Windows Home Server 2011 Fails To Deliver Consumer Friendly Storage

by Alex Kuretz on February 3, 2011 · 132 comments

in News

Ever since the Windows Home Server team was absorbed into the Small Business Server team I’ve observed a steady decline in the attention the team has placed on the average home user while designing the next generation Windows Home Server products. You have gotten a taste of this with the out of touch manner that the removal of Drive Extender was announced and the subsequent silence from Microsoft on how your data would be protected on Windows Home Server Vail.

Today Microsoft have finally broken their silence on what storage management will look like in Windows Home Server 2011, and with the absence of consumer friendly storage management things do not look good for the average home user. If you’ve not yet read the announcement from Microsoft, please do so here before continuing on.

In the announcement, Microsoft notes that this is the first public preview to “include changes to the storage features” (aka removal of Drive Extender) and offers to guide you through the changes you can expect. There is really only one change, and that is the replacement of Drive Extender with the functional equivalent of Windows Explorer embedded in the Dashboard, dubbed the “Move Folder Wizard.”

Here’s an excerpt from the announcement on how the Move Folder Wizard works (be sure to watch the YouTube video linked at the end for a nice drink of the Microsoft Kool-Aid).

A new Move Folder Wizard makes it easy for you to move data from one drive to another. As Hard Drives are added to the Home Server, your health alerts will notify you that a new Hard Drive is available. From here, you can automatically format and configure the new drive for additional storage.

Once configured, you can easily use the Move Folder Wizard to move your data to the new drive as needed.

To see this in action, please watch our Windows Home Server Move Folder Wizard Learning Bite.

The following screenshots outline this process.

Note that the Drive Format tools will limit you to partitions of a maximum size of 2TB, in order to fit within the limitations of the Server Backup feature.

The Move Folder Wizard is Microsoft’s answer for how to easily grow your Home Server storage capabilities, let’s hope they have something equally innovative and powerful to protect your data stored on the server.

Unfortunately, no, there is nothing new to protect the data stored on the server. Microsoft’s answer to the data protection question is to use the Server Backup feature. Just as Small Business Server users have been doing for years, you will configure your server to back itself up on a regular basis to a dedicated backup hard drive connected to your server. In the event that a drive fails, you restore the backup to regain access to your data. This is a welcome feature that is significantly better than what was offered in Windows Home Server, though it is not data duplication and has important caveats.

A severe limitation for some of you will be that the Server Backup feature can only backup shares with a maximum size of 2TB, so those of you with large movie collections will need to create multiple shared folders or else not back them up. You will be required to configure and manage multiple backup drives if you have many large shares that you want to protect. Microsoft asserts this is sufficient protection for the data stored on your server, I assert that while this does work for small businesses and tech enthusiasts, this is not the ideal feature for the average home user who would purchase a Home Server at their local Best Buy. Will the package inform them that they need to buy additional hard drives for Server Backup in order to protect their data?

One bit of good news is that Previous Versions (Shadow Copy) can be enabled on each hard drive to protect against accidental file deletion, however Microsoft is taking the disconcerting stance of proclaiming that this feature is “data protection”. From my experience, there is no way to guarantee that a previous version of all your files will exist on the server when you need them. Having Previous Versions is a great convenience feature that many missed having in Windows Home Server, but it in no way should be categorized as data protection.

What is likely the most important part of the Windows Home Server 2011 announcement is the adoption of the product by OEMs and what form of data protection they will offer to customers. The absence of any OEM specific information in this announcement is concerning to me. Without any details from other OEMs it is hard to know what the final solutions will look like, but I expect a variety of solutions will likely only serve to confuse and frustrate consumers looking for the right solution to protect and store their data. This storage flexibility works great for the varied needs of Small Business, but is not good for the average consumer.

This leaves Windows Home Server 2011 sorely lacking when it comes to fitting the needs of the average home consumer, the target market that was envisioned for the original Windows Home Server. While WHS 2011 is a polished improvement of Windows Home Server, storage management has become more complicated, storage growth is more complicated, and storage protection will either depend on what is likely to be complicated RAID from the OEMs or else Server Backup with its limitations. This leaves Windows Home Server 2011 really only appealing to tech enthusiasts (such as many of you likely to be reading this), though keep in mind Microsoft has yet to sharing pricing details on a System Builder version assuming it is made available even though they call WHS 2011 “affordable” in the announcement.

What do you think of Windows Home Server 2011? Does the solution appeal to you? I’m reserving my final judgment until I see what the OEMs deliver, but I am extremely concerned for the non-technical average home user (the target user of Windows Home Server). As for me, I turned off this WHS 2011 RC test system after writing this article. I’m perfectly happy with my MediaSmart Server running Windows Home Server v1 and see no reason to make a change for a long time to come.

Article by

I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


jam3ohio (jim) February 3, 2011 at 11:44 am


Did I read this correctly? Are you saying that 3TB drives are not going to be supported in WHS 2011? Also, is software RAID an option?



Alex Kuretz February 3, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Jim, no, 3TB drives are supported, but the built-in Drive Format wizard will partition them into a 2TB partition and a partition that has the remainder of the space.

Matt S. February 4, 2011 at 9:08 am

THAT is inexcusable. WHY would I want to have multiple partitions on a single drive that’s used for shares and backups? A couple of my shares are monstrous so I’d have to segragate contents (i.e. movies) just to get it under the 2 TB threshold.

EPIC FAIL. Like you, I will be sticking with WHS v1.

Mobi May 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Im running WHS 2011 RC right now and I have 3 2tb drives in raid 0 and whs 2011 is using the full size 5.5 tb without a problem. I did see a video early on that did say drives would be limited to 2tb but i guess Microsoft thought that would be dumb.

Alex Kuretz February 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Software RAID is certainly an option, any underlying storage technology is available if the OEM or user wants to set it up.

Diego February 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm

RAID as an option?. I don’t think so. RAID hardware for more than 4 drives is very expensive for home users.

Samim Al-Bader April 9, 2011 at 4:54 am

Dear Alex

There is a major problem in backup in WHS 2011. I tried all the normal back and it failed to do one desent backup. No file dublication with a very limited backup (2TB limits) is killiong the most importent idea behind WHS. It should be a server for the masses of people whom doesnt have strong IT background. WHS should deliver an easy and behind the seen protection for our data and files. I even tried the server backup utility and that had also failed to do a one comple backup. WHS 1 is a much better operation system than the new one even with all its drawbacks but at least I am secured becase I know all my files can be restored due to the file dupliation tool which works behind the seen and realy good. I am have a long IT experiance and couldnt do one good backup for my system so what about others some have limited experiance. My be the OENM supplier will do something but what about others that want to build such a system and if the limitations goes deep into the host operating system so how can the OEM do something to improve it.
Microsft should realy think alot before pushing this version to market. WHS 2011 is a disaster for home users and shame on the development team of Microsoft.
Thses are words based on three weeks traing to backup my system and couldnt do that.
Backup is a major issue for all users and should not be considered as a minor issueas its mentioned in your article.

Best regards

T-Bone February 3, 2011 at 11:49 am

Move folder?? EPIC FAILURE!! How Gay I could use a desktop version of windows if I wanted to have multiple Drive letters. The benifit of the system doing that for me was a huge plus for me. I liked the drive pool, I hate this….

Vagge February 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

I wonder if it’s possible to install a synchronization software that is capable of duplication of the data among the drives.
As for the backup I think it’s a minor problem.
You don’t want to rely on the driveextender on the current version (whsv1) anyway.

I also wonder if it’s possible to do a hardware raid on my HP datavault x500?

Murchman February 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I will be running my EX495 for a few more years now until someone takes back over the home server team and gets them back to what Home Server was supposed to be all about. This product will not sell well at all to any home users, i doubt even small biz users will buy it as there are better and easier options out there.

JohnBick February 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm

If the primary purpose of the server is to (1) back up client data and (2) serve-up shared files I can see no reason to use WHS2011. Whatever the price it will be more expensive than an open-source Linux (Ubuntu?) solution.

Personally I expect to stay with the current WHS as long as my MS MSS keeps running and I have capacity in it. I am no longer looking at an expansion chassis for the MSS. Long-term the solution will likely be Ubuntu.

For clients? I highly doubt I will have any left. They all invested in WHS on my recommendation, eschewing Linux proposals from others. Oh well, I am retired (from a large computer company), have a retirement check and some investments. I have made far more than a “good dollar” off WHS so far, especially in 2010, and socked away every penny. I expect my clients’ transitions will take 1-3 years. By then I’ll be ready to retire ALL the way!

I just feel really bad about misleading clients. WHS v1 they can handle very nicely; WHS2011 will definitely require skills they do not currently possess. A doctor, for example, is willing to spend an absolute MAXIMUM of an hour a month on the server system. Almost no private practices have any reliable server skills and staff turn-over would be a problem if someone did have the skills. They need to contract it out. Setup and upgrades (which I did) are one thing, routine operations (adding capacity, backups, etc.) will not have to be contracted as well.

