Adding Disk to Windows Home Server

The hardware and software in this post are obsolete. Obsolete images and external links have been removed.

One of the benefits of Windows Home Server is the ease at which disk space can be expanded. There’s no need to set up partitions, just pop the drives in and add them to the storage pool. The HP EX475 makes it easy to add disk on the hardware side of things by using hot swappable drive bays. (The HP EX470 is the same server hardware with one less hard drive.) I decided to max-out the internal drive bays by adding two Western Digital Caviar 500GB SATA drives.

HP describes the procedure to add the drives here and the entire process took me about 10 minutes. The HP EX470 comes with one drives so three drives can be added while the EX475 comes with two drives so it has two empty drive bays. If there’s a drive in the bay the the light bar will be lit.

Adding the Drive Hardware

The front door of the HP EX475 swings open revealing the drive bays. Drives are added from bottom to top so You’ll add drives to the lowest empty bay first. It’s not necessary to shut down the server when adding drives, but it can’t hurt.

To remove a drive bay push down the latch that holds the handle, lift the handle and pull the bay out. Be sure to push down the rear flap, as shown below, once the bay is removed. Just push out the side rails a bit to free up the flap.

Insert the left side of the new drive first (left – when the handle is toward you), it does make a difference and it’s much easier. The posts in the drive bay will fit the mounting holes in the drive. Then flex the right rail outward and put the rail pins into the right side of the drive.

Side the drive bay back into the server. Be sure not to accidentally lock the handle down by pushing on it when inserting the drive. (Yea, that’s what I did.)

Close the HP’s front door when all the drives are in. The LED’s should start glowing purple soon after the drives are inserted. Mine took less than 30 seconds.

Adding the Drives to the Storage Pool

Once the hardware is installed it’s still necessary to add the drives to the pools so they can be used. Start up the Windows Home Server console and go to the server storage tab.

You’ll see the unused drives listed under “Non Storage Hard Drives”. Select one of the unused drives and click the “Add” button. The Add Drive Wizard will run. There’s not much to do beyond clicking through the wizard.

Once the drives are added the Server Storage tab will reflect them. Once the drives are part of the storage pool the light bars will glow blue.

The Aftermath

I found that the original two drives continued to be used for new files for quit awhile. Then the system drive stopped getting new files but the original second drive continued to accumulate files until it exceeded 90% in usage. Then the two new drives started to use space in tandem, growing at the same rate.

I eventually deleted a large amount of files which shrunk usage on the original drives, with the system drive seeming to have the lowest priority as it’s now the once with the most free space, even with 20GB dedicated to the system partition.

Leopard Can Time Travel

Leopard may have a backup solution called Time Machine due to its ability to go back in time, but as the screenshot below shows it can also go into the future.

Screenshot lost

According to the time stamps it was modified 19 hours before it existed. Actually, the file (a VMware VM) was created at 10PM the day before this screenshot was taken. It was shut down at 1am the morning this was taken.

The OS Quest Trail Log #25: WHS Edition

It was a week of Windows and Windows Home Server. I set up the UPS on the WHS. Then I did a factory reset due to some problems I was experiencing. After the factory reset things improved. No more sever power-offs and access from my Macs was problem free. So I then took the potentially warranty voiding step of upgrading the memory to 2GB.

With the WHS sorted out I was ready to start using it. I’ve been ripping some DVDs and saving them up to the server. I’m using MacTheRipper which extracts files from the DVD. It doesn’t do any encoding or format conversion. Unfortunately these files are too big to stream to my Mac Mini (on 802.11g) and can’t be used with the Apple TV.  So I’m considering ripping the DVD’s using Handbrake to re-encode and compress the files. I still need to figure out which will be the best format for me to use.

Once the Windows Home Server was sorted I installed Windows Vista Home Premium under VMware on my MacBook. It replaces the Vista Ultimate WM which I’ll move to my iMac. The main reason for this (besides being a new flavor of Vista) is that Vista Home Premium doesn’t support remote desktop. This won’t be a problem on my MacBook and I get try out WHS remote access to Vista on my iMac.

Software Updates

The updates slowed down this week. Just a quick keyboard firmware update for my MacBook and a minor iTunes update. There’s also an update to Skype that’s been out awhile but I still haven’t gotten around to updating it.

Then there’s the Aperture 2 update that I still haven’t gotten around to trying.

Frustration

It was a nice calm week on the quest without an frustrations worth mentioning.

The Upcoming Week

I’m not willing to guess what I’ll be doing this week. I started working through the Apple videos about Aperture 2. I have to give Apple credit for coming out with a complete series of tutorial videos.

HP EX475 Windows Home Server Memory Upgrade

HP & Microsoft say that the 512MB of RAM delivered with HP server is enough to deliver 5 media streams at one time. It’s been streaming and copying files fine for me, although there’s rarely even 2 active connections and never more so I can’t say if the 5 streams is reasonable. But when I remote into the WHS and check memory usage I see it’s using 603MB, so it’s already swapping to disk. The only Add-ins I currently use are Jungle Disk and the Windows Home Server Toolkit. Neither add-in was actually doing anything and I wasn’t running the console at the time I checked the memory.

