Welcome back to another article in the Friday night series. This is how it works: I do “stuff” to my Windows Home Server, writing as I go and hopefully you learn a little something from my experience. Well maybe a laugh…
Over the last few weeks I have been seeing a lot of super big crazy large uber-servers on some of the WHS sites. Some of these systems have dozens of drives and multiple cases. Most of these users post a very cool “Wireframe” screen shot of these mega-behemoth WHS systems that are on shelves across the world. Jealous much? Now, while I am humbled by their size and cost (24 drives x $100 average 1.5TB drive = $2,400?) I am never going to have the need, or the courage to convince my wife, for that much storage. What I do find the need for is a way to get more performance information from my drives and to make one of those cool Wireframe skyscraper looking things for my WHS.
Windows Home Server Disk Management Add-In
2 Beers (optional as always, but recommended)
The IT Crowd – Season One playing on Netflix
Windows Home Server Disk Management Add-In was created by Sam Wood at Tentacle software. If you have a few minutes you might want to read over the blog before you start. Since the only thing I have ever developed was some film a long-ass time ago at Costco (even then I messed up the envelope) I found it interesting to see how the Add-In was developed and grew. The Tentacle website is at:
According to the website it features:
- Detailed information for each disk in your Windows Home Server
- Real-time temperature and activity monitoring
- Capacity indicators for individual disks
- Customizable disk names
- Customizable 3D wireframe representation of your server
This sounds cool. I want to be able to view my WHS as a multicolored monolithic tribute to the MS gods instead of the dusty cable-laden heater box humming inside the closet.
Lets set this pig on fire.
Download and Installation
The version I am installing is 220.127.116.11. This is the latest version and can be found at:
Before you just download the file and get started make sure you scroll down and see if your system is one of the Pre-configured Server Wireframes they have available. I have a feeling this could save us some time later during installation. Since my Dell PowerEdge is not listed I am out of luck. I am going to get the HPMSS EX47X template for my parents while I am here and then create theirs using the import.
Also, I see some references to PP1 so check your system resources to make sure your WHS is compatible. The Tentacle website has a great FAQ section on the same page if you need additional information.
Follow the standard WHS Add-In instructions by downloading the file to your Add-Ins folder on your WHS.
I have also saved the XML file for the HP MSS to a folder so I can copy it along with the Add-In to my parents via remote after I do the installation on the Dell.
Install through Settings>Add-Ins in the WHS Console.
Configuration and Setup
I installed the Add-In and the WHS Console has restarted. I now have a new Disk Management “gear” icon at the top. I also see all of my drives listed very neatly underneath. Sweet.
This layout is cool since the regular Server Storage view only shows you the total of all of your disks and does not break them out by name. I really like the temperature and activity columns. Nice touch. It would be a nice addition to this Add-In to have the total hours on each drive on a future release. Well, now that I can see all of my drives, lets make one of those cool diagrams of the server!
On the right side it says “Click here to begin wireframe setup” so lets try that.
It takes me back to Settings. Um ok.
I see the Create New Wireframe button and I see an Import / Export Wireframe option. I want to make my own anyway so I probably would not have used this option even if my PowerEdge was on the list. Time to create a new Wireframe! The wife is getting ready for bed so I had better do this fast.
Follow the steps below by working through the Create New Wireframe program:
- Add, Edit or Remove a drive bay – Click on “Add new drive bay” click the arrow and NOT OK.
- Drive Bay Type – Click on the bay type LOV (List of Values), make your selection and click on the right arrow
- Drive Bay Position – Click on “New” and click on the right arrow
- Drive Bay Contents – Click on the LOV and I see all of my drive paths here. I am going to pick the system drive first and then add the rest of the drives in order later. I like the way it adds the disk information once you select the drive path. Right arrow again.
- Confirmation – I guess I can add a drive name but it says it is only available in the wizard. I wonder why. Anyway, all of my drives are Seagate. I just named the first one SG1. That is so flippin cool. Right arrow again.
Done with the first one. I have a little blue drive on the screen now. Sweet.
I will repeat the process for all of the additional drives and also include the DVD and CD drives. Do not worry about ways to rotate or move your drives. We will come back to that!
Time to get that second beer.
You can always walk away or stop and start by using the “Edit Current Wireframe” button.
As I have been adding the remaining external drives I have to keep remembering to check the “external drive bay” box. It would be nice to have “External” in the list of values and dump the check box. Also, to have another option for 2.5” drives that are connected would be cool. Overall the creation of the Wireframe is straight forward. Once your Wireframe is complete just use the Wireframe Orientation rotation axis boxes to adjust the view. You can also right click. I used 45, 45 and 45. My system looks like this so far:
Hey, what the flip? Where is my fourth external drive? There are supposed to be four external bays to the right of the server. Let me investigate this…ok back. So this is a little harder to understand and explain, and hard to see, but the first drive to the right is darker than the rest. I think I doubled up on the first drive.
I clicked on the darker drive and removed it and then it became light again. I did not realize I could add more drives to the same space. Is it supposed to do that? Interesting.
I guess I need to be more careful when I add drives. There is only one drive path for each framed box so be careful. Here is the new layout with the fourth drive added.
I have finally figured it all out and got used to how this Add-In works. Had to open another beer though.
Once I click on OK it takes me back to the Disk Management interface and updates the Wireframe. Very nice! You can see my PowerEdge two drive system and the external drives to the right.
Now, once you have got all of your drives in the right order you can go back and use the Advanced Mode to change the rotation and position of each of your drives. You could also use the Advanced Mode during the initial creation of your Wireframe but I would suggest waiting until after you complete the basic setup. I select the CD drive as shown below and click on Advanced Mode:
Now I will use the Movement buttons to move the CD drive up as shown below:
I have also moved the DVD drive up and am now rotating the Seagate Free Agent Pro drives to match their actual orientation. If you set your system up correctly then each box you click on should already match the drive path and disk name. I hear the wife coughing. Is that a hint?
I have finished all of the changes and my system is looking like it does in the closet. Well, without the dust and cables. I really have to work on that.
The Advanced Mode takes some getting used to but once you get oriented it is quite easy. Here is my final final version:
Importing the Wireframe XML file
Now that I am a “pro” with this Add-In it is time to upload it to my parents HP MSS. They are so lucky to have a son that cares so much. Seriously.
To import the Wireframe I downloaded at the start of this article I use the Import button and find the file:
Since their HP MSS is stock I do not need to make any changes to the Wireframe. Here is the result:
That was easy. I am finished with their HP MSS so I click on OK and get back to the Disk Management Add-In.
Cool red. It makes me want to add a couple of more drives. Maybe on another Friday night.
I am very happy with this Add-In. It has some good information about the drives and a cool Wireframe creation tool. You cannot tell from the amount of screen shots I had to take but the Wireframe is pretty easy to set up. I would like to see future revisions offer some different options for the external drives we all use and maybe even some additional name labels. Again though, overall this is a good Add-In and I am glad that I installed it in my Windows Home Server.
See you next Friday night