As hard as it is for me to fathom, my 12TB Windows Home Server grew to 13TB back in April, just two months after the initial build. Now, less than 2 months after that I was running low on disk space again.
When I built the server I figured the disk would last me awhile. I hadn’t intended to turn on file duplication and instead rely on backups, giving me lots of space. Well, since I had the space I did turn on file duplication, figuring I’d turn it off when I needed the space. I’ve come to realize that due to the amount of data and the number of physical disks I have I’ve become dependent on file duplication to avoid an extended outage.
I have over 5TB of non-duplicated data on the server. If I need to restore that it’s going to take a lot of time, especially if I need to figure out which files went bad or need replacing. With 12 physical disks in the WHS there’s a lot of potential for hardware failure. In fact, my April upgrade was the result of needing to replace a bad hard disk anyway. That April disk failure and the limited down time thanks to file duplication convinced me to keep it. Not only was the down time minimal I didn’t have to babysit anything.
If you click the thumbnail up top you’ll see what my disk usage was up to. I had about 1.5 TB free which is a lot of space. But I didn’t want to add hard disk, I wanted to replace an existing disk in order to avoid the expense of adding additional controllers. This meant that I need at least 1TB to accommodate temporarily holding the files on the drive being removed. I could add an external USB drive as a temporary solution but that would be extremely slow due to USB speeds (compared to sata).
So I started watching hard drive prices. When I upgraded in April the Western Digital 2TB drive was $300. When I checked a couple weeks ago it was $250 but I was desperate so decided to wait since the longer I waited the lower the price would go. Then last week the price dropped to $230 with free shipping. While not specifically marked as a limited time special it was listed as a special savings off the original price but I suspect this will be permanent drop.
Sure, waiting even longer could lead to a lower price as the price will drop again, but I decided to go for it, figuring it would be a month or so before another drop.
The replacement wasn’t any different than previous drive replacements.
1. Run the drive removal wizard for the drive I want to remove. The indispensable add-in Windows Home Server Disk Management which makes identifying the disk location easy. This can take some time since it’s basically a file copy. I did it overnight so can’t say how long it took, but the drive I removed was 98% full. As I said previously, if your using a USB drive it will take longer since USB is slower.
2. Remove the physical disk and pop the new one in.
3. Run the add-disk wizard to add the new disk.
4. At this time the files aren’t very well distributed across the drives and the system drive is also heavily used. Rather than let the OS try to sort things out or try to find an add-on to do it I disable file duplication. It takes awhile for the system to clean up the space used my the duplicated files. I should note, I do have a complete backup in the event a drive does fail.
5. Then I turned file duplication back on. It takes awhile to duplicate everything. In my case it was over 12 hours but the server was usable and performed well during that time.
One last note on disk capacity. I’m calling this a 14TB server because if I add up the manufacturer capacity for all the hard drives it’s 14TB. (Ten 1TB and Two 2TB) But since OS’s measure capacity differently and there’s overhead in the formatting there’s actually 13TB usable. There’s 931GB usable for every 1TB the manufacturer gives me so the overhead does add up.
Let’s see if I can go more than two months without having to add yet another drive.
Here’s what the disk usage looks like now (click the image for full size):