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: