks massively compared to DE. if you want a system that grows with you over the years, raid isn't it. DE does.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 10:21:38 AM , Rating: 1
I actually agree here. Raid is "somewhat" static and i can see your point. Storage that grows with you is really nice. when i want to increase storage i have to back up and re-initialize the array in most cases. There are, however, raid arrays that support dynamic expansion where you can drop another drive on the array and tell the controller about it and it will dynamically expand the array to those drives. the card/controller must support it though. DE is a nice feature, I'll give you that. I just think everyone is overreacting.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By davepermen on 11/24/2010 11:35:54 AM , Rating: 1
it's like dropping the ability to play games on an xbox360. i mean, it's sure nice to play games on it, but businesses only use it for the media playback and such, so there's no need for it.

two reasons to be so upset:
1) it's THE main feature that defines WHS, without it, it's just nothing special at all (and the feature, as you agree, is great)

2) it's a HOME SERVER. and that means, we, the HOME users, should judge what is needed. NOT ANY BUSINESS USERS. that's completely utter wrong.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 12:12:59 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
it's like dropping the ability to play games on an xbox360
No i'd say it's more akin to dropping netflix from xbox 360. xbox 360 is a platform designed to play games. without netflix some people would be mad but in the end the xbox still plays games. WHS is first and foremost a server operating system. Without this feature the server still "serves" and therefore while it may be a let down to some people, it does not "ruin" the platform.

quote:
it's THE main feature that defines WHS...
While i agree with you that the feature is nice, i don't believe that its the "main defining feature" of WHS. WHS is a server os that makes running a server easy for home users. Without this feature the server os still functions as intended.

quote:
it's a HOME SERVER. and that means, we, the HOME users, should judge what is needed. NOT ANY BUSINESS USERS. that's completely utter wrong.
I don't know what you meant by this really. just to clarify i am a home user with a server in my house.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By weskurtz0081 on 11/24/2010 10:02:39 AM , Rating: 2
With drive extender, Microsoft made data redundancy EASY, just about anyone could do it. The key to your post is, "anyone that knows what they are doing". I actually contemplated made the suggestion to some people that are not computer savvy that they buy home servers because it was easy and cheap data redundancy.... but raid isn't THAT easy and with a GOOD controller card it's not as cheap.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 10:13:51 AM , Rating: 2
A lot of mid-high end motherboards give you a raid controller built in. Raid controllers aren't that expensive if you're going super high end. Raid is not THAT hard, if you can play in bios you can probably make a raid array. there was probably a reason that ms killed the feature. according to the article DE was buggy and needed fixing. My guess is that DE had architectural flaws that could not be easily overcome. Also my OP was in response to a guy with 3 servers. I chose that on purpose. I decided to respond specifically to that comment because a guy with 3 servers should know a little bit about computing. enough that living without DE shouldn't be to hard. If you ask me, i think people are overreacting. Sure the feature is nice but i don't think it's the "best thing about WHS".


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Topweasel on 11/24/2010 10:20:27 AM , Rating: 2
Knowledge and ease of use are two different things. Perhaps his experiences using raid is why he would rather employ something easier to maintain at home. I know I do.

I would spend hours and hours every day tweaking and playing with my computer to get every ounce of performance out of it. Once I started getting paid to maintain computers at work, all I want is that my computer is on when I get home and performs the tasks I want it to with as little effort as possible. WHS is probably used more by professionals then the Average Joe because of what it accomplishes with almost no user input. DE is a big part of that.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 10:24:00 AM , Rating: 2
Point taken.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By SkullOne on 11/24/2010 10:05:26 AM , Rating: 2
So trade DE for having to spend twice the amount of money to RAID 1 or RAID 5 your system while having less available space? Find it funny that you're calling that commenter an idiot.

Some people use far more then 2TB of data as it is. My WHS is already over 3TB. I plan on slapping in four 2TB drives in about 8 months when I build my HTPC. If I move to Vail I will have to double that number in order to keep my ripped DVD's protected. DE makes it so that I don't have to screw with RAID and adding space is as simple as popping in a new drive.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 10:33:25 AM , Rating: 2
Except for the fact that DE is buggy and doesn't work sometimes.

quote:
Some people use far more then 2TB of data as it is
I'd be one of them.

I used a raid array for a while and it was nice while i had it. However eventually i just got several large drive and set them all up as single independent network shares that have different purposes. This way when one dies i don't have to worry about loosing data on the others, or some buggy feature mucking it up. but i'm "more or less" against "massive in pile" style setups. One giant drive(s) that holds everything is, in my opinion, less secure and leaves to much room for a failing drive to corrupt more than you're bargining for.

I agree with your point that DE is easier, i guess i didn't really think about that side of it. It's hard to go from computer nerd that can get anything to work to dumbing down to making it work as easily as i can. For me it's more important that something works well and performs better than having something that "just works". But that's just me and i get that...


