WHS 2011 – DriveBender

I have been running Windows Home Server for several years now and find it to be an excellent and easy to use solution for managing all my media in a single centralized location. Earlier this year I upgraded to the 2011 release which is based on Windows Server 2008, unfortunately this release always had one critical (in my opinion) feature removed from the previous version – Drive Pooling. Previously it was possible to create a pool of drives that duplicated files to ensure data was not lost similar to certain RAID setups but without having the requirement of identical disks. While it does have the facility to backup and restore folders this does not provide the same experience as being able to just swap out a drive that has failed with any other drive.

Enter DriveBender a thrid party plug in for WHS 2011 that also runs on most other windows platforms. I have been following the posts and releases for this product through it’s development but have never been willing to commit my server to testing as the data I have is to valuable to lose (photos mainly) for the sake of testing a beta. However the product has just gone gold and I immediately went and purchased a copy and installed (currently on special at $40). After some frustration and random clicking I decided to read the manual and from that point my setup and configuration went smoothly and I now have a 5.5Tb pool with all my media on and the WHS shared folder running perfectly.

I have now been running for about a week and cannot recommend this product enough, once familiar the interface is simple to use and provides a wealth of data and makes the task of adding removing drives to and from the pool simple and quickly. Performance which is an area that di concern me does not appear to be an issue with media simultaenously streaming to multiple destinations with no problems. Maintenance task such as balancing data across drives when the server is idle work flawlessly and I have not had reason to worry about my data.

If you have a need for this type of product there is nothing in the market that I have found that comes close to the quality and performance for the price, there is even a trial version to play with, for a full list of features and the download head over to:

http://www.drivebender.com

Hyper V Wireless Network Adapter

Microsoft’s Virtualisation technology does not allow creating a virtual network bound to a wireless adapter on Windows Server 2008, however this can be worked around simple by following the steps below.

  1. Make sure you have wireless networking enabled and working prior to the following
  2. Open the Virtual Network Manager
  3. Create an Internal virtual network with the default settings
  4. In the Settings for the Virtual Machine you are using set the network adapter binding to the previously created
  5. On the host machine open the Network and Sharing Center from Control Panel
  6. Select Change Adapter Settings
  7. Right click the Wireless Network Connection and select Properties
  8. Select the Sharing Tab
  9. Check the Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection checkbox
  10. Select the Local Area Connection associated with the Internal Virtual Network created earlier
  11. Click Ok

Your Hyper-V VM should now be able to use your wireless connection. 

 

Vivid Wireless Home Gateway Mod

Vivid Wireless is a 4G ISP in Australia that I have using for the last 18 months since they launched, however over the last few months the quality of the signal has been degrading. After much searching I  found a thread on the Whirlpool forums that seemed to point to a solution using external antennas. This gives an overview of the process:

Vivid web interface before the upgrade:

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Parts ordered from here and here you need two flyleads and two antenna.

Firstly remove the side cover, I chose the side without lights in case there were any connections that could be broken. There are 4 screws underneath the pads on the base that need to be removed first then the cover is held by clips, the photos below show the location of all clips if prised carefully you should be able to remove without breakage.

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Below is the inside showing the supplied antenna connections just below the heatsink to the left and right, these connectors can be gently leavered off and the new fly leads clipped on:

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While it would be possible to run the fly leads through the case without damage for a secure connection less prone to issues I mounted them in the side of the case using a dremel to cut the holes:

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Once both holes are drill and the flyleads fitted the case can be reassembled and is ready to go!

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In the above picture you can see the indicator lights showing signal strength, previously there was never more than one lit with the new antenna lying on the floor I was already up to 2 a good start.

The next step was to mount the antennas on the roof space and dial in the direction, I managed to get a full three lights up after 10 minutes of playing around and the screen grab below shows the new reading from the web interface:

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Thanks to the hard work and posts of all the Whirlpool members who made this possible, my signal has been rock solid for 2 days now and faster than ever.