Going for 3TB in WHS v1

22 04 2011

So Windows Home Server 2011 is out, but it is missing a major component that I really liked about WHS (and what made WHS unique) – Drive Extender.

Basically, in WHS v1, you could add a drive to your machine, and WHS would add it automatically to its “storage pool”. From there, my files would get distributed and duplicated across the new drive. That means in case of failure, my files are fairly safe, and Drive Extender removed most of the concerns about sizing drives properly when you do a “hardware RAID” type solution on regular hardware storage options.

In Windows Home Server 2011, they removed Drive Extender. But I wrote about why I don’t like that already.

So, I bought an HP MediaSmart Home Server just after they decided to pull the plug on them. (Why? Because they’re nice boxes and 64 bit – so if I decide to jump on WHS 2011, I can do it manually.) But, I wanted to add a big big drive, and WHS v1 doesn’t like anything above 2TB.

Here’s how you can fix it…

Gathering materials

First off, there are a few tutorials and threads about doing and not doing this. I elected to do it, but your mileage may vary (YMMV). Because there are other places to get this information, the only reason I am writing this is to clarify the most prevalent tutorial.

Also, I bought a Hitachi 3TB CoolSpin drive at ~$150 (model: HDS5C3030ALA630). And since it behaved slightly differently than the tutorial, I believe that more people may start running into this particular roadblock due to the price being so attractive.

Here’s the basic tutorial I used at its original location (from what I can tell):

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1559559

It’s formatted bizarrely at the very end – there are 2 sets of steps 11 and 12. And the final 2 steps (11 and 12) are critically important and possibly the hardest to follow. A better, more visual version is reference in his tutorial and would help. Find that here: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?p=1035306055

Here are the additional things I needed / used:

  • The Hitachi GPT Disk Manager http://www.paragon-software.com/hitachi/
  • Notepad.exe (not extra, just to keep track of things)
  • I installed Chrome or ChromePlus.org on WHS to make downloading stuff easier a while ago

(I did not explicitly “align” the drive to a 4kB sector drive because the Hitachi alignment tool does not see it as an “Advanced Format” disk – you will find mention of this on certain drives.)

Learn how to “Copy and Paste” from the “cmd.exe” or Command Prompt. This will be your friend. You basically select “Mark” from the Command Prompt window menu, highlight your text (which is a bizarre rectangle, not like in Word), and hit the Enter key.

image

We’ll do this a few times.

How the Hitachi drive differs

It is important to know what’s different about this drive.

First, absolutely DO NOT install the Hitachi GPT Disk Manager software yet. This software installs drivers to address the drive as a GPT Disk and will screw up how WHS sees the drive in general. It will fail the initial provisioning process in the drive pool.

OK, so the drive will show up in WHS in the drive pool as 768GB. It will not appear as anything larger (as the tutorial indicates).

This is fine.

Now you can start

Alright, so here’s how I would proceed knowing what I know now. Basically use this as “additive” information to the original tutorial. I will only try to clarify the unique parts (noted in bold type).

  • Put the drive in place in your WHS machine
  • Turn on WHS
  • Open Notepad
  • Open Command Prompt
  • Open Windows Explorer, browse to C:\fs
  • Write down the existing folder names in C:\fs in Notepad (note them as pre-new drive)
  • Or… type “mountvol” in your Command Prompt and copy the text about “possible mount points” into Notepad
  • Now open Windows Home Server console and add your 3TB disk to the pool as you normally would
  • The disk will appear as a 768GB drive – that’s OK
  • Close the Windows Home Server Console
  • Look back in Explorer to find the new mount point in C:\fs and write it in Notepad (save that file periodically)
  • Go to your Command Prompt and follow the “diskpart” instructions from the tutorial (step 6)
  • Write the DISK ID down in Notepad
  • Type “exit” to close diskpart
  • Type “services.msc” in Command Prompt to open the Services Panel
  • Stop the services noted in the tutorial (step 7)
  • Save your Notepad file. Close everything you have open.
  • Install the Hitachi GPT disk tools – you will need to reboot, so we’ll need to re-open everything at the top of this tutorial after reboot and start at Step 7 again
  • After reboot, open Explorer, the Notepad file you have, Command Prompt, and services.msc and stop the services in Step 7 again
  • Navigate to the new C:\fs mountpoint of your new drive and make sure Explorer’s View settings show you System and Hidden files.
  • Perform Step 8 of the tutorial (copy files to a safe, temporary location)
  • The next part may vary. Perform Step 9.
  • Open the Hitachi GPT Disk Manager and select the first option (Convert disk to GPT).
  • Then select the second option (Create Partition) at maximum size and format it NTFS. It will mount it as a drive letter.
  • The tool may ask you to reboot. If so, close everything, reboot and you’ll need to go back to Step 7, stop the services, and come back here.
  • At this point, WHS is angry, but you have a big partition mounted as a drive letter. We need to fix that.
  • Perform the second part of Step 10 (rename the partition to “DATA”, Change Drive Letter – remove the existing drive letter, and Add… a mount point to the C:\fs\ mount point you recorded in Notepad)
  • Perform Step 11 (the first step 11 – the tutorial gets weird here)
  • Now I’m going to help you collect ALL the information you need in one place to streamline the tutorial
  • Be sure your Command Prompt, Notepad, and later, regedit are open
  • Perform Step 12 (the first Step 12), Mark / Copy and Paste the results into Notepad
  • Go back to Command Prompt, type “WMIC”
  • Now type “partition get name, size, startingoffset” (without quotes of course)
  • Mark / Copy and Paste all of the results into Notepad
  • Go back to Command Prompt
  • Type “exit” to get out of WMIC
  • Type “mountvol”
  • Mark / Copy and Paste all the text under “possible mount points” into Notepad
  • That’s ALL the information you’ll need to finish the tutorial steps. Save the Notepad file.
  • Basically, you need to carefully read the second “Step 11 and Step 12” to learn how to find the keys, but you have all the information you need in Notepad!
  • The tutorial references keys in this other posting to finish http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?p=1035306055 (#25, 26, and the first half of 27) so you can see some visual representations of what they’re doing.
  • To help you out, my 3TB “Size” was 3000591450112, and “startingoffset” was 1048576. But if you have a different drive, you would have different numbers.

