How To's & GuidesAdding a Drive to your Windows Home Server

Adding a Drive to your Windows Home Server


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There seems to be a lot of people who are still a little unsure about adding or removing drives on their Windows Home Servers, so I figured some simple walk-throughs would help here.

In this next walk-through, I will discuss adding a hard drive to the storage pool.


You can easily add a new hard drive to your server storage pool by literally just plugging it in and making a few clicks with your mouse.

Make sure that you have enough spare ports on your Windows Home Server for the new hard

drives. For example, if you want to add a new internal hard drive, you will need a spare power cable and the relevant cable for attaching to the motherboard, along with a spare port on the motherboard to connect the cable. If you want to connect an external hard drive, you will need spare USB or FireWire ports.

Here’s the procedure for adding a hard drive:

1. Connect the new hard drive to your Windows Home Server. If you are connecting an internal hard drive, you will need to first power off your Windows Home Server.

2. When the Windows Home Server has been powered back on, using one of your home computers, launch the Windows Home Server Console.

3. Click the Server Storage icon to display your available server storage.


Your new drive will be listed in the Non Storage Hard Drives area, with a status of Not Added. As you can see, I have installed a drive with the details ST315003 41AS internal ATA drive with a capacity of 1.3 TB. For those of you who are interested, it’s a 1.5 TB Seagate drive.

There might be situations, such as an application or Windows Home Server add-in needing its own hard drive, where you don’t want to add the new hard drive to the server storage pool. In these instances, you can just leave the new hard drive in the Non Storage Hard Drives area. This just means that the hard drive is not used as part of the Windows Home Server storage pool, even though it can be used for “other” storage outside the storage pool.

You can also use it to backup files from your Windows Home Server, but that is the subject of another walk-through, so for now, let’s just assume you want to add the drive to the storage pool.

4. Click the newly added hard drive, and then click the Add button above the list, or right-click the hard drive and select Add from the context menu.


This will start the Add a Hard Drive Wizard.


5. Click Next to start the Add a Hard Drive wizard. You will be offered the choice to add the hard drive to the storage pool to increase the storage capacity of your home server or you can use it to back up files that are stored on your home server. For this walk-through, leave the default selection and click Next to continue.


The next screen in the wizard warns you that if you click Finish, the hard drive will be formatted, and any files stored on that drive will be deleted. You can also see information about the drive on this screen so that you can be sure you have selected the correct drive.


If this newly added drive contains any data that you want to keep, stop the process now!

Remove the drive from the Windows Home Server, connect it to one of your other home computers, and copy the data off before starting the process again.

6. If you are sure that you want to format the drive, and that you have copied any data you want to keep to another storage location, click Finish. The hard drive will be formatted, and then it will be added to the storage pool.

Depending on the size of the hard drive you are adding, the formatting process may take a few minutes, so be patient.


adding drive to pool

When those two things have taken place, you will see the screen that tells you that the new hard drive was successfully added.


7. Click Done to finish. Your new hard drive has become part of your available storage pool.


You will now be able to see the new drive, along with any other drives you already had as part of your storage pool. As you can the status of my new drive is healthy, and my server storage pool total is 2.73 TB.

You will notice that the total server storage size may not be a rounded-off number. This is because you can add all different size drives to your server storage pool. You can add any drives you have lying around at home to increase your server storage—and believe me, you will soon want to do this!

The procedure for adding a USB or FireWire hard drive is the same as just described. I also added a USB hard drive to the pool.

usb drive in pool

You will notice that the icon of the USB drive is slightly different, in that it shows a cable attached to the drive to indicate it is an external drive. You can also see that the Location column indicates that it is External (USB).

You should consider using only USB 2.0 or FireWire external drives. Do not use USB 1.1 external drives, as they are slow and will cause your Windows Home Server to perform slowly, which you really don’t want to happen.

After you’ve added the new hard drive to your Windows Home Server, it becomes part of the total amount of shared server storage. Under no circumstances should you just disconnect it and use it for something else, as this will cause major problems to your storage.

