I know you will find it hard to believe that my Windows Home Server (WHS) was running out of space since it has 3 terabytes of disk space which equates to about 2.73 TB of usable disk space. One day when perusing my WHS console I saw a scary sight… I realized that I was using over 2.5 terabytes of space or 92% of the usable space on my Home Server. Time to panic! Almost no room for error here! I was not happy with myself that I let my server get to this point but I took some solace in the fact that it is very easy to expand the server with external SATA (eSATA) or external USB drives.
I talked in my previous post about hard drive space about expanding my WHS with a four bay eSATA enclosure. I decided to bite the bullet and go that route. Even though it is fairly straight forward to remove a drive from the WHS pool to add a larger drive I was afraid that with my current capacity issues that none of the drives could safely be removed (since the data on a drive need to be moved to other drives in the pool),
I purchased a SANS DIGITAL TowerRAID TR4M-B 4 Bay SATA to eSATA enclosure for $169.99 – this is a nice inexpensive eSATA port multiplier unit that seemed to get descent reviews on NewEgg.
The next decision was the size of the hard drive to put in the enclosure. With the price of 1TB drives dipping below $80 and 2TB drives still tipping the scale at about $219 -- from a pure $/TB value the 1TB drives win. I weighed the $/TB value against the value of having double the space in one drive bay leaving me with 3 bays open for future expansion and decided to go for the 2TB drive, specifically the Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EADS 2TB drive – green uses a bit less power and runs cooler something that I thought might come into importance in the future in my inexpensive 4-drive enclosure.
Install and setup was simple and very quick. Take case off enclosure, insert drive, put case lid back on, plug into power, plug eSATA cable into enclosure and the back of my WHS, open a WHS console, add the new drive to the pool. Finished. I was honestly done in 15 minutes.
The next issue I had was that WHS didn’t seem to be balancing or evenly distributing the data across my drives. So even though I had added 66% more storage space three of my older drives were still at 97% capacity. Is this bad? I don’t really know – but I do know that it feels wrong. Even after a couple weeks of nightly “balancing” the same problem was holding true. The new 2TB drive was not being utilized. I found a WHS utility called Drive Balancer that seems to address this problem (or perceived problem).
My WHS is much happier now and so am I!