Microsoft Windows Home Server WHS 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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Windows Home Server 2011

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

Although Vail, the pre-cursor to 2011 RC, had a semi-working version of Drive Extender, the decision was made to not include it in 2011 and drop the technology.

Server Folders

With the availability of 2011 RC, we see a new way to manage our data called Server Folders. Server Folders allows us to assign our folders to specific drives and manage those folders independently. Although a folder is limited to 2TB, you can add new folders or a new drive at any time easily with just a few mouse clicks.

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

Structure your folders names and locations logically from the start and you will always leave room to expand.

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

Folders and Drives are limited to 2040GB (2TB) due to a limitation of the Backup feature in 2011. By design, any internal disk installed will be partitioned to a maximum of 2040GB with the remaining disk space partitioned separately. This means a 3TB disk will have two partitions; one as 2040GB and the other as 756GB. This feature is in the Dashboard as a precaution to avoid data not being backed up on any specific drive.

Shadow Copies

This new to WHS function, now included in 2011, allows you to restore a folder and its contents to a prior time and state.

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

Server Backup and the 2040GB Limit

Server backup for 2011 was based on the backup feature set of Windows Server 2008 R2. This backup allows you to back up your 2011 Operating System, client backups and Server Folders. The OS backup, which I have performed twice this week, works great and will restore your C: drive quickly and easily. The client backups also are easy to restore although they take much longer due to the large size of the files. The only major limitation of the backup feature is that it cannot backup files and folders on volumes that require more than 2040GB. This size limit is based on a virtual hard disk limit (vhd) and since the server creates a VHD for each source volume, the limit is set.

WHS v1 and WHS 2011 Storage Comparison

Below is a good explanation I found on TechNet:

“…VHDs cannot exceed 2040GB. The reason for the 2040G limit is the length of each Block Allocation Table entry is set to 4 Bytes and the maximum valid value is” 4,294,967,294 (0xFFFFFFFE). “If you multiply that value by 512B sector size and then subtract the overhead of on disk meta-data structures, 2040G will be the maximum size of dynamically or differencing VHDs.” If you recall from an earlier BYOB episode, the math on this number is the 2.199TB limit and when you subtract VHD overhead you get 2040GB.

For the super geeky there is a great White Paper at:

Virtual Hard Disk Architecture

Headache Yet?

So there you have it; Major differences between WHS v1 and WHS 2011 as they relate to data and drive space. There are some other important features of WHS v1 such as client PC backups, remote access, media sharing and Console management that remain somewhat the same between versions. I will leave that for another podcast…

Timothy Daleo


Drive Extender White Paper

Backup White Paper

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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