With memory prices relatively low I decided the main cost was my time so I went ahead and ordered a Patriot 2GB memory module. There’s only one memory slot and 2GB is the max the server can handle according to what I can find in various forums. HP’s official word is that 512MB is the only amount of memory supported and the upgrade probably voids the warranty. [Update: HP now says the memory upgrade doesn’t void the warranty – but it is still not supported and they don’t provide any guidance]

Donavon West’s Home Server Hacks site has excellent procedures for upgrading the HP Media Smart Server RAM. It took me about half an hour to upgrade the RAM following the procedure. Just take heed of his warning and use a #00 Phillips head screwdriver. Despite the tight fit, disassembling and reassembling the server wasn’t a problem.

Much to my surprise I did notice a performance improvement right away. The Windows Home Server console connections occurred faster and it’s response was snappier. Large files copied faster from my iMac to a server share.

I save my iTunes library on the server and I also saw an improvement in the performance of iTunes when it’s syncing to my iPod and downloading podcasts and videos. (With iTunes on the list of software having potential data corruption errors this may not be such a great idea.)

Naturally there’s plenty of free memory now and I can stock up on add-ins without cramping the memory even more.

Windows Home Server Recovery

I’ve been having sporadic problems with my Windows Home Server for the last week or so. The WHS was powering itself off for no reason and according to the logs it wasn’t a clean shutdown. It’s been sporadic, but happened twice on Saturday.

I was also having connectivity problems from my Macs. These were also sporadic and I suspected they were due to the recent OS X 10.5.2 upgrade rather than the Windows Home Server.

I figured no matter what, if I called tech support the first thing they’d want me to do was re-install. I also wanted to rename the server. I happened to name it the same as my .Mac ID and I figured there was a slight chance this was the cause of the connectivity problem. At the very least, it could be confusing.

The recovery is done from a PC connected to the the same network as the Windows Home Server. The Server Recovery Disk included with the HP WHS is used. A wired connection is recommended so that the connection isn’t interrupted during the recovery. I did the rebuild from Windows XP running under Parallels on my iMac.

HP has pretty good procedures online (scroll down to the Recovering Server section) and the online help and recovery wizard are also good so I won’t repeat every step in detail.

Factory Reset

I made sure my data backups where up to date and inserted the DVD to start the recovery. There’s two choices presented.

I go with the Factory Reset option in order to completely flatten the server. The data is backed up so there’s no sense trying half measure. The reset goes along as documented and the wizard is self-explanatory. It took about 90 minutes from the time I popped in the DVD to the time I could start restoring my data files and creating the IDs.

About half this time was spent watching the following dialog box. There were extended periods of time (5-10 minutes) where no progress was shown.

After the reset was finished I needed to recreate the IDs and restore my data files (a simple file copy). All the PC backups are lost and the home server connector software has to be uninstalled and re-installed on each PC. Since backups were lost I initiated a backup immediately after re-installing the connector software on each PC.

The Results

I did the Factory Reset last Saturday and the server hasn’t crashed all week so that problem seems to have been resolved. Looks like it was a software problem.

Much to my surprise the intermittent connectivity problems also went away. So that was either a Windows Home Server problem, a conflict with the old server name and my .Mac ID, or a total coincidence. In any case it looks like this problem was also resolved.

Windows Vista Home Premium

While Vista isn’t new on the Quest I did add a new flavor, Windows Vista Home Premium. At $100 less than Vista Ultimate it seems to be the version to get. There are only a things Ultimate provides over Home Premium including Windows Complete Backup & Restore, Windows Fax and Scan, and Bitlocker disk encryption. I don’t care about any of those but there is one thing that Windows Vista Home Premium won’t give me, and that’s Remote Access through Windows Home Server. I’m installing this in a virtual machine on my MacBook so remote access to it through WHS is not something I need in this particular case. I’m more likely to use this as the remote PC than want to remote into it.  Microsoft should add Remote Access support to Vista Home Premium since it seems to be targeted at the same people as Windows Home Server – those with lots of audio and video media.

Installation on VMware Fusion 1.1.1

I used the New Virtual Machine Wizard to create the VM. The wizard is very straight-forward so I won’t bother to include screen shots of every step. I selected the following options (listed in the order they’re asked for in the wizard):

  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows
  • Version: Windows Vista
  • Name and Location – Save As: Vista Home Premium
  • Name and Location – Where: A directory I have on an external USB drive for VMs
  • Disk Size: 30GB
    I kept the default settings where disk space is only allocated when needed, so 30GB is a ceiling.
  • Easy Install used
    I entered an ID and password to be created. Since I use Windows Home Server this is the same ID/password created on the home server and the other Windows VMs I use. I also enter the product key. I also keep the default of making my Mac home folder accessible from the VM as read-only.

I let the virtual machine start immediately and install from DVD. Twenty minutes later I’m presented with the logon screen. Once I logon the VMware Tools install kicks off automatically. When they’re done the virtual machine reboots.