(I would love to be proven wrong and have some vendor step up to the plate and wrap some user-friendliness around WHS2011, but I do not see it happening.)

Microsoft is not only missing the HOME server market, they are missing the (VERY) SMALL business market as well: the Mom & Pop operations, small medical offices (1-3 practitioners), DJs, radio stations, etc. Like all other successful large companies, they start thinking small and then fall into the revenue trap of their largest clients. They have lost their focus.

Rod May 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

If I can ask what you think of WHS with power pack 3?
I now have WHS 2003
Should I even consider moving?

Alex Kuretz May 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm

There is no WHS 2003, Windows Home Server v1 is based off of Server 2003 as long as you have automatic updates enabled you are running the latest version.

Bodog WGS February 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm

It is a sad day for WHS
Microsoft have stuffed this up big time
I’m going to be a v1 guy for as long as possible – it meet my needs and delivers (what’s a few Server reinstalls every now and then between friends)

Gordon Currie February 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

The only way this could possibly work for the target market is to have turnkey systems with all the RAID settings preconfigured. OEMs will love this as they can tier their offerings (one for the low-end, one for the storage hungry media enthusiast with a far higher price tag).

This pretty much kills it for the DIY market except for the most technical of us.

However, if you have the tech skills to install this, set up RAID etc. – why not just go for a true server OS? The OS is a relatively small part of the price (especially once you start talking hardware RAID).

It’s baffling why they are forging ahead with this. They still have SBS 2011 Essentials for the small business market. No one needs this!

Brajesh February 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I’m already looking to move to a NAS solution like Synology’s DS1511+, but may hold on to my HP EX490 a while longer. It was the ease of use, flexibility in adding extra storage, useful add-ins and easy data recovery (within or outside the WHS) that made me choose WHS v1 in the first place. The only things I didn’t like were the occasional media streaming issues and wasteful data duplication. v2011 is a huge step backwards when it could have really built upon v1 and offered so much more for consumers’ ever-growing streaming needs of today.

Awake February 3, 2011 at 1:38 pm

So Microsoft has basically abandoned development on the product outright, and given us a dorky wizard for formatting a new drive. Wow, I’m impressed.

Bye Bye WHS, you were great while you were around…

A huge company like Microsoft can’t offer a basic system that provides centralized redundant storage and basic backup to home users… if this is what MS has become, sell your MS stock.

Greg February 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I’m another big fan of WHS v1 who is planning to hold onto his HP MediaSmart server for as long as he can. Without Drive Extender, I don’t see the point of getting WHS 2011.

I figure I’ll use the MSS for backups of four attached computer and full redundancy of personal data, and maybe Amahi? Greyhole? Ceph? UnRAID? for a second server that’ll hold just media (music, TV, movies, etc.)

Awake February 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm

My guess is that the WHS-V1 backup system will become obsolete for Windows 8 clients, which will be here before you know it (life passes waaaay too fast), and unless you “upgrade” to Vail, you will not have auto backup of Windows 8 desktops.

Aside from the great backup system… can someone tell me why I shouldn’t choose a Drobo for my next external storage system?

JohnBick February 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

The Windows 8 client concern is a valid one — and I suspect it will force many of us off WHSv1 far sooner than we would like.

Ian February 3, 2011 at 4:23 pm

And that’s where MS could suffer – I have 6 laptops and one tower backed up by WHS (slightly more computers than family…) running mostly W7 (1 still XP).

No upgrades to W8 from me if WHS can’t cope, so no family pack purchases to provide MS with dosh. Replicate that over the many diehard WHS users, and that starts to impact.

teq February 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Reasons not to choose a Drobo: expensive, slow, unreliable. Enough said?


Joe February 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I already have a EX485 backup unit with Drive Extender. For me, EX485 main limitation is that the server cannot be backed up, and it is slow. Vail can backup its own server, and it presumably with the right hardware will be fast.

I’m thinking that I will acquire a new Vail server hardware package, and backup Vail with my soon to be unused EX485. For me, I should have enough backup capabilities for the next few years, at least until the next round of home backup servers arrive, and without Vail’s limitations arrive.

Perhaps I”ll be using Vail to back that version up.

Geoff Coupe February 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Just goes to prove that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – particularly when you’ve just killed all the silkworms…

Cubanblood February 3, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I will continue using my MSS with WHS v1 until Microsoft decides to pull the plug on it. Hopefuly by then someone comes up with a way to make an add-in from DE. Either way i am getting myself familiar with whole RAID thing.

GPKing February 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Alex, you nailed it. And I recommend everyone to head over to and read Paul Thurrott’s excellent article on why MS should abandon the consumer market altogether. WHS is a perfect example.

I am also sticking with my WHS v1 for now. But the NAS systems are getting more sophisticated as well. Maybe that will be a compelling solution once support for WHS v1 is discontinued.

Or maybe we will see another Vista episode with WHS – provided that MS moves the group into the entertainment division where it belongs, and WHS v3 will be there with the emphasis put back on the home user who does not have the time to fiddle with storage setups.

JohnBick February 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Or the VERY low-end business market that cannot afford the support required for a business-class server, even a very low-end one.

Damian February 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Like most other WHS v1 users have commented, I will be using v1 for as long as humanly possible as I evaluate other solutions. I don’t even feel comfortable trying to create a Vail + RAID solution (such as FlexRAID) since I feel there is still a great chance MS abandons WHS altogether.

Cubanblood February 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I just one to add one more thing. In my opinion “Vail” is just a Win7 with a dashboard, and a remote website. If any of my shares is as large as the drive then i might as well use Wind7 and some hard drives. The funny thing is that i cant hate microsoft because hate is a feeling and i dont fell s…t for them. I do love Apple.

Awake February 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm

You are basically correct.

If only somebody made a small 4 bay box like the HP MediaSmart Server or ReadyNAS or Drobo but with video and keyboard connections, I suspect that discussion would be over. Just use your choice of OS, slap in a few drives and some backup software, and you have Vail.

I want to build two systems and give one to my neighbor in the house nest door, so I can replicate the data though wireless. Something simple, but I can’t seem to find an enclosure that is nice and takes a CPU.

Ron August 9, 2011 at 10:45 am

I built my Vail Home Server using a LIAN LI Mini-Q PC-Q08 Black Mini Tower Case, 3.5″ HDD /6, Mini-ITX, 2 slots.

Small, compact , sturdy, cool, and nice looking. Check it out.

RingaDing February 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Raid is not an option for the home user. Its not to easy and it’s going to be twice the cost with Hdd’s
WHS I believe was desighned for the home user (the clue is in the name) and as such should have been handled by the original guys and girls and not the bussiness end of microsoft.

I feel that this is the end for WHS. It will sell less then V1 and be pulled. Probably why HP droped the MSS line.
I believe that V1 would have sold better with a differant name (remove server from it,to scary for joe public) and promoted. To this day i still haven’t been able to see any promo advertising show the benifits of WHS. No announcements were ever made in stores when it was released, unlike W7, Office, Server 2008, and the list goes on.
With Vail it realy looks like MS have lost sight.

Comp1962 February 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I know I will continue to run my WHS v1 and may install the newer version but I will give that some thought. As for OEM’s well Acer was mentioned in the Windows Home Server Blog near the end of the post which you can read at the link below:

Paul February 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Prediction: Apple will come out with something that will blow WHS and Microsoft out of the water, again.

hvail February 4, 2011 at 4:41 am

Can we install OSX Snow Leopard Server software on the Media Smart Server?

Mike February 11, 2011 at 11:14 am

Apple doesn’t care about the home user’s centralized storage needs.

They’ll continue to pump things through iTunes for rental and purchase and expect each user to store everything on each computer.

They will then expect you to utilize AirPlay to play the files through a dedicated device like an AppleTV.

Thus their “centralized storage” is basically your Mac computer.

I don’t see them putting together a “storage and backup system” that is completely autonomous as this would allow people to skip the purchase of the Mac Computer and go cheap with just an AppleTV.

PatrickGreene April 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm

You are correct. I had to hack my AppleTV to make it useful. It’s a great streamer from WHS using XBMC, but as sold, a tethered to Apple iTunes dumbed down rotten apple core.

Adam February 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm

For me a big question is do I keep on running my 470 with 2gb or find a new or used 490/495? And if so, is it possible to simply move the data drives from one unit into the other, or do you have to fully populate the new server with drives and do some kind of robocopy from one server to the other?

I’m happy with the 470. It does the job. I like the idea of a few more usb ports on the 490/495 and slightly more power.

Mike February 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

you should be able to move the non system drives easily.
The system drive would be another issue entirely.

The Kitty February 3, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I may decide to use my vail test box as a Win7 Media box with data storage and use the HP485 for user backup and duplicate data storage. Then I can use media center, TV capture, etc. via Win7. No DE means it is just a big multidrive OS, not a solution.

