3 min. Read

In Windows Server 2016, Microsoft added a new type of storage Direct storage modes (aka S2D). S2D enables the construction of highly accessible storage systems on locally mounted disks without a separate SAS fabric, such as shared JBODs or enclosures. This is the first true software-specific storage (SDS) from Microsoft. Software-based storage is a concept that involves storing data without separate hardware.

In June 2018, Microsoft did a big announcement for Space Direct that will be delivered on Windows Server 2019. One of the announcements was to bring a two-node edge, and the idea is here in any two-node cluster, whether Windows, Nutanix, VMware, or whatever, any two-node cluster needs some kind of quorum solution, it needs a circuit breaker to make a decision and ensure high availability . Microsoft already did a great job with the previous release of Windows Server that you can use Witness file sharing or Cloud witness leveraging quorum on Azure blob storage. However, Witness file sharing requires another Windows server to be available in the environment, and Cloud witness requires an Internet connection. So what about scenarios where branch offices and retail stores don’t have Internet access to the cloud and no other Windows infrastructure provides file sharing?

For these types of situations, Microsoft introduced a new witness solution called Windows Server 2019USB witness“Utilizing a simple USB thumb as a witness! This makes Windows Server 2019 Hyper-Converged an excellent platform for delivering a true two-node cluster without the Internet, without a second server, and even Active Directory.

In this quick blog post, I’ll show you how to set up a file sharing certificate on a USB thumb drive in Windows Server 2019.

Before we start setting up a file sharing certificate on a USB flash drive, we have a couple of small requirements that we need to look at:

  1. Router, switch, NAS:
    • You can use any of the major vendor routers, switches, or even NAS storage spaces like QNAP and Synology.
    • A USB port is required.
    • SMB 2 or SMB 3 support required. SMB 1 is not supported. It is also worth mentioning the removal and removal of SMB version 1.0 if you continue to use it. The original SMB 1 protocol is almost 30 year old, and like much of the software made in the 80s, it is designed for a world that no longer exists!
  2. USB thumb:
    • Any USB memory size will work.
    • You can use the cheapest USB flash drive you can find.

In this example, I am using a modern router my home office With USB and SMB 2 support.

Simply insert a USB memory stick into the router’s USB port.

Configuring a File Sharing Witness with a USB Flash Drive On # WindowsServer2019 # S2D #Cluster #StorageSpacesDirect 2

Use the router’s interface to configure the share name, username, and password for use.

Configuring a File Sharing Witness with a USB Flash Drive On # WindowsServer2019 # S2D #Cluster #StorageSpacesDirect 3

Finally, log in to any cluster member node and run the following PowerShell command.

Set-ClusterQuorum -FileShareWitness 172.16.20.152USBDisk1 -Credential $(Get-Credential)

Configuring a File Sharing Witness with a USB Flash Drive On # WindowsServer2019 # S2D #Cluster #StorageSpacesDirect 4

If you open Failover Cluster Manager (FCM), you will see File Share Witness on Online.

Configuring a File Sharing Witness with a USB Flash Drive On # WindowsServer2019 # S2D #Cluster #StorageSpacesDirect 5

When you go to the File Share Witness share on a USB drive, you will see a folder created for the cluster that contains two files:

  1. VerifyShareWitnessAccess.txt a text file that ensures write access to each cluster node share.
  2. Witness.log is less than 1 KB in size and contains cluster membership information.

Configuring a File Sharing Witness with a USB Flash Drive On # WindowsServer2019 # S2D #Cluster #StorageSpacesDirect 6

You have now successfully configured File Share Witness a USB thumb, for the workload cluster.

And that’s it. Enjoy Windows Server 2019!

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If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

-Charbel Nemnom-

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