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There comes a time when computers die. So it was with our HP MediaSmart Home Server. At the age of 4, I was not expecting it to die. Oops.

It has never really been an easy life before the death of that machine. It’s anemic 512MB of memory got upgraded to 2GB. The 500MB primary drive got expanded with two 1TB drives. The power supply fan started sounding like my lawn mower, so it had to be replaced. Things seemed stable until the primary drive croaked – and me unable to locate the recovery disk – bad, bad.

So I went on a search for a replacement. I wanted a true RAID this time and something that was a already-built solution, an appliance if you will. To make the long story short, I purchased a Synology DiskStation DS1511+, stuffed it with five Western Digital 2TB Caviar Green SATA II drives (WD20EARS), set it up as a RAID5, and then copied all the files from the MediaSmart’s data drives to the new SAN box. We will see how those consumer-grade drives work in the RAID.

The copy operation took awhile. I used this storage enclosure for 3.5-Inch SATA HDD's via its USB 2.0 port to connect to my laptop. I would have used the eSATA port, but I did not have a cable. The enclosure ships with USB and FireWire cables.

The Home Server is great for automated backups and making its drives seamlessly available. That Drive Extender technology was one of the big selling points for me. Microsoft has subsequently removed that capability in the most recent version Windows Home Server 2011. The stated reason was that they could not maintain compatibility when they moved to using Server 2008 R2 as its core. Whatever. Drive Extender is dead. That was a primary reason for my buying it, so I am not buying another.

I found a podcast (Hanselminutes #285) with a great explanation of why two techies replaced their Home Server with a SAN appliance, or at least augmented it. One of the participants in the podcast, Travis Illig, has an excellent post with pictures on how to set up the DiskStation. I will be writing another post about my setting up the DiskStation from the perspective of a Windows guy working with a Linux system. Let’s just say that adventure ensued.

The new setup is supporting video and music throughout the house now, as well as centralized file storage. I will be expanding the use of several features of the Synology DiskStation in the coming weeks.

My post on configuring the DS1511+ is here.

Posted on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 6:30 AM Software , Personal | Back to top


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