Monthly Archives: July 2010

WHS Redirect My Documents with Offline Sync

In this guide I will explain how to redirect the the My Documents folder to the User share on a Windows Home Server. Also, I will set up Offline File Syncing so the computer can be disconnected from the network and still maintain access to the files. Upon reconnecting to the network the changes will by automatically synchronized.

The individual User folders are automatically created when adding a user to the Windows Home Server and it is set so only the specific user has read/write access. This is a great way to manage your files if you are working on multiple computers and/or are using a laptop that is occasionally removed from the local network and you still need access to all of your files.

Part I: Redirect My Documents Folder

In Windows XP or Vista, you can can right click on the “My Documents” or “Documents” folder in Windows Explorer and click on Properties.

In Windows 7 you need to navigate to the actual My Documents folder which is located by default in C:\Users\UserName\My Documents. Right click on that folder and click on Properties.

Navigate to the Location tab where you will see the current My Documents path.

In this section change the path to the Windows Home Server share that you will be using as the new My Documents folder. In my case I changed the path to \\whs\Users\ben.

You will be asked if you want to move over the contents My Documents to the new path (do this if the files do not already exist in the destination). In my case, I copied over the files before I started this process. Make sure your files are in the new location and then you can delete your old My Documents folder.

Part II: Configure Offline File

Navigate to the new My Documents folder in the WHS share, right click on it, and select Properties. Go to the Offline Files tab and check off ‘Always available offline.’ Press sync now to begin the sync which should take a few minutes.

You can test to make sure everything is working by creating a test file and saving it to your My Documents folder, disconnecting your network connection, open the test file, make a modification, save it, reconnect network connection and navigate to the share (ex. \\whs\users\ben) and open the test file from that location. If it shows the modification that you made when you were offline you are all set.

Note: I found that Battlefield Bad Company 2 and possibly other games or applications that access game files in the My Documents folder do not run properly when it is redirected to a network share (ex. extreme lag in BFBC2).

Hauppauge PVR-150 with 4 Gb of RAM

I installed my old Hauppauge PVR-150 analog tv tuner in my new primary desktop that I built a couple of months ago and for some reason I was seeing laggy/frozen video that was extremely blocky and had green blocks throughout like the screenshot I took below.

After doing some digging I found out that the older Hauppauge PVR-150 does not work with computers with over 3Gb of ram due to the hardware address lines on the card. So I set out to find a way to get this to work on my new system without having to cripple the computer and remove 2Gb of ram.

After searching for a while it seems like the only options to get this to work with 4Gb or ram installed is to make only 3Gb of it usable. In order to do this, go to Start, run and type ‘msconfig’. There you will chose boot menu > advanced option and there you will see an option to change your memory. Change this to 3800. I originally thought this would solve my problem completely by sacrificing only a few Mb of ram, however once you reboot into Windows you will notice that the OS is only seeing the 3Gb.

I am  unwilling to forgo the 1Gb of ram  in order to get my old analog tuner up and running, so I will just leave everything as is for the time being.

VMWare ESXi flash drive only 4Mb

If you were using a flash drive or external hard drive to install VMWare ESXi then you will notice that when you want to use that drive for something else, it only appears to Windows as ~4Mb.

You will probably try to format it inside of Windows but this will still only leave you with the 4Mb of usable space as if the max capacity of the drive has been reduced. Even in Windows Disk Management, you will be completely unable to remove the partitions that were created by ESXi

In order to return this drive to its original capacity you must use the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool. Just format it with this program and then you will be all set.

Windows Home Server not Virtualized Benchmark

I tried bypassing the virtualization solution and wanted to see what kind of performance I could get running straight off the hardware kind of like a benchmark so I have something to compare WHS VM performance to. I installed WHS directly on my secondary PC and have seen pretty good results so far. File transfers have been generally ranging from 40-50MB/s and I was able to stream a 10Gb 1080p .MKV file with no stuttering and basically immediate response to FF/RW requests.

I did once see transfer speeds below 1MB/s but it worked fine before and after that. I am assuming the slow speeds in that instance were do to the storage balancer since it was shortly after I had turned on some folder duplication and it was likely moving large amounts of data. Although I have no proof, if it happens again I will try to track it down.

I think I will try tweaking this WHS installation a bit and then perhaps try running a virtual machine on top of WHS to see how that works (many people have reported success).

Note: I did notice that another computer on my gigabit network was able to get transfer speeds in the range of 80-90Mb/s so this has left me wondering why I cannot achieve these speeds with my primary pc. It can perhaps be due to a low quality NIC or mismatched settings. In the future I will work on optimizing the connection on my main pc to achieve these speeds.

ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe and VMWare ESXi

For anyone out there who may have the same motherboard as I do, the ASUS A8n-SLI Deluxe Socket 939, I wanted to let you know that it DOES in fact work with VMWare ESXi. Since their hardware compatibility list (HCL) is limited to commercial off-the-shelf servers I wanted to note that it is fully functional (except for that only 1 of the 2 NICs work).

I was able to attach a storage pool directly to the onboard SATA controller and 1 of the 2 gigabit NICs is supported by ESXi with no modifications necessary.

I was also able to plug in a USB drive with ESXi installed and boot right into the OS, connect remotely, and manage the server.