If you want to know how to safely remove a hard drive from your storage pool, click here to read the walk-through.

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.


  1. Can you only add extra drives to the server PC with WHS installed or is it possible to add hard drives to other PCs on the network and then get WHS to include them in the storage pool?

  2. Can one add just a partition (part of a drive) to the storage pool, leaving the rest of the drive (remaining partition) for "other" storage?

  3. How to connect an external USB drive and copy a data to the WHS without it asking to format it first and lose all data.

    • Firstly connect your hard drive to your WHS – but DONT try and add it in the Console – this will result in the drive being formatted.

      Using Remote Desktop, connect to your WHS and you can access the drive from there and copy the contents into your shared folders.


  4. Does it have limits on reading USB Flash drives I tried 2 different ones but with no success, o do I have two use Remote Desktop again. I don't understand Microsoft why they made this so complicated.

  5. No, you should be able to just plug in the drive, go to the Remote Desktop and it should see it. If it doesnt, it might be that you need to assign a drive letter to it in Disk Management on the WHS box.

  6. Is there any way I can add harddrives to the WHS Storage WITHOUT formatting them? By way of an add-on or something? I want to USE the data on my HDD's that I'm including into the Server, formatting them would realllllly mess me up.

    I have 2 1.5TB Seagates, a 500GB WD, a 500GB Seagate, and 2 500GB Maxtor's I want to add to the server storage pool.


    • LeLouch – no, if you want to add a drive into the storage pool then it has to be formatted, simple as that.

      If you want your data that is on the drive to be included in the storage pool, and thus protected by WHS you will need to add it seperately to the pool, then add the drive to the pool, which will the be formatted. So there is an additional step – connect your drive to either the WHS without adding, copy the data off then add the drive, or connect the drive to a computer, copy the data to the WHS, then add the drive to the WHS storage pool.

  7. Once I have added my drive how to I get the data to level out.

    i have 4 drives all at 90% and I have added another drive but I still show 4 drives at 90 and now one drive at 0%

    will this happen over time? I just conneted it 1hr ago maybe i'm to fast to ask the question.

    • Hi Ed

      Unfortunately its not quite that clear cut. There is a very good chance that they will never exactly level out.

      What will happen over time, and it will take a while, is that the data will be written to the new drive and the old drives will move data as needed.

      WHS seems just one big pool so it doesnt matter to it.

      I think from memory there is a Microsoft Technical Brief on the WHS site that explains it in great detail.


  8. We are trying to add a drive to WHS but keep getting the same error "hard drive initialization failed" "the wizard was unable to create a volume on the hard drive". We've tried everything, any ideas?

    • Hi Erika

      Can you give me a bit more information?

      Is it an internal or external disk? How are you connecting it? Is it a new or old disk? Have you tried it on another computer to see if the disk is at fault?


  9. Can I add a drive internal to WHS without adding it to the storage pool.? How would I access this drive?

    • Hi Kent

      Yes, you can. You can add a drive to the storage pool, as a backup drive for WHS to use to backup the shares, or you can just add a drive, connect to the WHS via Remote Desktop and assign a drive letter to it as you can access.

      It all depends on what you want to use the drive for.


  10. Hi,

    I hope this the right area for this question. I have just finished setting up a diy whs, and hope someone can answer

    this question for me. I have 911GB free on the d drive however, I have 1.5TB of movies on 3 usb drives. I plan to order more drives in the comming weeks, but in the mean time can I connect them to the WHS and not add them to the storage

    pool,and still have my popcorn hour see and play them?



    • Don

      If you plan on using the media streaming functions of WHS then your content needs to be in the WHS storage pool and not just on a drive hanging off the box.

      So you will need to copy or move the files over before you can stream them.


