The very hungry Windows Home Server continues to whet its appetite on unfortunate users files as the scope of the problem grows and grows
Like the children's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the scope of the Windows Home Server bug simply grew and grew as it ate its way through users' files. Although Microsoft promised that a solution would be made available to resolve the current issues, a full fix will not be available until at least June 2008.
What was once an attractive home service solution with a wealth of hardware partners has, in essence, become an unsightly pest for many. Until a solution is found, use of WHS brings with it serious risks of data corruption -- something many consider to be a cardinal sin of networking hardware or software.
One DailyTech reader, Tim Slocum from Roscoe, Illinois, contacted us a couple weeks back with a rather incredible personal story of data loss, which he hoped would serve as a warning to others. Slocum was an eager WHS user and states that he copied 16,000+ family pictures and videos to the system. Around Christmas he discovered that many of these files had become corrupted. He rebuilt and reformatted the system, only to experience unpleasantly surprising results.
Slocum states in an email to DailyTech, "I then reformatted and rebuilt the system with NO ADD-INS or extra software. Copied all photos to the server, setup PC backups, and let the system sit with no usage because of the lack of trust. This weekend I again noticed photos are now corrupted."
Slocum acknowledges that a family member who works for MS as a consultant has had no issues that he knows of, though he planned on emailing him to verify this. Slocum adds that while not a "real techie" he is fairly knowledgeable. He states, "I have been a developer for over 20 years ... last 2-3 have been moving into VB.NET. So I have some knowledge of testing and have built PC's in the past."
Having worked hard to stabilize his system, Slocum plans to continue his efforts with a third build, turning off file duplication, which reportedly may affect the likelihood of occurrence. Tim feels that WHS is a promising product, but Microsoft is failing to take its issues seriously enough.
The really surprising part of Slocum's story at the time DailyTech received it was that he did not edit the files. While some users had alleged corruption on transfers in unverified reports floating around the internet, previously, Microsoft stated that corruption only occurred when editing files.
Now Microsoft says the problem is that the underpinnings of WHS are broken, and that a fix is required at a very low level. This will take a good deal of time to develop and validate, according to the WHS Team at Microsoft. The WHS Team hopes to release beta versions of a patch over following months, but states that June is the soonest a finished patch might appear.
The WHS Team also warns that some users are mistaking other problems for the issue. Says the Team, "Some of the instances that were initially attributed to this issue ended up being something else, such as a faulty network card/driver, old routers with outdated firmware, or people incorrectly testing the limits of their home servers."
However the Team did not rule that the WHS may have other problems causing trouble on a low level, though they state that they feel very confident that they understand the underlying issue that??™s currently causing the main known problem.
While the Windows Home Server Team is working hard to have a fix ready by summer time, in the meantime WHS users are left with the unpleasant reality that editing or storing files on the server may lead to corruption. And with the scope of the flaws in WHS's low level file handling growing weekly, like a certain hungry caterpillar; it leaves one to wonder whether there are more aspects of the problem yet to be discovered.