So, my experience took a bit longer than you might imagine due to installing the Hitachi GPT tool too early. The GPT drivers totally screwed up WHS’ ability to provision the drive. Once I uninstalled it an started over, everything went fine.

Alternatives…

It’s important to note that there are “Drive Extender like add-ins” coming to WHS 2011. The two I know of are from StableBit (DrivePool) and Drive Bender. And since WHS 2011 understands big drives, none of this would be necessary. So, this may be a temporary situation for me.

We’ll see.

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16 responses

30 11 1999
Toby Nixon

I’m trying to install the Hitachi GPT Drive Manager software, but it tells me “No ultra-capacity device found. Please connect HITACHI ultra-capacity hard drive to your computer and execute the installation package again.” The drive is installed (WHS initially partition it at 764GB), so why won’t the software install?

4 05 2011
spackle

Hi @toby,
The first part sounds right (the 764GB).
So, try this – (and your mileage may vary, I can’t say this will work) – get past the point where you copy the files WHS created on the 764GB partition so you’re ready to delete that WHS partition.

I think you need to proceed with the WHS partition “delete” so the Hitachi drive is back to its “unformatted, unpartitioned” state.
Then install the software.

This will wipe the MBR partition off the drive (which should tell the Hitachi software “hey! there’s a big GPT drive here!”).
You’ll need to reboot and hopefully pick up the tutorial again.

I probably got past this because I did everything out of order (installed the drive, the software, and then couldn’t do anything with WHS).
So you’ll need to stop those services a few times after the reboot etc.

Just make sure you note all the disk ID’s and stuff prior to deleting the partition in Disk Manager.
Again, I think the MBR partition that WHS is preventing your GPT installation, but that’s a theory.
TTFN
Gregg

4 05 2011
Toby Nixon

Thanks, Gregg. I tried that, and no change. Maybe if I physical remove the drive and reinstall it? But I don’t see what that would change. I’ve contacted Hitachi support, but I can predict they’re just going to say that WHS doesn’t support the drive and they don’t recommend what we’re trying to do. 😦

5 05 2011
spackle

Wow, that’s weird. I would definitely try removing and re-installing the drive to see if it installs the software. I’d also make sure in Disk Manager on the machine that if you “Right Click” the disk itself (not the partition – click way over on the left side) that it offers you the ability to make an MBR partition.

If it doesn’t give you the choice to make an MBR partition, then GPT won’t see it either.

But in reality, the GPT software should actually install. I don’t think it should fail installation. I would be tempted to re-download it too. Just in case…

If you call Hitachi, just tell them about the software install failure and that you partitioned it at 768GB. This has definitely happened to other people. It’s not a WHS problem.

10 07 2011
24 07 2011
grandpapp

Thanks for the post but like Toby, the hitatchi software simply won’t install as it says it can’t see the disk. I’ve tried reformatting, changing it to a drive letter, going back and resetting it up on a win 7 machine and adding it as a different drive latter, not even part fo the pool and it will simply not see it. Not sure if the driver is an issues as it is from 2002 but don’t see a way to upgrade that.
Could be your system hardware is different/newer that is better supporting the drive. I’m running a HP Mediasmart server v1.

