Installing Windows Server 2012 Essentials on a HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

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37 Responses

  1. Jim Collison says:

    Nicely done John! Amazing work!

  2. jsox says:

    Great post. A question… No difficulties – other than 90G minimum OS drive size – are mentioned. Nothing at all? All the drivers for the N40L are in 2012E already? __Second topic, and maybe this isn't the place for it, but I'm not really following why we want an SSD for the OS drive in a WHS. As the only drive in a laptop, sure. And faster boots for a server. But if a server is going to run for (hopefully) weeks and months without rebooting, why provision an SSD? Perhaps I'm missing something here… does the OS SSD somehow improve data performance for the spinning drives in delivering streaming video or something?

    • Joe_Miner says:

      Hey jsox! Thanks! BTW, it was great meeting you at the meet-up!
      You have it right — the install went very smooth after the bump in the road with the 60GB drive.
      S2012E had everything — I plugged in my 128GB Crucial M4 SSD into the DuoSwap and plugged in my external USB DVD drive in a front port when I turned RANGER on I went into the BIOS and picked the DVD drive first in the boot order — S2012E started out on the DVD — I went into advanced and deleted all the partitions on the SSD and then let it do it's thing. I installed S2012E on the OS drive first then I started loading in the ST3000DM001's, the first pair, the second pair, the the final one in the DuoSwap. When I was ready to set up the server backup I attached the external drive.

      • Joe_Miner says:

        The only other bump in the road was when I tried to load the x86 version of Forefront instead of the x64 – took me awhile to figure out what I’d done wrong – not enough caffeine I guess!

        • Joe_Miner says:

          You can read PCDoc’s writeup on the advantages of using a SSD for the OS in a Server at… — in a nutshell it speeds up the loading of the dashboard and when you RDT into the Server – I do both a lot – and of course any server SW based on the OS drive will load faster. In the past I’d done some builds in the MicroServer using the HP supplied 250GB drive for the OS and for me it was like a night and day difference in the “feel” of the machine. Of course YMMV and you may not think it was worth it for you.

          • Joe_Miner says:

            Another thing to note — this is my test/play box I had at the meet-up so it has been burned in for awhile and bounced around in my trunk going to/from indy — and you know how we mishandled RANGER at the meet-up taking it apart ect. — so I was probably well past any potential hardware failures of the MicroServer itself. (They're tough little boxes!)

  3. Jack says:

    Great write up. Thanks for putting all the info into one post. I ordered and received all the extras in your parts list.
    I put everything together over this past weekend and said now what. This morning I see this great article.
    Thanks again

  4. Allen Mock says:

    I thought the N40L mobo only took up to 8GB of RAM. Is that not the case?

  5. PetieG says:

    Have you given any thought to connecting an icydock (MB994IPO-3SB) in the 5.25" bay to a HW RAID card (and SFF-8087 to (4) x1 SATA cable)? Like Adaptec RAID 6805? I was disappointed that the Microserver only does RAID 0/1. I'm (was) an old school SCSI guy who likes the system drive to be RAID0 w/ data drive set to RAID5 but only using hardware RAID. 5.25" drive cage w/ 2 mirrored 128GB SSDs and mServer cage w/ 4 3TB drives connected to other SFF-8087 port — giving me my RAID1/RAID5 AND an optical drive. Does this storage spaces provide any advantage? I'm really thinking of replacing several old Dell tower PE servers w/ Win2k3SBS w/ this one at several clients. I think this config would scream, a little worried about power supply. May just buy an extra mServer and leave it somewhere for parts.

    • Joe Miner says:

      Looks like you have a good plan. You should check out the Forums and the Podcasts. A number of people have mirrored the OS drives for their servers as well as data drives for reliability/resiliency – it just depends on what people are looking for, YMMV. The Highpoint RocketRAID 2720 is also pretty popular in server builds.
      In addition to the number of write-ups on Storage Spaces in the Blog Posting (above) I like the write-up in
      Please join us in the Forums and let us know how your build(s) go.

  6. Wonderful piece of the writing shared about windows server info that is really awesome. I was looking this sort of the information that is so effective for me. At the moment windows server is really common for web hosting. Thanks :)

  7. Henri Fournier says:

    Thanks for the article Joe, I'm looking at a very similar build and this is very useful info. I plan on using the S2012E machine as a WHS 2011 replacement, but also as a web server running SQL Server as well. I'm thinking of getting a 256GB SSD (Crucial or Plextor) as the main OS drive and for the SQL data, then a spindle drive for the SQL logs (both mounted in the Icy Dock). The drives bay will get multi TB drives for all the media files. Make sense?

