MicrosoftWindows Home ServerWHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison - A...

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison – A Supplement to Home Server Show #124


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Dave McCabe at the Home Server Show invited the BYOB guys to sit in on podcast #124 and talk about storage for Windows Home Server. He asked me to whip up a short sermon comparing the storage technologies in both versions and talk about it on the show. I can do short. I think.

Windows Home Server v1


As we all probably know, Windows Home Server v1 uses a technology called Drive Extender. DE, as we now call it, allows you to add additional drives to a WHS v1 to create a storage “pool” of drives appear to the user as one large drive. On the User front-end, WHS v1 is divided into two partitions. There is a 20GB C: drive for the OS and the rest of the space creates a D: drive that works as the data storage area. There is of course more to it behind the scenes, but this is it from a user POV. You can add and remove drives at any time without concern about size, type, manufacturer or connection type. Adding and removing drives is done through a special wizard and is easy to perform. Remember, DE is a software solution to storage pooling and is not RAID. As a matter of fact, from the start of WHS v1 Microsoft has highly discouraged RAID with DE citing severe problems .

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

In addition to DE, WHS v1 also offers Folder Duplication. When enabled, Folder Duplication offers data protection by keeping copies of your files on two different drives in the pool. If one drive fails, Folder Duplication will have a copy of the files from the failed drive safely stored on the other drive in the pool.

The user files are moved by a background service called DE Migrator. The Drive Extender Migrator service runs and then takes an hour break under normal conditions. It is not run at specific times although you can be sure it will run after key events like drive replacement, switching of Folder Duplication and WHS start up.

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

This next part is a quote directly from the Microsoft White Paper “The Windows Home Server Drive Extender Migrator service has three major functions:

• To duplicate certain files

• To migrate files that are not already migrated

• To manage the storage across the hard drives

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

The filter is not always able to migrate files when they are added to the home server, but the Migrator service runs in the background, looking for files to migrate. If a file is in a shared folder that is configured for duplication, the Migrator service selects a second hard drive to store an alternate shadow.”

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

The data on your drives move around. All three images below show 1.36TB of free space but show how DE masks the actual locations of the data.

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

Now, from what I just talked about in WHS v1, you can see advantages and disadvantages based on the WHS v1 design and drive technologies and apply it to your own situation.

There were also a few rudimentary limitations of WHS v1 due to its software, code base and 32-bit addressing that caused problems in areas such as drive size limits, backups and restore drivers.

Timothy Daleo
Timothy Daleo
Timothy Daleo is a Project Resource Analyst and Oracle Applications Trainer in Pasadena, California. In addition to financial analysis, Tim has been developing training materials since 2003 and supporting direct projects through various auxiliary databases since 2005.


  1. It’s not clear to me whether the backup process (for both the server and the folders) is capable of dealing with multiple external discs.

    Let’s say that the server/client content is 1.5TB in size (i.e. under the 2 TB limit), but that I only have two 1TB external drives for the backup. Will the backup process handle both drives and automatically span across them, or will it demand a backup drive that is at least 1.5TB in size?


    • Geoff,

      If you add multiple disks to the backup schedule configuration, 2011 backup will backup to the disk currently attached to the machine. If multiple backup disks are attached, the disk to which the last backup was taken is used for the current backup.

      Still working a video and a post but since the backups take so long it is going to be a few more days. Ugh.


        • Hi, Tim. If you’re Daleo1 over at Microsoft Connect, I gather that you’re still battling with trying to get a successful backup with WHS 2011… I guess I’ll just have to wait a bit more. Not an issue, but I just wonder how solid this RC really is as an RC…

          • jpltim and/or Daleo1 around most places…
            My bug at Connect is with the backup failure of a GPT formatted Windows 7 system drive on a client PC. I know that companies like Acronis and Paragon are also having issues with GPT so I am not too hard on 2011 about it. I hope the bug is addressed soon of course as Sandy Bridge PCs can now use that type of formatting through UEFI.

            In my opinion, 2011 RC is a solid platform with a strong foundation. The challenges we see, such as in backups and drive storage, had not been as severe an issue until the enthusiast user market got a hold of it. With our terabytes of video and multitude of device formats, we definitely tax new software.

            • I have been using WHS2011RC for a while now, and I have not been able to get a backup to span over more than one backup drive.
              If WHS is so good at collecting information, how is it possible to back up this information if only one backup drive can be used at a time.
              ie. If you happen to have a total file store of say 5GB, how can you back it all up if multiple backup drives cannot be used in one backup session?

  2. My WHS looks very similar to your v1 screenshot. How painless (painful?) will the transition process to WHS2011 be?

    • There are many key differences in how 2011 works vs. v1. Each person has to make their own choice. If you decide to move, the transition process can be as simple as you want to make it.

    • The built-in backup for WHS 2011 is limited to 2TB and one drive. If you want to backup 5TB (I assume you meant TB) of data then you will need to manually copy folders over to your individual backup drives.

  3. Oops. Yes I meant 5TB
    It looks as if the Drive Extender technology/feature wasn’t the only casualy in the move from WHS v1 to WHS2011.
    It looks like the easy and complete backup process of WHS v1 has been lost in the transition to WHS2011.
    How sad!

  4. WHS 2011 natively supports Apple’s Mac computers now, and you install the Connector software on Macs just like you do on PCs. This includes automatic, Time Machine-based backups and remote access functionality, not just file sharing.

    • No it doesnt actually – you can install the connector software on your Mac but it only gives you access to the shared folders. You cannot back up your Mac without additional software or hacking.

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