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As Microsoft is cutting support for Drive Extender in Windows Home Server v2 (Windows Server Codename Vail is the official name), what are the alternatives to Drive Extender on a self-built machine?

Requirements:

  • Easily add or remove drives (to gain more space or duplication)
  • Redundancy (either through duplication of chosed folders, or through something equivalent to RAID level 5)
  • Easy to set up and use (so RAID is out of the question)
  • Drive failure should leave data readable/recoverable on working disks
  • Performance
  • Support drives larger than 2TB (WHS v1 does not support this)
  • Drives of different sizes
  • Network enabled (SAMBA/CIFS)

What are my options?

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Note that the new Drive Extender implementation in the Vail Betas didn't allow you to plug a drive in to another computer for recovery. Just FYI. –  Jay Bazuzi Nov 24 '10 at 13:44
    
Yes, I am aware of that fact (but forgot to mention it in the question). Another reason to drop WHS when I need to use >2TB drives. –  Vegard Larsen Nov 25 '10 at 8:27

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I just discovered greyhole

It's for linux but in my opinion it's better than DE (at least there won't be demigrator.exe trashing the HDDs 24/7 in a way that forces me to stop it in the peak working hours, or there will be latency problems in the LAN when accessing files...)

And Amanda can do the computer backups. I have no reason to buy WHSv2 anymore.

Edit: I found the perfect linux distro to replace WHS! Amahi has greyhole installed by default. (And also a lot of useless multimedia servers)

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Greyhole looks like a clone of DE, which is awesome. This might be what I end up with... :) –  Vegard Larsen Nov 25 '10 at 7:18

Two popular solutions for WHS 2011 are StableBit DrivePool and Drive Bender. There doesn't appear to be a lot to choose between them.

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I'm busy trying to make this a viable solution http://liquesce.codeplex.com/ It's hits the following requirements

  • Easily add or remove drives (to gain more space or duplication)
    • Done via drag and drop
  • Easy to set up and use (so RAID is out of the question)
    • Done via drag and drop
  • Drive failure should leave data readable/recoverable on working disks
    • No change inthe source drives format or layout (i.e. no hidden directories etc.)
  • Performance
    • The Speed of .Net 4 and the source drive via file streams
  • Support drives larger than 2TB (WHS v1 does not support this)
    • If the Windows OS supports it (Including USB / Firewires) then it will be useable)
  • Drives of different sizes
    • Yep
  • Network enabled (SAMBA/CIFS)
    • Works on all Win OS's (Not targetted for Vista :-)

And with the Backup mode it performs something similiar to WHS1 by allowing duplicates on a different drive that the original, so mostly covers

  • Redundancy (either through duplication of chosed folders, or through something equivalent to RAID level 5)
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1  
Care to explain how this solve the problem or why it's awesome? –  Ivo Flipse Mar 9 '11 at 23:22

WHS isn't Drobo's closest competition... that title, I think, goes to Unraid. Check out Unraid at http://lime-technology.com/ ...

Yeah, it doesn't use "raid" technology, but it does use parity instead of duplication to offer the same storage efficieny as Drobo... Basically, you lose space equal to the largest installed hard drive.

The advantage of unraid seems to be that - like WHS - you can add as many drives as you need. Drobo is limited by it's physical slots, but WHS and Unraid are only limited by how many drive ports (sata, ide, usb, etc) you can build.

Like Drobo, Unraid is JUST storage - it doesn't do backup and other features like WHS...

I haven't built one yet, but it's what I'm looking at to replace WHS 1.0 when 1.0 finally reaches end of life.

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Data Robotics will be very relieved that Microsoft is dropping Drive Extender, as the closest thing I know of that is anything like it is the range of Drobo devices. It's hardware and pretty expensive, but it fits all your requirements.

I've noticed that they are particularly popular with not-particularly-techy freelance creative professionals.

Data Robotics Drobo range

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The Drobos are sometimes known for being a bit unreliable in the past. And now that they'll not have competition to speak of, no motivation to improve the quality. About the only other option, though is RAID or a dedicated NAS device. –  BBlake Nov 24 '10 at 12:59
    
@BBlake: Yeah, I was considering buying one over two years ago, but I was put off the idea when I saw that their user forum was only viewable once you had registered, which you needed a product serial number to do - very suspicious. However, now I am a DR partner, and have resold half a dozen of them and had no complaints. –  paradroid Nov 24 '10 at 14:36
    
I also need it to be network enabled, and the DroboPro FS (I have 9 disks ATM, so I'd have to drop one to use it) is rather expensive at 1499,00€ for a home server solution. –  Vegard Larsen Nov 25 '10 at 7:16

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