2007/04/30: Backup

It’s been a few weeks since my last eWeakly, simply for the fact that I haven’t done anything computer related of interest.

Last week Microsoft released the Windows Home Server Community Technology Preview (CTP).  This put a lot more fit and finish to the product.  I used the upgrade option to upgrade my existing WHS beta 2 installation.  Things went well, but I was still getting a failing service and couldn’t install the client software.  I had hoped the upgrade would resolve these two issues.

Around the same time I realized my home office needed to be cleaned up.  I had three servers in various states of assembly plus four PCs scattered around the room.  Everything needed to be organized and prepped.

Tiger Direct had a sale on AMD Athlon x2 3800+ socket 939 processors so I picked one up.  I have an eVGA Nforce4 SLI motherboard in an Antec SLK3700BQE case and an Antec Neo HE 550 power supply.  It just needed to be assembled to get things cooking.  When the CPU arrived I popped it in with an Arctic Cooling Freezer 64Pro since it was an OEM model.  Added two 1 GB PC3200 DIMMs and an LG GSA-H22L DVD re-writer to the mix and it was almost ready.  Around this time I decided this machine would be the new WHS box, so I could just transfer the four 500 GB Maxtor drives from the current dual Xeon WHS machine.  The Nforce4 SLI motherboard had PCI-E slots for the graphics and I didn’t have anything to spare so I threw in an ATI 8 MB PCI card and it was working beautifully; thank goodness I keep boxes of old hardware for no particular reason.

I moved over the hard drives in the same order and booted from the WHS CTP DVD in the hopes of running the upgrade option again, but no dice.  Reordering the hard drives on the motherboard didn’t help and I started to feel a little panicky.  I pulled one of the four and hooked it to my main system: all my files were there.  WHS and it’s folder duplication function had just saved my bacon and vividly illustrated why not to use a RAID array for WHS.  I did a fresh installation of WHS on the three connected drives and copied my data over from the pulled drive.

Everything was going so well…until WHS client installation.  Failure again loomed over me, as it had the last three installs.  I hit the WHS forums, again, and looked around until I found someone talking about adding the WHS machine to the clients HOSTS file.  Brilliant!  Doing so got everything tickety boo.  I did change the IP of the box from a DHCP address (the default) to a static address so I could feel secure with port redirection on my router.

I skipped one little item to keep continuity: the Antec Neo HE 550 wouldn’t power up the new WHS machine.  I hit the power button, and the fans wouldn’t even start: the motherboard flashed “FF” at me.  Solid FF meant booting, but flashing wasn’t really mentioned.  I plugged the power supply into my Antec power supply tester and it showed as all green, thumbs up.  I unplugged everything except CPU, RAM and video card but still nothing.  Swapped the CPU with a Sempron 3000+ socket 939 CPU I had from another system and it was no luck.  Finally desperation sank in and I pulled an Antec TP2-550EPS12V from my dual Opteron server and hooked it up: success!  Swapped power supplies and put the Neo HE aside: this was my first failed Antec power supply.  With it’s five year warranty I’ll try and RMA.

Cleaned everything up and loaded the dual Xeon system with 4 GB PC2100 ECC RAM, four Maxtor 250 GB hard drives and a 3ware Escalade 9550SX.  I downloaded Windows Server 2003 x64 Standard edition from TechNet and am planning to install next week, along with Microsoft Virtual Server.  This will be my secondary test/backup platform as I like a belts and braces approach to my data, and until WHS is a final product I’ll need a secondary file depot.