They do say good MS OSes come every other release (think: Win98SE, WinMe, WinXP, Vista, Win7). Looks like WHS may be the same to our regret.

Aaron February 3, 2011 at 7:07 pm

“”Prediction: Apple will come out with something that will blow WHS and Microsoft out of the water””

Yeah, and it will be way overpriced, locked up tightly like a draconian dream and we’ll have to listen to Steve B…jobs tell us every year how wonderful it is (at least until he croaks soon). You’ll probably have to SYNC it with his bloated itunes software just to keep it running.

No thanks! I’d rather buy a mobo with Intel based RAID onboard and a budget level processor and fill the case with a bunch of 75 dollar hard drives running RAID 5.

Bob February 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm

WHS is now dead.

What a joke of a product. How is this different from just using a desktop version of Windows.

I’ll stick to WHS v1 thanks.

Now all we need is an enterprising developer to make a v1 DE like plugin.

Brian February 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I’ve already transitioned back to a Synology (DS410) & sold my EX490 (originally had a Synology CS407e, which I sold to get the MSS). Microsoft looked to have a lot of promise early last year…promise of Vail, I love the Zune HD, the Courier tablet, but their evolutions have all been disappointments as far as i’m concerned.

I think they really do need to separate their consumer and business divisions (maybe a split off company, Microsoft Home or something), as opposed to dropping it altogether as Thurott suggests. They do seem to get into each other’s way, and obviously business gets preferential treatment – case in point needing Win 7 Pro to do remote access :/

Mike February 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

you needed XP Pro / Vista Business to have remote access as well.
this is not something new for Win 7.

and it’s pretty trivial to allow remote access to a Win7 Home Premium system and even allow it to host multiple sessions.

Triff February 4, 2011 at 5:49 am

As usual, MS don’t provide us with well user-friendly solution. As usual, people have to hire IT consultants and install 3rd-party backup software. Probably, Symantec just pays MS for not developing fine solution, hehe :)

Techvet February 4, 2011 at 6:05 am

Definitely a disappointment for me and as I’ve stated previously, I too will be keeping my WHS v1 box running as long as possible. It will be interesting to see how long Microsoft will keep WHS v1 viable. I’m guessing there are no legal requirements to do so, so another 2-3 years worth of updates and they could turn out the lights and wave us good-bye. This sort of attitude/abandonment comes with a price.

After HP’s abrupt departure from the MSS market and their snobbish refusal to share the MediaSmart code with the community, I’ve vowed to stay away from their products as much as possible. Case in point, within the next 3 months, I’m buying a new laptop for my daughter and a new desktop for myself and I haven’t even cracked the HP website to see what they offer and don’t intend too. Years ago when MS was pushing sub-par products on folks (I’m talking the original Windows), I jumped ship and went to Digital Research’s DR-DOS, which was a way better OS, full of many features Microsoft refused to provide. These days our options are still limited, but I will be watching with interest for the next technology that emulates what WHS v1 provides, especially if it comes from someone other than Microsoft.

SaxxonM February 4, 2011 at 9:07 am

Amahi for the win. WHS has failed at it’s purposes. Why would you only support 2TB drives when there are a plethora of 3TB out and 4TB soon coming? Plus, people who use hardware raid, such as myself, as RAID 0 Spanning to array the 3 2TB hard drives I have for a total of 6GB on one spanned volume get screwed on this one. I had this installed for a day and reverted to Windows Home Server V1 which had a lot of limitations as far as [single] hard drives were concerned. It obviously wouldn’t allow for more than 2TB because it didn’t support GPT. I am sticking with Linux for my home server. Fedora 12 + Amahi = Best media and home server solution there is, with much more coming. I was never a fan of Linux, but it’s definitely won this portion of my needs over.

Havoc70 February 14, 2011 at 10:59 am

With the Announcement of this Stupidity, and in reading several other users suggestions i have already moved my HP EX490 over to Amahi, it was a simple procedure and it works better and faster than WHS V.1. Goodbye Microslop, at least until you decide to pull your heads out and listen to the public.

chasrobin February 4, 2011 at 9:22 am

WOW! I’m so glad I did my Win7 migration.
Those SBS boys have all by themelves Tanked a perfectly good product.
The only thing about WHS11 I like is the web interface/console.
and I use that so rarely I wouldnt pay for it.
Now watch they will jack the price so high as to kill the interest of even the remaining WHS followers.
Has anyone wondered if they are intentionally killing the line, as it takes resources from SBS? (Another weak product)
I’m not an apple guy but if they did come out with something with WHSv1 features in a 64bit package I would look at it closely.
Hahaha the funny thing is I was never totally sold on DE, but I can’t imagine WHS11 standing on it’s own for very long, it’s too much like SBS now.

J. Wilson February 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

I’ve already decided to buy a debug cable with a video head and reformat my HP 495ex using Linux. It seems to me the writing is on the wall and Microsoft no longer sees Window Home server as a strategic product.

JLee February 4, 2011 at 11:30 am

I waited for Vail but after reading this article.. I just bought the one of the few remaining Storageworks x510 available… Now I need to decide what type of hard disk I should buy for my X510.

Fleon February 4, 2011 at 11:42 am

Fantastic work, MS. There were thousands of complaints about removing Drive Extender and you- after acknowledging you’d read them- have completely ignored them.

After 10 years of really disliking Apple, I’m getting a Mac.

Justin February 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I don’t see why everyone is so upset. Drive Extender was a terribly in-efficient storage system. Come one, a full data mirror of selected folders? All data on a server is to be saved. Using a RAID 5 is the bare minimum. The average person at home will never open the box on a home server. Ever. Period. Only serious tech heads that got a stiffy throwing all their old HDDs in an old computer were excited to use this feature.

I mean, come on, a few mklinks will easily make shares seem to have miles of space even though they are on different partitions.

It won’t be rocket science, and an aggressive shadow copy scheduled task is a great addition for document type folders on your server. Also, 3rd party addins will fill void quickly of duplicating data or setting up the mklinks automatically.

The data-deduplication in the windows backups, and simplified backup procedure in general is still present from what I understand, and that is by far the most important feature. Sure there are other goodies, but in reality, with a standard windows installation taking 20gigs once you are ready roll, can really add up. I have 5 machines backing up to the server and they only take a total of 300GB. And that is over 1 year worth of manual and automatic backups. The restore procedures are easy and even getting single files out of the backups is a breeze. You will still be able to download your files, and work with everything else. It uses a better core and works better with homegroups. Better streaming capabilities and web interface. Supports more ram for large indexing of documents, code or ebooks. Everything about this is better.

The outrage over this feature just doesn’t seem warranted. Any person who calls them self a tech guy, should have a raid controller and at least a RAID 5 going on a home server. Any person who has 2+ TB of Movie rips is going to want that data guaranteed safe, and wasn’t going to want that data to take up TWICE as much space on the server to get it. If I have a 3TB movie library, I don’t want it to consume 6TB of space. That is simply awful.

Come on folks, all you are doing is telling these people that a product that is a niche and probably loses money to begin with for Microsoft isn’t worth their time. You are guaranteeing that there will never be another version that may have brought your precious drive-extender back.

Can we just calm down, and realize, this is still a step ahead.

Alex Kuretz February 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Thanks for your comments. However, you are making exactly my point.

Any person who calls them self a tech guy, should have a raid controller and at least a RAID 5 going on a home server.

This statement, plus your references to mklink and the wastefulness of data duplication show that you are a tech enthusiast with the skills and ability to build a great storage system under the WHS 2011 platform.

My point is that there are many people who cannot do what you advocate and will end up lost, confused, and likely unhappy with their purchase.

Only serious tech heads that got a stiffy throwing all their old HDDs in an old computer were excited to use this feature.

This is a blatant untruth. DE has allowed me to start my server with a 500GB and 1TB drive, then later add a 1.5TB drive, then a 2TB drive, then replace the 1TB drive with a 2TB drive as my storage needs changed and grew. No other system provides the ease of use and functionality that we have with WHS v1. I’m perfectly happy to waste some disk space mirroring data as a tradeoff for flexible, easy to use storage management.

WHS 2011 is GREAT for the tech enthusiast, but is not right for the average consumer.

Justin February 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I still think you need to get the new version out there and let the addin market give it a shot. The process you describe of adding drives is still going to be pretty easy in the future. Sure, adding a drive was plug and play before, but removing one wasn’t. You still had to tell the server you needed to remove it. It would then take the server an eternity to move the files, and then it would say, ok to remove. An addin tool could easily handle this process.

Also, you opened the case. You are more than an average user. An average user doesn’t accumulate TBs worth of data. You are a power user by definition. Don’t downplay your abilities or skill set here. If your implying that the market for the homeserver starts at the power user level to begin with I may not argue that, but don’t call you and them average users.

