Microsoft to Drop Drive Extender from Windows Home Server

Dennis Faas's picture

Home users have expressed dismay at news that Microsoft is to remove a key feature from its Windows Home Server software. Drive Extender, a handy options that allows users to add extra hard drives, will be axed from Windows Home Server's next edition.

Share Files Easily with Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server is designed as an easy way for with multiple computers to share files. One of the computers is designated a server, and the others are classified as clients, in much the same way as many large businesses operate their networks. However, the system is specially designed to be easy to operate without advanced technical knowledge.

Another major benefit of the system is that the server computer can be fitted with a large hard drive and used to automatically back-up the contents of other computers on the network. Many users find that easier than moving a portable USB drive from machine to machine, which doesn't allow for automatic, scheduled backups.

Plug-And-Play For New Drives

To take account of the fact that people's needs for storage may increase over time, Windows Home Server has a feature known as Drive Extender. This means that any type of hard drive can be added to the server machine to improve capacity, and treated for organizational purposes as if they were all part of one large drive.

Drive Extender also allows users to take advantage of multiple drives by having the system automatically replicate files. The idea is that if any individual physical drive on the server or any of the other machines on the network fails, the data can be rebuilt, and hence, no data is lost. (Source:

Microsoft: Low HDD Prices Make Feature Redundant

According to Microsoft, there's no longer any need for Drive Extender because large hard drives are now much cheaper than when it first launched Windows Home Server.

Microsoft believes that future buyers will be able to get large enough drives in place when they first buy the machine used as the server. The company says it is working with PC manufacturers to make it easier to build Home Server technology directly into new machines. (Source:

Response to Drive Extender Removal Detrimental

To say that the response to this news has been negative would be a major understatement. Virtually every comment related to the announcement revealing the decision was highly critical, with almost every customer saying that Drive Extender was either the main or sole reason that they bought Windows Home Server in the first place.

It's not clear if the decision is set in stone, but if it's feasible to keep Drive Extender in place, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Microsoft announce a U-turn.

Hardware Substitution for Drive Extender Possible

It's also worth noting that, it's possible to use a RAID controller with JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) support to replace the Drive Extender, which allows users to chain hard drives in a similar fashion to act as one unit.

Such a RAID controller could easily be had for $30-60, and upwards of $300+ for high-end units. Examples of JBOD controllers can be found online

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