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Old 03-29-2009, 06:34 AM
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Skacey Skacey is offline
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Post Windows Home Server Case Study

After a catestrophic crash of my system, I am forced to reinstall everything from the ground up. To ensure that there is some silver lining, I've decided to document my full experience here.

The Project:
Build a full media server for Television, Movies, Photos and Music. This is a stand alone server and will not be used for anything other than hosting media.

The Equipment:
Full tower case with 750 Watt Power Supply
MSI Motherboard with Dual Core 2.00 ghz Intel Processor
2 Gig Ram
Two DirecTv H20-600 Receivers
Two Digital Attenna Feeds (Attic Installed, Coax drops)
Two Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1600 Cards
One Hauppauge HD PVR
One SageTV HD100 Extender
(On order - one USB-UIRT)
Three 1TB Western Digital 7200rpm Hard Drives
One legacy 120gig Hard Drive
One External 320gig Western Digital My Book Premuim

The Software:
Windows Home Server with Power Pack 1
SageTV Media Server (V6.5 for Windows Home Server)
SageTV Client (V6.5 for Windows)

...Next up Windows Home Server installation and configuration
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Old 03-29-2009, 08:00 AM
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Skacey Skacey is offline
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Install Windows Home Server and Configure

Since I have some data on two of my hard drives, I'm going to need to do this incrementally. I had tried to restore my prior install but failed (more on how I destroyed more than 1tb of data later )

I've unplugged all but one empty hard drive and inserted the WHS DVD into the DVD Player. Starting the system I jump into the Bios to change the boot order (this may not be necessary for all users). On this system, you press the <Delete> key when the motherboard splash screen is displayed. I set the Boot order to start with the DVD, then go to the Hard Drive second.

Installation

Upon booting, the installation software warns you that it will erase all data during the installation process.
WARNING - you must disconnect any hard drive that you want to keep data from prior to beginning installation. WHS will erase everything that is attached!
Once you start the installation, walk away. This step can take upwards of an hour to complete. It will also reboot your computer several times during the process.

Configuration

Once the system starts and is stable you will need to begin adding drives. I would highly recommend that you do this one at a time. (see side note below) I begin by shutting down the machine and attaching the second, empty 1tb drive. After I start up I open two windows. The first is the WHS Console, this should be an icon on the desktop. The second is the Disk Managment Tool - you will find this by going to start, then Control Panels, Administrative Tools, Computer Management. When the window opens, select Disk Management on the left hand tree.

With both windows up, I go to the Console and navigate to Server Storage. There should be one drive under Non-Storage Hard Drives. Right click on the drive and select Add. (NOTE: all data will be erased, so don't add it if you need stuff on the drive. See below on the third drive that I added, It had data on it) Follow the prompts until it is done and the drive shows up under Storage Hard Drives.

Now, go to your Disk Management window and figure out which drive is the new one. If you've followed the steps to this point you should see two disks at the bottom. One is broken into two partitions labeled SYS (C: ) and DATA (D: ) - that is your first disk, leave that alone for now. Right click on the second Disk, it should have one large partition. Select "Format..." from the drop down menu.

I recommend that you change the volume label. I named my second disk "Second". Also keep NTFS for the File System. Change the Allocation unit size to 64k. Finally, check the box that says Perform a quick format and click OK. Once it is done, you can double check your results by selecting "Disk Defragmenter" on the left hand tree. Select your newly named disk and click Analyze, then click View Report. You should see that the cluster size is now 64k.

Now for my system, I'm going to go ahead and change the D: drive to 64k clusters. This is optional, but in my opinion, worthwhile. Here are the pros and cons as I understand them:

Cons: WHS uses the D: drive to save Tombstone files. Think of these as address cards for all of the files on the server. One very small Tombstone for each file. The default cluster size is 4k, which gives you ample space to save thousands of Tombstones. Changing the D: drive to 64k clusters means that each Tombstone is now 16 times larger (or to put it another way, you can only have 1/16th the number of files on your server before you run out of room for new Tombstones)

Pros: SageTV likes 64k blocks. Windows Home Server no longer uses a Landing Zone and thus, may save media files to your D: drive. Although you will only be able to save 1/16 the number of individual files, that still comes out to 16 files per meg, or 16,384 files per gig. With 900 gig available on my D: drive I can store about 15 million individual files. Even with small photos and mp3s, I will run out of space long before I run out of tombstones.

