Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
I’ve been away for a few days and came back to find that my WD Sentinel DX4000 has software updates available for it. You can do the update manually or enable it to do automatic updates. Personally I prefer to do manual updates on a number of my key servers so that I can review what has changed prior to installing the update. You can check out what is now in the v126.96.36.199 update here.
Upon reviewing the above mentioned PDF, I can see that they recommend I have a specific Microsoft Update Rollup 4 (MS KB #2757013) installed before I do this WD update. Glad I checked as whilst I did have this update installed, I’m not sure what would have happened had I let it do it’s thing automatically. You can force download and install of the update from the Monitor Tab on the Dashboard as you can see below. Installation takes maybe 5 to 10 minutes once it’s downloaded and it will need a reboot after it’s done (which it does automatically).
The big new feature in this release is that it adds the ability for the WD Sentinel to act as an iSCSI target which many people have asked for. They have incorporated the iSCSI support from StarWind and have even got a cool dashboard add in that you can see below.
From the Dashboard, you can quickly create iSCSI targets and then have iSCSI clients connect to them. I’ll do some performance comparisons later of this vs. my QNAP so you can get a guideline of the difference.
Overall – this upgrade went smoothly for me on one of my two WD DX 4000 Sentinel units. The other one (my main production one which I did 2nd) lost the ability to pickup a DHCP IP address after the reboot. I had two WD supplied cables connect it to my Netgear switch. I tried many different things, and in the end replaced BOTH network cables with new cables – it now works fine. I can’t see why the cables don’t work as they did before the upgrade and both cables work fine with other laptops. Further testing shows the WD cables don’t work now with EITHER of my WD Sentinel units… One of my units uses the cables supplied by WD, the other is using a single cable I’ve supplied on my own. It appears for now, I need to replace the cables with alternate cables so that my systems can continue to function. I’m going to take this up with WD as it should not be like this
I am looking forward to playing wit the iSCSI functionality and will do some performance tests later compared to my QNAP.
Thursday, June 21st, 2012
Yesterday, my WD Sentinel DX 4000 appeared to have locked up – it had stopped responding to the front panel buttons. I wondered why it had done this and then I found I had inadvertently taken it off the UPS when I re-cabled some things the other day and I suspect we had a power fluctuation which caused it to glitch. Anyway – the only way to resolve this was to hard power it. Now this is something that you normally SHOULD NOT DO to any computer, least of all a server like this. But it was my only choice.
After the reboot, I found that the front panel had advised that it was Initializing…. now at first I panicked and thought that it was erasing and initialising everything on the server. I was however able to RDP to the server and verify that my data was there. I left it and after 8 hours, it was up to 5% done. I also noticed that anything I tried to do via RDP on the DX 4000 was very slow as well. I figured that the initialisation process was very disk intensive, so I left it at that. I’d heard of this before and wondered what it all meant. I sent an email off to some people I know at WD to get some answers. Given it was late at night, and me being impatient, I later decided to reboot the server and found that it seemed to be far more responsive, however the Initializing process continued at it’s normal rate. Given my data was not at risk, and that performance seemed to be fine, this didn’t bother me.
This morning, my status was as below on the front panel.
You can see via the Dashboard, that it’s showing much the same thing – all disks are normal and my data is intact.
Ok – so the official explanation of what is going on here.
This is normal behaviour for the WD Sentinel DX 4000 under the following circumstances:
I know that WD are aware of the issue and they are looking into ways to better handle this in advance of any unclean shutdown. They have assured me that the chances of data loss are quite minimal provided I allow the initialization process to complete – which of course I am doing.
Oh – I forgot to mention – I’ve moved this back over to the UPS so that it won’t experience any unplanned failures again.
Thursday, May 31st, 2012
I really like my WD Sentinel DX 4000 – it’s great little product for me and I’ve actually got two of them in the SBSfaq.com offices. I walked into the office this morning though to see the display below on them “Software Update Available”. This is cool and I’d love it if my normal servers would do the same – makes it nice and simple to see what is going on.
Ok – so it needs an update – I decided to dig into it some more to see what that really means – after all this is the first time I’ve seen this displayed on this system.
I checked the alerts first up and as you can see below, there’s a WD Sentinel Software Update Available – unfortunately though it does not tell me much about how to get the update applied. Maybe that can improve there and give me more information.
So I did some digging into it. After a little bit, on the Monitor tab of the Dashboard, I found the screen below. I found that if I clicked on the “Check for Updates” button that it would come back and tell me that there were updates available, and it would then give me the option to download and install the updates. It warned me that it would need to do a reboot when it did this, so I went ahead and told it to proceed.
Whilst it was doing the update, it displayed “Updating Software” on the front LCD panel of the WD Sentinel – a nice touch for sure. The entire process took maybe 5 to 10 minutes and it rebooted – I noticed it was up again when it showed me the normal LCD screen.
I logged on to the Dashboard and checked the versions and sure enough – it’s updated.