    The 16GB G.Skill memory you listed is actually cheaper than the 8GB Kingston, so I'm likely to go with that, unless you recommend otherwise.

    Having never seen the inside of the MicroServer and just so I understand your parts list properly… the molex to SATA adaptor is to use molex power connector intended for the ODD for the Icy Dock, right? And the 18" SATA cable is for the second Icy Dock connection, right?

    What's the eSATA to SATA cable for?

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

  8. Allan says:

    Hi Joe, Absolutely the best MicroServer Article yet ! In my S2012E install; I'm having issues setting up "Anywhere Access" on the MicroServer . . . ever visit this topic ? Any suggestions ?


  9. Joe_Miner says:

    Thanks Allan! There's a whole Forum dedicated to S2012E… on a quick pass I counted over 6 threads relating to "Anywhere Access" in one way or another — A number of people are using it on a regular basis with no problems — Here's a good one to take a look at

  10. Rafal says:

    Hi Joe, Thanks for sharing this.
    I have been notified that along with S2012 and Win8 release, Microsoft has implemented SMB 3.0.
    Have you noticed any improvement in file sharing? I would be most interested in video stream performance.
    My server – N40L with WHS2011 and 5 x ST3000DM001 is not able to provide stutter free streaming to media players (Dune, PCH, mede8er) I mean only high bitrate 3D material. All 2D BR rips are fine. I know it's SMB issue and it's been proofed that streaming with NFS is flawless.
    The problem I have is that having Stablebit Drivepool DE replacement excludes NFS and I can only use SMB.
    If new SMB 3.0 provides significant improvements in terms of streaming performance I may give a try to migrate to Win8?

  11. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Rafal! I don't have any useful info for you — but I believe your posting in the forums will eventually yield some good answers

  12. Patrick says:

    I've just installed 2012 Essentials trial on my N40L to test. But I don't think I like it. It feels slower than when I had WHS 2011 so I might just go back to 2011. :o(
    This is running just on the standard 250gb drive that came with the server. (4gb Ram)

  13. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Patrick — It's good to hear you testing different OS's to see what you like. A lot of people in the Forums… are running S2012E on their MicroServers and a lot are running WHS-2011 on their MicroServers… — I like both OS's and don't think you could go wrong with either one. The more you test and "kick the tires" the better IMHO. I'd suggest checking the forums and looking at what other people are doing and how they've arranged their HW for their respective OS's.

  14. Great job! I plan on using the S2012E machine as a WHS 2011 also for replacement.

  15. Clyde says:

    With the HP N40L, does it make a different where your boot disk is located? I want to place the boot disk in the CD bay and use the 4 front disks for data. Will this work? Thanks …

  16. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Clyde! Sure it will work — I've done it with SSD's and HDD's up in the ODD bay area. The SATA II port on the System Board for the ODD Drive has been locked to a SATA I speed IDE but with the BIOS-MOD you can change it's speed to a Full SATA II (3Gb/s) and AHCI (you need AHCI for trim on the SSD's). An alternative to the BIOS-MOD is to use a PCIe card with SATA ports that you could plug the extra drives into — there are many possibilities. Check out what other people are doing in the Forums and check out our many links to some alternatives — a good place to start is:… but check out… and follow the newest content at

  17. Pantelis says:

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the all your articles!!! They were very helpful. Just bought a Proliant Microserver N40L and I want to install S2012E. Can you please provide a list of the drivers that you used and where to get them?


  18. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Pantelis! Window's installed all the driver I needed at installation but you can find drivers at HP

  19. Clyde says:

    Help … On my N40L MicroServer, I've modified the BIOS as suggested, installed a Crucial 256GB SSD, and installed Windows Server 2012 Essentials. All went well until, I installed a Seagate 3TB SATA drive in pay one. Disk Manager can not see it. Is there additional BIOS configurations that will help me here? Thanks and take care …


  20. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Clyde: I would suggest you also post your question in the Forums — The first thing I would look at is the Mini-SAS connector plugged securely into the System Board?

  21. Robert says:

    windows 2012 essentials is nice, but anyone solved how i get media server and etc on fresch windows 2012 standart edition ? or maybe on windows 2008 r2 server ? would be nice