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Hardware Fun

This has been a bit of a hardware week for me, which is strange. I used to love hardware, building my own computers, picking out the components, and making something work out of a pile of parts.

Now I just want my tools to work.

Our Windows Home Server died a few months ago. This is the third time I’d lost a boot drive in the WHS server, though to be fair I was reusing a few older drives in it. However when you lose the boot drive, not only do you need to reload WHS, but it can’t reload your content from the old drives. The drive extender technology is flawed, which is why it might be cut loose from the WHS 2011 product.

I’ve delayed actually rebuilding things, but with my wife traveling one week, the kids occupied, I took it apart and connected the drives one at a time to check how things were working. They all connected and seemed to work, which was strange. Perhaps bad blocks?

I reconnected the 160GB drive as the boot drive, since that was the smallest, added in two 1TB drives in a RAID 1 array, and a 1TB drive as a spare. I booted to WHS 2011, but it promptly failed. This is a Dell E521, an AMD x64 CPU, but it didn’t want to load. No problem, I was planning on virtualizing anyways.

I booted to Windows 7 x64, and got through the initial install, but on boot, the 160GB drive failed. Aha! I removed that, replaced with a 1TB drive, and reloaded Windows 7.

Only to find that there aren’t x64 drivers for a number of components for Win 7. Grrrr. This is why I don’t like to mess with hardware. I want stuff to just work.

I fell back to Windows XP, x64 (since I want 64 bit guests) and got that installed. I had RAID drivers, but for some reason Windows setup doesn’t want to install them or load onto a RAID set. That feels like a waste of the purpose of hardware RAID, but whatever.  I got Windows loaded, patched, drivers installed, and added Virtual Box 4.

Then the harder part. I created a guest on my R1 array, which too time for VirtualBox to format the drive. Once it was done, however, I booted up a guest, installing WHS 2007 on there and connecting to the network. I killed the host firewall, and bridged the network adapter. Not sure which one fixed things, but I don’t do anything on the host, and it’s firewalled from the outside world.

Now I had two spare 2TB drives from the old system, where I copied off the pictures, video, and music to my desktop. A long transfer process in the background added them to the WHS server, and I have a home network again.

It’s RAID protected, so I should be OK for now, but we’ll see what happens. I have an external enclosure with 2 2TB drives in it, but I don’t want to add them for now. At least until I need more space.

Filed under: Blog Tagged: hardware, syndicated

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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


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