To convert the D: drive I tried to move the files off of the drive, reformat using Drive Manager, and move the files back. Unfortunately, this did not work and killed the server. After a couple of other tries I was able to find a way to accomplish it using safe mode and dos commands. This is not for the faint of heart, so if you find it too intimidating, turn back now and leave your D: drive alone.

Ok brave souls, I did this by starting the server in safe mode by pressing the F8 key on boot up. At the menu I selected Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Once it boots, you find yourself at a black screen. Follow these commands to back up the D: drive (do not type the ~~ or the text after it, those are comments for your benefit)

cd C:\
~~move to the root folder of C so we know where you started
mkdir dbackup
~~create a folder to hold the backed up files
cd dbackup
~~move into the backup folder
xcopy d: /s /o /x /e /h /k
~~this command copies all of the contents of D: while retaining the permissions, attributes, etc
format d: /q /a:64k
~~this is the quick format that changes the block size to 64k
~~you will need to provide the volume name which is by default "DATA"
cd d:\
~~move into the newly formatted D drive
xcopy c:\dbackup /s /o /x /e /h /k
~~this copies the files back onto D
cd c:\
~~move back to C to clean up our mess
del dbackup /s
~~remove the backed up D files

Now, restart the machine and you should be good to go. Since this is a manual copy I did get errors on some files that I didn't have permissions for but it did not affect the final results. I double checked the drive using the Defrag tools analyze function, and all checked out fine.

Update Drivers

Now that the system is up and running I need to update the system drivers. I downloaded the drivers for my Motherboard, sound, video and network adapter on a separate machine. My WHS installation did not see the internet without these updates, so downloading them there was not possible. I configured my laptop with the WHS Client disk, then once everything was downloaded, I saved the files into the Shared Software Directory.

On the server, I booted up fresh and ran the driver updates starting with the Motherboard, then Network, Video and finally Audio. Once everything was updated I rebooted again and confirmed that the internet was now available. Now it was time to run Windows Update from the start menu and wait. Windows update on a fresh install can take hours to complete, but I believe it to be important. During this update I did decide to load Power Pack 2 to see if it worked.

While this was running I got back on my laptop and downloaded the SageTV Windows Home Server msi file, the drivers for my Hauppauge cards and PVR, and my new USB-UIRT which I will configure for channel changing on two devices. After Windows update was complete, I moved all of these files to the Shared Software Folder on the server.

Locations for these files are as follows:
SageTV Media Center for Windows Home Server - I could not get to this from the main page or the press release, this is the download page.
Hauppauge Support site - you can get to all of the drivers from this page - you want drivers for WinXP, not Vista
USB-UIRT Support - here is the page with the latest drivers - you want the drivers for WinXP

You will now want to run the installers for the Hauppauge devices. I had some difficulty as I have both 1600's and a PVR. I don't know what the correct order is for installation, but I was able to get it to work by running the PVR installer first, then the 1600 installer. The recommendation is to get Hauppauge's WinTV application running prior to moving to Sage, but I had difficulty as the on board video components for my motherboard did not want to show the video. This should not be a problem as the server will not need to display anything once complete. So, for both installers, I ran both the driver install AND the software install, but I did not launch the software. Instead I moved directly to installing Sage.

Installing SageTV

After confirming that my Windows Home Server was stable and running well, I moved to installing new software. For SageTV you will need to copy the msi file into your Add Ins director inside the shared software folder. I recommend keeping the original in your software folder and copying the file. Once you install it, the original msi file is modified.

Open the Windows Home Server console and go to the Settings option in the upper right corner and then select Add Ins on the left panel. On the right panel, select the Available tab and you should see the installer for Sage. I am installing version 6.5.6 for reference. I am not going to enter my license key until everything is running. That gives you 21 days to complete the next steps. You will need to close the Console and re-open to see the Sage tab at the top. Select the tab and you will see Sage TV Service Status and if everything is running as expected, a green light next to the word "Started". If you need to restart Sage, there are two buttons on the right labeled Start and Stop.

Configuring SageTV

I'm going to use the Extender to configure Sage. Since my server cannot display the video or process the audio very well, this will make setup easier for me. After starting the Extender, it automagicly finds the server and opens Sage to the first configuration screen. Follow the on screen guides to set your system however you wish.