Modern raid controllers can handle carving of large raid drives, automatically enlarging volume sizes with the addition of new drives, and auto rebuilding of a faulty drive. An addin should be able to do the rest. Also, this setup makes it possible if the OS gets corrupt, you can boot from a live cd or other tool and recover all your files, or just install a new version over the current and have the files there. The need to backup the server contents is greatly reduced since you have redundancy and a disaster (mis-click, power hit, motherboard failure, virus) plan. The new version of DE from what I read eliminated the ability to boot to another OS and see the contents of the drives in the pool. That is terrible in a disaster recovery situation. Can you imagine the OS drive failing and then the backup disk or cds that were never tested not working. I would cry for days.

I do agree with you that it is sad when current features are dropped, but the community just seems to be going insane over this when it is still a step forward from the original version.

Hard drive failures are a fact of life. Upgrading storage may be a little more intensive, and though it is inconvenient in that the functionality isn’t built in, I still think the add-in community will remedy this. I am really nervous now that Microsoft will just cut its losses and move out of this really important field. The backup features of the homeserver and the web interface for the files has saved me so many times, I have lost count. It has just worked since I put the initial effort in.

Alex Kuretz February 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I appreciate your concern about Microsoft pulling out of the market, but without a product usable by the masses, Windows Home Server is not doing what it was originally intended (and should) do.

If Microsoft couldn’t get DE right over two generations of product and countless engineering years, you think we should wait for an Add-In developer to make it happen? You’ve got to be kidding me. As I state in my article, I’ve left my mind open to seeing what the OEMs pull together but I have serious concerns about the technical ability that will be required and the various final solutions confusing the consumer over which Home Server is right for them.

I didn’t open any case, I simply opened the door and used the screwless hot-swap drive trays in my MediaSmart Server to easily expand storage. Yes it took several hours to remove a drive, but that’s no concern as I did it overnight.

My skills and abilities are irrelevant in this discussion. I’ve heard countless IT admins and tech enthusiasts say they do enough RAID array management and IT support at their day jobs, they don’t want to mess with this stuff at home. More important are the people that bought a Home Server because they realize they need to back up their important digital photos, music and video.

I created this site in 2007 because I knew that people would need help with the MediaSmart Server and WHS, it’s popularity has proven that I was correct. With even more complicated storage management and no built-in data protection the product becomes significantly less useful for the average consumer.

WHS v1 is easy to expand and protect your data. WHS 2011 is not.

Cubanblood February 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I have to disagree with you when you said that DE is noy a good product. It has serve me well and i have had drives fail and the data is always there. I know RAID 5 seems like a good solution but there is a high chance that the data can be lost during a rebuilt. Also when one drive fail usually there other ones will not to long after.
I think what MS should have done is take v1 fix the bugs, give it the UI WHS11 has and go from there.
I like Win7 and i dont see the need to purchase another OS when 7 can do the same things. Maybe i dont get the remote website but i dont use it that much.

chasrobin February 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Ah Yes, the raid idea.
Most raid controllers that have all the beels and whistles come at a premium too.
Who wants to buy a $500 server and have to put a $1000 controller in it to do what my $380 MSS did right out of the box.
Granted I’m comparing bannana’s and fish, but your not going to get redundancy or expandability of DE’s sort without some special hardware.
Like I said before I was never totally sold on DE, but I am one of those that fall into the camp of “I DON’T WANT TO BE AN ADMIN AT HOME!”
But since Microsoft is going to force me into that field I will jump to a product that has more features I want to use thats been around long enough to be stable is available right now at a reasonable price. Thanks Microsoft for Windows 7 a perfectly good substitute for WHS11.

Mike McManus February 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm

@chasrobin – Yep, and this is why my planned new WHS build is not even going to consider raid – cost wise, I couldn’t justify putting a $1200 card in my build when 3 – $100 cards and WHS gave me the same capability. Not to mention my aforementioned limited tech skills.

LoneWolf15 April 1, 2011 at 12:21 pm


I work as a sysadmin by day, and have been a tech for over fifteen years. I work with a few dozen servers at work, with RAID-1, RAID-5, and RAID-6 setups.

I don’t want to manage a RAID at home. When I run out of space, I don’t want to have to back up data, remove four drives from a box, replace them with four new larger drives, rebuild the RAID, and then restore the data to the box. I once felt like you did regarding RAID for Windows Home Server (back when it was in beta for v1), and over time I have completely changed my mind, as I have upgraded from 1.5TB drives to 2TB drives without having to go through a lot of garbage that I would have had to with RAID. Furthermore, I disagree that “all data needs to be saved”. I have folders full of software ISOs that I keep on my home server. However, it’s not the end of the world, I can get them back if something goes south, so I don’t use duplication on that folder. I LIKE being able to decide what to mirror and what not to.

This is Windows HOME Server we are talking about. Not Server 2008R2. Not Small Business Server. HOME server, for HOME users. It is supposed to be friendly, and in its original version, it pretty much is; that’s what Home products are all about. While I am a tech enthusiast, I want to spend that time doing tech things I find useful. Spending extra time managing my home server when I’ve done computer work all day, is not what I want to do. Some of us actually have non-technical hobbies, even if we are geeks.

I have an external drive for additional backup of my Windows Home Server should there be an issue that folder duplication can’t handle. I just don’t want to have to deal with Windows Home Server v1 becoming Windows Techie Enthusiast Server 2011.

All4Fun April 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm

This is a great reply and one that I agree with.

Especially when you say, “Some of us actually have non-technical hobbies, even if we are geeks.”

As an IT Manager, I couldn’t agree more.

Mike McManus February 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I have to disagree with your comments on “average user”. I’m an average user – I’m a CPA, and while I have built my own pc’s for years, that’s the extent of my abilities. I couldn’t fathom building a raid-based server. In fact, I really don’t even fully understand the different raid flavors. However, I do/will have about 30tb of data on my WHS when all is said and done. Just so you know, the ability to rip my dvd’s and blu-rays to iso’s doesn’t make me a tech-savvy “average user”. Your analogy is assinine.

JohnBick February 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Not so sure I see W7 as a substitute for WHSv1.

I had a pair of RAID arrays in my main PC (built when WHS was in beta). The 2-disk mirror failed twice — it worked but the performance was dismal until I got a new disk. Second time I had to get a different/larger disk — but can only use half as the sizes were not identical. A waste, but that is the C-Disk and only for programs so it was under-utilized anyway. If it had been for data the DE approach would have used all of it.

The other array was RAID-5. Have had three failures with that, too. Again, miserable 0performance when one disk fails until it is replaced, Same problem (waste) if replaced with a larger disk. On the second failure the rebuild failed. On my third failure I lost two disks at the same time (the new one and an old one). Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. But the recovery from WHS DE took FAR less time than the formatting of the array! (Next time it happens I can the RAID altogether.

The key to the WHS backups is that the function is really an “archive” where one can specify a recovery date and restore an image OR individual files. I have not seen that anywhere but in WHS — but I am looking! For me personally, as well as all my clients, this is THE key requirement; but it must be accompanied by a flexible storage (disk) management approach.

WHSv1 delivered exactly what I needed. Sharing files, remote access, web-site, & streaming were all a “bonus” for me. Only one of my clients does any serious sharing (read-only) — backups are the key. One backs up to a WHS unit that is located 15 miles away. Works like a champ.

Cubanblood February 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I dont trust RAID 5 not even having a hot spare. Its like you said, rebuilding the raid is a hot or miss. Sometimes you wont be able to rebuild it.

Adam February 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Wow. This is a hot topic. As I’ve had my 470 for a few years, I can remember when there were “Data Corruption” issues in the early years. Isn’t it possible that msft is withdrawing DE because it might be too buggy to fix? And that it may not scale well. No one was buying 1, 2 or 3TB drives when the 470 came out.

I don’t see how Win7 can replace WHS.

Again, my big question is: should one grab one of the last 495s out there and ride that for the next 5 years or so? Or just keep my current 470 going until it dies?

My 470 has the 2gb upgrade and the Powerpack 3 upgrade, which was a great upgrade. Completely refreshed the machine and it streams much better now.

I have Squeeze Server running for my 4 housebound squeezeboxes and subsonic for streaming music outside of the house. All my documents are redirected to the box, and I have Carbonite running on just that one box, since it has all of the data. And, of course, it reaches out and backs up the PCs everynight, and the Media connector allows me to record OTA TV shows which are then auto-copied to the MSS. I just don’t see any one product do ALL of those things better. Some products do Some of those things better, but all of them?

So, it’s based in Win2003. Can you imagine how many corporations out there are still running NT 4.0 servers? Let alone, 2000 and 2003 servers? I think it will be a while before something comes along price and performance wise that beats the HP MSS. While I wouldn’t recommend the product so someone who doesn’t know technology, you don’t have to be an IT Manager to run one….although I am one, so I’m not a good case study.

