Category Archives: 6577

WHS and Failing Disks

Customer calls complaining about a clicking noise on his HP Data Vault X510 WHS server. I’m guessing it’s either a bad disk or the fan. I bring the server back to the shop … and sure enough, it’s one of the disks that’s making the noise. But, how do I determine which disk???

A quick search of the Internet and the WHS Home Servert SMART add-in comes to the rescue! I installed the latest version (1.1.36.6) and voila! it quickly identified the disk in question. This will be an add-in I will be installing on all my WHS servers!

WHS Console won’t run

I was working on a custom built Windows Home Server (not an HP or Acer) from a customer site that was not letting me log in or access it remotely. Once I got it set up on my workbench, I powered it up and logged in. When I went to start up the WHS console, the console displayed for the briefest of moments, and then it closed down. Checking the event log, I found an Event ID 5000 .Net Runtime 2.0 error. My first attempt tosearch for a solution indicated that a specific file might be missing. However, the file was on this server.

I then found this post that suggested the error might be caused by the date/time clock being off. Sure enough, the clock on the WHS box was set to Pacific TZ. I reset the timezone, reset the time, and voila, the WHS console started right up!

Windows Home Server (V2) VAIL

I have been a huge fan of Windows Home Server (WHS) ever since it was announced back in January 2007. This past April (2010) Microsoft released a public beta version of the next version of the Windows Home Server product, code name VAIL. The big change (behind the scenes) is that VAIL operates in a 64-bit environment, and is based on the Windows 2008 R2 platform. For a more in depth list of features with VAIL, check out this post: http://homeservershow.com/the-windows-home-server-vail-feature-list.html

There are several hardware vendors (e.g. HP, Acer) that sell headless WHS systems (HP DataVault X310/X510, Acer Aspire EasyStore H340) . I have had great success in deploying these products, not in homes, but in businesses! As to VAIL, I recently did a headless, automatic install of VAIL to an ACER Easystore H340 that I had on hand. Thanks to Kevin Royalty who helped me with the “answer file“.

Finally, be sure to check out the WHS Team Blog for up to date info on Windows Home Server VAIL.

WHS – Now ready for Business PrimeTime?

One of the knocks on Windows Home Server (WHS) is that it contains the word ‘Home’ in its name. If that issue has kept you from selling or installing WHS in businesses, then check out the news from HP — they have released WHS with a new name: HP StorageWorks X500 Data Vault

The equipment is almost identical to their HP MediaSmart Server models, except with a faster processor, and SKU’s with larger (1TB and 1.5TB drives) in them.

I install WHS in all my business client offices — even those with SBS servers. Are you?

WHS & SBS: Approved for Backups

For more than a year I have been promoting the use of Windows Home Server as a local backup solution in a Small Business Server (SBS2003/SBS2008) environment (per these two blogs: blog1blog2). I already have WHS installed at most of my SBS customer sites.

It now seems as if Microsoft is now willing to say “Yes” — that using WHS to backup your workstations and servers is a viable and supported scenario!  Read more on Microsoft’s Technet site.

WHS Business Opportunities

If you are a Microsoft Partner, there will be a 5W/50 webinar entitled “Business Opportunities with Windows Home Server – Updated with PowerPack 2 Content” today at noon (EDT) given by Grey Lancaster and Kevin Royalty. If you think WHS is only for homes, then you’re still thinking within the box! WHS is a perfect fit with SBS 2003/2008.

WHS and the Acer Aspire easyStore H340

Talk about a deal too good to refuse! Acer recently came out with their WHS server, that competes straight up with the HP MediaSmart Server. For the rest of this post, I will refer to it as the ‘easyStore’. A week ago I stumbled on a deal through NCIX (USA) that was offering the easyStore for $399, with a 1TB drive and 2GB memory, and for a limited time was throwing in a second 1TB drive. I jumped at the chance. And it arrived by FedEx this afternoon.

Within 30 minutes I had it unboxed, powered up, installed the WHS connector to my Win7 laptop and now running a full backup. A few random thoughts:

  • It comes with a real honest-to-goodness printed manual (in 6 languages)!
  • Astethics of the external box is very nice. Black color, USB port in front, 4 more in the back along with an Ethernet port
  • System started up and was up and running without a hitch or issue. I like that!
  • WHS PowerPack 1 is already installed on it. Be sure to get Power Pack 2 installed on it!

What’s new or different with the easyStore versus HP?

  • The easyStore comes with an IP Configuration tool to adjust the server’s IP settings. Since this works from the rmeote WHS console, you no longer need to access the server via Remote Desktop to make such changes.
  • Acer has implemented a one-touch USB backup. What you may say? Simply put, plug in a USB drive that contains various media files and press the USB button. The easyStore will automatically copy all the files on that USB drive to the Public shared folder on the server, and automatically place each file in it’s appropriate sub folder (Music, Photo, Video)! How cool is that. You no longer have to logon to the WHS console in order to access the USB drive and copy files.
  • The easyStore comes with a 6 month subscription to McAfee’s Total Protection software pre-installed
  • The easyStore also comes with the WHS Lights Out addon that allow you to suspend or wake up the server at specific times, such as when its time to backup workstations.
  • The easyStore also comes with Digital Media Server (DMS) and an iTunes Server.

For a more in-depth review, along with pscreenshots, check out Andrew Edney’s blog post on the Acer easyStore.

Once my first backup is completed, I’ll test adding the second drive to this server and report on my findings!

SBS, WHS and Backup Software

One of my mottos has always been: “You cannot have enough backup!”. So, I am always investigating and testing backup software. When Microsoft first releasd Windows Home Server (WHS), I knew that this was a product I would be testing. Well, tonight, it saved my bacon!

My own SBS 2003 server that has been running for years experienced a serious hard drive failure. Fortunately I do use Raid-5 disk configuration. So I shut down the server, replaced the drive, fired up the server to rebuild the Raid, and then rebooted. But apparently something else was amiss, as Windows would not boot up properly, reporting a failure or corruption with Active Directory. After trying a couple of other options unsuccessfully, I decided to see if WHS would get me back online.

Yes, I use WHS as my backup software of choice for backing up my SBS 2003 server! (P.S. The WHS Team has an informative article here).

So, I pulled out my WHS Restore CD and booted my server off the CD. However, it did not load a driver for my NIC card. No problem, as I knew the drill: go to another workstation, fire up the WHS Console, view the backup directory for the computer in question (my SBS server), and copy the contents of the WHS Drivers for Recovery folder to a USB thumb drive, and rename the folder to DRIVERS. I then took the thumb drive back to the server, where the WHS restore screen has a convenient button to install additional drivers. An hour later my server was back online and operational!

Lessons learned? There are lots of vendors offering backup software solutions for the Windows marketplace. I have used Acronis, ShadowProtect, and others. These are all good products. But WHS is a real winner for me, and for many of my small business customers. I have WHS installed and backing up both SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 servers, plus serveral peer-to-peer networks. It just works! It has even recovered a Windows 7 Beta laptop for me!

Now, someone may say that offsite (or remote online) backups are required, and I would not argue that point at all. Remember: I believe in multiple levels of backup solutions. But for the small business and home environments, WHS is an excellent backup software solution.

Cheers!