When I got to the video source setup I started with the HD PVR as my primary recorder. I set the tuner to the USB-UIRT and here is where I ran into my first problem. I didn't have an ir file for my DirecTV boxes, so I chose to program it through Sage. The USB-UIRT was not able to pick up my remote, so I searched the forums.

I downloaded the irnhelper application, but was not able to get it to work on the WHS machine. I ended up running the irnhelper on my laptop and creating the ir file there. While I was at it I saved three versions, one for each zone. To do this you append each IR code with Z1, Z2, or Z3. For reference, I have hosted the IR File for all three zones for my DirecTV H-20 box here:

DirecTV H20 Ir file

These get saved in your SageTV Directory under SageTV\Common\RemoteCodes\USB-UIRT Transceiver. Once there, I went back to the setup video sources and selected the file for Zone 3 for the PVR. Zone 3 is the main USB-UIRT box which I then locate directly in front of the DirecTV Receiver. To keep things simple, I'm going to configure one tuner at a time.

For the channel line up, I only configure four or five channels until everything is confirmed working. Once I finish the configuration I go to the guide and watch several different programs to make sure it's tuning correctly. Once this is confirmed, I go back to the channel line up and add all of the channels that I wish to record from. If you have set Sage to record recommended programs, I would suggest that you only add channels that you like as Sage will record from any channel available. If you only record programs that you have set up, you may want all channels that are available to you.

I repeat the entire process for the first Hauppauge 1600 card, setting the IR codes to use Zone 2. The USB-UIRT needs a second and possibly third IR transmitter to control more than one device. I use the same channel line up for all devices if possible (though that will change when I set up the Digital Antenna)

This concludes the basic installation as everything is working with two tuners. Next up, I will go through installing my Customizations, but that thread will be appropriately located in the Customization Forum.

See you there!

Side Note
For those that are trying to configure their system it may seem like I've got it all figured out. Reading through the instructions sounds like it took a couple of hours to complete. Not true at all. For me, it can two days of tweaking and adjusting to get to a stable running system. I often forget which order I did things and some items, if done in the wrong order, can force you to start over again.

I HIGHLY recommend that you follow these ground rules:
  1. Save all of your drivers, installers, updates, config files, and serial numbers in the Software folder
  2. Configure one item at a time and test not only the new item, but confirm that everything works well before moving to the next item.
  3. Do not start configuring right before the season finally of your families favorite show.
  4. Do not drink and format - see my story below

The Story
Ok, you may be wondering how my server became so corrupt that I had to reinstall from scratch. How I destroyed it so bad that the WHS recovery didn't work. Here is my mistake. Take heed.

My server was running a bit sluggish, the WAF was dropping as the extender struggled to show one program. I decided that it was a good time to try the 64k blocks (I had not found this advice until after I had my system setup) So, having three drives I thought this would be an easy weekend project. I read all of the forum guides and felt pretty confident.

All started well, I removed the last drive from the pool which took quite a few hours to accomplish. In the meantime, I worked on the WAF by going Antique shopping. While we were out we stopped for a couple of pints at a local pub. - All was right with the world.

After getting home, I had a couple more beers as I sat down to work on my conversion. The drive had been removed and I was ready to proceed. A quick double check on the forums on the steps I needed to take. I noted that after adding the drive, the forums suggested immediately formatting and converting the block size. I was thinking that not doing this quickly enough may be risky as WHS would begin to migrate data to the drive.

I added the drive and jumped over to the Drive Manager. As I'm scanning through the available drives, I'm a bit confused as all of them are named "Data". I decide that the only way I can tell which is which is to look at the free size and format the one with no data. Just at that moment the Wife started asking about dinner, to see if I was hungry. In the confusion, instead of selecting the drive with 99% Free, I selected the drive with 0% free. (In my mind, 0% equated to nothing on the drive)

long pause...



I jump back over to the console and see that everything is the same. I click refresh to see if I just did what I thought I did and sure enough.



I formatted the drive with all of the data. Now, Windows Home Server does a good job of retaining information even if a hard drive fails. Apparently the development team didn't prepare for a bone headed move such as a user formatting the drive while the Demigrator is running (I didn't see that either when I rushed to change the block size) And yes, before you say it, I know that there are programs that can help recover a hard drive from a quick format, but to be truthful. I went from a WAF of 6 on a scale of 10, to negative 47. Having to explain the purchase of recovery software was not in the cards. My hope is that with a full re-install I've got a shot at getting my WAF into positive numbers within a couple of days.