Interested on thoughts on the 495 and upgrade path to it.

Damian February 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I actually would recommend grabbing an ex490/495 as an upgrade if your interest is still in running v1 as long as possible. The standard hp warranty will still apply and the whs community will be here I am sure for years to come

Adam February 4, 2011 at 6:37 pm

this would be wishful thinking, but do you think I’d have to get all new HD and migrate the data? Or do you think it’s possible to just take the 3 data drives out of the 470 and pop them into the 495? I guess it depends if the system drive is only running the system…or if it has data on it as well. Never figured that one out about WHS.

Damian February 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Yup, you can take your data drives from your EX470, pop into your EX495 and do a server recovery:

Adam February 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Very nice. And a step-by-step article to go with it. Boy, it’s a hard decision to upgrade something that’s running quite well and probably could run just fine for a few more years. But the 495 looks very nice. It’s like a shiny penny.

This is a tough one.

Damian February 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

My EX470 that I sold over a year ago to build my own WHS is still running strong, streaming HD with no issues

Adam February 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm

This is a tortuous decision. I just looked up my NewEgg history. I bought my 470 in March of 2008. So it isn’t even 3 years old yet. My Toyota Van is 12 years old, so replacing something that’s working quite well goes against my grain. But, at the same time, knowing that there are limited #’s of 495s out there creates a sense of urgency.

Ok. I’ll stop bothering you about this. ;-)

Bob February 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm

It seems to me the most important aspect of WHS is Backup. Only since switching to WHS have I been able to keep all my machines routinely backed up. The ease with which it permits you restore a whole machine or individual files is unmatched.
When I got WHS I thought DE was kind of neat, and was going to use a number of older drives with it. Then I started thinking about the power all those drives would take and concluded it would be better to simply use 1 additional large “green” drive. This being the case DE is a lot less compelling.
Compared to “average” users, I probably have more machines and more data. I keep for example my entire ripped CD collection (more than 400 disks) on the server losslessly compressed, twice (2 sample rates, don’t ask), yet I have only 800GB on the server with more than 6 months worth of backups. I really doubt that average users will find a 2TB partition limit very limiting. Average users are probably not ripping movies, they probably just subscribe to Netflix.
So, while I will probably not be in a rush to start using Vail, when the time comes, the lack of DE is not going to be a major issue. As far as I’m concerned, WHS is worth its price for Backup alone.
And as for the potential market for average users of WHS, I actually suspect they would be far more comfortable with the notion of simply copying folders and server backups than with the mystery of DE.

egroeg February 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I really wish everyone would stop crying about drive extenders. It’s a SERVER, stop be a little whiny b^&*h and learn something new, stop taking the easy way. Come and play with us big boys. And to who said they don’t trust RAID really (stay out of server rooms please)? If you scared you can’t handle managing multiple drives w/o automagic maybe you shouldn’t be running a server at home. Oh no, I have to pick up a book and learn stuff now. boohoo.

Cubanblood February 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Taking the easy way? I call that the smart way. If i had no life maybe i would have time to waste in a raid configuration.
If you cant respect the opinion of others maybe you should go read somewhere else.

Awake February 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

RAID sucks. Period. No arguments. It sucks.
It is OK in very large environments, but it totally sucks for individual / family / small business use.
- All your drives have to be the same size. Preferably the same model. If not, then you either can’t use the drive or you waste space.
- RAID 5 is fully dependent on the controller. Your controller fails, and you are 99.9% likely to lose ALL your data. If you are dumb enough to use motherboard RAID-5, you are almost 100% likely to lose ALL your data because it then becomes BIOS dependent, down to the motherboard revision level.
- RAID-5 data is spread all over the drives, in itsy bitsy pieces, so recovery is nearly impossible if you can’t mount the array.
- Did you fill all 4 available drive slots with 1TB drives, and now want to expand by replacing one drive with a new 2TB drive? No can do. You need to buy 4-2TB drives, backup all the data somewhere else, replace all the drives, and restore your data. That sucks compared to what DE and Drobo offer.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

RAID arrays allow for large capacity, but do very little for reliability. They basically allow you to have a huge drive with a one drive failure allowance, but you better have a great backup system in place also if you are using RAID anything.

(And yes, I am an IT Pro, supporting large RAID systems. That is exactly why I would NEVER recommend a RAID-5 system to anybody unless they need it and know how to support it, and have a great backup system)

So b^&*h you can take your smarmy remark and get some real experience instead of reading a book and then ‘knowing’ RAID.

JohnBick February 4, 2011 at 8:51 pm

OK, guys, let’s have a little respect for each other, OK? Thanks…

sr1329 February 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

People I switched to Nexentastor. It has been 1000% better than WHS. I’m glad I did it.

Justin February 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Definitely a hot topic. Drive extender provided 3 features with relatively low management.

1. one large drive no matter the number of drives so you didn’t worry about partitions and such.

2. Ability to make sure that certain folders had mirrors copies of themselves on another drive.

3. Ability to add, replace, or remove a drive.

So, these features seem quite nice. Assuming everything goes as planned, but what are we really losing? I think there are positives that are gained from the new setup that weren’t there before. For starters, what happens if you don’t really trust one of the drives in your home server. In the current system, you can’t tell the server to only use it as a mirror, guaranteeing that all data on it is safe (unless you tell all folders to be mirrored). Obviously the best solution is to just replace it but that might not be in budget or not worth your time right now. I am sure many of us have been there. In the new version you would be able to tell the server to use that drive for client backups only or create a software mirror of it for guaranteed protection.

Next, de isn’t more efficient with hard drives than raid. I am not sayin raid is more efficient, but if you had one 1tb drive and one 500gb drive, then whs v1 can only guarantee the safety of 500gb. The other 500gb on the 1tb drive would be used for backups and nonduplicated folders. Most raids will let you create an extra volume with the unused space on a drive in array with different sizes. Windows soft raid definitely handles this.

Now, the adding of drives and removing them is a pain. But it isn’t something we all do often. One of the commenters talked about having raids fail quite often. That is shame, but in the last 12 years of managing my home network and the auto insurance company’s network I work for, we have had raids fail 6 times. 4 of them were 3 drive raid 5s, two were raid 10s. All of them repaired successfully. One of them required a controller switch, and sine most raids define themselves on the physical drives, the new controller saw and immediately picked up where it left off.

As a programmer, I can see exactly how to program the functionality of de into a simple service that monitors certain folders and syncronizes them to other drives automatically. Next the remove or upgrade drives is also very doable. The one part that will not be the same though is the single large virtual drive. That is a very nice convenience. A hardware raid would take of it, but if they didnt enable volumes larger than 2tb, then this would be a waste anyway since you would have to carve the large disk into “small” chunks anyway.

The community will figure out a way to make t work. The first versions will be involved, but after a few months, they will get ironed out and you will probably have an addin that replaces 90% of the de functionality, but with more flexibility.


Richard (All4fun) February 5, 2011 at 5:49 am

My day job is an IT Manager. I have the technical ability to build servers with RAID support but I don’t want to invest the time and money doing that for my home server.

RAID is perfectly fine but you need the infrastructure to support it. At work, that means tape libraries for backup, event monitoring for predictive drive failures, service contracts to replace failed hardware, spare parts, paid staff/contractors, etc.

I don’t want to invest the resources to support RAID at home. Much less, purchasing an expensive RAID card and identical disks to start with without the ability to grow my RAID “as needed” without replacing all the hard disks in the array.

RAID has its place. Just not in the home of “Joe 6 Pack”. I’m “Joe 6 Pack” when I’m at home and not as an IT Manager and being inherently on-call. There are other hobbies and things that I do with my family that I’d rather spend my time doing.

My EX470 WHS/MediaSmart solution is/was a relatively cheap solution that satisfied my requirements. I’ll be running it into the ground until it dies. I’ll take this time to evaluate my options. I won’t be investing in another MediaSmart or any proprietary hardware solutions. Any solution I consider will be going back to commodity hardware where parts are readily available and easily replaced. My EX470 server is a point of failure if it suddenly dies. I don’t like that feeling nor do I want to struggle getting replacement proprietary parts.

As a tech-head, I’ll admit that I will play with WHS v2 in a virtual machine so experience the product but WHS v2 will not be in my future for “production” use for hosting my home data.

Mike February 11, 2011 at 11:30 am

technically your ex series server isnt a point of failure as all you would need to do is build, using commodity parts, a new WHS V1 system and pop the data drives from your ex into it and you would have access to the data on the drives.

that’s one of the reasons why something like this (or most software RAID solutions) is nice for “joe home user” as they are not reliant on the hardware at all.

