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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:29 pm 
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Ok, so with some pointers from Alex and a lot of reading on the internet (wegotserved, this forum, the MS forums), I've gotten really really confused about installing WHS on my new build (and how to recover from a dead OS drive).

I know that WHS PP3 will not have drivers for my build, as I'm using new(ish) components (at least, built long after Server 2003). That means that during installation, drivers will be needed (I assume motherboard drivers - which would include NIC and vga video, plus SAS card drivers). Here's where I get some confusion, as it pertains to 2 areas: (1) installation and (2) server recovery.

Installation:
As I understand it, I have at least 2 choices:
(a) Install WHS manually, loading card drivers and other drivers as prompted/needed, or
(b) Use/Build a slipstreamed image that has my drivers preloaded (but will I still need to use a floppy for things like my SAS controller cards)?

Recovery (and Installation impact):
This is where I get further confused, and it also could affect my installation method.

Again, I see at least 2 choices:
(a) Use RAID 1 on the motherboard ports (all data drives will be run from the SAS cards to keep things simple) for the OS drive and mirror drive.
(b) Use a single drive on the OS board in normal SATA operation and create a "recovery disk".

I THINK I plan to use RAID 1 on the motherboard ports to setup (2) 500gb drives as my OS drive. Ignoring the recovery aspect for a minute, I would assume, since I'm using an Intel board, I could setup AHCI in the bios on boot and "away we go" with installation (hopefully). But, I recall erail stating in cavediver's build thread that this makes recovery a bit harder (at least the AHCI enabled part) so I'm not sure this is the way to go. Can someone (erail?) elaborate a bit on the difficulty here? I would assume, perhaps incorrectly, that if 1 drive died, I would shut down the server, replace the drive, boot up and the new drive would be rebuilt from the mirror, and I'm back up and running?

I think I get how to create a server recovery disk if I go with a single non-raid OS drive (using the instructions link I note below). Would I ever want to create a recovery disk for a RAID 1 configuration (I know what RAID is/does, but don't understand how you recover from a dead drive using it). Assuming I would want to make a recovery image, from reading here: http://social.microsoft.com/forums/en-US/whssoftware/thread/8c3ea059-9928-4d7e-ae0f-49782bdcbfdc/ it sounds like I only need to have one drive installed when performing this procedure. So, should I install using IDE first, then install the second drive and switch to AHCI (I think this is what Cavediver did in his install). Or can I setup the system using AHCI and Raid 1 with both drives installed, and create the recovery disk as described?

As you can see, my complete lack of understanding of RAID and quirks re: WHS have me confused beyond belief. Is there a thread that I've overlooked: "Installing WHS for Dummies"? What are most of you doing in terms of the OS drive and recovery method? Am I over-complicating things? I just want to be able to setup my build in a non-complex, easy to restore manner that will allow me to restore my OS drive with minimal complications without losing my data. Am I "overthinking the plumbing"? :D

Oops, forgot I had a 3rd question: Since I have an EX470 already (which will remain to do normal WHS functions, new build will be videoserver), do I need to install a second instance of WHS connector on each pc? How do I ensure access to both WHS machines once all is setup?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:45 pm 
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Perhaps this is a dumb question, but do you enjoy pain? You are building your own server, you don't need to build it without a video card.... With a video card you are prompted to install drivers, you don't need to slipstream.... You don't need to create something smart enough to install itself... think about that


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:53 pm 
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So I take it you agree that I'm "overthinking the plumbing" and should just do a simple manual install using either a RAID 1 or single drive, since I will have a server recovery disk anyway? I guess I should stop reading so much and just dive into the build this weekend once everything arrives!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:10 pm 
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You can't install a second connector on a PC. Only one WHS can be connected via the connector software. You would access the second WHS from a shared folder you can setup on your desktop, like the EX470 did when you set it up. The shared folder won't just appear, you'll have to create it - if that's what you want. If not, you would just access with a URL (\\SERVERNAME\FOLDER1) or through network on COMPUTER (MY COMPUTER) in Windows 7.

Ditto on ensuring this computer can be connected to a monitor, at least for troubleshooting - WHS will have basic VGA drivers for you to connect to a monitor. Restoring can be a PITA on a DIY with extra drivers necessary. If you are setting up a RAID at least the drives will back each other up - if one fails you remove the bad drive and replace with a new drive of equal size or larger (you'll only get a match to the original drive size though). In my experience you get one shot at restoring correctly. Make sure you have a monitor connected. Also, you'll need a USB floppy drive and FLOPPY disks... those are tougher to get these days. You don't pick them up in the stores here (AZ).