Post Install Setup & Configuration

Once the VM reboots and I logon the first thing to do is fix the sound driver. As the Fusion Release Notes indicate the sound driver needs to be updated:

When you install Microsoft Vista 32-bit edition in a VMware Fusion virtual machine, there is no sound output. To correct this problem, run Windows Update to update the sound driver from within Vista.

To update the sound driver in a VMware Fusion virtual machine running Windows Vista 32-bit edition:
1. In the virtual machine, from the Windows start menu, right-click Computer and select Properties.
2. In the left pane, under Tasks, select Device Manager.
3. When prompted for your permission to continue, click Continue. Windows displays the Device Manager.
4. Right-click the Multimedia Sound Adapter with a warning symbol (indicating that there is no driver) and select Update Driver Software.
5. At the prompt How do you want to search for driver software?, select Search automatically for updated driver software. Windows finds and installs the appropriate driver for your virtual sound card.
6. When you are prompted to restart, click Restart Now.
Sound should now work in your Microsoft Vista 32-bit virtual machine.

So I update the driver, reboot and test the sound which works fine.

The VMware Easy Install creates it’s own PC name (which is random so meaningless) and uses “Workgroup” as the workgroup. I change the PC name to match my naming convention and change the Workgroup to my home workgroup. Which needs another reboot.

Then it’s time to run Windows Update to get all the security patches so I go into Windows Update and tell it to check for updates. The first update I get is an update to Windows Update itself. Once that’s installed I check for updates again and there’s 45 updates totaling 105.3MB. (It really is time for SP1) I install those updates and there’s another reboot. I then configure Windows Update to download updates when they’re available but not install them.

I try to connect to my Windows Home Server software share so I can install the connector software but I can’t. I’m told “File Sharing & Discovery” is off so I say to turn it one. Then I’m asked if I want to change my network type to “Private” which is recommended if I’m at home or work, rather than turning File Sharing on for a public network. I click the selection to make the switch. I still can’t connect to the Share.

The VM is configured to use NAT networking with the host. I shut down the VM, change this to bridged in the virtual machine network properties (so the VM gets it’s own IP address), and restart the VM. Now I can connect to the share and install the Windows Home Server connector software. I do a backup once the connector software is installed. Also, changing the network to Bridged cause Vista Home Premium to see this as a new network so I made it a Private Network by selecting “Home Network” when prompted.

I haven’t done the activation yet. I’ll wait the 3 days allowed in case I find I need to re-install the VM.

Additional Software

I already installed the WHS connector software. Now it’s time to install AntiVirus software. I already use free versions of Avast and AVG on other VMs so I wanted to try something different on this one. I decided to go with Avira AntiVirus PersonalEdition Classic which is free for personal (non-commercial) use.I picked it mainly because I never used it before and wanted to see what it was like. Their full version (the one you pay for) rates high for virus detection.

Lastly, I use Windows Live Writer for creating blog posts and I find a couple other Windows Live offerings intriguing although I haven’t actually used them. So I run the Windows Live Installer and select the following installs:

  • Windows Live Sign-In Assistant
  • Windows Live Mail
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery
  • Windows Live Writer

Once these installs finish my Windows Vista Home Premium virtual machine is complete.

Summary

The virtual machine currently takes 11.8GB on disk although that can grow to 30GB if I add software and data. The installation took me about 3 hours although I wasn’t sitting there immediately responding to every prompt. The install probably would have been faster if I installed from a DVD image rather that a physical DVD and the time to download that 105MB of updates will vary depending on the Internet connection.

The VMware Easy Setup feature simplifies the setup even if it doesn’t get things exactly the way I want them. Changing the PC name and workgroup is a simple task.

iTunes 7.6.1 Released

Apple has released iTunes 7.6.1 which:

…includes several bug fixes and improves compatibility with Apple TV software version 2.0.

It seems to only be available through Software Update at this time. It was a 44MB download on my Intel Macs and did not require a restart.

List of Software Broken by Vista SP1

Microsoft has published a list of software that has problems with Windows Vista SP1. AntiVirus and security software makes up a big portion of the list. Most of the apps already have a solution of simply (hopefully simple that is) updating to the the latest version.

While it doesn’t help Vista’s reputation to have more incompatibilities the list is currently rather small and seems to contain software that puts it’s hooks into the OS. I have to say, makes running Windows in a VM even more attractive, just create a snapshot before the upgrade or save off a copy of the VM itself.

Apple Updates: Keyboard Firmware and Old Pro Apps

I received Apple MacBook/MacBook Pro keyboard firmware update today, on my MacBook. The bulletin describes the update as:

This MacBook and MacBook Pro firmware update addresses an issue where the first key press may be ignored if the computer has been sitting idle. It also addresses some other issues.

The update took less than a minute on my MacBook.

I also received the Pro Applications 2007-01 and Pro Applications 2007-02 updates again. I suspect this was due to my install of the Aperture 2 trial software on my MacBook. My iMac did not receive the updates and does not have Aperture 2.

None of these updates required a reboot.