Increase Your Windows Home Server Capacity With eSATA

Media, GeekSpeak comments edit

For my media center solution, I’m using a Windows Home Server as my primary storage for everything - music, photos, DVD images, videos, computer backups… the whole shmear. I love it. I bought the 1TB HP EX-475 model and did a few upgrades, adding memory and filling out the drive bays.

After ripping all of my movie DVDs to the server, I had about 470GB left - plenty for music and photos, but not enough for me to rip my TV DVDs to the server and have those available in the library.

I considered adding storage through USB drives, but they recommend only plugging directly into the server’s USB ports and not using a hub… and there are only four ports. I know I’m going to use one of them soon for off-site backups. So… how to add drives in a scalable fashion?

The answer: Use the eSATA port on the back of the home server.

I picked up a Rosewill RSV-S5 5-bay eSATA port multiplier and two 1TB WD Caviar Green drives on a great sale at NewEgg. Plugged the drives into the port multiplier, plugged the port multiplier into power, shut down the home server, connected the port multiplier to the home server, and powered on the port multiplier then the home server. No software to install, no fuss, no muss. After adding the drives to the storage on the home server, I’m up to 4.55TB total storage with 2.2TB free!

My WHS control panel: 4.55TB total, 2.2TB

The nice thing is I have three more eSATA bays free in the port multiplier so I can easily continue expanding. Plus I haven’t taken up the USB ports yet so I still have all of that to go, too. An easy upgrade that enables even easier future upgrades - you can’t beat it. Next to adding RAM, I’d say this is the most valuable thing you can do to your home server.

UPDATE 6/16/2010: Beware the WD Green drives. Only some of the model numbers perform well. I ended up replacing some of the ones I had bought when I originally wrote this post.