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Microsoft issues a dire warning that its Home Server product may irreversibly damage pictures, torrents, and other files

Microsoft just announced a big bug that many users of its Windows Home Server users may wish to take note of.  Microsoft warned users not to edit files stored on their Windows Home Servers.  Editing and saving files on a home computer connected to Windows Home Server can lead to data corruption within a week it has been discovered.

Microsoft describes the problem, stating, "When you use certain programs to edit files on a home computer that uses Windows Home Server, the files may become corrupted when you save them to the home server. Several people have reported issues after they have used the following programs to save files to their home servers."

Microsoft details that the following file types are among those affected:

  • Photos
  • Office Outlook files (2007)
  • Office OneNote files (2003/2007)
  • Microsoft Money files
  • Quicken files
  • QuickBooks files
  • Torrent files

Microsoft has not yet announced a concrete schedule for the release of a patch to fix the problem.  It blames the current bug on an internal glitch with Windows Home Servers' shared folders code.  Microsoft is currently trying to reproduce the bug and better understand it.

An anonymous blog was posted on Microsoft's developers pages stating that Microsoft's Windows Home Server Team is working full-time through the holidays to try to fix the problem, so obviously it is a relatively significant issue.

Windows has aggressively tried to market its Home Server products and grow a business in consumer backup storage.  The Windows Home Server software retails for $189.99, while a number of partners produce the physical hardware.  Among these is the HP 500GB EX470, which retails for $599.99. 

So for a total of about $790 you can have a working home server set up for backup operations -- you just probably don't want to back up your pictures, emails, or torrent files on it for now.

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RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By kkwst2 on 12/28/2007 2:43:01 PM , Rating: -1
You comment seems flippant.

It's still not clear to me after reading the articles how big of a deal this is. It sounds like the problem is if you save the files directly to the home server, which in general you shouldn't be doing.

Obviously, a backup product should never corrupt your files, but if I'm interpreting the scenario correctly, this shouldn't be a thing you're doing a lot if at all. Since they're targeting this thing to the general public, they obviously need to fix it, but implying it doesn't work at all doesn't seem fair.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By DigitalFreak on 12/28/2007 3:21:35 PM , Rating: 5
You shouldn't save files to a file share on a file server... Wow, that's a new one to me.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By saiga6360 on 12/28/2007 3:38:32 PM , Rating: 3
That's what I thought this was about. One of the features is file serving which is typically used for file sharing. I guess this only applies to some apps otherwise this would be very much a big deal.

Well, at least it also serves as a backup server so you can have it restore whatever it messes up.


By HrilL on 1/2/2008 11:28:26 AM , Rating: 2
It is a back up server for other computers on your network. No one is going to back up files that are stored on a given drive to the same drive so I think your point is moot.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By aharris on 12/28/2007 4:13:25 PM , Rating: 3
Wow... Yeah I'm pretty sure Microsoft marketed it as a File Server. What they're saying is that if you use the system which hosts the files to make changes to the files (which users shouldn't do.... but then again these are home users), that is when the corruption begins to appear. Modifying the files from your client desktop while connected to the server via mounted share shouldn't cause this corruption.


...and people gave Apple a hard time because "Leopard deleted files" when it first came out.

"You mean I shouldn't CUT/paste files from a mounted server volume because if I lose my connection I might lose the files in the process? Gee, why didn't I think of that to begin with?!"

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By kkwst2 on 12/28/2007 6:26:17 PM , Rating: 2
That is in fact not what I said. If I'm understanding how the folder share is implemented, you have a local copy and the server copy. It apparently allows you to directly access the server copy and save over it and this causes the corruption.

Should it allow this? Probably not, and as I said in my post it certainly shouldn't cause your files to be corrupted. But should you be saving over the server copy? No. You should be saving it to you local copy and let the server do it's thing - which is to synchronize the files.

It is possible that I'm not understanding how the shares are implemented or am not understanding the bug. Based on what I read in the links, though, that is my understanding of the problem.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By mindless1 on 12/29/2007 12:16:10 AM , Rating: 3
It's not that you aren't understanding, it's that you have this arbitrary idea that there's a problem with editing files on a share and saving back to that share. This has worked fine and been done billions upon billions of times ever since the unix terminal days. Only now is this horrible flaw a problem in regular use scenarios.

There is not normally a need to save a local copy, edit that and resave it locally, then depend on the fileserver synchronizing. You've just made things 3X more complex than they need to be when others did what you disagree with fine for many years.

In fact, often users are not allowed to make local copies in the business environment and it is with good reason - you don't want 3 different copies of locally stored files floating around being edited independently, and then there's the increased security risk of multiple points of access to information.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By kkwst2 on 12/29/2007 12:51:04 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the model I described has worked for a long time too. It is my understanding that this is the model that WHS is more trying to implement.

Neither is more or less complicated. Saving directly to the server has advantages and disadvantages. For instance, it depends on full-time access to the server, which may not always be practical.

You mention a business environment, which is entirely what this is not intended for.

At any rate, I agree it's a problem. My main point was that I'm not sure this is the way the product was intended to be used.

By rdeegvainl on 12/29/2007 2:45:41 AM , Rating: 2
Well if its a HOME server, full time access better be practical for HOME use. The point of having a server like this is that it is a media dump for your music, pictures and movies. The difference between this and business is that its predominately media instead of being predominately documents. Having multiple copies of something spread out over several machines is just a waste of space and like the previous poster said, a big synchronization issue. Have the one you use, and then your backups on a separate medium. I think that this problem directly affects it's intended use.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By afkrotch on 12/31/2007 12:01:58 PM , Rating: 2
The model you described would be an utter failure if there were more than one computer in the network.

