Stuff to pimp your Windows Home Server

Hacking Windows Home Server is a blog dedicated to Microsoft's WHS technology. Brought to you by Donavon West, Microsoft MVP and author of and I'll also discuss the Hewlett-Packard HP MediaSmart Server EX470, EX475, EX485, EX487, the T7-HSA Tranquil Harmony Home Server and any other new Home Server hardware platforms that arise. You can also call this hacking or hackz. In any case I will show you some cool things to make your Microsoft Windows Home Server even sweeter.

A blog devoted to getting the most out of your
Windows Home Server by Microsoft MVP Donavon West.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Add a 500 or 750 GB Hard Drive to your Windows Home Server

Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB 3.5

Want more backup and shared storage capacity for your WHS? It's quick, easy and relatively inexpensive to add a 500 or 750 GB hard drive to your HP EX470/475 Home Server.

I chose the Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive from NewEgg. The drive is quiet and reliable and NewEgg has some of the best prices around (I spent just over $100 for mine). NewEgg also has a very reasonably priced Western Digital 750 GB drive available for only $159. You can, of course, use any SATA drive you wish, even the newer 1TB models.

Now that you have a drive, just follow these simple instructions. There are no cables to attach and no tooled needed. It's so easy, even a novice can do this with confidence.

  1. Pull out the lowest empty drive tray.
  2. With the hard drive connectors facing away from you, angle the drive into the left set of pins in the tray.
  3. Flex the plastic on the right to snap the 2 opposite pins into place.
  4. Slide the tray back into the computer. Do *not* push on the handle or the tray will not slide easily.
  5. Lower the front try hinge until it snaps (the LED should turn purple)
  6. Go to the Windows Home Server console (i.e. double click the tray icon)
  7. Click on Server Storage where you should see the drive you just added
  8. Highlight the drive and click Add.

That's it. Good Luck!

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InvaderZim said...

Great site! But I think you mean NewEgg, not Egghead.

Donavon West said...

LOL! I guess I'm showing my age. Remember the Egghead computer stores from the early 90's?

InvaderZim said...

Yep--last two things I bought at Egghead was a Western Digital 420MB and (later) a 540MB disk drive for my Gateway Pentium-based machine. I still have those drives in my closet, holding TIVO system backups.

Thanks again for the great site!

Joe said...

hi, I was curious and had a fantom 500 gig nas drive laying around. I popped out the hard drive from the unit..opened everything up and realized the connections don't look the same. Guess I'm out of luck right? Hate to waste 500 gigs and don't want to daisy chain them when I have 3 open bays on my HP WHS.

Great site!

Erik said...

Joe, my guess is you have an older style PATA drive, buy an external eSATA enclosure to convert the old style into the new and plug it into the back of the HP Media server, you can expand it that way as well.

Donavon West said...

@joe, Erik is right. You likely have a parallel ATA drive (very common before a year or two ago). You can buy a relativly inextensive external UBS enclosure such as this one ($27 from NewEgg) and you should be in business.

Donavon West said...

@joe, You may want to check out this new blog post explaining how to use an old PATA drive in an exteral USB case. Thanks for the idea! :)

Ed said...

Thanks for the great info.

You might want to add a step about lowering the flap at the back of the hard drive cage. Took a few "Cage bad!" "Cage baaaad" before I realized that it lowered. I guess the big number 1 stamped on the flap wasn't clue enough.

Thanks again for this resource.

Bob said...

LOL - I did that for the first time today, at first I thought the back flap was a snap off throwaway piece put in to stop airflow till a drive got put in. Luckily my head saw the pivot before my hand ripped it off.

Donavon West said...

@Ed and Bob, Don't worry too much. Even if you did break off the back flap on the disk try (marked with a big "1" on he plastic) everything would still work just fine.

Mike said...

Great site guys! Just bought my EX470 a couple of days, bought an additional 500GB WD drive and followed these instructions. Couldn't be any easier. I'm thinking about enabling the duplication for some of the shares, but not until i read more about some of the errors and data corruption i've read about...thanks again!

Mike said...

One other thing...perhaps a note for the next person who tries this, a tip about what happens after the drive is added - the storage balancing happens automagically! What a great little machine!

