Windows 98 – Happy 10th Anniversary

I’m helping a friend who has very little discretionary income by cleaning up a computer her boss gave her. Talk about walking back in time! It’s an IBM Aptiva, 450Mhz AMD processor, with a whopping 64mb memory and a 56kbps dial up modem. It has an 8gb hard drive, and she has nearly 6gb free!


Happy anniversary, Windows 98 … I’m glad to see you’re still chugging along. Even if you are unsupported, we still love ya!


-kw

WHS Data Corruption followup

Endgaget posted “new” information about the data corruption problem with Windows Home Server. There are many replies posted at that site that would try to convince you that WHS is not only “not ready for prime time”, but possibly will never be ready for prime time.


So, in the interest of keeping our heads cool and calm, understand that there are plenty of people (including myself) that are running WHS successfully.
- If you’re running WHS on a single disk drive, you will not encounter this problem.


And if you do have multiple disk drives,
- If you are using WHS to backup your workstations, you will not encounter this problem.
- If you are using WHS to store copies of your favorite photos, videos and music to share with your family, you will not encounter this problem.
- If you have a file you need to edit, and you first copy it to your workstation, then edit it, then copy it back to your WHS, you will not encounter this problem.


I may be over-simplifying the description of the problem, but the data corruption is essentially restricted to directly editing/modifying data files stored in the the WHS’ shared folders. If you have a photo stored on WHS, and you try to edit that file directly using Photoshop, you might corrupt the file.


In my view, WHS is still 1.0. I have no problems testing it and using it. If I need to install it in a live site, I will probably do so with a single hard drive until the problem has been resolved. 


-kw 

Xobni and Outlook

I just came across a new product, currently in beta, that turns Outlook into a “social networking tool”. Not only does it give you lightning fast email searches, but it brings a wealth of information that I certainly did not think possible, much less needed. Email analytics, extract phone numbers from emails, threaded conversations, quick attachment discovery, and on, and on, and on.


They say a picture is wroth a thousand words … so check it out here: http://www.xobni.com/learnmore/


-kw

SBS2003, SP2 and ISA 2004

As a heads up … if you are installing SBS 2003 Premium with Windows Server SP2, your ISA 2004 installation may go belly-up. Steven Teiger just encountered such a situation: CEICW failed, and then upon restarting the SBS server, all of the ISA services failed.


According to Eriq Neale, you need to do the following steps:


1. Install SBS with SP2 (do basic setup, without ISA)
2. Disable ALL scalabale networking pieces. (Read Eriq’s detail step-by-step instructions here)
3. Download ISA 2004 SP3, then install ISA 2004 followed by installing ISA 2004 SP3.


In fact, if you were to run the SBS BPA after step 1, it also identifies the scalable networking pieces to be changed.


Hope this helps!
-kw

WHS and A/V Alert

I had a nice surprise today while I was downloading and preparing to install Vista SP1 to my workstation. Normally I do not heed the warning to disable the antivirus program, but for some reason today I decided to do so.


While Vista SP1 was busy installing, I turned to my WHS console and, lo and behold … I encountered the following critical alert message (click here).


-kw

WHS Q&A

[Edited 2-15-2008]


 


I gave a 2 ½ hour presentation and demo on WHS to our local Tampa Bay SBS User Group. Plenty of good questions, several which I could not answer. I’m posting the feedback and responses I received on those questions in hopes it helps someone else. Thanks to everyone who either asked the question, or provided an answer!


 


1. In a clean WHS environment (no SBS, etc.), how is name resolution amongst workstations and server handled? Any performance issues?


Ø  KW: UPnP for discovery, NetBIOS for most name resolution.


Ø  CEK: WHS acts exactly like a standalone, non-domain joined, W2K3 server in regards to name resolution.


 


2. How many simultaneous remote users will WHS support?


Ø  KW: Haven’t tried, probably no more than 10. There’s no explicit limitation in IIS, however


Ø  CEK: No limit, other than the fact that no more than 10 users can be defined


 


3. Can I have more than 10 people all using a common login/password access WHS shared folders simultaneously


Ø  KW: I don’t believe so; this is effectively Windows Server 2003 with 10 CALs


Ø  CEK: Not quite an accurate answer.  There is no technical limit on the number of concurrent connections


 


4. Will WHS Connector software work if a user logs onto his workstation with user name of ‘Administrator’?


Ø  KW: Yes


Ø  CEK: Sort-of. If the password for computer\Administrator is different than server\Administrator credentials will be required whenever you try to access server resources. We do not recommend this.


 


5. Will WHS work with a true NAS device for backups, or does it have to physically connected/installed on the WHS server?


Ø  KW: No (to working with a NAS device)


Ø  CEK: I’m not sure I understand the question.  What is a “true NAS”?  What does “physically connected” mean?


Ø  CR: If the iSCSI NAS appears as a local drive on the server, which it should, then you can use it as if it were just another drive. (This may not be technically accurate, but it appears to be effectively so – if you can see the drive in diskmgmt.msc, it works correctly for WHS.)


