Reviews, Windows Home Server

WHS Utility: Drive Balancer


Are you concerned or unhappy with the way WHS spreads your data across your pooled data drives?  Would you like an automated method to distribute your data across your drive pool?  One of our members, Beefcake, has written a handy little application (see this thread)  to do just that: force drive balancing across your WHS pooled drives.

I recently had a drive die on me.  What data I lost is replaceable and I was able to RMA the drive.  When I received the replacement drive, I added it back to the pool.  As you can guess, the data distribution across my drives varied dramatically at that point, as can be seen below.


I decided to download this application and see if would work for me.  Before you start it up, be sure to read the included readme file, documented below for your perusal.

Usage Notes:
This program was designed to “even out” the data on a drive pool for WHS. The main purpose was when a person adds a drive to the pool, it doesn’t necessarily start getting used for a while. While Microsoft has made changes to the usage of the Landing Zone (as in it doesn’t exist anymore), some people’s systems might still be in a non “evened out” state as wish to correct this. On my own system, I routinely get within 2% of perfect balancing on all pooled drives.

Drive Balancer has 3 options. You choose (y/n) for #1 and then either 2 or 3.
1) Clear out D: (commonly referred to as the Landing Zone) prior to balancing data.
2) Balance data among pooled drives such that each drive will have an equal percentage filled.
3) Balance data among pooled drives such that each drive has an equal amount of data on it.

Keep in mind #2 and #3 are the same if all pooled drives have identical sizes.

I have tested this program on my own system which consists of:

System Disk:
Areca 1210 RAID5 set consisting of (4) 250GB Seagate Drives = 20GB C: and 698GB D:

Pooled Disks:
(2) WD 1TB Green HDs
(2) Seagate 1.5TB HDs

With some help from user “S_M_E” on SageTV forums, I am able to “restart” the Drive EXtender service which is responsible for doing the actual balancing. The program detects a restart is needed if 15 minutes of no changes in the amount of GB free on any pooled drive has occured. At this point, it restarts the service and marches along. Feel free to restart the service on your own if you are watching the process and see no disk activity (using Disk Management plug-in).

You WILL see some critical WHS problems reported all related to storage space. Do not worry, this is expected behavior and will be cleared up at the end of the run.

Please do not Ctrl-C out of the program as it is automatic and will end on it own. If you feel the program is behaving badly, and you Ctrl-C out of it, You will have to manually delete the following DIRs:


I have extensively tested this program on my own system with my own data. I have lost nothing and you should realize that this program does not delete any data (It only creates fake files). As such, I can’t guarantee that any data on your own system. Don’t be afraid, either do a backup first, or jsut trust me and run the tool anyway! 🙂

Theo van Elsberg – author of LZReallocator
Brent from wegotserved WHS forums
S_M_E from SageTV forums

There is no installation required.  Simply unzip the files into a directory of your choice and start the executable.  Follow the instructions, sit back and relax because it takes awhile to move data around.  As can be seen in the following picture, I chose to “clear out the landing zone”.


While Drive Balancer is working, you may notice some warning signs being give to you by your WHS.  Simply relax, Drive Balancer is just doing its job.



Once the program has gone through Stage 1 (which takes awhile), you are presented with following options:


I tried Option 2, twice.  It failed, twice.  Why?  Because two of the pooled drives would not hold 1/3 of the data on the data drive.  The program simply exits, leaving one hanging with all those fake files on still there.  A little error checking is in order to allow the program to either delete those files and exit gracefully, or to default to Option 1 when this problem occurs.

I ran the program a third time using Option 1.  Drive Balancer informs you that the big move is about to occur


and off it goes.  After you hit the Enter key, of course.


The result?  See for yourself.


With a few extra errors checks, this is a very nice utility to “balance” your data across your pooled drives.  Kudos to Beefcake!  Head over to his post and try it out yourself.  And be sure to thank him while you are there.

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Hello. I’m from the heartland of the U.S. Lots of corn and beans, although Iowa is a lot more than just farmland. It also has a few computer enthusiasts (no, not me!). I’ve been around PCs since I got my 1st PC XT aloooong time ago. WGS is one of the first sites I found centered around WHS. And the best. Every once in awhile, I do get away from the KB and enjoy time with and my wife and our 4 kids. And I do have a day job.
  • Cool app that addresses one of the questions I have about my WHS.

    However, it begs the question:

    if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

  • Mark

    This may (or may not) be safe to do- but exactly what problem is being solved here? Sounds like a solution in search of a problem to me. Lots of excellent ideas at this site, but I wouldn’t touch this one with a ten foot pole.

  • Brian

    I suggest you read the thread to see what situations the app is trying to resolve. I won’t use the words “problems” and “solutions” since it’s all relative. Your average use will not need/want this tool. However, there is a niche field that have wanted this app. I’ve read numerous threads about similar issues.

    And yes, I am the author of the app.