You mentioned 2 500GB drives as your OS drives in a RAID 1 - unless that's the smallest you can get that's a waste of drive. You only need a 20GB partition for the OS and it will install on 80GB (maybe less - YMMV) based on what I have read.

If you are taking the time to put so much information on this video server that you need RAID then consider just building a Windows 7 machine with RAID. You have the EX470 for your PC backups, including this new machine, and for other WHS functions already. Windows 7 is a LOT easier to install, and Pro lets you RDP in just like WHS. I use a Norco 4220, that formerly had WHS on it, with Windows 7 Pro now as a video server, and use a new EX495 for my main WHS.


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mike1812
PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:27 pm 
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If I understand what you mean by server recovery disk, and my understanding of WHS is correct that will not work.... I believe you'll need a USB drive with all the new drivers for all your parts. And a DVD to launch the install program from. As to raid, I believe it must be setup and configured in BIOS, that you can't use a raid that has software for the operating system, but I've never set one up.

For my point of view set it up and the see what happens when you make it fail. Load some data on it and then pull a drive.... Can you recover? Test it now, before it has the only copy of that one file, you really want. Remember with a self build there is no community of 10,000 with the exact same hardware and software. In many ways you are on your own.

Technical point here, but a computer can use Home Server Discovery to select between multiple WHS and connect to then with WHS Console, however it will be one at a time. It is not nessary to uninstall and reinstall the connector software to switch between computers.....


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mike1812
PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:02 pm 
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Thanks for the replies. It probably would have been helpful had I linked to my post from a week + ago with my proposed build specs ("DIY Project Stargate - A few questions").

@walkabt - (1) I should have gone smaller on the OS drives, but hey, I've got 'em now (would have been nice to get this comment on my project thread a week ago before I ordered), so I will waste 2 500gb drives. (2) The mobo is a server grade board, with vga port built in, and yes, during build it will be connected to monitor, keyboard and mouse. (3) got it on the network connection to the server - I should also be able to RDP into either server as well, but on a regular basis I will only need the folder link to copy files from my pc over to the videoserver. (4) I understand your comment about Win7 and raid, but I'm just not familiar enough with raid to consider building a 30tb+ array on a W7 OS to use for this (I'm ok to probably do raid 1 on the OS drives). Although WHS is more difficult to setup, I'm more comfortable using the DE functionality to make it "painless" to get to the massive capacity I need to hold everything. Of course, I may wind up changing gears down the road and redoing it with W7, or Vail with a proven DE-like add-in, or who knows what - I just don't have the experience today to do that, nor the time to learn it (not that I'm in a rush, but even if I waited 6 months to develop the knowledge, I wouldn't have time to develop the knowledge - just too busy with other stuff - I would need to hire a server admin to do all this for me).

I'm STILL confused as to exactly what will be on the floppies that I will need to use the floppy drive. I'm guessing I'll need to take the CD/DVD that came with my SAS drive card and port that over to floppies? Essentially, I'm thinking I can install the OS, get it up and running, then install the PCI drive card(s) and drivers. Again, this is where I'm just clueless as I don't really get what is going to be on the floppies that I need (or rather, what I need to put onto the floppies).

@Daveed - yes, I mean after I get WHS installed (assuming that the OS drive dies and something is wrong with the raid setup), then how do I use a server recovery disk to get back to my system? Or is that not possible? As to the raid, my mobo has raid capabilities on the on-board sata ports. It's an Intel board, so I should be able to configure raid in the bios, then install to the OS drives (only ones to be connected at the time) and get everything going. All of the pool drives will use DE through 3 Supermicro SAS cards. And yes, I kinda know I'm on my own, but thankfully, my build will be very similar to cavediver's as to parts and setup, so I should have a similar outcome. But there are parts of the software installation process that just befuddle me, as I can't really find a good answer on here (such as exactly what the heck the floppies are used for - drivers I know, but am I supposed to be putting the drivers I need on there? How do I know which ones? do I need my mobo drivers as well?)

Thanks again for your help guys!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:07 pm 
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I would just do the install manually on a single drive, figure out how hard it is before you go too far planning this thing out. If drivers are a huge pain (unlikely, you'll probably only need the storage drivers during initial install and can load the rest once Windows is running) then you can worry about building slipstream images and building your own OPK recovery image.

I build the recovery image for HP for the EX47x, and I don't think you need it for a home-build. In the event your system drive fails, simply replace it and boot off the WHS install DVD, select "Server Reinstall" and reload the OS.

If you don't want to worry as much about a system drive failure, then RAID1 the system drive so you have a mirror.

