Before You Install Windows Home Server 2011…

by Damian on April 15, 2011 · 35 comments

in News

Whilst doing some light reading on a variety of tech blogs I came across an interesting post from Ed Bott over at ZDNet. He had received the final release of Windows Home Server 2011 and was preparing to install. Going through the Installing and Configuring Windows Home Server 2011 guide Ed came across some interesting tidbits that to be honest are a bit of a head scratcher:

Before you install Windows Home Server 2011, set your BIOS clock to match the time and date for the Pacific Time Zone (PST) regardless of where you are located in the world. After successfully installing Windows Home Server 2011 and joining client computers, do not reset the time, date, and time zone on the Dashboard for another day.

If you do not set your server time to PST, you should not use the server or connect computers to it until the number of hours pass that equals the difference between your time and PST.

What??? So unless you modify your PC BIOS clock to PST you will not have use of your server for the number of hours between your time zone and PST pass. What happens if I build the server in one time zone but then drive to another? Seriously?

Another interesting tidbit:

Windows Home Server 2011 works best when each attached hard drive is accessed as an individual hard drive. Some computers and mainboards can be configured so that the hard drives are managed as RAID by the BIOS on the mainboard. For best results, you should turn off this configuration before installing Windows Home Server 2011.

I am not sure what to make of this. Maybe Microsoft is just playing it safe, but considering many people I have spoken to who are considering Windows Home Server 2011 are also looking to implement some sort of RAID this can’t give you a warm & fuzzy feeling. Drive Extender has been removed from Windows Home Server 2011, so the next logical step to get proper data protection would be to implement RAID, yet doing this could lead to less then optimal results???

You can see Ed’s full article here

Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for you can find me over at my blog at or follow me on twitter


snowdins April 15, 2011 at 10:04 am

This is an obvious bandaid to get the product out the door. I am done even trying to be positive about WHS. I am now jumping the boat to something else. This is ridiculous.

There is no way in hell I am trusting my data on 2011. no way in hell.

Cubanblood April 15, 2011 at 10:41 am

WOW!!! I will assume this will get fix on the RC stage. Thanks for the heads up.

hakr100 April 15, 2011 at 10:45 am

Uh,,,what is MS planning to charge us mere mortals for this degraded software?

Alex Kuretz April 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Pricing has not yet been announced.

Brian Wechtenhiser April 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

@Cubanblood: this is the RTM version. The RC stage has come and gone prior to this.

This WHS 2011 debacle just gets worse at each turn. This is but another confirmation of my decision: there is no value added for me to migrate to WHS 2011. In fact, more and more 2011 appears to be a downgrade from original WHS.

Cubanblood April 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Yeah I know Brian i am just being sarcastic. Sorry

Jim April 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm


This is what Sean Daniels from the team that manages WHS Tweeted this afternoon:

Seems like there is some errors in our documentation Working on it!

This may be a documentation error at this point. Let’s see if they say anything further.


Alex Kuretz April 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm

The document was updated March 30, 2011, if it’s documentation errors then it’s super sloppy work on the part of Microsoft that is yet another example of them not caring about the end user.

LoneWolf April 18, 2011 at 10:54 am

I agree. Very sloppy.

This also begs the question –if Windows Home Server 2011 is based off of Microsoft’s SBS product, does this mean SBS users shouldn’t use RAID?

I’d love to see that little tidbit come out in Microsoft documentation, and the resulting uproar it would generate.

Jim April 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Totally agree with you. Documentation is part of the product.

JohnBick April 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm

In my experience sloppy documentation is an indication of sloppy development and a poor product.

I am not going to upgrade my personal system and am encouraging customers to look at other alternatives.

Cubanblood April 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I agree. Documentation is one of the most important steps on the development process. Maybe they should call Trump so he can say the magic words to the project manager.

JesterEE April 18, 2011 at 11:01 am

Preach it! Now if only we could get that idea across to the hundreds of thousands of developers and managers that think of proper documentation as an afterthought when there is no money left in the project budget.

I also agree that this is telling of ‘the state of the WHS’ at Microsoft. It really too bad … they had a great thing going there for a while. If this is any indicator on the future development of the product line, I think we have seen the last of a dedicated WHS platform. This is probably the last ditch effort to get it out the door and make some money on it before it is decommissioned.

I’ve said it here before but I’ll say it again. I will not be upgrading to the 2011 fail-whale build of the WHS operating system. I just hope I don’t have to roll a Linux server to fill the gap. The WHS platform, even with it’s many quirks, is light-years ahead of the complication and effort needed to build a stable and user-friendly server on another platform.

jam3ohio April 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm
jam3ohio April 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Sorry that was Jim Clark with the story.

Kellaen April 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I rolled my EX490 back to WHS1, I’m not going back.