Let's say we have 4 computers and one WHS. There are 4 users each accessing file blah.bmp. Each have a copy of the file locally. Each make completely different edits to the file. Exactly what happens when WHS backs up the file? Who's copy gets backed up? Does it attempt to merge the files and corrupt them?

WHS is nothing more than a business product put into homes. WHS is Windows 2003 Server, stripped down of course. I have my own file server at home. It runs Win2k Pro and is on 24/7. I sometimes transfer files locally to the server. Other times I'll save directly to it. WHS is a home product and it should be built around what home users will do.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By kkwst2 on 12/31/2007 10:38:40 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, no. It has nothing to do with how many computers are on the network, only how many potential simultaneous users there are. It all depends on the usage model and your goal. For a business share obviously this doesn't make any sense. However, it might make great sense for a home share.

If we're talking about a home product, how likely is it that 4 users are going to use it at once? For me, it would be almost never. My wife, my son, and I would actually never be editing the same file.

However, it is frequently the case that I would want to access a file when I don't have internet access - for instance when I'm on a plane with my laptop. I would want any changes synced to the file server when I get back. To answer the question, if there were multiple copies saved locally, both would be saved, with tags appended to the file name designating which user or computer edited it.

It is certainly based on Windows 2003 but it's not the same product.

At any rate, I guess my comments suggested that I somehow think it's OK that it corrupts files. That's not the case, just that it would not interfere with how I use the product. Of course a product that is designed to back up your files shouldn't corrupt them. While I did suggest that perhaps it wasn't how the product was intended to be used, I wasn't trying to imply that it was OK for files to be corrupted.

I have different ideas than you about what WHS should do and how it should operate. After reading about it, I think it will do what I want. In my original post, I was just trying to clarify what situations the corruption was occurring because I was planning to purchase it and didn't think it would apply to how I would use it. I still think I'll wait until these problems are resolved, but it doesn't look like the current bug would affect me.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By mcnabney on 12/28/2007 3:22:26 PM , Rating: 3
That is in fact exactly what you should be doing. The point is to make all files available and versions synchronized. The server is not a backup, it is a server. The way it uses multiple hard drives provides backup. If you just want a backup device, get a NAS or a USB drive. This silly thing is based on Server 2003 so one of the core functions is reading and saving to.
But I guess that depends what your definition of 'is' is.

For example, I am editing video. I would not want to have to copy it back and forth to my local computer. I would instead manipulate it on the server and avoid making needless copies of the same file.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By kkwst2 on 12/28/2007 6:19:06 PM , Rating: 2
Well, a file share can be implemented different ways. Often you have a local copy of the file that whenever you save that local copy, the file share sees the change and synchronizes it to the server. Other clients can then see that change and sync to the server. If another client has also changed the file, then some kind of reconciliation is done, often keeping both copies and changing the name of one. If you are allowed to edit the file directly, then usually only one user can edit the file at the same time and the file is locked as read only to other users. I don't know how it's implemented in WHS, but would prefer the former.

As I mentioned in my post, I'm not sure exactly how it's implemented. But my interpretation was that the problem was if you directly edited the server copy instead of the local copy. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the nature of the bug.

It seems to me that if you're editing video, you would want to modify a local copy and then sync it at the end, rather than keep saving it to the server. Either way, you're "copying it back and forth", but by editing it on the server, you're doing it multiple times instead of once.

By mcnabney on 12/28/2007 11:24:12 PM , Rating: 2
No, that is not how a server works. Being able to synchronize files is nice and all, but it really isn't a server function. It is a backup function.

The entire WHS platform is designed to hold lots of drives. This is where you dump all your pictures, your videos, and everything else people accumulate. This holds the gigabytes in one place so you don't have to buy extra hard disks for all of your computers to hold the terabyte of stuff you have accumulated. In that case the WHS is the primary location of this data and will be directly accessed from the various desktops. Why do you think gigabit Ethernet is supported?

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By mindless1 on 12/29/2007 12:28:46 AM , Rating: 2
No, by editing from the sever you read once, write once. By editing a local copy you read twice,write twice (one read and write to server and one locally).

I feel you shouldl give up on the idea that others are supposed to do things the way you think they should particularly when they had done so fine without this massive flaw in one product.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By kkwst2 on 12/29/2007 1:04:23 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't say anything about reads and write, I was talking about transfers to the server which might be reduced by utilizing local files, depending on how it is implemented. By saving a video file to the server, the file is getting transferred across the network each time you save.

For big files, that could get slow depending on network speed and traffic.

I'm wasn't really suggesting that others do things like I think, just suggesting how WHS might be intended to be used. I was admittedly somewhat myopic in my original post. It might not be a big deal for how I want to use WHS, but might be for others.

I was originally trying to figure out if the problem was really as I understood, which would not preclude ME from buying it given my intended usage. Understood that others may desire a more traditional file server behavior.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By mindless1 on 12/29/2007 1:17:17 AM , Rating: 2
For multipass editing, yes it would reduce network utilization to keep a temporary copy locally. Beyond this, either way the same amount of data has to pass to and from the server in a typical edit-once, save-once scenario most often seen. In a business environment we might consider the impact on network bandwidth but in a home environment it is seldom an issue.

RE: HP's Home Server Includes the OS
By JAB on 12/30/2007 6:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
Think about this kkwst2. You are saying a file server doesnt have to handle files without corruption. That is its main job though.

Sorry but if you are paying this much for something just to handle files it should do its job.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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