Edit: You posted while I was typing this. Check the CD that contains your controller card drivers, and the manufacturers website, they likely have floppy images of the drivers for you as text-mode installs on the older OS are common.

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mike1812
PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:28 am 
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Thank you for the calming voice of sanity!!! The light bulb is "on" now. :oops:

One follow-on question:

yakuza wrote:
In the event your system drive fails, simply replace it and boot off the WHS install DVD, select "Server Reinstall" and reload the OS.


I assume this procedure preserves the data pool and "rebuilds" the tombstones so that all of my data is recoverable/accessible? If so, this is the easiest path - I don't mind reinstallation in case of a dead OS drive, nor do I mind reloading add-in's, settings, etc.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:33 pm 
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Exactly, this is the same as a Server Recovery on the MediaSmart Server. Feel free to try it while you're playing with your server the first few days, with the plan to wipe the server and start fresh once you've got a handle on how everything works. This way you aren't afraid to experiment and will probably learn a ton.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:56 pm 
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In my windows experience, when you need to add drivers, (during a windows install) windows wants an inf file. It can be on a floppy or a usb drive, what it can't be is an exe file, nor can it be burried deep in a folder structure. So generally it involves a little more than simply downloading a file and pointing to it....


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:16 pm 
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mike1812 wrote:
I assume this procedure preserves the data pool and "rebuilds" the tombstones so that all of my data is recoverable/accessible? If so, this is the easiest path - I don't mind reinstallation in case of a dead OS drive, nor do I mind reloading add-in's, settings, etc.


Please define your use of "all of my data is recoverable/accessible" This is something I've never been comfortable with, and many users don't experience. At least not as I understand all my data. If you've been reading this board over the last week you can find at least one user that didn't experience this! Some people in my opinion are quick to tell others that they have nothing to worry about, simulate failures and test or acknowledge that it is a hobby and a toy, something you can't count on.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:26 pm 
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mike1812 wrote:
I assume this procedure preserves the data pool and "rebuilds" the tombstones so that all of my data is recoverable/accessible? If so, this is the easiest path - I don't mind reinstallation in case of a dead OS drive, nor do I mind reloading add-in's, settings, etc.


Given Daveed's comment, I should have clarified that if you have Duplication enabled for all shares, then the only thing you might possibly lose is some or all of your client PC backups in the backup database. That can be mitigated with my BDBB Add-In.

In my multiple tests of Server Recovery, I've never lost data, however I duplicate everything. Some users have reported losing data, in my experience it's not always clear what the user did and how they got to the point of lost data.

It is best to always have a backup of any data you can't stand to lose, this could be another system on the network or an external USB or eSATA drive that you periodically backup your documents, photos, etc.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:12 pm 
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@Daveed - my definition was simply that a "server reinstall" didn't automatically initialize 20 2tb drives in the pool and wipe everything out (understanding that yes, if I do something stupid, it COULD happen). I'm sure if it came to that, i would post some questions or search for user experiences that would clue me in to safety nets before I attempted a reinstall, such as unplugging the pool drives first to prevent an accident. I'm new to installing WHS and don't know much about RAID, but otherwise, I'm somewhat pc-savvy for an accountant, having built my last 3 pc's. In other words, my expectations are realistic, not overly optimistic.

The plan is that all non-video data will remain on the EX470 (using duplication) and using the BDBB add-in to preserve pc backups on that WHS. The "new" WHS (Project Stargate) will exclusively be a video server (I have somewhere north of 1700 discs including dvd, hd dvd and blu ray, and the collection is growing). I will have duplication on this machine as well, but only from a safety stance, as I have all the discs and could theoretically re-rip everything IF I HAD TO, but wow. . .that would take a long, long time. I've already lost many files on the EX470 due to a dead drive (because I didn't have space to turn on duplication, AND I was using folder rips that scattered the files across all the drives), so I'm well aware of the risks (and am converting all current rips and making all future rips ISO). Re-ripping isn't pleasant, but I own all the discs, so it's not like I can't redo the work in a worst-case scenario.

Thanks again everyone, the fog has slowly lifted and I'm feeling much more at ease with this. And with all my builds, I tend to allow a few weeks of stress testing the build before loading up the drives, so I should know in a few weeks if this thing will be stable. If you can't tell, I'm a bit OCD about preparation before building, as I like to prevent any stupidity on my part causing a problem down the road. I'll post how things go in my other thread.

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Norco 4220, Supermicro board/SAS cards, 4GB ram, WHS 2011, Stablebit DrivePool, 64tb storage (production)


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