I checked WD’s website and found out they have a list of fixes here in a PDF file.
Ok – so a few suggestions for WD.
1. Use the Alert to show me where to go and what to do to make the update happen. I don’t want to have to dig around for it
2. Why not have the LCD panel ALSO alert me to when there are Windows Updates available for it?
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
I was helping one of our techs out when he was deploying SBS 2011 Essentials for a client this week. He had a couple of computers that crashed with errors when the Client Connector Installation was going through. I commenced to dig into the log files and also put together a blog post when I hit a problem I didn’t know about. I turned to Google and low and behold, I found this excellent article from fellow MVP Rob Pearman on Troubleshooting Client Connecter Installation problems. Not being one to reinvent the wheel unless I can do it better, I figured I’d help get some awareness of the things he’s done. So if you are having issues with Client Connector Installation Failures on SBS 2011 Essentials, then check out Robs post above.
Thursday, April 12th, 2012
There’s an online support forum available here which seems to have a reasonable bit of traffic.
Monday, March 5th, 2012
Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials is provided only through specific OEM. As such some OEM providers have chosen to disable the inbuilt backup utility that is used to backup the server itself. The reason vendors have chosen to do this is due to the fact that the Windows Backup utility does not support source drives or destination drives greater than 2TB in size. Therefore be advised that executing this may void any support you might get from the OEM vendor itself.
1. Open Regedit
2. Navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows Server\ServerBackup as the screenshot below shows
3. Delete the ProviderDisabled entry and close Regedit
4. Open up Services.msc
5. Find the “Windows Server Server Backup Service” entry as the screenshot below shows
6. Change the service from Disabled to Automatic and Start the service and then close the Services console
7. Open the Dashboard from the link on the desktop
8. Navigate to the computers tab on the console and right click on the server computer
9. Run the Setup Backup for this Server wizard and follow the bouncing ball.
If you attempt to select a source drive that is larger than 2TB to backup, you will get the error message below. This reinforces the restrictions that I mentioned at the start of this article.
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
I’ve been getting quite a few reports back from people that after installing the latest Update Rollup 2 (UR2) on SBS 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, that the client computers have appeared offline and the backups have failed. I blogged about the release of UR2 earlier this month here. One of the things that I observed during the installation of the update on the server was the way in which it will force upgrade the client agent on the machines. It shows a small bubble popup indicating that the client machine needs to be rebooted as you can see below.
What happens under the covers, is that once the client agent has been upgrade, it can’t communicate with the server UNTIL after a reboot – therefore causing the client machine to appear offline in the console and causing backup to fail. The solution is simple. Reboot all your client computers after the agent has upgrade and then everything works fine. Your clients will appear online and backups will succeed once more.
Friday, February 24th, 2012
Since I installed the latest BPA on my Western Digital DX 4000 which has Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials on it, I’ve had the alerting pop up with a Computer Monitoring Error as you can see in the screen shot below. This alert pops up on all the client machines that are connected to the server. I’m not the only one to have seen this however, a number of fellow MVPs have seen this too. Together we’ve figured out that the latest Best Practice Analyzer (BPA) is the culprit and that removing it from the server has “resolved” this issue for the moment. Microsoft are aware of the issue and are investigating it at the moment.
This error also occurs on other servers that use the same Best Practice Analyzer including SBS 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials.
I’ll report back here once I know of a solution – for now, I suggest that you install the BPA and then after you’ve run it to determine the health of your server and rectified anything that needs to be fixed, remove the BPA.
Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
The Best Practice Analyzer is designed to review your server for any known issues that the Microsoft Support Team are aware of and to show you how to resolve those issues. This FAQ shows you how to install and run the BPA for the first time.
The information in this FAQ pertains to Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials.
1. Download the Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer 2.0 first from Microsoft here
2. Install it onto your server directly. No reboot is needed.
3. Download the Windows Server Solutions Best Practices Analyzer 1.0 from Microsoft here
6. Click on the icon to download and install the update install the update
7. Once you’ve installed the update, you will need to restart the BPA in order for it to run.
8. Select the option to scan your computer
9.Review the report
10. Select one of the options to expand the warning and it will show you what you need to do to resolve that issue.
All in all – it’s a very simple tool to run and will help you quickly evaluate common issues on these servers.
UPDATE: 24th Feb 2012 – it’s come to light that there may be an issue with the BPA with the that causes Client Alert notifications. See this post for more information
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
Well the tool was called the SBS Best Practices Analyser (Analyzer for the US guys) but it’s been called the Windows Server Solutions BPA since it was re-released for the SBS 2011 platform.
Microsoft have released an update for this just this week. They announced it here. The BPA works on SBS 2011 Standard Edition, SBS 2011 Essentials, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials and Windows MultiPoint Server 2011.
It’s 100% best practice to run this tool over any new installation that we do as well as any new site we inherit as it really helps to see if there are issues that we can solve quickly that Microsoft already know about. Get the update now and check it out.