I can take any of the four drive Windows software data RAID arrays i have in several machines in my home and pop them out, move them to another Windows machine (even one with a newer OS) and guess what. They work.
Doesn’t matter what Mobo, processor, gpu, etc.
they are hardware agnostic. (except for needing the avaialbe Sata ports to connect the drives)

BillD February 5, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I was testing ‘Vail’ using a Acer R1600 w/2g ram. I have not yet tried the WHS 2011 yet. My data storage is a Venus T5 with a JMicron JM393 Hardware RAID controller or port multiplier with 5x 2 TB drives totaling 8 TB RAID 5 usable storage, connecting to the Acer via ESATA. It has worked flawlessly! The JM393 hardware is very user friendly and VERY easy to setup. I have been able to plug-n-play to ANY of my 64bit OS’s. I believe that WHS 2011 is on the right track on dropping the Drive Extender. I tried it for a while, but ended up not using or needing it. JMicron has very basic software for contolling the JM393 hardware, but it is very effective. I have been working with several different types of RAID systems from a single 6 drive raid to 3x 12 drive raid units and have found the JM393 to be flawless! Nice thing, which I have not yet tried, is the JM393 is cascadeable or daisy chainable…meaning that you can add more controllers to the current contollers…allowing upto 256TB theoretical maximum on a 64bit system. Addonics sells several different port multipliers.
Since the JM393 is fairly new, I have had only one instance of drive failure. The disk replacement was flawless and the hardware rebuilt the RAID 5 automaticly…you can also configure it to be 4+1 for simplicity.
I do not represent this company at all, but after searching for many years for an energy efficient and simple way to store and retrieve data, this combo has worked excellent for me… I will be testing WHS 2011 soon! If all goes well, and WHS 2011 looks good, I will be converting my server 2003 with 3com raid cards to an Atom D510 or above based dual-core with the JM393 based hardware…

hasi5 February 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm

No one is saying that RAID5 is not working, But is expensive and not reliable 100% all the time. RAID5 is working, until one day is not working and you are not able to automatically rebuild the RAID – then all your data are lost. For more “absolute” data safety you need RAID6 or 2 mirrorred RAID5 sets or have “continuous” backup on tape. All this would cost you so much money unnecessarily just because Microsoft is poor OS. It doesn’t have properly working software RAID capabilities like any other OS (FreeBSD, Linux, Apple OS X). It doesn’t have ZFS, LVM or alike. For your home server – It’s like you want to have small hole to plant a tree (5x strokes with pick and shovel) and Microsoft is telling you, you need to order big excavator + big trailer for that job. RAID5 is fine and OK for workstation that is backuped to server, but RAID5 is not good enough for the server itself (this is why Microsoft is on WHS 2011 now dividing disk space into 2TB chunks: A,B,C,D,… and telling you to backup server). Simply, Microsoft slept for many years, concern about their legacy 32bit stuff and didn’t properly developed transition to 64bit and disk operating system, GPT, UEFI, software RAID. Save your money and future troubles. Forget WHS 2011 and Microsoft for your disk management, you would be paying big bugs for someone-else OS shortcomings and problems, still risking your data. Linux, FreeBSD, FreeNAS, Apple OS X -all of them would give you more bang and safety for your money than what now WHS 2011 has become. If you install FreeNAS+ZFS on your Atom D510 for your data and attache it through iscsi initiator to your PCs or 1-disk WHS 2011 you would be much better off than let WHS 2011 to take care about your disks. For home user, WHS v1 was great; WHS 2011 is now just lame duck exposing fully 64bit disk operating system weakness of Microsoft OS – not worth considering. Maybe in few years, when Microsoft gets its act together and develops functioning modern 64bit file-disk system.

rshol February 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Problem already solved on my EX495 (I like the form factor a lot). Bought a cable that provides KVM ports. Installed Ubuntu server, 4 drives, 2 small (250gb) mirrored SW raid mounted as /, 2 larger (2TB) drives mirrored SW raid mounted as /home. MiniDLNA for media, Genie Timeline to back up windows clients, Backup Lite free from Apple App store for Macs.

Solves two other problems that no version of WHS has a decent answer to:

1) Anti-virus. Microsoft Security Essentials should run on WHS, no excuses. Ubuntu does not need a real time scanner to protect the OS, just something to periodically scan the shared files (ClamAV works).

2) No decent remote file access for WHS baked in except through a browser (no admin except through IE). Really limiting. SSH and SFTP standard on Linux.

The only thing I miss are the drive lights.

Somebody above mentioned that we need a small form factor box with 4 hotswap drive bays and KVM ports. That’s essentially what the EX495 can be. The perfect box would have a hardware raid controller.

Awake February 5, 2011 at 8:40 pm

If you are using WHS mainly for storage, and you need extended volume support, it may be worth “stocking up” on a V1 version disk before it is no longer available. That is the feature that I will miss most. Going back to presenting individual volumes to a user just plain sucks sucks sucks. Volume spanning in native NTFS without RAID is just lovely, and is the feature that I will miss the most.

In any case, does this whole argument even matter at all? HP discontinued their MediaSmart line, Acer basically gave up also… will the “Home” consumer be able to buy a WHS V2 system at all? Or will we just see HP-195 class units, with a “backup your home computer and share some files” capability via a single internal disk? Unless someone bundles the practicality of a Drobo inside a WHS enclosure, this whole “use RAID” is a dead end.

If at least they had integrated a Media Center DVR tuner function or something… but as-is WHS Vail is pretty useless besides centralized backup.

Will Vail at least allow me to create partition so it looks like a folder within another partition? In Win7 you can create a new partition and “mount to an empty NTFS folder” without a drive letter… is this not available in WHS Vail??? Then at least I can simulate an extended drive, although I would be using multiple partitions,

Joe Blow Me February 6, 2011 at 1:41 am

I’ve been a big Microsoft supporter for my entire career. So I don’t say this lightly. The Vail debacle is the biggest fail since Vista. I’m sticking with my WHS v1, even porting it up from my current Acer Aspire (Atom) which blows to a low-power i5. As a Microsoft investor this convinces me that Balmer has to go- he is wrecking the company.

sr1329 February 6, 2011 at 6:22 am

All these people who think RAID is a substitute are going to come back crying. Mark my words. First of all, if you are going to do it, I would hope you are not doing it with some cheap MB controller.

Second, you may think your WDC Green drives are fine for this application, but just wait and you’ll see that they are not. Should one of your drives have an error and it’s just a matter of time, you will find that without TLER your drive will be dropped and your array will start rebuilding which will take days given the quantities of data we ex-WHS types have accumulated.

If you really want to use RAID, I would suggest stocking up on Tylenol first. You will need it for the headaches you will be having soon.

sr1329 February 6, 2011 at 6:34 am

Listen to Hasi5, he has the right idea. Basically the dropping of DE is an admission of failure. If you must use MS for storage, go right ahead and enter a world of suffering. But really they are the absolute worst for that purpose. They STILL have not given us a new file system.

Right now the logical transition for ex-WHS users is ZFS period. FreeNAS or Nexentastor. Both are so easy to set up. Do not be daunted by all the ZFS terminology. Just burn the install disc and boot your computer with it and in about 15 minutes you’ll be up and running. Set up your array, then your shares and you’re in business. It’s that easy. It cheaper, more reliable and just plain better than any commercial ReadyNAS or QNap. Play with it for a week and then figure out if you wish to use any advanced features and then create your array in its final configuration and use your new NAS.

It outperforms WHSv1 by miles.

Rhinoevans February 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Alex, I was running the original Vail and have since switched back to WHS v1, however, the vail connector is still on my wifes desktop, and will not let me uninstall. Any ideas?

Alex Kuretz February 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I’ve not seen this, I’d suggest you post in the Vail Forum and give the exact error message, screenshots, any steps you’ve tried to uninstall it.

Kellaen February 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm

This is a totally useless solution for the home user who is concerned about data retention moreso then anything else.

It’s pretty obvious that outside of the xbox, MS has zero interest in serving the needs of the consumer market.

I’m kind of glad HP dumped them as a partner, I wouldn’t want to provide a vendor raid solution when it should never have been required in the first place. The only reason they were running into data corruption issues was the use of databases hosted on DE drive pools, which is only a business focus. Gutting the Home team and moving them all under the business server branch is the only reason drive extender (which was basically half the point to WHS) was removed.

The Kitty February 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I installed Vail RC on my testbed, 5 drives from 250GB to 750GB. What a pain juggling the folders and backup is a joke if I store alot – maybe get a 3TB or 4TB when they come out for backups only?

It also seems to not like any video drivers other than vanilla VGA. ATI 4200 integrated drivers would run but the system would not use them (I tried Win7 64 versions).

teq February 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm


I thought this article was a really interesting read:

Obviously that site has a far more technical target audience than, but the article might still help putting things back into perspective.


Alex Kuretz February 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Thanks for the link. I’ll heartily dispute his claim that the average consumer only needs to take 10 minutes reading a blog like his or an owner manual in order to successfully set up a RAID configuration upon which to run WHS. In fact his blog post does almost nothing to help the end user, except show some nice graphics that would only confuse anyone but the tech enthusiast.