  11. Hey Andrew:

    I was adding a new 1.5TB internal hd to the server. While i am adding it, in the middle of the formatting process, it gives me an errors saying "The Hard drive was not formatted. The hard drive was not formatted because it is being used by another program or service. Restart your home server and try again". Then the process stop and the hd disappear from the console screen.

    Any idea?


    • Horace

      Im not sure, I havent come across that problem before.

      Can I ask you a few questions:

      1 – did you plug in the drive when the WHS was on or off?

      2 – how are you "adding" it software wise?

      3 – are you doing anything else on your WHS at the same time?

      4 – can you add it to a computer and see if that works to determine if it is a fault with the drive itself?



    • Ramdisk

      When you connected the drive to your WHS and went into the console and added it it would have warned you if you added it to the pool that it would be formatted.

      That being said, now you will either have to find some file recovery software from the internet (do a search on Google, there are a lot out there) and hope for the best, or pay a professional data recovery company to recover it for you if it really is that important (but be warned, they will charge A LOT!)


  13. I have just physically added 2 new drives to my HP MediaSmart Server running WHS. The new drives show up in "Non Storage Hard Drives" section. When I click on one to "Add", the dialog begins and eventually says "Drive partioning and restart required". What is easiest way to partition these new hard drives?

    • John

      I have never seen the process require drive partioning. WHS should just add the drive, whatever size it is to the drive pool.

      I would suggest contacting HP support on this one.


    • John, I had to come in the back door using Remote Desktop Connection to the "server name" and using the admin password. Then, I used Disk Management to fake an initial partioning. Then, after making it active. I logged out of RDC and then back to the Home Server screen to follow the screen shots from above. Hope that helps. -Brian

  14. Hi,

    Simple problem…tough question..

    Confifuration look like this : OS : WHS + PP3; CPU Intel P4 3GHz; 4 GB RAM; 1xHDD 120GB WD (SATA) 1xHDD WD 80GB (SATA). recently added 1 TB WD…. The problem : LOW DISK SPACE….although there are almost 900MB free on the new HDD.

    Question : WHS require HDD with same amount of space? from what i understand, u can add any type of HDD behaving as a single one. any help is welcome

    • Alex

      You can add any size hard drive to WHS.

      When did you add the drive to your WHS? It can take time for WHS to do its house keeping tasks so if you only just added the drive give it a little while.

      What is showing low disk space? Does the console show the new drive added to the pool?


  15. I think i know what i did wrong.

    I'm using an intermediary folder for the temporary downloads (utorrent). The folder it is not in the share folder it is in root of the hdd D:. Will affect this, some how, the space?

    • Alex

      is the intermediary folder one created by WHS? If not, try doing that and having the temp downloads saved there. When you add a drive to the pool, WHS only understands the pooled drive so that is probably your issue.

      So, go into WHS, create a folder somewhere, for example in your user folder, and then point the torrents to that folder and see if that solves it.


  16. Thanks Andrew !

    The folder was not created by WHS, and was not in the SHARE folder.

    That was the problem.


  17. Andrew,

    I've been using WHS for a while now, but I want to change my configuration a bit. I have a 1TB drive in an external box connected by USB and it's shared with the pool. I'd like to remove it from the external USB box and install it internally in my WHS. If I do this, will WHS pick up the drive as "new" because it's a new configuration…hence loosing all my data on the drive? Or will WHS simply see the same drive with the same data and just go about it's buisness with no problems?



    • Hi Craig

      To be honest I dont know – it is not something I have ever tried. It should work, but it dependsI suppose on how WHS recognises the drive.

      What I suggest is that you just unplug the drive, and try putting it in the WHS – if it warns you that the drive will be formatted then dont continue.

      Sorry I cant be a little more specific.

      Let me know how you get on.


  18. i have two 1.5tb green drives in my NAS running WHS. can i add a 1tb black drive to the pool?

    • Patrick

      That will depend on how much data you have stored on the 2 1.5tb drives – if its less than 1tb, then yes, if not, you will have to be selective.