ArminUSA said...

Hi! Just wondering if someone could give me a hint how I can replace a (functional) 400GB hard drive in my EX470 with a bigger one? I understand that the machine automatically creates a RAID partition using all available storage (or so I believe I've read somewhere). -- Anyway, how can I take a small HDD, take the data off and transfer it on a -let's say- 1TB drive that I add instead? Aren't all the files on the small drive spread out/mirrored all the other drives?? I don't believe I can just pop the drive and put a new (blank) one in? -- Any help is appreciated! --Thx.

Ernesto said...

My experience with adding disk has been the most problematic.
Up front it was easy; just plunk in 3 Western Digital 500GB drives and use the Wizard to add the disks.
Then I streamed my data ~500GB over the GB ethernet (multiple robocopys).
When I checked the next morning my EX470 said that I had a failed drive. A little web research uncovered that I may have run into a bug where the server could not keep up with the data stream. So I choose repair and all was OK.
Then my backups failed and I had to delete all old backups and start over (Hhhmmm).
Finally, after a few weeks I started to notice that I could not stream data any more. The network showed spikes and troughs on a regular interval.
Long story short, one of the WD drives had several SMART errors logged in the system event log.
The home server however did not see anything wrong and I had to install an Add-In to identify the drive in question.
Then the wizard was unable to remove the drive.
So, I had to copy the data off and just pull the disk.
Currently awaiting RMAd disk from WD.

T-Shirt said...

One quick question (and a newbie one at that) for you: Can I do this with the server powered on? Or do I need to shut down and restart? Apologies for being obtuse, but I cannot seem to find a straight answer to this on the net, and I have also read that the drives are not hot-swappable. Any help would be appreciated!

Bob said...

Yes, you can add a drive with the machine powered on.

You can also remove a drive with the machine on, but you must first tell the machine you want to remove it, so it can migrate the data from that drive to the other drive(s) and wait for that process to finish.

Michael said...

Thank for the how-to. It worked great.

Do you have a how to on how to replace the original 500GB drives with 1 TB drives?

don. said...

I second what Michael said. I would like to add a 1tb drive and from what I have read, largest drive should be the sys drive... So how do I add w/o losing all my files or having to do a huge backup? You already have proven that you "da man" when it comes to this stuff, don't let us down now Donavon! And funnily, I always thought Newegg was what Egghead became.

Richard said...

I too am interested in replaceing the system drive with a larger one. A "How To" on this would be great.

Also, anyone used ant of the new 1.5 TB drives? Prices are droping so fast. Any limitations? Would the 10 TB limit hold with these larger drives also?

Kostas said...

Good Day to everyone.

Can i add the new 1.5TB HD in WHS ?

Nifty Noteables said...

I added two 1.5 TB harddrives---Seagate. No problems at all. With the 2 500GB that brings me now to 4 TB.

QUESTION: Can I replace the two initial 500GB drives? I want to add two more 1.5 drives-bringing me to a total of 6TB's.

Has anyone replaced the initial drives that came with the server?

I also did the WOW increase in CPU and RAM. No problems. Follow instructions and DO get the small 00 screwdriver bit. It makes it EASY.

Genkilljoy said...

Are OEM drives ok to use?

Nifty Noteables said...

Is anybody reading this blog anymore?

Invader Zim from Planet Irk said...

I am... tried to post before but couldn't remember my blogger password.

OEM drives are fine. Last week, my WHS was complaing about only having 40GB of space left. Since I already had 4x500GB drives in the server, I temporarily borrowed a 1GB external SATA drive from another machine and added it to the drive pool to keep it happy.

I then ordered a 1.5TB OEM Seagate from NewEgg for $119. When it arrived, I verified that the drive's firmware wasn't on the "trouble" list (some 1.5TB Seagates conk out for 30 seconds at a time -- google for "seagate 1.5tb freeze" for details). I then told it to remove one of the 500GB disks (I wanted to remove the top-most one, which I knew was the oldest but couldn't figure out which drive it was from the "drives" list, so I guessed and got lucky); WHS copied all the data to the external 1TB disk. I then plugged in the 1.5TB drive, "removed" the external 1TB drive and all is well again... until I fill up the space again.