♥ Technet

Geoff Coupe April 16, 2011 at 1:47 am

It was apparently a documentation error, which has now been fixed. It’s about par for the course, as the rest of the documentation (e.g. the Online Help) is of abysmal quality.

And a couple of days back, in answer to a question about whether there was a “Getting Started” document available, Michael Leworthy (yes, him), in all serious pointed us towards a “Getting Started” document that was written for the pre-release back in January. He hasn’t replied to the obvious follow-up question on whether this document would be updated in view of the fact that the product has reached RTM.

JohnBick April 16, 2011 at 7:54 am

I am getting the feeling there will likely NOT be a WHS2012 or any form of a VAIL follow-up.

PatrickGreene April 16, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I installed the technet version on a spare pc, but really, I wonder if I should bother making the move. I need some form of RAID, soft, hard, something, I have 36 raw TBs of storage and I don’t see how that will be easily divided into indivdual drives and still be accessed as easily. Looks like I may have to keep using WHS 1 and slowly custom build a linux box to meet my needs. Too bad, it was a great idea that needed a little tweeking, instead they increased the hardware requirements and decrease the performance. Is that the MS motto or something?

Geek Boy April 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Let’s rub our respective crystallballs for the future of WHS?

I have yet to read a single hardware OEM announcemnt with a ship date, specs, features,etc?

Did I miss one?


Damian April 18, 2011 at 11:17 am

My biggest fear with WHS 2011 is this, MS has put a half hearted effort with this to save face from just dropping support for WHS altogether. After WHS 2011 is released to the public the adoption rate is very low, so MS eventually drops support altogether. They can then just easily say that there was no support for 2011, essentially leaving it at the community failed WHS 2011, not the other way around.

JohnBick April 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Well said…

erail April 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Don’t believe all you read, those instructions we for the initial beta of vail w/drive extender. I have 2 machines running the WHS 2011 RTM and believe me I didn’t follow those instructions. They run very well, one is an EX490 with quad core/ 5 drive port multiplier and the other is an EX485 with an E5700. I’m also testing Stablebit Pooled drives and that has be very Stable. Not all the function is there yet but pooling is extremely good. I have loaded up about 6 terabytes across the 2 machines using Synctoy 2.1 and I don’t miss WHS V1 at all

Paul April 20, 2011 at 11:39 pm

The documentation referred to was for a earlier beta version workaround, which someone mentioned. What people didn’t mention, there are still blank pages that don’t have ANY documentation for certain features.

Even though the product is complete, it is not expected to available for purchase until May for the general public and from what I’ve read, new hardware probably won’t be available until then either. So, while it would be nice to have the correct documentation at the press release, the only place to get the software legally right now is MSDN or Technet, which of course, the general public doesn’t have access to.

With that said, I’ve been part of the beta group for WHS 2011 for 6 months now and I too was disappointed with the elimination of DE and almost didn’t want to upgrade. Keep in mind, there were BIG issues with DE in the Vail Beta which drove down performance and storage reliability. I wish they would have gotten DE right in Vail, but I’m glad they didn’t include it when it didn’t work.

HOWEVER, I got over this real quick. As a home user, I went to RAID 6 for my storage solution and I’m off and running. Of course, I had to learn RAID and it’s sensitivity, but after a few screw ups, I learned my lessons, which was no different than learning about the sensitivity of Folder Duplication and getting the dreaded the File Conflict errors with WHS v.1.

WHS 2011 works like a champ since the elimination of DE and it’s a huge improvement over WHS v.1. I’ve been using it as my production server for the last 60 days with approximately 12TB of data. The few Add-Ins that are available work extremely well and the Media streaming functionality is AWESOME. The speed is a huge improvement and I don’t have anywhere near the issues with the system locking up, which, I believe is because the stability of the platform and the fact the memory can go higher than 3gb with the 64 bit architecture.

For those of you with WHS v.1 machines that can’t use RAID because of hardware limitations, I do feel your pain, as you now have to manage your storage on a drive by drive basis with WHS 2011. I know many people use different size hard drives with DE to form your storage pool. It’s unfortunate that you will probably to have to replace some or all your odd size drives that formed your storage pool, however, with 2TB drives now for $79, you can add additional storage pretty cheaply and hopefully keep your time doing managing your storage to a minimum. While no one wants to get rid of perfectly good hard drives and those of you that don’t want to, it looks like there will be at least two add ins with similar capabilities as DE, Drive Bender and Stable Bit. From one of the other blogs here, they are having good results with one of them.

I know many of you have had bad luck with the beta and were turned off by the poor construction of DE for Vail that Microsoft did – and your absolutely right – it stunk. But, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” cause it’s pretty awesome now that it works and you’re going to miss out!

