Replacing Windows Home Server Disks

Since I decided to start ripping my video library to disk I quickly realized my Windows Home Server would run out of space in fairly short order. I had four 500GB drives in it already so there weren’t any bays free, I’d have to replace one or more drives. The sweet spot for hard drive prices seems to be with 750GB drives these days. But the price of 1TB drives are also dropping, so I got two Western Digital Caviar WD10EACS 1GB drives, which actually cost less than the 500GB drives I bought earlier this year. (And will probably cost even less next week) The drives are marketed as “green” because they use less power. I figure they’re a good idea for a machine left on all the time. I’d be replacing two of the existing 500GB drives so I’d pick up another terabyte in total.

I cleaned up the files and have 900GB free so I should have enough space to replace the drives one at a time without turning off file duplication. Being the cautious type I start off by rebooting the Home Server and waiting for it to indicate the disks were balanced. Then I run through the following steps to replace the hard drives.

  1. Run the drive removal wizard for the first drive. In this case it’s the drive in bay #4. The wizard tells me that no files, folders or backups will be lost. I confirm the drive removal and the process begins. This drive takes about 3 hours to prepare, during which time the WHS isn’t accessible.
  2. Once the removal wizard is finished the LED on the drive bay glows purple. I pop out the drive and install the new one. This process is just like adding a new drive once the old physical drive is removed.
  3. I add the new drive to the storage pool using the Windows Home Server console.
  4. I reboot the WHS and copy some files up to it to make sure everything is OK. I wait an hour or so and make sure the disk activity dies down. (I use the Windows Home Server Disk Management Add-In to track disk usage.)
  5. Then I run the drive removal wizard for the second drive, this time the one in bay #3. Since this drive was nearly full it takes about 4 hours to prepare the drive.
  6. Once the removal wizard is finished the LED on the drive bay glows purple and I replace the drive.
  7. I give the server one last reboot to make sure everything is fine.

A couple of the wizard and console screens are shown below. The initial drive removal wizard screen is a bit ominous and implies I’m responsible for insuring I have enough space otherwise I’ll lose files. But once the wizard finishes it’s done the calculations itself and confirms that no files or backups will be lost.

 

Once the drive removal wizard is finished the drive will be listed as a “Non Storage Hard Drive”. Then once the new drive is inserted it will also be listed as a “Non Storage Hard Drive”.

Server Storage Screen in the Management Console after drive replacement

The Disk Management Add-In screen in the management console shows both new drives and the disk activity as files are copied to them.

Disk Management Screen after the drive upgrades

4 thoughts on “Replacing Windows Home Server Disks”

  1. @JohnBick – Disk 1 (System) wasn't replaced. I only replaced 2 of the data only drives. The file balancing seems to use the system disk as a last resort for data files so between that and the hassle of replacing the system drive makes it unlikely I'll replace it unless it goes bad.

  2. I am migrating my home built WHS from IDE to SATA so I have several drives to empty and swap. I'm also opting for two WD green drives in the process plus some of the older drives with PATA to SATA converters.

    Sometimes the remove disk wizard runs out of steam and quits. I have to run it again for WHS to finish the process. After the "first pass" the disk status is "Unknown" (red in console) and the backup service does not run until reboot.

    Anyone have this issue?

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