He is right that Aurora is exciting for some small businesses, but I believe WHS 2011 is plain wrong for the average consumer.

JohnBick February 7, 2011 at 9:36 am

A RAID can probably be SET UP quickly, maybe even 10 minutes once one is experienced, but maintenance in the event of a failure is another matter.

There are small businesses and there are VERY SMALL businesses. There are far more of the latter. The owners of most of the latter have NO computer skills to speak of and have no one on staff to do anything. Someone sells them an application on a computer, they learn to use it to get the job done and, eventually, it fails. I’ve seen two go out of business as a result and have helped rescue a couple — that now use WHS for backups. THIS, FOLKS, IS THE MAJORITY OF BUSINESSES IN THE USA, any probably the world. Problem is to get solutions that meet their needs. IBM could not figure out how to do that. Microsoft really got started there but, like IBM, seees more money in larger sales to larger “Small” businesses.


Cubanblood February 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

If you look at business around the country 85% of the are small businesses and most of them dont use SBS. Most of MS profit comes from home users, but large organization can be bonded by large contracts which is why MS is going after them. This new business model is what is bringing them down.
I know a whole lot of businesses that close their IT department because it was not feasseble and decide to lease server that are manage by the company providing the lease. But instead of making thing easy for those small businesses MS is pushing them away. No wonder their stock is so cheap.

LoneWolf February 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

“This leaves Windows Home Server 2011 really only appealing to tech enthusiasts (such as many of you likely to be reading this)”

Actually, tech enthusiasts might as well buy a TechNet subscription and get access to Server 2008R2.

I hate to repeat what everyone else has said, but this appears to be an epic fail. I have no reason to even try out the software when it’s a final release to my TechNet account; WHS v1 on my EX490 is a far better solution. Microsoft appears to have moved backward with WHS 2011, rather than forward, and fails to provide a product that will be helpful to the home-user market.

Bob February 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Has any one here actually tried the RC. First of all in answer to LoneWolf, WHSV2 is Server 2008R2 (with some limits, you’re not going to run your enterprise with it, although it includes some surprising features). Second, home users hardly need RAID and all the issues it involves when there is Server Backup. It can be set to automatically back up the server to another disk several times a day. Home users are not running banks. It is unlikely they are going to lose much, even if they back up only once a day in the absense of RAID. In answer to another question, you can mount partitions to empty directories. You can span disks or do software RAID if you really want RAID. True, you can’t do them through the WHS Dashboard, but you have access to the very nice Server Manager (and everything else) via the console or Remote Desktop. Because of Server Backup you can now make backups of you client backups (or the whole server) and keep them off site.
In short, having looked at it, I’m actually impressed. The advantages of Server Backup outweigh the lack of DE. Whether or not an average consumer is ever going to be inclined to buy a Home Server is an open question. However, I don’t think an average consumer is going to be less likely to prefer WHSV2 to WHSV1. Indeed, if I were trying to sell WHS, I’m sure I could relatively easily make the case to go with WHSV2.
As a somewhat more than average consumer, I can say I’m going to have some fun with it.

LoneWolf February 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm


First off, I said that techies could go with Server 2008R2. WHS 2011 might be a partial of 2008R2, but if it doesn’t offer up that much to those who aren’t tech-savvy, why not just skip it and go tech-savvy?

I didn’t mention anything about RAID, so I’ll assume you’re talking to others here. I didn’t need RAID with WHS v1; Folder Duplication has taken care of that for me just fine. Combine that with the current WHS backup and the WHS-BDBB add-in, and you’re set. The only advantage I can see there with WHS 2011 is better scheduling for automatic server backups.

If the new features for you outweigh Drive Extender, great. They certainly don’t for me. I think the other points made here are that Microsoft had a huge opportunity to make WHS v2 even easier for home users, to increase adoption. IMO, by trying to save a buck by combining it with the Windows SBS product line, they botched that chance, and that should have been a major goal. I think it’s likely to make WHS less of a product (in terms of home user adoption) than it was before.
I’ll see what’s available in the WHS segment when Windows 8 makes it necessary. Until then, I’ll stick with what I have.

Ben Ogilvie February 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Many points of view,on wegotserved, I posted a link to a company that will be selling a new version of DE. You can see an article on this later on WGS.

Photon February 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

I sure can’t see any reason for a WHS v1 user to upgrade to Vail AKA WHS 2011. User interface changes?

A DE replacement via add in may happen but it’s going to take time to get gain a reputation and be trusted. I’m still happily using my EX470 but I bought a 495 and will eventually move my drives to it and use the 470 as backup hardware.

All I really need is full 64 bit driver support for restores. Why hasn’t Microsoft released a restore client that supports 64 bit drivers?

real_skydiver February 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

After struggeling to find a decent platform for my VMWare Server (2.0.2) that supports more than 4GB of RAM, I found myself trying the new RC of WHS. After installing this ugly monster, I had a hard time to trust my eyes: 1.7GB of RAM usage after startup. What a smut. People might not think about this, might not even know it or know how to figure that out. I do care. And I say ‘No’.

John Pombrio February 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Cripes. Am I the ONLY person here that applauds MS for getting rid of my old nemesis- drive extender? A proprietary database that was inaccessible by the end user except by a convoluted process of shares? I hated it enough to give away my perfectly good WHS machine and move to Win7. Paul Thurrott’s review is a lot less bias than Alex’s. He and I agree about liking the ability to actually assigning drives to places we want them to go and accessing the data in them. This is step forward, not back!

EricE February 20, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Nope, I agree whit you – DE was an elegant hack, but it was a hack none-the-less.

Worse of all, it wasn’t a reliable hack. I give MS the kudos to take the hit and remove DE. I have a feeling they knew HP was going to back out and I’m sure that made it easier to decide to do it.

There are some good looking third party solutions that will go well beyond DE – and even offer parity support so you don’t have to do wasteful duplication for EVERYTHING – and you can have redundancy for everything since you will loose capacity equal to your largest hard drive.

With at least three viable replacements for DE – one of which is an enterprise product that is very mature and well respected, I think MS made the right call.

Yup, it would be nice if it was included with Vail, but this way I think we will get better, more reliable and more flexible solutions than if MS bundled in something and basically sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Indeed, a couple of developers abandoned their plans when WHS v1 came out – so this is good news, indeed!

The worst thing in all this is HP pulling out. They were a strong OEM with a good product. Perhaps with MS bundling in the better Mac support with Vail they didn’t think they had enough of a differentiator – who knows. I did put in an Acer WHS at my home town church to give them file sharing and most importantly backups of their PC’s, and it appears to be as good as the Media Smart – just without the Mac support.

I don’t think dropping DE is quite the unmitigated disaster many are convinced. And I have no doubt the remaining OEMs will pick one of the many solutions and life will go on. I’m getting interested in Vail again!

Zorky February 26, 2011 at 7:36 am

I’m a bit to late to get to the WHS2001 RC, but all the heated debates aside, simple question:
Without storage virtualization, just how do I put my two 600GB+ folders on my two 1TB drives now?
Is it really the only option now to split one of them in two parts and have 3 shares instead of 3?..

Zorky February 26, 2011 at 7:40 am

RAID would be an option but I don’t really want to go that route because all of complexity and infelibility it brings as many of commenters pointed out above.

Zorky February 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm

err I’ve meant to say I have three 600GB+ folders of course…

Gardian March 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I have a X510 still in the box, MS can stuff their new WHS, I won’t do it!
I’m running Win xp 64 bit still and will not use 7 till I have to.

Keep it us MS and the opensource world will get you yet. HAHAHA!

Auggie March 5, 2011 at 11:43 am

The new Home Server is certainly a “no go”! It is unbelievable !! one CPU and no 64bit version. Another Vista Product I bet. But maybe that is the plan.

I “love” my Home server V1.

The MS development team certainly does not understand home server multimedia concept. It is NOT a small business server; MS already has “one of those”.

Currently I am setting at 8+ TB of data on my v1 home server (actually 2 servers sync -ed with my own code to provide some kind of backup). This will never work on the new 2011 home server.

BUT…… , The big question is how long will Microsoft “support” Home server V1; not long I believe !

RuneRider March 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

My understanding is that WHS 2011 is ONLY 64bit not the reverse. It’s also able to deal with multi-core CPUs’. Why would a Home-Based server need the power of more than one CPU anyway?
WHS 2011 may well be another Vista but not for any of the reasons you state.

Chadwick March 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm

It look to me like most of the issues are with people who store large amounts of video and music.

I have many clients who now use WHSv1 in their small 2 – 6 workstation network.

I am one of the few here who thinks this is a good idea to remove Drive Extender.
Drive Extender has caused me way too many problems, many of my clients not only host files on their WHS but also Quickbooks, Peachtree, and other small office databases on their servers. Drive extender always creates “inconsistent” errors on duplicated folders with these files because they are always open. I have found myself turning it off completely on many shared folders.