  19. Hi Andrew,

    Is there a way of adding drives to the WHS without them becoming part of the pool? I'd like to determine whether there's a way of keeping my backup / photos etc. separate to, say, tv and movie content (which the new drives would be for). If there is, how does the setup occur and how do I gain access to it from other desktops on my network (currently access the WHS by referencing hpserver).


    • Sam

      You can add drives to your WHS and choose not to add them to the pool but WHS will not use them at all then and you would have to manually map drives from other computers to use the content.

      You would be better off adding the content to the WHS and then adding the drives to the pool. Otherwise you have lots of manual steps on each computer and frankly there would be no point having the drives on the WHS.


      • Thanks Andrew. I guess I'm also trying to ensure that the new drives are pretty fast (Samsung Spinpoint F3 – 7200rpm) to ensure optimum streaming. If I just add them to the pool, there's no guarantee that they'll be the ones that are used, right?

          • Thanks again Andrew. One last question if I may. Should I add hard drives to the pool and decide that the setup isn't working for me at a later date, can I remove them and revert back to the previous (pre hard disk addition) configuration?

  20. I too am trying to use a non storage hard drive. I am a new (somehwat frustrated) WHS user and am just trying to get going using an HP Mediasmart server. I have added my current external hard drive via USB to the HP. What I'd like to do is copy photos, music, video, etc. to the WHS storage hard drives. This would seem like an obvious thing to do, but after two days of trying I am making no headway. Could someone at least tell me how to map a network drive to the non storage hard ware ? Doing a net view on the Mediasmart server only shows the shared folders.



    • Hi Paul

      the easiest, and quickest way to sort this is to use Remote Desktop to connect directly to the WHS desktop, access the drive that way and just copy and paste directly in the shared folders.


  21. I have a WHS running on 3 HDs. My problem is that 320GB disk holding the OS has a 20GB partition created when WHS was installed. WHS allocated the remainer of the drive to shared storage. For ease of recovery in case of harware failure, I'd like to remove the shared storage on physical disk holding the OS. When I go to the add/remove storage, I cannot remove the shared storage on that disk. The option to remove is grayed out. In order to preserve my partition strategy, how can I ensure that no shared storage resides on the OS disk? I'm afraid if the OS disk goes bad then my system is gone.

    What is the best method to perform a "bare metal" restore with WHS?

    • Clint – the best way to ensure no data is stored ONLY there is to have folder duplication enabled on all your shared folders. This should mean that the data is also on other drives. There is no way of forcing WHS not to use this drive unfortunately, but with shared folder duplication enabled you will at least have copies on other drives.

      For information on doing a restore, see Tim's article here:


  22. Andrew,

    I tried to reinitialize my WHS but for some reason, it failed and now when I try to reinstall the WHS software, the only option is "New Installation" which would wipe my 6 drives clean in a storage pool situation. Is there a way to preserve my videos and software data that's already existing on the internal WHS hd's and then reuse them as a new storage pool? Is there a way to force reinitialization?

    • Hi

      Can I suggest you post this question in our forums, you will get a quicker answer and Im sure that Dave will have an answer waiting for you 🙂


  23. Just put together a WHS box, installing on a 250GB drive. I then installed 2 each 2TB drives in RAID1. I haven

    • Hud

      WHS doesnt support RAID, you need to add each drive to the storage pool for WHS to use it.

      If a drive goes bad, and you have folder duplication enabled, then you can just swap out the drive in the pool and WHS takes care of everything.


  24. My home-brew WHS box is running great except for one continuous problem, WHS seems to hate multiple USB drives/attachments. I had a 320GB Seagate, and an 80GB WD, and occasionally a USB keyboard and mouse if I felt the need to go directly into the desktop.

    With both USB drives attached one or both would fail within a day, usually within hours. But if I unplugged the drive(s) and plugged them into my desktop/laptop machine they were obviously and definitely good drives.