Lastly, for those of you who think they’ll get rid of WHS, I think Microsoft has made a pretty big commitment now that’s there’s three versions WHS for home and small business users. I think the only downside to future WHS versions is “the cloud” and if media streaming from Netflix, iTunes in the cloud, etc. really catches on, which will render DVDs & Blu-rays obsolete, thereby decreasing the need for storage. I doubt they get rid of the Small Business version in any case as this continues to be a market that needs new, simple, and reliable products as it’s been neglected for many years.

Damian April 21, 2011 at 2:28 am

With MS since WHS 2011 is now part of the SBS group that is actually ore reason why they could dump if poor adoption and just focus on small business users.

I wouldn’t worry about the cloud ridding DVDs/Blu Rays anytime soon. First off, the quality offered by physical BluRay discs is far superior to anything streamed from the cloud. Also, it is going to take years before there is a even proper infrastructure in place to support all cloud, just look at all the cable/telco companies who are looking to place bandwidth caps on home users currently. There will always be a place for physical media. It may become more niche in the future, but it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Paul April 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Time will tell!

snowdins April 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Care to explain the errors users are seeing on server backups or the broken mac backup integration, or how about no more user folders or 2TB drive limit?

Seems like a real winner to me Paul!

Paul April 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm

You’re not be sarcastic about it “being a real winner” are you? :-)

I totally agree with you WHS 2011 could have had better features and a more professional rollout. Microsoft did some stupid things with the WHS 2011 version (don’t they always do stupid things with any release?) that have caused people to give up features they wanted (DE) and didn’t fixed things (the 2TB backup limit) from v.1 that should have been fixed. And with some of the Add-Ins being created by 3rd parties, I think there’s hope that the missing features will be added.

Here are some explanation about the errors you mentioned.

1. I haven’t seen any of the backup errors. I backup my OS drive every night with no issues to an internal drive.
2. I haven’t done a backup yet with Mac integration so I can’t comment on this. However, I have a couple of Macs at home and I’ll try it and see happens.
3. I can create a folder for a user and limit that access through the user access settings. Although it adds an extra step or two, it still works.

2TB Limit
I’m not sure what you’re referring to on the 2TB limit. I haven’t tried, but I thought I read somewhere people were using the 3TB drives. I could be mistaken, but I’ll check later.

I personally have setup one 28TB RAID 6 drive in my machine with 1.5TB & 2TB drives. I then partitioned that drive into a 16TB drive (being the maximum size allowed) (D:) and a 6TB (E:) and it works just fine.

Now, if you’re talking about the 2TB limit for backups, I TOTALLY AGREE, this was disappointing that this limit stayed in place from WHS v.1. It definitely should have been fixed but wasn’t.

Here’s a suggestion for your backups in getting around the 2TB limit. I know for some people this will not be cost effective for them, but in my case, I have a WHS 2011 and a WHS v.1. I run SyncToy using the Task Scheduler to run every night at 3am to make a copy of all of data to my WHS v.1. Then, I use the Carbonite Home Version on my WHS v.1 (it is still unlimited data for $54.95 a year, whoops just raised it $59) to backup all of my non media data (you have to have their business version which is way more expensive for WHS 2011). As you can tell I’ve been burned by not having backups before, so now I’m paranoid about backups.

If you have TBs of data, the restore function is so slow anyway, 1-2TBs a day, I think you’d be better off with a external storage device or using an old WHS v.1 (if you don’t use RAID) so you can minimize any downtime and still get to your data.

Actually, the elimination of DE assists you if you choose to use the backup function as you can match up drive to drive for your back up instead of monitoring your folder size as you had to do in WHS v.1. In v.1 if you could put more information in your folder than you could back up.

While I personally haven’t experienced some of the issues you mentioned others are having, obviously they are there as people have reported on them. But I’m keeping an open mind as I’m still running the RC and not the RTM version, so I expect a few issues with my RC release.

Could there and should have been more features that people wanted included in WHS 2011? Absolutely. But most of those features can be obtained in other ways. However, I believe reliability is #1 for everyone and I believe WHS 2011 is faster and more stable than WHS v.1 and the Pro’s vs. Con’s for me, make it a beneficial upgrade for me.

Eugacc April 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I am using whs 2011 for small “business” environment (15 clients) with 64 bit version and RAID drives and so far didn’t run any issues. Besides file sharing, automated clients PC backup, server runs as printer server, DHCP and DNS server, small SQL/webserver for development needs. And this is above just media sharing. Personally I think it’s step forward compare with WHS 1.0, it’s more flexible/scalable architecture and definitely going upgrade my. Nothing wrong with RAID compare with DE …

Brian Wechtenhiser April 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Eugacc- I’m glad to hear that Windows *HOME* Server 2011 is working well for your business environment. However, your comments validate the assertion that many in the WHS community have made about WHS 2011- it has abandoned many of the features that made is such a valuable product that served the *HOME* users. The vast majority of home users do not even know what a printer server, DHCP and DNS server, SQL/webserver, etc. are, let alone know how to go about configuring them. They would also have no clue on how to go about setting up RAID.

