When I first built my Windows Home Server, I built it using an old Intel Server cabinet because I wanted a lot of drive bays, 6 to be exact. I filled it with 6 500GB hard drives, for a total of 3TB of drive space. I figured that would last me a while for file storage and backups of the computers in the house. I was right. . . for a while.
But then I started Ripping my DVD movie collection and that 3TB was being used up pretty fast. So I swapped out those 6 500GB drives for 6 1.5TB drives for a 9TB drive pool! That would surely last me for a long time!
But that was not the end! Oh no, then came 2 new drive space munchers!
- Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 with it's new ability to automatically "Archive" recorded TV shows from Media Center. Since I'm an avid MC user and DVR damn near everything, every day more and more TV was being moved to the Windows Home Server.
- Blu-Ray! I started getting all my movies in Blu-Ray High Definition, and since I hate having to handle disks when I can just keep them stored on a server, I began Ripping all my new movies to ISO files. Each movie takes approx 40GB!
Here we go again. That 9TB of drive space is nearing the end. But my 6 Hard Drive bays are full of 1.5TB drives. I could swap them out with 2TB drives, but that would be pretty expensive to only get a 1/3 increase in drive space. So I started looking at External Enclosures.
After looking at 10 or so different enclosures I settled on the Rosewill RSV-S8.
I purchased it on Newegg.com for $309.99:
Rosewill RSV-S8 SATA 3G 3.5" HDD 8-Bay RAID 0/1/10/5/JBOD Storage Enclosure System
It's an 8 bay SATA-II enclosure. It comes with a 2-port eSATA controller card and a Port Multiplying Backplane. The controller card is a PCIe x1 card, it comes with an optional half height bracket. Included in the box:
1 - RSV-S8 (Sil3726 chipset)
1 - PCIe x1 slot card (Sil3132R5) & Optional half height bracket
2 - eSATA Cable
1 - AC cable
32 - HDD Screws
1 - Setup installation & Driver Disk
1 - Software User Manual. (No hardware setup instructions)
The unit supports RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 and JBOD. Since I was planning on using Drive Balancer, RAID didn't matter to me.
I read through the Reviews on Newegg before purchasing the unit. Most of the negative reviews dealt with:
- Packaging - For me it came packed double boxed, with air bags all around the unit. Rosewill must have heard the complaints and redesigned the packaging.
- Mac support - Not going in a Mac, so I didn't care.
- RAID Management software - I wasn't going to install the software. I planned on using the Windows Home Server Drive Balancer, so, RAID wasn't important to me at all.
While unpacking, the first thing I was impressed with the unit. It was smaller than I thought it would be. It's only 13.5" High, 13.5" Deep and 6" Wide, which makes it only slightly larger than a Hewlett-Packard MediaSmart Server!
Here's a pic of an HP MediaSmart Server Next to a RSV-S8 in my Server Cabinet. (For Size comparison ONLY! You cannot add this unit to an HP MediaSmart Server! My actual WHS box is on the shelf above.) You need to be able to install a PCIe card in the server.
I pulled 4 of the trays out and put my old 500GB drives into them. There were some complaints on Newegg that the trays could be damaged by not lining them up into the tracks correctly. That was true, if you don't get the trays lined up just right, they can become wedged into the tracks and bent. I put them back in very carefully to make sure I didn't bend them.
(edit) Once I closed the drive tray lever I had to give the tray a gentle push to seat it all the way in. This seems to be a problem with all SATA drive trays, they don't seat all the way in unless you give them a gentle nudge. Thanks to whoever it was that reminded me of that!
I shut down my Windows Home Server and popped open the case. I installed the controller card with no problems.
Then I grabbed the 2 eSATA cables. They are about 3 feet long so I had no problem running them between the units. The Back of the RSV-S8 has the 2 ports marked "Port 1" & "Port 2" with Port 1 on the top. The back of the controller had no markings, so I decided to open the case back up and see if there were any markings on the card. Good thing I checked, on the card Port 1 is on the bottom.
Once I had the cables run correctly, I buttoned everything back up and turned the RSV-S8 power on. I waited a few seconds then turned the Windows Home Server on. No smoke or bright flashes so, I guess everything was hooked up right.
I popped the provided driver CD-ROM into the Windows Home Server and from my laptop I RDP'd into the Administration Console of the Windows Home Server. I cancelled the autorun since I didn't want to install the RAID Management software.
I went into device manager and found the RAID Controller listed under "Other devices". I clicked on "Update Driver" and browsed the CD to find the Driver/Windows/32bit folder. Installed the correct driver and within seconds the controller was correctly found and the 4 drives I had installed were detected.
I then opened the Windows Home Server Management Console, the 4 "New" drives were listed there as "Non-Storage Hard Drives, Not Added" I clicked on each drive and added them.
Total installation time from unpack to up and running was less than 1 hour!
Another thing to mention is how QUIET the unit is. It has a 300Watt power supply and a 120MM fan. With the 4 drives running I can barely hear it. When I first turned it on, I could hear the drives spin up, but once they were up, it was very quiet.
Since I never installed the RAID Software I can't comment on the ease of use or even whether or not it works. But the RSV-S8 worked exactly the way I hoped it would. It was easy to install, the drivers worked great and my Windows Home Server has more storage space and still some free bays for the future!
If the $309.99 price tag is too much for you, there are a couple of other Rosewill options:
The RSV-S5 5-bay unit for $199.99 :
And the RSV-S4-X 4-bay unit for $149.99: