Windows Home Server – Adding Advanced Format Drives To The Storage Pool

I recently bought a Western Digital 2 TB Caviar Green SATA Intellipower 64 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive WD20EARS and added it to my Windows Home Server (WHS).

I did not realize that I needed to do anything special to my new Advanced Format drive to add it to my WHS – but soon witnessed some odd behavior after installing it.

My nightly backups started to fail and my nightly backup to the cloud hung. In the morning none of my clients were able to access any shared folders. Rebooting seemed to resolve the issue (until the next morning). I soon found the following error in Event Viewer:

Event ID: 11
The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Harddisk2

Disk Management confirmed that my 2TB drive was \Device\Harddisk2 and so I tried to remove the drive from the pool. The process for removing the drive hung – but I still waited for 24 hours just in case. At that point I discovered that the Event ID 11 error had occurred shortly after the drive removal process had begun.

The only course of action left was to shutdown my WHS and just remove the drive. I then booted WHS and removed the missing drive from the storage pool. The next step was to fix the drive – fortunately I had a spare hard drive jumper lying around and easily found the correct setting on the Western Digital site:

All that was left to do was shutdown the server again and put the drive back in and re-add it to the storage pool. I have copied to the drive and found no more errors in Event Viewer.

While this will not be an issue in the next iteration of WHS (Vail) it is surely a mistake that I won’t make again!


14 thoughts on “Windows Home Server – Adding Advanced Format Drives To The Storage Pool

  1. Hi
    My experience is similar but even after adding the jumper, the data transfer speed is significantly less than my non-EARS drives. I actually see higher rates from my USB backup drive 😦 The EARS is showing 40Mb/s
    I don’t think WHS V1 is a good place for these drives. A pity because I really like the WD drives.

  2. I recently added the same drive and didn’t jumper it. Is it not possible to just switch off the WHS, add the jumper and boot it again? Or will I have a problem then?

    The only strange behaviour I’ve seen btw is that the explorer on the client PC’s report wrong disk size: with 2x1TB+1x2TB installed it always reports 911GB disk size and 1,something TB free space.

    1. You can try and see if it will work – I had already started trying to remove the drive from the storage pool (which failed) and led to my particular situation.

      I am not 100% sure that jumpering the drive after WHS has already formatted it will be enough (but I did not try that) … either way I would make sure that you back up your data before making any changes.

  3. I can confirm that adding or removing the jumper after adding data to the drive will destroy the data. E.g. under XP it will show as Unknown for format.


  4. Yes Gerrit, thanks for the warning. I will think about it for a while and see what I’ll do. If I leave it without jumper it’s only slower, isn’t it? no real damage to my data

    1. I’d remove the drive (via the whs console), take it out, add the jumper and put it back in.

      Whilst the visible signs of not jumpering are poor performance (shown in poor write speeds / Mike’s timing out issues) it is a characteristic of very heavily increased activity on the drive (a write becomes a read-modify-write cycle for each sector).

      Almost all of the drives in my WHS are now EARS drives (about 8 of them)…. i’ve jumpered each of them before insertion and not had a single issue in well over six months of use. My write speeds are up in the 60MB/s range over the network and nudging 100MB/s inside the server when it’s balancing data (seen via the Disk Management plugin). They are great drives – advanced format is now a fact of life for all new drives and until we’re all using vail, i’d get on ebay and order a bag of jumpers for future additions …

      1. Hi Gary, I assume that you have a gigabit ethernet network? I currently have two regular drive in my storage pool and have found that I can hit over 100 Mb/s – at the moment I am copying large files to shares with duplication turned off (over a gigabit network).

        I have decided to remove my advanced format drive and use it for backup, after my recent issues I am keen to minimize any potential downtime / problems.

  5. Hi Mike,

    Wow 100Mb/s … Megabit (Mb) or MegaByte(MB)? If megabyte, is that sustained? I’ve never managed over about 80MB/s … any tips on network tuning appreciated (!).

    BTW… my server has a realtek NIC so jumbo frames are a no-no (they don’t play nice with WHS) … it’s also got an Atom CPU managing 12 drives so i’m probably close to the realistic max with that setup. All in all i’m pretty pleased with the speed, but anything more for free always good.


    1. Hi Gary, I meant MB/s. I am not using jumbo frames either. I re-purposed one of my basic ESXi whiteboxes for WHS. So my WHS has 2.2Ghz dual core CPU with 4 GB of RAM and a dedicated Intel Pro PCI network adapter in it. A large file transfer can work its way up to 100MB/s or a little more and sustain it too – but it is not always consistent and may drop off a bit. I haven’t done anything special networking wise. I would say that the difference is just platform / hardware. Of course I would love it to be faster still – I hate watching the transfer bar progress!

      1. Hi Mike,
        Did you do any “Special” configuration on your WHS to have this “100MB/s fast speed? If not, I guess you are right. It’s the hardware effects. And, I think the Intel Pro PCI network adapter’s speed performance is much better than Realtek NIC.

      2. Hardware might have a little effect -t is faster with folder duplication turned off. Folder duplication seems to have quite an impact on transfer speeds …

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