24 07 2011
grandpapp

Was able to use Paragon’s pay-for version to get it to install but after coverting, I still had a 746GB disk. Doesn’t seem possible unfortunatly

14 02 2012
Mike

After I installed the 3 TB disk and got everything working, I started copying my movie files over. Everything went well until about 1 1/2 TB left on the drive then everything came to a screaching halt.

I watched the network monitor and it would peg out at 100% for about 10 minutes, then drop to 12% for another 10 minues…then 0%.

The only way to re-gain access to the WHS was to reboot.

So I decided to go buy a 2TB (which I knew would work) and remove the 3TB…After I put the new drive in all has been fine.

Any ideas?

14 02 2012
spackle

I must have (/ had) less than half the drive used on my server so far, so I haven’t seen that problem. Maybe there is a limit in the Drive Extender somehow where it is balancing the storage?

This is a total guess… but DE is not very fast when moving files around, so if the drive pool clogs up somehow, it may not fill up the available space on your 3TB drive first when the other storage is full. It may be spending time balancing, then filling available space, then balancing, etc.

It could be that the way WHS works (as I’ve read) goes:
First disks WHS sees get full -> next disk -> next disk
Then DE balances (this always happens… it never goes to the open disk first prior to balancing later)

So a post I saw had a guy say his system disk D: get full because I didn’t add a second disk until very late in the game. It’s not quite the same situation, but WHS didn’t decide to open up space on his system disk in favor of moving files elsewhere to wider open disks.

I haven’t seen that type of error where people are referencing using multiple of these 3TB disks on places like WeGotServed and MediaSmartServer. I know some people have 2 of these sized drives in service (I only have one).

I actually just pulled mine out yesterday because I am just about to put WHS 2011 on my machine using Stable Bit’s DrivePool. I really need Windows Live Mesh 2011 back in my life (Dropbox won’t cut it). But I’m really afraid of losing my backups of computers that have gone away so I’m trying to reduce the server down to a small set of WHS v1 disks and build a WHS v2 set of disks. If I need a set of files, I’ll have to swap in the old disks and install the connector I guess…

My test of WHS 2011 on my “beater workstation” was OK. I wasn’t overly amazed. But Win2k8 is a better OS underneath.

14 02 2012
spackle

Unless you are using an EARS drive (WD Caviar Green drive has known issues http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php/topic/15890-wd20ears-2tb-terrible-speeds/)… then, read on maybe…

This post might shed a little light… the “primary landing zone” of WHS is always the primary disk (the system drive). And then the storage gets balanced. If that primary disk is full (the system drive), then I think you might see what is going on?

It doesn’t really explain what you’re seeing (2TB drive vs. 3TB drive) unless Drive Extender has some internal 2TB addressable space limit.

http://www.davescomputertips.com/2011/08/windows-home-server-v1-drive-extender/

And this utility might clear up what’s in your “landing zone”
http://www.wegotserved.com/2009/02/16/whs-utility-drive-balancer/

After reading this, I’m not convinced that my 3TB drive was being used much at all (it took about 90 minutes to get removed from the pool – and I have a lot of data).

14 02 2012
Mike

Thanks for the reply Spackle…Although a lot of this is greek to me 🙂

I’m convinced there is SOMETHING going on to prevent data being written to these 3 TB drives to a certain point.

Oh well…looks like another reason to move to a WHS 2011 *sigh*…

And now I have a brand new 3 TB drive sitting on my desk that I can’t use or return (fry’s won’t take it back without the box)…ugh…

Oh well…..

14 02 2012
spackle

What brand / model of drive?

14 02 2012
Mike

Hitachi Deskstar 3 TB model Deskstar 5K3000 HDS5C3030ALA630

14 02 2012
spackle

Dang… OK, well, either I didn’t run into that issue myself, or something is wrong with the drive / drive extender. That is the same drive I have.

You might try posting your experience at one of those links above and see if anyone has further experience.
In the meantime, someone has made all this process easier I guess:
http://www.paragon-software.com/technologies/components/gpt-loader/

But I’m not certain that would help your situation.

22 07 2012
shuen

Can you help me with a mounting problem? I just do not know how to mount the drive “back”. i tried something like this “mountvol C:\fs\1D\ \\?\Volume{cc1d6004-474e-4dde-1d3b-8812fe8767b5}\” but it always says wrong parameter

23 07 2012
spackle

I actually just used Disk Manager (the Manage Computer, Disk Management tool) and chose the mount point in the “Change Drive Letter or Assign Mount Point” right-click option.

So I think that might be easier that doing the CMD prompt.
I moved up to WHS 2011, so I can’t reference that exactly, but this post may help for reference:
http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php/topic/16580-guide-how-to-make-gpt-4k-sector-drives-and-3tb-drives-work-as-storage-pool-drives-in-whs-pp3/

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