Also, RAID is overrated for small networks, RAID is designed for large enterprises where uptime is critical and the ability to continue running after a drive failure is crucial, this is not the case at my house of many Small business who can go a few hours until a backup is restored. and that rarely needs to be preformed in my experience.

The last issues is Drive Extender did not work well with hard drive cloning or image based backups of the Home server. Because of the way drive extender registered hard drives in the “Drive Pool” it would cause the Backup system to break if you cloned the system partition or restored an image to a new drive.

Drive extender made my disaster recovery plans for the server itself.. well… a disaster. The main reason for WHS for my clients was 1. remote access to their network from home, 2. Backup of the workstations for quick image based restore, 3. Central file server with a $100 OS rather than an $800 – $1,100 OS

I have always used a scheduled 3rd party backup system for the data shared on the server anyways. It is best, Drive extender does not protect against corrupt data, deleted data, or going back to an older version. So Drive Extender is not a backup system, Its a half-baked RAID system which most of us dont need if we have a backup system.

Wendell May 5, 2011 at 6:04 am

I’m so screwed! I finally got my V1 WHS doing everything I want including running my email server, Beyond TV and much more. The loss of Drive Extender has got me so twisted (especially with this 2TB partition limit) but because of the configuration and software that I use, switching to FreeNAS or something else will pose a serious problem including not being able to run the software because of the linux platform (Tried the virtualbox addon for FreeNAS on a test system but it didn’t provide me with the results I was looking for).

Thanks Microsux!

GCV May 6, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I can’t believe how inept MS have become. They put effort into building a downgrade from the previous version of WHS. WTF? I have all but given up on WHS. Actually, to be more precise, I have given up on MS altogether. I am moving everything I have over to Apple as my funds allow it.

Chris May 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm

WHS V1 has served me well. Due to the wasted space and cost of space of duplication I aded an unRAID server a long time ago for my blu ray .iso’s. I will continue to use WHS V1 for backups for the time being, but if I must change it due to no support for the next desktop operating system I will just backup with Acronis or the built in image backup to my unRAID. Another epic FAIL on M$’s part for WHS 2011

Jim May 18, 2011 at 8:53 am

Hi’ve just set up the RC of Windows Home Server 2011 in a virtual environment to test what I plan to do when I upgrade my EX495 to WHS 2011. I too used DE quite heavily to expand and duplicate the storage so I thought I try using the Windows Disk Manager to create Mirrored volumes to give me the redundancy I was looking for.

It does look that Windows Server 2008 R2 part in WHS 2011 is not as cut back as the Server 2003 is in WHS V1. I have successfully tested setting up mirrored drives (including the system drive) as well as using extended/striped and found no problems with the management console recognising and managing the drives, and the moving folders option worked fine. So although you can’t set up the mirrored/extended drives through the console you can manage them after they have been created.

This is the route I’m going to take when I install WHS2001 with 4 drives set up as 2 mirrors.

I did also test that Windows mirroring would carry on after a failure and it continued to work fine after deleting one of the harddrives and then resynced when I created anew one to replace it.

Extending drives also worked and was recognised by the console, but obviously there’s no redundancy if you decide to do that.

Jail Goldman Sachs July 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I’ve always thought that the Small Business Server was about 100 times more complicated and most of it is totally useless for a Small Business.
And the “Home” Server is just the Small Business Server without Exchange, so this about 1,000 times more complicated for a “Home”. Microsoft really doesn’t understand the word “Small”. Watching and reading stuff, it’s used for everything except “Home”. For a Home Server, all people need is WinXP to store documents, music, videos and backup and that’s it. So either this is either labeled completely wrong or it’s totally off the mark for the intended market (victims).

PatrickGreene July 16, 2011 at 6:29 am

Something interesting and a bit off topic, but a note as to how WHS 11 is doing. Right now Newegg has the OEM version for $59.95 with a coupon code. I think I paid around $145 for the WHS v1 OEM on sale back in the day. Quite a price drop for a cutdown version of 2008 which goes for the big bucks. Even stranger is it goes for around $14 if you purchase it in a combo deal with HP Miniserver [HP ProLiant AMD Athlon II NEO N36L 1.3 GHz 1GB DDR3 250GB HDD MicroServer on sale $329.99, with WHS 11 $344.98, free shipping]

I would think if WHS 2011 sales were strong they would not be selling it for $14.99 with a miniserver. I might add for $414.99 you can get it with a HP110 G6, an i3 server with more expansion slots etc. and the cost of the WHS 11 remains at $14.98 exactly.

Pretty funny, huh? Sales must be pretty bad, eh?

Ron July 17, 2011 at 7:29 am

Wow, a lot of whining about setting up RAID and this coming from IT pros who are experianced with RAID. One even bemoans the fact he doesn’t want to setup RAID at home because he does that all day at work. What a joke! If this is too much of a problem then I suggest you change y7our career. The average consumer is not going to setup RAID at home, he or she will be purchasing a Home Server already setup with hot pluggable drives, hardly a hard job to remove and insert a new drive. The DIY enthusiasts can build a home server on the “cheap”, and if you are not skilled in setting up RAID then find another hobby. I would agree though that motherboard RAID is not the best solution but is better than nothing. If your motherboard is fried in most cases you can recover the RAID if the replacement MB has the same controller chip, which is not hard to find.

With the price cut WHS 2011 is better value than ever before.

PatrickGreene July 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

I am starting to lean toward your opinion, esp. as someone posted here you can create a software ‘raid’ on the windows side of the house, larger than 2 TB, and WHS will use the larger size [meaning it cannot create it but it can use it]. Mirroring this ‘raid’ will give data duplication if needed. Yes, there are some extra steps, but this method means you don’t have to do a hardware raid that is difficult to expand.
Please research what is going on in the business side of the house as to storage – key being tiered [cheaper storage for less accessed data] and ‘virtualization’ or cloud storage – meaning you have a pool of storage not tied to a particular RAID size or LUN, and the pool can be increased by adding a drives. This is the ‘loss’ most protested against with WHS 11, you just popped a drive in and the pool increased seamless to the user. It seemed like one step forward, two steps back. But at $14.98 with a server, seems like a bargin, even if you do have to make your own drive pool.

Alex Kuretz July 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

The average consumer is not going to setup RAID at home, he or she will be purchasing a Home Server already setup with hot pluggable drives, hardly a hard job to remove and insert a new drive.

Hmm, and which server would this be? I don’t know of a single OEM providing an off the shelf server with RAID and hot pluggable drives in the US. Acer apparently has one in the works but to my knowledge it is not yet available. Given that most of the WHS v1 OEMs have pulled out of WHS 2011, your point would seem invalid.

I stand by the original point, WHS 2011 does not provide consumer friendly storage.

Mike August 15, 2011 at 8:30 am

I have WHS 2011 loaded on a PowerEdge 830 with the Dell (Adaptec) H2052 controller configured for RAID 1. Having previously ran WHS v1, I’d have to agree that I see no point in migrating to 2011. In fact, having been there and done that, I kinda wish I’d have gone with Server 2008 R2 and been done with it. I like the concept of WHS, but I’m finding it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. And a full-blown server OS is not that much harder to set up (equiv to WHS).

Greg F May 30, 2012 at 2:41 am

sorry for posting on a old topic but i just recently purchased WHS 2001 (1st time using WHS) and want to know how to limit the folder sizes if possible? all the folders within my list have the same size and i want to restrict some while making others bigger.

Geoff Coupe May 30, 2012 at 7:06 am

Greg – are you sure that “all the folders have the same size”? If you are referring to the “Free Space” column in the “Server Folders” tab of the Dashboard, then this refers to the free space remaining available on the DRIVE where the folder is stored.

There is no way in WHS 2011 to set up quota limits on shared folders themselves.

Greg F May 30, 2012 at 9:44 am

Hi Geoff,

yeah that was the bit i was referring to, many thanks for your help, i assumed it meant free space of that folder (haven’t added anything yet.)

is there a way to limit the space of the folder though? i would like to add some personal folders on for the users but restrict how much space they get.

Geoff Coupe May 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

As I said, there is no way in WHS 2011 to set up quota limits on shared folders themselves. In Windows, user quotas can be set on drives, but whether that will work in WHS 2011, I don’t know. In my experience, if one fiddles about under the covers in WHS 2011, and bypass the Dashboard, then something usually breaks.

Lars Tomasson June 29, 2012 at 11:25 am

I am running WHS 2011 on a $50 Intel Micro ITX motherboard (DQ45EK) running RAID 1 using the built in ICH10R SATA controller with no problems. So there are solutions to the data protection problem. The problem is that that the HP MediaSmartServer doesn’t support RAID. RAID 1 is preferable to Drive Extender since it doesn’t depend on Whindows Home Server for file redundancy.

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