Should I re-boot WHS?

Windows Home Server should not be rebooted unless absolutely necessary. Necessary re-boots would be required at least once a month for critical/security updates from Microsoft and for other software that requires a reboot. Other reasons would include the addition of new hardware that requires the system to be off and planned shutdowns for other reasons etc.

It has been known that an unexpected or ill timed reboot can result in a “database inconsistency”  error which can be impossible to recover from without losing all your backups.

So before shutting down or re-booting the server log in to the server machine via remote desktop and check that the “Balancing Storage” message is not displayed on the console (middle,bottom). Instead it should say “Storage Balanced”.

It has also been said that WHS does lots of housekeeping on Sunday so DON’T pick that day either.

I’d also recommend a good UPS to overcome the “database inconsistency”  error, including one for your network’s router and switch(e’s) which I would class as essential. At the very least get some form of filtering / spike / surge suppression.

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  1. I wonder if there should be some kind of warning to the user if the server is currently balancing the storage instead only indicating it. Would certainly help some users, I guess.
    Btw, is the advice to not reboot WHS one that also comes from MS? Because if so, I’d very much like to hear how the FSC AddIn for automated startup/downtime of WHS does handle the balancing state.

  2. cylon64 says:

    Thanks’ Phil for the info. It’s a practice that I try to adhere to. However I have a couple of issues with my installation of WHS that may be of interest to others.

    I and I know others frequently receive a message from the console stating that the backup service is not running and to ‘RE-BOOT’ the server. However some people may be unaware that Microsoft’s official recommendation is to actually ‘Reset’ the console itself. Then log back in and this should be enough to rectify the problem and prevent an unnecessary re-boot.

    You also mentioned not to reboot the server when the ‘Balancing Storage’ message is displayed. My problem here is the message is always displayed on my console. The only thing I can think of is that Diskeeper may be causing this, but whatever I try I cant seem to get the storage balanced. I know their are plenty of others out there with the same problem. I can only hope a solution arises soon.


  3. Blue says:

    All Windows Home Servers require “Reboots” since Microsoft continues to send out patches and hot fixes requiring this type of action. Given how most end users who happen to buy this type of device, it’s a given in that sooner or later someone is going to lose all their data on the Windows Home Server, due to the issue discussed above.

    Now, it’s one thing to lose some of your data, but who wants to RISK losing all their data stored as backup, just waiting for some issue to happen?

    The whole point of backup is to have insurance come the time you need it, isn’t that true?

    So here comes Windows Server 2003 relabeled as Windows Home Server, which tells everyone knowing Microsoft, it’s going to have many bugs and errors, but it’s going to be more difficult now to patch, as it’s build on Windows Server 2003, but hacked for a Home Edition, which has many warnings about NOT using and applying Windows Server 2003 updates, patches and mostly tools.

    This product is unfinished, but Microsoft is asking for consumers to trust it for their data…

    I am so disappointed again to see such hype built up around this lame OEM provided , because we really expect a better product, that is safer, more secure and functional…

    All Microsoft is doing is milking… proclaim yet another “wow” projection, build up expectations, but nobody is reporting the failures… Just like in China, with the Communist Party, it’s all covered up, hidden and punished to get the full real truth…

    A word for warning to all considering to purchase a Window Home Server device..


    Ask yourself first, who wants to let Microsoft dictate on what device your share your data?

    Why would anyone want to trust Microsoft when it’s proven NOT to be a security company, but sells security solutions for it’s own products it has NOT made secure?

    Why have two computers when one can do both? Whenever you browse the Internet, your exchanging between client and server already, so unless your needing a dedicated solution then just build your own…

    NAS doesn’t have to be Microsoft only…

    FREENAS is absolutely FREE, and it can everyone plus more, and you get the source code for developing.

    Oh did I mention WHS only supports just 10 clients only!

    So if your like me, and have a larger family, NOT a typical “me” generation, but a “we” family, we require a better device that isn’t programmed to lock us out at a specific number… “that deosn’t support family/friends”.

    For those really wanting something more, look for the Mesh Networking NAS devices, which support social networking…

    This is just a rush to market, to offer first a NAS solution by Microsoft…

  4. Mary says:

    This is SCARY!!!

    How many Windows Home Servers will be able to insure their electrical power doesn’t at any time happen to shut off, like during an electrical storm, earthquake, terrorist act, whatever?

