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.

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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.

Testing:
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

IMPORTANT NOTE:
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:

C:fs*fake
D:fake

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! :)

Acknowledgements:
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”.

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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.

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

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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

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

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The result?  See for yourself.

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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.