Even Paul Thurrott’s latest WHS 2011 post sites his setup configuration that IMHO is much more complex than WHS 2011 DE drive pooling and folder duplication….

He describes his WHS 2011 configuration that contains four hard drives, and lists how he has them configured. Each one explicitly contains certain folders/categories of files. A perfect example of how this differs from the simplicity of WHS V1 is his description of how he has one of his hard drives configured…

“2 TB secondary disk. The E: drive contains my Videos server folder. This one is getting full: 1.67 GB of the available 1.81 TB is used, with only 151 GB free. I’ll need to move some of this to a new location in the near future, or simply start killing unneeded videos.”

As he states, this drive is almost full of his videos, so he will either need to move some of them to another location, adding complexity to his system, or he will be forced to spend time reviewing and deleting unneeded videos. What a waste of time! This was never a problem with WHS V1. You never had to decide what file categories needed to be stored on what hard drives, nor did you have to fear having a category fill up a drive and force you to remedy it.

WHS 2011 may be an upgrade from WHS V1 in certain aspects, but those are outweighed by the features and behavior that it lacks compared to V1. IMHO those features are what made WHS V1 truly live up to the name: Windows *HOME* Server.

Damian April 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Well said Brian. The moment I hear someone mention RAID IMO the point of Windows “HOME” Server is lost. I am not saying RAID is a bad thing, nor can it be more efficient with space over DE. However, I always felt the purpose of WHS was to be plug n play. Start it up, pop in whatever size disks you want, if you want protection enable duplication, and you are up and running. With RAID now a user has to worry about setting up RAID (which RAID do you choose, do you go software RAID or hardware RAID, do you have potential system/drive compatibility issues, having to now manage hard drive size, etc…). This is all the stuff that for me was not the point of WHS.

Honestly, the only hope to keep the “Home” in WHS are the DE Replacement Add-ins being developed

PatrickGreene April 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Yeah, great for business is not what it is for… hence the HOME.
Isn’t that what SBS is for?
Sort of like taking a shovel and burning slots in it with a cutting torch and then saying, hey, it’s a great pitchfork.

hakr100 April 29, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Well, I had a first generation WHS, which I sold to a friend, and then got a second generation 485, which I just sold on eBay.

I’m moving on to a Synology four-bay NAS.

I don’t know a damned thing about Linux, but the Synology’s have a Windows-like interface that I got to use during a live demo, the user’s manual is pretty decent, and the price for a four bay unit with two 2-terabyte drives is less than a MSS 490 with a 1-terabyte drive.

The unit is easily set up to use Apple Time Machine, which is important to me, since I use an iMac and a a MacBook Pro. My wife has a Windows 7 machine, and there are many backup possibilities.

The Synology also sports what looks like some pretty good media storage and serving applications.

I’m sure my ignorance of servers will give me a little trouble at first, just as it did when I was using my two MSS’ers. :>)

I’m off to a new adventure.

But, I have to say, *this* is one of the best information and support discussion boards I have ever encountered. I plan on logging in from time to time to see what’s happening.

No goodbyes, but…thanks for all the fish!

Damian April 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I know a few other people who use Synology and are very happy. Don’t hesitate to share your experience in the forums here, I am sure a lot of people would be very interested :-)

snowdins April 29, 2011 at 10:09 pm

So I just bought a QNAP 419P+ (they shipped me a Pro II by mistake) and I must say the transfer rates were awesome. Thats all I really like about it.

The backup software for QNAP is 2 years old and sucks. period. No wake up for clients and its not block level. Its just old tired crap.

BT had more to want. No option to automatically load torrents except from RSS, bugs for limiting d/l speeds (u/l limit effects d/l….). Theres a lot of other stuff it offers but not sure i’d use any of it. The interface is clean, sharp and speady. I really liked it. But I dont plan on dealing with the interface for a unit to server/stream files. The thing cost me 800 bucks with seagate drives. I feel this price was WAY to much for what it actually delivered.

Going on the forums I see lots of bugs where I am not sure QNAP is paying attention or not.

I returned the unit, well had to cause they shipped me the wrong unit. I felt like it had a lot of stuff to use, but nothing I would.

Using the QNAP made me miss what having a windows server gives you. I am now out of a server and will not be buying anything soon. I think I really want WHS 2011 now, but definitely waiting for it.

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