WHS 2011 – Upgrade or Not?


This is a tough question and one I have wrestled with ever since THAT day, that fateful day that Microsoft announced that DE was no longer going to be a part of Windows Home Server 2011 (or Vail, as it was known as at the time).

My existing WHS is an old Dell PowerEdge 715n with 4 Drives and is working wonderfully albeit with only a small drive pool. I need to update so I can add some larger capacity drives to expand to cover all our media from our Windows 7 Media Center. I do need to keep my WAF up high.

This brings me to the big decision – do I stay with WHS v1 or replace with WHS 2011?

I have read the articles from Sean Daniel, (Senior Program Manager for the Home and Small Business Server Team] at the Windows Home Server Blog and he did bring up some very valid points, enough to make me really want to use WHS 2011. However, it was at the last few paragraphs that I began to wonder… He listed what was lost with the removal of DE

  • In the event of a hard drive failure, all my data isn’t still available until I put in a new hard drive and restore that drive back to its original state, if I didn’t configure RAID.
  • I can’t easily extend my storage when I have a disk that’s running out of space.
  • I can’t grow my share sizes past the size of all the hard drives in the system
  • My server storage responds faster because I’m not using DEMigrate.exe all the time

The first three of those points are all but one of the reasons why I bought WHS in the first place ( the other being Client Backup). He also went on to talk about Data hoarding and whether or not we are right to keep such massive collections of data. Yes, I’ve got a lot of data, a LOT of data. Over a terabyte of movies alone plus loads of music, photos, videos, software etc.  However, I want to change my technology to support me, not change me to support my technology.

So I will be testing is the Third-Party Add-ins that are replicating the Drive Extender technology. I’ll be looking at how they work with inbuilt folders, PC Backup and how it deals with HDD crashes, replacement and adding non-identical drives. Thankfully I have some Virtual Hardware for testing this, our VMWare ESXi Test box here at work will be providing the platform for all this.

to be continued…

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