I don't think I'd trust an external SATA drive to be part of the pool forever -- my experience with the reliability of external drives just isn't that good -- but they sure are handy for upgrading an internal drive on an overflowing server.

Llewellyn said...

My new EX470 just arrived (yay!) and I have three new 1TB drives waiting to install. I want to swap out the 500GB drive it came with (and use as external storage with the DVR). With drive prices now, might as well go with 3TB right off the bat! I haven't installed any software or done any initialization yet. Would it be better/simpler to install on my first client using the original 500GB drive in the server, or instead swap in the first 1TB drive and do a 'Server Recovery' or even 'Factory Reset' with the initial setup? Thanks! And great site!

Nifty Noteables said...

Thank you InvaderZIM! Much appreciated for your input on the OEM swap.

Nifty Noteables said...


I'd recommend doing the CPU swap and the RAM swap before anything else, according to the detailed instructions which are great.

THEN, add your extra drive(s). Go with the 1.5TB from Seagate. I've done it. InvaderZim has done it and it works great.

Once that is in place, then do the remove procedure that InvaderZim just articulated. (but with no data, you needn't worry about adding an external drive for the data swap).

Once you've set up your system in this fashion, you're good to go for a very long time, and it will be fast and smooth.

bill said...

Is there any information on replace the primary HD on the system? I have a 1TB drive that I want to swap out for the orginal, I have already replaced the other 3 with 1TB's.

motzingw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
motzingw said...

The way to replace the primary hard drive is to remove any other drives, put the new drive in the 1st slot. Insert the Server recovery disk and follow the instructions for Factory Reset and reformat the server. It will ask you to remove all WHS software and then it will setup the new drive and your server software. Use a wired connection, Windows XP is best

Nifty Noteables said...

When you refer to "remove any other drive" are you saying using the software to remove them from the stack (meaning=dumping data onto one or more external drives) or are you saying pull them all out and put the new one in the first slot (bottom slot). Then, run recovery. Then, add back the other drives?

Not sure about what your exact process is here. I'm interested because I'm still stuck with one drive at 500MB.

Jim said...

I, too, want to replace the system drive (now a 500 GB) with a 1 TB without losing any of my backup data. Is this possible? My current config is 2 500 GB drives. I could add another drive to buffer data, if necessary. I just need to know what the procedure is to replace the system drive without losing data. Just pulling the system drive, plugging in the new larger drive and doing a server recovery sounds way to risky.

A better approach might be to power down the WHS, remove the system drive and clone it onto the larger disk using a second system. Then simply plug the new drive into the WHS. Of course, the sudden change in free space might freak out the server software.

Doug said...

Same question. How do I clone or replace the primary (750G on HP485) drive without screwing up the 7 TB of files on my server array? What is on the first drive
besides whatever you can get from the CDs? Index data mirrored
elsewhere, and retrievable? Does that mean that the
size of the primary drive doesn't help with storage?
Would a 2TB primary drive store files, or just indices, pointers etc? If extra space is useable, how do you CLONE
your existing primary drive to a big one?
Why doesn't the damn wizard let you "remove"
(redistribute) the system disc like the others,
then replace it with a bigger one? This is a pretty
simple, direct question. Why can't anyone (like HP)
address it?

ANGEL said...

I have the EX470 upgraded to 2.6GHz AMD LE-1640 Orleans and 2GB RAM.
The BIOS (R02 07-13-2007) supports 2TB hard drives WD Caviar Green WD20EADS SATA-300?


Nifty Noteables said...

doesn't sound line anyone has the answer or wants to answer the question that has been asked for months----how to replace the smaller sys drive when there is an existing array of drives with data.

Bob said...

Because I'm not sure anyone really knows the answer 100% safe. Simply taking out the first drive appears to be total nonsense, right now I have data on it that will be lost. Replicated data is not a problem, it would be copied from the mirror on another drive. However the basic backup data is IMO spread across drives and would end up being corrupted.

There is a slight possibility, that the first drive only contains pointers to backup data on the other drives, in which case it would be rebuilt. But I'm not about to take that risk- last time I tried anything like this, I lost my backup data for the previous 8 months.

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