  • MoonT

    Excellent little application, i have been wanting something like this for a while now. To me it is important how the data is distributed, particularly in light of using a mish mash of drives of varying capacity and finding that WHS fills up some drives whilst leaving others almost unused. Smaller drives have been reaching a fill level that obviously has an impact on their performance, whilst large fast drives are idle. Great work.

  • malkie

    Excellent application, really great idea.
    I have recently added two discs to my WHS and ended up with a very unbalanced set-up. 4 discs at near 90% full and two new discs near empty. This tool took ages to do it’s stuff, but worked fine. I have not found any problems with all my data so far, but the discs in my WHS are now nicely ‘balanced’ at around the 40% mark. Did just what I wanted it to do.

  • I used this thing for the first time this evening … and through my skepticism I was shocked how great it worked! Thank you for putting this together!

  • ChucklesG

    I used this program and now my 5 1.5Tb drives are nicely balanced BUT my 1Tb System drive is 98%full…

    How the heck do I ‘Balance’ the system drive?

    I have images of my BluRay movies on my data drives, is it because the files are greater thaqn 20GB the system drive is screwed up?

    I’ve reinstalled the server, repaired the database (which finally allowed me to access my backup which were inaccessible after I used the Drive Balancer. Now I have to fix my system drive because it slows down my backup when the System drive is 98% full…

    Chuck G.

  • Gary M

    My OS Hard Drive started generating a lot of bad sectors. I need this App to move storage files that had been stored on the OS disk storage partition over to two designated storage disks. I am crossing my fingers that it will work. Then I am on to the next task of moving the OS to a new disk – there is a 30 step process I saw somewhere that I will most likely try. (OS disk will be returned to manufacturer – less than a year old!)

  • tim

    Post 1 of 3
    Hi Brian, hopefully you can answer my question. First, thank you for sharing this app. Here is my situation. I have 8 drives connected as part of the storage pool (1×1.5tb (sys) and 7x2TB) on an HP EX495 (with eSATA bay for additional drives) for approximately 14+/-TB storage available for the storage pool. I have a large video share (over 5TB) which is now *not* replicated due to some of my copying problems with files above 20gb (blu-ray images). The video drive is backed up to a USB device. I do want to turn replication back on eventually. Recently, my 2TB disk drive #2 went to 98% utilized and this must be the drive where most of my video files are located. I am now having problems copying files from or to the share. I have been running Drive Balancer for the past few days. I stopped it at one point and followed your ctrl-c instructions. I restarted it again yesterday.

  • tim

    Post 2 of 3
    In balancing the drives, will the utility "move" any data off of the drive that is having problems? In the “Disk Management” add-in, the program shows the first 4 drives as "red" (98-99% full) and the other 4 drives as either green or yellow (75% to 93% full). When not running Drive Balancer, the green and yellow drives are about 25% full.

    My key question is will the problem drive (#2) eventually level out with the other drives? I did select to have all the drives to be leveled with the same percentage used. (All drives being balanced are 2TB drives). The Drive Balancer has been running non-stop for over 24 hours so far. And it appears to be running properly; however, I am seeing Drive 0, 1, and 2 as follows with the percents the same for the past 4+ hours:

  • tim

    Post 3 of 3

    Drive 0 is 13% done.
    Drive 1 is 37% done.
    Drive 2 is 84% done.
    Going to sleep while data is being moved…
    Total Disk Throughput: 5 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 5 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 5 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 4 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 5 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 6 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 5 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 3 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 3 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 2 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 3 MB/s
    Total Disk Throughput: 2 MB/s

    Some System Facts:
    WHS HPMSS EX-495
    WHS Software Version:
    1.5tb system drive
    7x2tb drives
    ~7.5tb storage utilized overall

    I have thought about temporarily removing the problem drive and then adding it back to the system to help eliminate this problem. Any insights you may have will be very much appreciated. I can send screenshots as well if that helps. Again, thanks for your help.


    • David

      I have used this little app and to me it is not worth the hassle of installing! The reason being, is I have my whole family have shares on my server local and remote get access to the server and I would tear down the remote access and run Drive Balancer, it would take a little while, and I was impressed at first. Then I used it a few more times then things started getting calls that things are missing, corrupted or smaller in size. (Example… I had a picture of my Grandfather-in-law and my father-in-law together one Thanksgiving, it was originally HD quality now it is still there, but now its a 10pixels by 15pixels. I would love to have it back because he died 2 yrs ago to give to my father-in-law). Some other documents I had to rebuild, and the others I had to do without. So with that, I tossed it, it isnt worh it.

      • Chris

        DB does not mess with any of your files the only thing is does is creating fake data on your harddrives to get the buildin whs drive balancer to move the data you have on your harddrives and when it is done it remove the fake data. very simple but very effectiv Nice job

  • Wolf

    Definitely going to try this. It would be good for me to have the drives balanced because when you defrag your drive, I think you need 20% extra space.

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