Windows Home Server 2011 – Third Party Drive Extender Replacements


A number of companies have now announced Drive Extender (DE) replacements for Windows Home server 2011 (Vail). This is certainly good news for WHS which, in my opinion, became a much less valuable proposition without DE. wegotserved has been covering these replacements and in this post I will briefly review the options so far.

Drive Bender is a Windows driver and service that will have a dashboard add-in for configuration. A beta is planned for February 21st. Drive Bender should be available for all (modern) versions of Windows:

  • seamless expansion and shrinkage of the storage pool – add new drives or partitions
  • folder level duplication
  • standard NTFS filesystem structure
  • 64 bit – will support x86 and x64
  • self balancing when a new drive is added

StableBit DrivePool is a forthcoming add-in for WHS 2011. A Technical Preview should be available in the coming weeks:

  • seamless expansion and shrinkage of the storage pool (excluding the system drive)
  • folder level duplication
  • anticipated cost should be around $20

Update: March 2011 – DrivePool Add-In is in Beta

DataCore are looking to pick out storage pooling and data protection features from their existing technologies and package them for WHS and Small Business Server (SBS) 2011. Their intention is to do more than simply replace DE so the least that we can expect is:

  • drive pooling
  • data protection

DataCore are looking at other advanced features such as block level snapshots to determine their value to the WHS / SBS user. Initial plans are to distribute through WHS OEMs potentially in Q2.

Update: DataCore intends to ship a Beta in May 2011. DataCore is leveraging an existing product that currently is in production on Server 2008 R2 (this bodes very well for their WHS 2011 Add-in). Pricing should be “reasonable” and the add-in will not be restricted to OEMs.

Certainly all of these options are contenders at this point. After the issues that WHS v1 had with data corruption it is essential that these vendors get it right. Data integrity is a paramount concern.  It will be interesting to see how much each of these solutions will cost. $20 for DrivePool sounds quite reasonable to me.

I’m looking forward to seeing what else DataCore might bring to the table, but in my opinion, they will need to look beyond solely distributing through OEMs. OEM solutions have typically not been too expansive in terms of the number of drives that they support and many WHS users and supporters (myself included) have built systems themselves that go beyond four drives. It would be unfortunate for DataCore to limit themselves to OEMs only.

I think I speak for many users when I say we want reliability and performance on standard NTFS drives without breaking the bank. Advanced format drive support should be a given I hope. Only then will an upgrade to WHS 2011 become interesting again …

Otherwise Drive Bender on my Media Center might be a great option too … we’ll have to wait and see!

Sources:

WeGotServed – Drive Bender,  StableBit DrivePool, DataCore.

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