Ø  CEK: iSCSI != NAS  
NAS :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network-attached_storage – NAS uses file based protocols over the networking connection. SMB/CIFS or NFS typically.
SAN:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storage_Area_Network – SANs use block based protocols over the networking connection. SCSI over storage specific connection, iSCSI over TCP/IP connections.
All this crap is so confusing. So I like to be annoying and push people to use the standard terminology :-). However, in spirit you are right CR. If you were to enable WHS as an iSCSI Initiator and you had an iSCSI target lying around (say a W2K3 Server with an iSCSI target installed) you could use that storage “as a disk” in WHS.  (See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISCSI for terms).Someday we may see USB/Ethernet HDDs come with iSCSI targets built in (e.g. at a price point competitive with USB HDDs).  That would be cool, but it ain’t happening for a while.


Ø  CR: You are right, of course, most NAS are simply SMB/NFS. SANs are iSCSI or Fibre. During the beta, I used a huge EqualLogic SAN as a “drive” in WHS. Had PS3800XV with 16 15k SAS drives.


Ø  JL: For Home Server’s “storage pool” to work the underlying drive must be block level access such as a regular HDD or a USB/1394 connected drive. I think the Dev team only allows externally connected block level devices such as USB or Firewire. Since NAS devices use file level access it cannot be managed by the “storage pool” because NTFS cannot manage the blocks as required.


Ø  CEK: The answer is, then, “no”.  WHS only supports drives that are accessible via the block level which in practical terms today means PATA/IDE, SATA/eSATA, SCSI, 1394, and USB.


 


6. Does (or will) WHS support backing up Macs?


Ø  SB: Teacher I know this one! Dual boot to a  XP or Vista (Bootcamp for example…) Log into the home server..have it take an image backup of the entire system including the Mac partition.  If you are a WHS PM after backing up that Mac via bootcamp via XP to WHS blow that Mac partition away.  Restore the image.  Amaze your friends with a fully working Mac backed up and restored from a WHS. It has to talk “Redmond” but it can back up “Cupertino”.

Ø  EN: This is the ONLY option for Mac backup with WHS at this point. If you don’t have an Intel-based Mac, or if you don’t have Bootcamp configured to dual-boot the Mac, you will not be able to get your Mac backed up by the WHS backup tools. You can have a Windows environment running under Parallels or Fusion backed up to WHS, but those will not see any of the Mac disk to back up to WHS. So while the answer is technically “yes,” for the vast majority of folks out there, the practical answer is “no” right now.

 

7. When using Firefox browser for remote access, I see that it only gives me access to the shared folders, and not the shared computers. Are there any other limitations with specific browsers?

Ø  KW: The Computers tab is only supported in Internet Explorer (use the IETab Firefox addin if you really want to use Firefox) There are some display limitations in non-IE browsers as well.

Ø  CK: Any functionality that requires activeX controls is limited to IE6/IE7 (x86). On x64 machines the default IE is the x86 version so that is not a problem. The functionality that requires ActiveX controls is anything having to do with remote desktop which, specifically, is “access to the home server console” and “access to home computers”.

 

8. For a 2 person law firm, could we have WHS handle Quickbooks and Timeslips (using a single hard drive due to  current issue with data corruption) 

Ø  SB: I would backup QB to the local drive.  Never rely ONLY on the database on the server.  QB is flaky enough all by itself.  Always back up and park a copy someplace else.  The 2008 version has a nice automatic routine.  Always ensure that it’s not backed up to the same device it’s saving to.  This is a rule of QB in general.

Ø  KW: You would want a custom built WHS PC, not the HP MediaSmart Server, but I don’t see why not.

Ø  CK: The best experience will be had by buying an OEM Windows Home Server such as the HP MediaSmart Server.  “build your own” is something we don’t discourage, but it is really only for hard core enthusiasts.  There are sooooo many variables in hardware and so forth and our investment in setup was focused on enabling OEMs and System Builders, not end-users.

9. If WHS is backed up to external USB hard drives, could we restore that backup to different hardware (including a VM instance)?

Ø  KW: If you mean “backed up” as in Power Pack 1 server backup, then I think so. It’s just files at that point. You can’t back up Windows Home Server data using traditional backup tools, however

Ø  CK: Server Backup (in Power Pack 1) only backs up shared folders and the backup database. It does not back up server settings, add-ins, or the server OS.  But you could certainly restore a Server Backup to another instance of WHS, even if that other instance was running in a VM (you’d just have to install that WHS instance first).

 

10. Does WHS support hot-swappable hard drives (assuming hardware supports it)?

Ø  KW: Not in the sense I think you are probably looking for. WHS doesn’t care one way or the other, as long as the drive isn’t in the storage pool. If it’s in the pool, you can’t swap it without WHS complaining loudly

Ø  CK: It is important to disambiguate between “hot-swap” (being able to replace a drive while it is actively in use) and “hot-plug” (being able to unplug/plug-in drives while the power is on).  “hot-swap” really only applies to very high-end enterprise class storage systems.  Windows Home Server supports (assuming the underlying hardware supports, and SATA does) “hot-plug”.  You have to explicitly tell WHS you are removing the old drive (using Server Storage “Remove”) and then tell WHS you have added a new drive (using Server Storage “Add”).

 

11. Does WHS support 64 bit workstations (XP / Vista)?

Ø  KR: Vista 64 = Yes, XP 64 = No

-KW