Now - on to the journey ahead.

Last edited by Skacey; 04-10-2009 at 09:48 AM.
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  #3  
Old 03-29-2009, 08:37 AM
PLUCKYHD PLUCKYHD is offline
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Ouch I feel your pain!! I didn't read the steps properly and formatted the drives without removing them as it looked like nothing was on them. Luckily I didn't have much on it

I have noticed to tell what drive it is I use the add-in DISK MANAGEMENT if gives the drives the numbers that correspond with the drive numbers in the drive manager.
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Old 03-29-2009, 12:37 PM
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Skacey Skacey is offline
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Error Error - Danger Will Robinson

Ok folks, I ran into several problems after completing the conversion to 64k blocks. I'm working out the issues and I will edit the above post to be correct once that is complete.

The biggest miss was not getting WHS to a stable, working state before moving on to adjusting the block sizes. I've now gotten it reinstalled and it is working on completing the Windows Update marathon including PP2.
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  #5  
Old 03-29-2009, 02:32 PM
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Skirge01 Skirge01 is offline
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I used this add-in to draw up my case and the hard drive locations, then I renamed each drive so that I knew precisely which position it was in, as well as the model of drive. In case anyone's interested, I documented the majority of my build on MissingRemote.com here. I'm still fighting with my HD-PVRs, so I haven't added those trials and tribulations yet.

I think more people need to document what issues they have along the way, so others can learn from our mistakes.
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  #6  
Old 03-29-2009, 02:44 PM
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Skacey Skacey is offline
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I was running Disk Management but didn't believe that it added anything to my installation as I was only adding one disk at a time.

Right now my biggest roadblock has been converting D using the format method. It appears that D contains the Shared folders. When copying these off of D, it breaks the Shares. Once that is broken, I'm having no luck restoring them. My last attempt was to disable sharing by stopping the Server service but that didn't work. My next attempt will be to try safe mode to see if that works. Also, I'm going to try to clear the D drive with Demigrator to see if WHS will move them for me.

-Skacey
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  #7  
Old 03-29-2009, 07:26 PM
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Skacey Skacey is offline
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I solved the issue of converting the D drive to 64k blocks without buying software. The trick was to use safe mode so that the server did not know that you were messing with the shared folders.

I have updated my post above with the procedure that worked for me.
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  #8  
Old 04-10-2009, 09:49 AM
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Skacey Skacey is offline
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I've updated the story through drivers and the installation of Sage.

I will be starting a second thread to follow this installation through my customizations. See you there.



-Skacey
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  #9  
Old 04-10-2009, 10:43 AM
mguebert mguebert is offline
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I got around that issue by using a seperate 500g drive that I did not import into the WHS drive pool. I formatted the drive with 64K blocks and then shared it to the network.
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  #10  
Old 07-01-2009, 01:37 PM
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kevine kevine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skacey View Post
Ok brave souls, I did this by starting the server in safe mode by pressing the F8 key on boot up. At the menu I selected Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Once it boots, you find yourself at a black screen. Follow these commands to back up the D: drive (do not type the ~~ or the text after it, those are comments for your benefit)

cd C:\
~~move to the root folder of C so we know where you started
mkdir dbackup
~~create a folder to hold the backed up files
cd dbackup
~~move into the backup folder
xcopy d: /s /o /x /e /h /k
~~this command copies all of the contents of D: while retaining the permissions, attributes, etc
format d: /q /a:64k
~~this is the quick format that changes the block size to 64k
~~you will need to provide the volume name which is by default "DATA"
cd d:\
~~move into the newly formatted D drive
xcopy c:\dbackup /s /o /x /e /h /k
~~this copies the files back onto D
cd c:\
~~move back to C to clean up our mess
del dbackup /s
~~remove the backed up D files

Now, restart the machine and you should be good to go. Since this is a manual copy I did get errors on some files that I didn't have permissions for but it did not affect the final results. I double checked the drive using the Defrag tools analyze function, and all checked out fine.
I have to tell you this saved me a lot of digging on the internet. I used it over a month ago and just wanted to say thank you for posting this and the rest of your synopsis. I plan on using this again tonight to move my rig from the 120 day eval to full WHS version. I love WHS. Wish me luck because I am nervous with a 3.8 TB drive pool. However, the reinstall is supposed to be straight forward and maintain the pool.