RE: RAID... idiot.
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 1:39:48 PM , Rating: 2
DE always works. The bug existed in the first four months after the original WHS release. I should probably also point out that the Y2K bug isn't a problem anymore either.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 2:37:23 PM , Rating: 2
I was under the impression that there were still problems with the feature. That's why some sites reporting this news have stated things like "eventual fix"(DT), and "rather than fixing"(engadget).

Y2K... cute reference to mass hysteria...


RE: RAID... idiot.
By mcnabney on 11/24/2010 4:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
If you Google the issue you will see all of the problems were in the summer of 2008. The Internet never forgets, but the issue is long since solved. And the bug wasn't DE specifically, it was related updating the tombstones correctly. Technically this was only 'ever' an issue when opening/saving to files that were in duplicated folder. Unduplicated data was not vulnerable to this.

Actually, that issue is a good example of how MS operates. When the issue appeared the response was "why would you open/save files directly from the server?". They just don't see anything outside of their own specific interests.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 4:58:28 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, ironically i have to agree with ms again. It's bad practice to use a server as a workstation in any regard. But, as has been pointed out to me (very painfully) home users are not savy and will do things like that. Besides, on occasion (like when you're updating config files directly from the server) you'll need to save. they really should have thought more carefully about that i think.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Topweasel on 11/24/2010 10:09:52 AM , Rating: 2
RAID is not as good as Drive Extender. Its harder to setup. Requires a configuration choice made at purchase. Any upgrade is a pain in the ass.

DE, take spare discs, install OS. Plug in new drive and more space appears. Select a drive and tell it to be removed from the pool and the data is moved off.

DE is the only real selling point of WHS. Anything else can be accomplished with an external drive and imaging software much more cheaply.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 10:35:15 AM , Rating: 2
DE is easy, i get it already...

I still think everyone is overreacting but I concede.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By ncage on 11/24/2010 1:32:08 PM , Rating: 2
This is coming from the person who originally said "USE RAID IDIOT". Maybe you should educate yourself before you make a comment like that so you come off as a troll who doesn't know what they are talking about? Maybe? I won't reiterate what was said above but its apparent that DE != RAID but any stretch of the imagination.

Ok what i will address is your comment about people overreacting. They are DEFINITELY not overreacting!!! There are other products specifically build around the same type of duplication type of technologies that people pay for. Check out UnRAID and to a lesser extent the drobo appliance. There were two "MAIN" features that got people excited about WHS:
1. DE
2. Backups

Sure there were a variety of other things it had but they weren't must have features like sharing files across your network and access your files externally (which i don't even use). Its not like there aren't many solutions that would do the same thing.

So you take away DE and what are you left with? A fancy backup server. Do you most individuals will want to spend 400+ on a fancy backup server? This might make economical sense for a buisness but definitely not for an individual. So the upgrade to WHS 2 (Vail); will, in essence, be a downgrade. So are people overreacting....HELL NO!!!!

For those that want a "duplication" like system i would look into UnRaid. Its not exactly duplication but its a software like raid system that allows you to mix/match different drive sizes. Your biggest drive must be the parity drive though. If something happens to one of your drives your apple to replace it and the drive will be rebuilt. I would recommend that over drobo because drobo is pricey.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By Luticus on 11/24/2010 4:44:42 PM , Rating: 2
So... wait... let me get this straight. I use the phrase "I concede" and you reply with that abomination. I thought long and hard trying to decide if i should even justify this stupidity with a reply. Eventually i concluded that a few points needed to be made here.

First and foremost i realize that I'm not perfect and sometimes i make harsh decisions and statements and unfortunately DT doesn't have a "delete comment" button.

Secondly do you know how many times I've gotten a -1 on DT... once.. see above.

Thirdly. If you seriously purchased WHS just for DE... wow.

Forth. Congratulations. you've officially made yourself a bigger ass than i ever did. I bowed out gracefully leaving only my opinion that i think this is a big overreaction. By the way... I still think it's a big overreaction.

WHS isn't just a fancy back up server. Just because you don't use it to it's fullest potential doesn't mean the rest of us don't as well.

For the record I'm not dropping my opinion, I'm trying to drop the argument because i don't like the way i started it after looking back on it. I believe that i was a bit harsher than i would have liked to have been. I sort of feel like crap today and am not entirely at my best. So in short, i realize my post was not constructed the way I'd normally like, but i don't believe my overall point is wrong. However, the overall sentiment here is against me so I'd rather not "be a troll" as you so put it and instead I'd just bow out. I'm not like the pro mac people we get who will argue with everyone on the site pointlessly.

What i didn't expect is that after conceding some prick would try to drag me back in. That's ok though. I had one bad moment so i can allot you one as well. Now we're even. Anything after this is just stupid and i refuse to participate.


RE: RAID... idiot.
By RadnorHarkonnen on 11/25/2010 8:10:09 AM , Rating: 2
Well, i gotta agree with you and disagree you gave you the -1.

JUST USE RAID IDIOTS !!

And for the ones that have WHS or any type of files server going via WIFI, they are even crazier.

Unless we are talking corporate/enterprise level, an idea like DE is nuts to implement on the "consumer" space. Honestly. Just Use RAID 1, it is HDD/controller fail proof. make several of them.


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