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Upgrading from WHS2011?


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Hi all,

So I was loving WHS2011.. until today! 8GB limit on RAM? MS - I love you, but sometimes your idiocy shines through! ](*,) 

Leads to the first question:

a) Is there any way around the 8GB limit?

I'm using my WHS a lot - serving webpages; a mysql server; ftp server; svn server; plex media server etc etc

It took me ages to set up, and I's shuddering at the thought of starting from scratch. Leads to the second question:

b) Is there anyway to 'upgrade' WHS 2011 to a more current version whilst keeping all my IIS/installations/setups etc?

Lastly, I have around 10TB of data on it. This is managed by StableBit drive pool. If I move to a newer server OS, how on earth to I go about migrating that?

So, the things I have setup, that I'd like to preserve are:

- 16TB data managed by StableBit drivepool
- Filezilla Server
- MySQL Server
- WebServer (and several websites) via IIS
- VisualSVN Server
- OpenFire Chat Server
- Plex Media Server
- Parachute Power Manager

If there are no option through (b):

c) What is the best way to go about migrating to a newer Windows Server OS?

This feels like an absolute nightmare, so any help appreciated!
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1. My understanding is that WHS was based on the 32-bit Server 2008 product, so I don't think 8GB is unreasonable (I thought the 32-bit limit was 4GB), rather that you expecting ever increasing requirements ad infinitum is unreasonable.


2. While many on this forum like(d) WHS ... I saw it as a monetising venture by MSFT (and HP with their special device) … I have always thought data security should be a fundamental part of all editions of Windows. MSFT have continued this divisive policy; now introducing variants such as Windows Pro, Pro for Workstations and Pro for Workstations 4 cores+. 


3. 32-bit pretty much seals the deal at 4GB, I expect. Maybe the later version was x64 and allowed 8GB.


4. First positive thought: does the EULA allow the WHS license to be reparented, or is it fixed to one installation? If flexible you could follow the same route companies do when preserving old applications - package them up in virtual machines (or containers) and consolidate on a new server.


5. Alternatively you could reparent everything bar WHS + Stablebit Drivepool to a new machine with a (memory) configuration of your choosing. A 2nd machine might also serve as availability and backup: should the WHS box go down/fail altogether, you would still have access to your data. (How do you handle backup presently?)


6. In your position I would be preparing a migration plan. Sorry … yet hardware has advanced tremendously since 2011 and your server applications will benefit greatly from new kit (think how fast a database would fly on an NVME drive!). Difficult to say more without detailed machine and usage requirements.


7. A new Windows Server OS will be expensive - Windows Server Essentials 2016 x64 is £325 in the UK.  What is it that you do that cannot be done with Windows Home or Pro?


The WHS experts on this forum will have far more knowledge than I on this subject 😉

Edited by JackoUK
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Brill - thanks for the comprehensive answer. The more I think about this - the more it is feeling like a totally new installation. Unfortunately, I can't afford a new machine,  so would be fresh installing onto my existing. It's a Dell Poweredge T20 with the best CPU at that time. It's been really solid and can go up to 32GB, hosts 8 HDs, so think the hardware should be solid. 


Looking into mysql, VisualSVN, they all have migration methods. WSE also appears to run IIS just like on WHS (including web platform installer) - so looking like the transition for websites/ftp/http file access shouldn't be too painfull. 


The StableBit Drivepool thing could be an issue though - more research needed. 


Of course - it's all those subtle reg tweaks etc. that will slip through the net. 


There do appear to be a number of WSE 2016 licences available for around £100 - can you download the installation media?


+ gonna have to do some more research into this "domain" business - know nothing about that. 


Is there any way to keep my old OS installation on the system drive (partitioning) whilst I get a new installation up and running?


Thanks for the advice. 

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for drivepool I would suggest a chat with the vendor - if they are worth their reputation the pool should be recognized in the new environment, although I would certainly take those drives offline while doing the new os install, then install the new drivepool software, then put them back online.


I use the T20 myself, not fully loaded. I like it a lot although I expect it to be a no-Adrenalin environment - take backups of the clients, share out files, and back itself up. maybe not living up to its potential but that is all I need it to do. and not give me any more grey hairs.

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@nrf - Stablebit promise it's quite painless - disconnect the drives. Install new OS. Re-install DrivePool. Re-connect drives - sounds to simple to be true?


I'm still worried about installing the new OS over the old - best way to do this - I'd like to try and keep the old OS installation as 'backed-up' as possible, so I can look into any old configurations when making the new (e.g. application files in obscure places). Any ideas?


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stablebit has a good reputation at least around here. as for the OS the in place upgrade seems not to be well supported by the vendor. a lot could go wrong attempting something the vendor is oblivious about. but being able to save the structures of your web server pages etc. should help. beyond that I have never heard of anyone upgrading in place for old whs.

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@nrf - thanks again - guess I could just copy the c drive to another disk and then dip into that as I need to when setting up the new installation?

When you say "in place upgrade" what do you mean? What could be the best way to do a clean install of WSE 2016? Format the system drive?


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in place upgrade is what win10 supports and most likely cost microsoft a bit of change. converts from win7 to win10 with all your programs in place. I was just suggesting that is not very practical for your case. given that, I think wiping the c drive is safest and you can copy/paste from your backups where it makes sense. no matter how you slice this, some work will be involved. for ultimate in stability, I recommend gathering the relevant drivers from the dell site and just install those, don't mess around with other driver sources. (hard knock story omitted)

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@nrf - thanks - which drivers will I be looking for? What's the best install path - install OS then update drivers? Apologies, just want to get this right if I'm doing it. 

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I am using essentials so I did the drivers after the essentials setup finished and before doing any windows updates (which will take some time) I went to the dell t20 download site, set os to server 16 then sorted the downloads by date descending.

I chose the audio, sata, management engine, and chipset drivers. YMMV. I would strongly recommend you check your bios level while you are at it.


the site is here....

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