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Microsoft's Windows Home Server corrupts files due to its incompatibility with data streams. What was once a hot tech gift, now appears more like a lump of coal.  (Source: TabletPC2.com)
Users who purchased Windows Home Server continue to get more than they bargained for, and sometimes a little less

Windows Home Server, released with much applause and sought to offer home server storage solutions, with hardware, starting for around $599.  Soon after its release, it was discovered that the server, when accessing data from a small list of programs could corrupt the files irreparably

Losing data, seen by many as a cardinal sin of the server world, made the issue a major priority to Microsoft and the company promised in an corporate blog a quick fix over the Christmas season.

Two months later no fix had arrived and the list of programs effected by the corruption blossomed to include such programs as Photoshop, Windows Media Player 11, iTunes, Excel, and Microsoft's own Zune software.  Now even more programs have been added to the list.  The Windows Knowledge Database article was updated to include the new prospective problems.

Terry Walsh issued a blog response to the growing number of problems.  The blog site is extremely popular among Windows Home Server users. Walsh acknowledges that the list of potential corruption candidates has greatly grown and affects a significant portion of users.  Walsh states, "Clearly that fix is not yet available, but I have been told [by Microsoft that] it’s being dealt with as a very high priority."

Walsh advices not to edit any files directly on the home server.  Walsh is of the opinion that with the growing list, any program may be vulnerable to corrupting data.  Walsh says the simple solution is to copy the file to a local machine, modify it on the local machine, and then copy it back to the server for shortage.  Doing so may increase work time substantially, but it protects users from potential data loss.  Another key point mentioned by Walsh is that the bug only effects users with systems with more than one hard drive.  Thus the vulnerable population consists of multi-HD users, still a substantial portion of users.

Interestingly Microsoft removed a prior reference from the knowledgebase article that stated that the corruption bug could be triggered by stress on the server.  This would indicate that WHS is equally capable of experiencing corruption under light loads.  Microsoft now states that the problem appears to be triggered by the saving of "alternate data streams" by programs, which is incompatible with the "Drive Extender" method which WHS uses to make multiple physical hard drives appear like a single hard disk.

Alternate data streams are used protected data from the users.  Its used for meta data, DRM data, copyright data, and other information that is saved in a sensitive manner.  The streams are infrequently used, but can be generated by a broad variety of programs.  Microsoft has made available a utility to checks files for special streams.  Any files that it detects should not be modified in WHS, as doing so raises serious risks of data loss. 

Microsoft has not commented on whether alternate data streams are the only culprit thats causing corruption, though the company is carefully examining the issue further.




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