Drive Extender was a feature of Windows Home Server that Microsoft discontinued in the 2011 edition of the production. Drive Extender acted much like a RAID, offering users the ability to use a whole bunch of hard drives and group them together in the same storage collection. Microsoft stated that users looking for a similar solution in Home Server 2011 onwards should just use RAID.
However, Drive Extender offered some handy features that a RAID does not. For one, Drive Extender didn’t require any special hardware to run, nor did the drives in the pool have to be similar in anyway. You could use any size and any manufacturer and it would still work. Also, because the drives use the NTFS file system, if an error occurred you could just put the drive into a different computer and perform data recovery.
However, Drive Extender is no more. As such, you might be looking for an alternative program that will offer you the same feature set. This article will present some of the other offerings on the market and weigh up the usefulness of each.
First up, you could simply make use of the RAID software that Windows has in the operating system. Although some users may find it too basic for their needs, it’s a workable solution that won’t require any additional tools to get working. This is, obviously, a solution supported by Microsoft, so it has that support behind it if needs be. However, if you’re looking for third party solutions then read on.
One solution for business users is Drobo. This, the company claims, is “so simple that anyone can use it, yet powerful enough for business”. The system will connect to your network or computer and offers redundant data protection. You can expand your storage whenever you want (up to a limit of 36 TB in total and 16 TB on a single volume). They even provider their own bays, conveniently colour coded to alert you to any issues or if a drive’s storage is beginning to get full. Drobo is offered in a variety of regions, so check out their website for your local pricing information.
A simpler, cheaper (in that it’s free) solution is to download a program called disParity. Much like Drive Extender, there’s no limit on how many drives you can use or what specifications they have to be. It’s a good solution for those who store a lot of large files that don’t update that often. disParity is controlled using the command line (which means there’s no graphical user interface), something which may put some people off.
One final alternative is Drive Bender. This program is compatible with all versions of Windows and, again, will let you create a pool of any size by using any drive. Any of your drives can be added to the pool instantly and has enterprise level architecture. You can try out Drive Bender for free for 60 days. If you like what you see, it’ll cost you $29.95 for a single home license, $49.95 for a single business license or $330.00 (at time of writing) for unlimited business use.
Alternatives to Drive Extender
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