An adventure in storage expansion

In this great age of rapidly expanding storage, I’ve decided to stop throwing things away in a digital sense.  We are talking storage that is under $0.07 per gigabyte.  This means that each 3.5 megabyte picture I retain costs $0.00002.  Someday the real issue will be keeping track of these things, but that is a separate discussion.

First up, the fun part of this post.

Before

Before, 1.59TB of available space

After

After, 2.96 TB of available space

One 1.5TB just doubled the storage capacity of my Windows Home Server.   When I put the 750 GB and 1TB drive in there, those were the $100 drives of the time.  The 1.5TB drive cost $102 shipped.

Now, here is the complicated part.  They (the hard drive industry as a whole) are changing how the data is laid out on hard drives that is not very compatible with Windows XP and Server 2003 (which is what WHS is based on.)  There are a number of technological issues at stake here that a number of sources like Ars Technica have covered this in depth so I will spare you that.  Basically, you get bad performance with the new drives on old operating systems – and WHS is effected.

What do you need to do?  Well, you basically have two options.  On most drives, there will be jumpers on there like there were on hard drives for a long time that limited their capacity to 2GB for 16 bit file systems that will fake out the operating system.  The caveat?  You can only have one partition per drive.  If you read the above article, you’ll know that this is intended for big drives, so you’ll be committed to something like a 2TB C: drive if you go that route, which is pretty ugly.

The second option is to use software to “realign” the partition after it has been created which allows for whatever layout you want.  The caveat here?  You could lose your data and any time you redo a partition you are going to be using this software.

Being the idiot I am, I didn’t use the jumper to fake out the operating system and I promptly put data on the drive by adding into the WHS storage pool (which you have to do to get the partition created that you can later realign.)  I tried to go back in and save myself with the bootable software, but this dropped the 1.5TB drive out of the pool and corrupted all my PC backups.  Then I shut it all down and did the jumper thing, which also made WHS freak out until I told it I really wanted to drop the drive out of the pool permanently and added it back in again.

Moral of the story – I wasted about three hours of my life and lost about 300GB of PC backups because I didn’t take time to set the jumper first.  If you are buying a hard drive for WHS or XP in the next few months, you are going to need to be aware of this issue.  Trust me, the jumper is easier and apparently neccessary with WHS as covered in the forums over at www.wegotserved.com.

–Nat

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