    Heck, my three year old children could unplug the server, if only by accident… Or Grandma hits the cord while vacuuming!

    And should the Windows Home Server turn off, or even reboot at the wrong time, all my data will be lost!

    I agree with Blue, this is indeed troubling indeed. My data is more important than to risk using Windows Home Server…

    Plus, Disk Keeper is a memory hog! Perfect Disk does a much better job, at least on my computers, faster boot up times, quicker access to files, and easier to use.

  5. Bobs says:

    I just performed a reboot and the server restarted in an endless cycle of restarts. After breaking that cycle, I got the “consistency” error on backups. Very frustrating as now it is unclear what it actually backed up and what is not. Hopefully MS will recognize that this is still an incomplete product which will continue to need significant improvements with each “update”.

  6. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

    Christoph Voigt. This advice does not come from Microsoft. It has come from the experiences of users on the WHS forum.

    Cylon64. Thanks for the tip. For the ‘Balancing Storage’ message being continually displayed I know others have had the same problem also. You say it may be due to Diskeeper that may be causing this. To isolate the problem temporary uninstall Diskeeper for a few days and see if the problem carries on or disappears.

    Blue. Thanks for your opinion. Like any product, even after extensive beta testing, version 1 releases do have issues that need sorting out. Along with the majority of users, with my data being duplicated I have had no problem and have lost no data. FREENAS is an excellent product but WHS does so much more.

    Mary. The risk that WHS will lose data during a power cut etc is the same as it happening to a Windows XP or Vista PC. The risk is there but the likely hood of it happening is minimal. That’s why for complete piece of mind EVERY computer should have a UPS or spike/surge regulator in place.

    Bob. The following may be of help to you. Tutorial: How to fix the Network Critical: “database consistency problem” in 10 easy steps or less.

  7. Jim Lyon says:

    Respectfully, the suggestion that rebooting will cause loss of your backup database is simply false. By design, when you reboot your computer, the current backup operation (if any) will fail. When the computer restarts, the backup service will undo any partially completed work, leaving the backup database in the same state as it was before the backup started, then record the failure of the previous backup.

    In my case, I automatically reboot my home server every morning at 5:00 AM, along with any other computers in my household. (I’ve had this policy for many years — it makes some things work better, and shouldn’t hurt anything.) I’ve never lost my backup database, except when running early pre-release software.

    — Jim Lyon
    WHS Architect

  8. Hi Jim Lyon,
    Thanks for your comment. I know 2 people that this has happened too. The first person had problems due to a power cut and the other after a re-boot when the machine was still balancing storage. You are right in what you explain and yes it shoudnt hurt anything, but for some it is.

  9. Red Dragon says:

    It’s always interesting to read how one individual who maybe or not is an expert, which I think NOT, to suggest he doesn’t think or had experienced a WHS issue regarding WHS rebooting be from either an unexpected reboot like what Philip states when balancing storage or a power cut, that WHS cannot experience a data corruption issue.

    This is clearly NOT the FACT, as even Philip has stated he knows from two individuals himself this very same issue has indeed happen. I also know that like many other individuals turning off your server unexpectedly, especially during a power cut, and just at the wrong time can result in inconsistencies, data corruption and nasty events thereafter!

    In fact, just like Philip I also tell everyone it’s a good idea to install a battery backup system, which helps to protect your investment, allowing you to finish what your doing when the electricity does turn off, and so forth.

    Everyone can prove this to themselves, be with Windows Server 2003, WHS or even 2008… Use your server and in the middle of having to do something turn off the power and see for yourself what happens… And don’t think if the first time everything works, it does… you may not have found out yet where the inconsistency occurred and or the next time it actually will present itself.

    And if you still don’t believe, I double dare you to try this on any computer running whole disk encryption! Such as with Vista using BitLocker! You have been warned!

  10. Thanks for your comment Red Dragon.

  11. Thomas says:

    i dont believe the issue is with rebooting… it with the unexpected. if you tell windows to reboot periodically it will save or finish its work (load balancing) then properly reboot by shutting off all services and turning things back over to the APM.

    data errors will not hapen by a magicaly random reboots. these are “events” that cause the machine to crash or just loose power randomly that cause issues with data loss. it is perfectly safe to tell windows vista with bitlocker to reboot, just dont force it.

    scheduled and periodic reboots are part of microsofts best server practices.

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