    In my searching I have found anecdotal evidence that more than one USB device attached to WHS causes real problems. But I cannot find documentation on this. Has anyone else had this problem, or do you know of Microsoft documentation that verifies this. Or does my box just have bad USB plugs?

  25. Thanks I was happening to look for a way to add a drive without losing it all, I appreciate the help.

    John Covert

  26. I have a major problem. I tried reinstalling WHS and something went wrong. It won't boot. I am stuck looking at a new installation but I have tons of data sitting on my storage disks I need access to. So I just can't add the drives because I can have the data deleted. How do I add the drives back in without losing my data?

    • Arden

      the safest way is to connect each drive in turn to your computer and copy the data off manually. Once all the data has been copied off, put the drives back in and try doing another Server Reinstallation.

      If it works, then great.

      If not, you can always do a clean install and copy your data back over from your computer to your WHS.


  27. Hi,

    I have 3x 1Tb Samsung F1 7200rpm sata drives in my WHS pool. is it possible to add a 2Tb Samsung F3 5400rpm drive to the pool?

    Im concerned the different speed of the added drive will cause problems?

    Any advice greatfully received

    Thanks in advance


  28. Two questions:

    I just got an Acer H340. It came with 2 one TB drives. Can I then add 2 two TB drives and still use drive duplication?

    I also have a Drobo which I would like to connect to the WHS, but I don't want it to be added to the storage pool. Can this be done? It is sort of Raid like and is larger than 2TB. I'd like to use it to back up the Acer 340. I don't supposed I can assign a letter(s) to the Drobo and export them via smb to other computers on the network?

    Thank you,


    • Hi Philip

      You can add as many drives you as you like to the storage pool.

      As for the Drobo question – the answer is I dont know – you should be able to connect it to the WHS and NOT add it to the storage pool. I would suggest you try it and see – just dont add it to the pool or it will be formatted.

      Let us know how you get on.


  29. Hi –

    I am having problems adding a hard drive. I'm trying to add a brand new Western Digital 2TB internal hard drive to my HP MediaSmart Server. When I get to Step 6 above, I get an error message "Hard drive initialization failed. The Wizard was unable to create a volume on the hard drive." Please help.



  30. Hi Andrew –

    No, I have not tried it on another computer. I only have a laptop, so have no way to test it out. Does the error message suggest that the drive I have is defective?

    • Hi Vicki

      Fair enough, not easier to test it then.

      Unfortunately it is not a very helpful error message – all I can say is that the only time I have had similar messages is when I have had drive problems.

      Sorry I cant be more helpful.

      Perhaps you could put a question in our forums?


  31. Hi Andrew,

    I was using an old system with Win7 as a "server" of sorts with a 320GB drive for the OS and Programs and a 1TB drive for shared data.

    I just got WHS for xmas so I unplugged the shared data drive before installation so it wouldn't be formatted during instalation.

    How do I get that data back on the server? Can I just plug the 1TB drive back into the server or will the drive need to be formatted? Should I just install the drive on another machine and transfer the data over the network then move the drive over to the server?

    Thanks for any help!

    • hi Scott

      You have a couple of options.

      You can connect the drive to the server, DONT add it via the console or it will be formatted. Then you can map a drive letter to the drive, and copy the data off.

      The easiest option is to just copy the data over the network from your Win 7 machine to the relevant folders on your WHS.

      You can then add the drive afterwards to WHS if you wish (which will be formatted and added to the pool).


  32. Andrew – this thread's been going a long time! I'm having the same problem as Horace above. I'm trying to add eight drives to WHS. All drives are connected through a Highpoint card. Four were added successfully. WHS will not add the last four, and gives the message: “The Hard drive was not formatted. The hard drive was not formatted because it is being used by another program or service. Restart your home server and try again”.

    In answer to your questions above, (1) the drives are recognized by WHS – they're in the pool, just not added; (2) I run no other SW on WHS.

    Any hints?

  33. Is there any way to set up an automatic back up to an internal drive. The option is there just like it is for my home machines but it is grayed out.

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