Question though... Do you think the system drive (250 GB IDE) will maintain it's partition info? Maybe I will not have to reformat the DATA section of the primary drive. Since it is maintaining the drive pool maybe it will just install over the SYS drive. One can hope...
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  #11  
Old 07-01-2009, 06:02 PM
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kevine kevine is offline
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Well, I reinstalled and all my shares are there. whew!

However, the Administrator account does not have access to them. There does not appear to be a way to change that either. I can get to them by navigating to D:\shares\<sharename> but no access when you open \\<servername>\<sharename>. Any clues?
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  #12  
Old 07-01-2009, 07:50 PM
MitchSchaft MitchSchaft is offline
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Create a user account on WHS with the same username/password as your PC.

PC account:
username: Bob
password: okeedoke

on WHS create the same account/password.

Unless I totally misunderstood what you said .
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  #13  
Old 07-02-2009, 04:54 AM
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kevine kevine is offline
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Thanks. It was the Administrator account that had the problem. However, once I create another user account (not Administrator) that was on before, the problem went away. Thanks.
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  #14  
Old 07-04-2009, 10:50 PM
stevech stevech is offline
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Using WHS seems like going on a long hike with lots of pebbles in your shoes.
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  #15  
Old 07-06-2009, 09:30 AM
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PGPfan PGPfan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevech View Post
Using WHS seems like going on a long hike with lots of pebbles in your shoes.
Nah, it's more like driving a jeep on the hike. Some people have trouble with initial setup, but it's a piece of cake once setup (and to me, setup is easy).

-PGPfan
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Old 07-06-2009, 11:12 AM
othy othy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PGPfan View Post
Nah, it's more like driving a jeep on the hike. Some people have trouble with initial setup, but it's a piece of cake once setup (and to me, setup is easy).

-PGPfan
+1. I've run Sage in three different configs, each for an extended period of time: an HTPC running XP, a server running XP with extenders, and a server running WHS with extenders. You'd have to pry WHS from my cold, lifeless hands--I can't imagine running XP on my server any more.

I found the setup to be no more difficult in WHS than XP, just slightly different.

Tim
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Old 07-08-2009, 09:25 AM
-=Jeff=- -=Jeff=- is offline
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which part above shows how you added a drive with data?



I am working on getting a WHS set-up and will transfer 3 Drives form my Xp machine that have data.. if I can even do that..
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Client 2: HD100 on 50" Panasonic Plasma (16x9)
Client 3: HD100 on 32" Toshiba Tube (4x3)

Last edited by -=Jeff=-; 07-08-2009 at 09:29 AM.
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  #18  
Old 07-08-2009, 09:41 AM
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kevine kevine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -=Jeff=- View Post
which part above shows how you added a drive with data?



I am working on getting a WHS set-up and will transfer 3 Drives form my Xp machine that have data.. if I can even do that..
It doesn't but here is how you do it in a nutshell:
1. Consolidate data from the 3 drives into 2. If you cannot physically do it, buy a new drive. They're cheap!
2. On a the clean drive, install WHS. Leave the other 2 disconnected.
3. Shut down WHS.
4. Add 1 drive and restart WHS. In WHS you will see the drive an have access to the data but it will not be part of your pool yet. Copy the data from that drive to one of your shared folders on the D drive.
5. Now add the drive to your pool and WHS WILL format it removing all data left on it. So BE CAREFUL.
6. Repeat 3-5 for the last drive.

When you do this, make sure you follow any instructions above with regard to converting the drives in your pool to 64k clusters.

After all drives are added, install Sage.

Hope this helps. BTW, there is another thread on how to move data.
Here it is.
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  #19  
Old 07-09-2009, 11:50 PM
stevech stevech is offline
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has someone figured out how to get WHS to manage a RAID using 64K blocks for video files? All I've read is how hard it is to do or turned out to be unreliable.

I wouldn't want the I/O's per second with 4K blocks and a busy Sage Server.
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:21 AM
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personalt personalt is offline
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I see you have Two DirecTv H20-600 Receivers but only one HD-PVR.

Are you using the WinTV-HVR-160 for the other? If I understand correctly that will only get you SD with directv.
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