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Stuck with WHS2011? Can't find a good solution. Please Help!


GDog
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Hello all! It’s been years since I hung out here. Recently however, I sort of RE-discovered it and it seems to have really taken off on the Server side, which is what I was mostly interested in. Anyway, I could use a little help and advice from those of you much more knowledgeable than I.

 

I know this has been discussed here before, but it’s been a couple of years since, according to my search results. I’m hoping some new solutions might now be available.

 

I am still happily running WHS2011 as my 92TB Home Media Server, with Stablebit DrivePool and Scanner. I’ve hit a wall with my outdated PCI-X hardware however, and other limitations (like 8GB RAM Max), and it’s time to upgrade. I’ve got all my HW put together now, but I thought it would also be a good opportunity to update my Server OS. I just cannot seem to find a good viable replacement for WHS2011 Workgroup Server.  I’ve looked at and am considering the following options:

 

1.  Server 2012 R2 Essentials: Not supported that much longer AND (most important) it is a Domain server ONLY. I don’t want to require all my other 20 or so devices at my house to have to join a Domain, and not have Internet access if the Server is down. I want to keep things as they are now: WORKGROUP. I know you can keep the clients in a Workgroup, but I want the Server to be part of that same Workgroup, like WHS2011.

2.  Server 2016 Essentials: Longer support, but has the same issues I don’t want like WSE2012R2 has.

3.  Windows 10 Pro as a Server:  Good idea. It would serve my needs fine, BUT … I just can’t tolerate having updates forced on me when I don’t want them. I know about the ability to delay them, but that’s just not good enough.

4.  Linux based solution:  I know this is a good option, but I am just too invested in Windows to make a radical change like that. At least right now.

5.  Continue with WHS2011: I’ve been warned how risky this is, but is it really? – and what if other protective measures are implemented, like 3rd party AV? And what about other limitations? I have heard about HDD capacity limitations, but I don’t know what that is? The only thing that really bugs me about 2011 is the file name size limit. I run into that issue quite a lot it seems. Also is there any way around that 8GB RAM limit?

 

Can anyone provide me with any options I might not know about? OR, some workarounds to solve the Domain Server issues? 

 

Transferring 92TB (Duplicated) 46TB (UnDuped) is anything but trivial and I need to make good choices here.

 

Really appreciate whatever help you can provide.

GDog

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Ah, yes. It’s a tricky one.

 

Microsoft has completely moved their focus to the cloud. So on-perm users are left to their own devices (pun intended LOL).

 

Except for Company users who are willing to pay for the software at a - for home users  - premium.

 

I would probably go for a NAS solution. Synology is my personal favorite and they are constantly improving their products and prices are fair.

 

Windows 10 is a solid platform but I agree that the update - reboots are annoying. Not even taking into account the semi-annually upgrade of the entire OS.

 

If you could get your hands on a Windows Storage Server  for Workgroups 2016 you may be good to go. But you probably can get it only through some Microsoft Partner programme and at a cost.

 

Sticking to WHS 2011 is not recommended. From a security standpoint - no updates going forward - it’s risky, but if that is not your main concern, you will begin to run into issues with software that simply is no longer compatible with the 13 year old software (2011 is actually a Server 2008R2 in case you didn’t know).

 

Google Chrome for instance, just extended their support for Windows 7 (again, almost the same as Win Srv  2008R2) with an extra year, and they are likely to kill that in a foreseeable future. That could mean no browser for WHS2011.

 

It IS an aging platform.

 

if you really want a Windows server, you could shell out a substantially amount of money for a server 2019 Standard (no domain req’d for the Standard Ed.), but it hurts my wallet :)

 

I would go the NAS route, but as you point out, you have already the hardware put together so that may not be viable.

 

Oh yeah, 8Gb RAM is a hard limit.

 

Windows 10 is the cheapest way to go. Not ideal, but cheapest.

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A low impact change would be a windows 10 pro server.   You not only could reuse your drivepool/scanner  license,  the array should re assemble on your new install  Be sure to un register your licenses before you switch

 

I went away from a windows 10 based server a couple of years ago because of the update issues you mentioned.  I beleive the update situation is much better now, especially with windows 10 pro

 

I do miss using drive pool much easier to manage versus a raid

 

 

Edited by Al_Borges
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Very biased here ... W10Pro on all machines: tablets, laptop, servers.

 

If you keep an eye on the PC WORLD website they occasionally have offers for retail versions of W10Pro at around $30 (twice last year).

 

$MSFT took a huge amount of flak for the forced updates from enthusiasts and professionals: as a result updates can now be postponed for up to 365 days on Pro and Enterprise editions How to delay Windows 10 updates like October 2020 Update | Digital Citizen. Now 365 days seems to be enough for me. Indeed if you do not accept security updates for over a year, you run an increasing risk of falling foul of viruses or ransomware.

 

Reparenting 46TB and the age of your disks suggests buying up to 3 new 16TB drives, or similar; especially if you don't have a 3rd copy of your data.

Another suggestion which has gained traction is to relegate a big chunk of data rarely accessed to single-copy, cold storage.

 

 

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On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

Ah, yes. It’s a tricky one.

 

Microsoft has completely moved their focus to the cloud. So on-perm users are left to their own devices (pun intended LOL).

 

Except for Company users who are willing to pay for the software at a - for home users  - premium.

Thanks ever so much GURU for your prompt and detailed response. Much appreciated.

 

Yes, I agree. Seems the bottom line is: There really is NO good solution to replace WHS2011. Sad indeed.

 

On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

I would probably go for a NAS solution. Synology is my personal favorite and they are constantly improving their products and prices are fair.

 

Synology is great stuff, I agree! But it’s just cost prohibitive for me right now. Plus I currently have 30 drives in my server, which would drive the cost radically higher for a Synology system. The only viable solution would be to invest in all new high capacity drives at extreme additional cost. If money were no object, Synology is the way I would go.

 

On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

 

Windows 10 is a solid platform but I agree that the update - reboots are annoying. Not even taking into account the semi-annually upgrade of the entire OS.

 

Yes, but it would solve a lot of issues at a minimal cost. I’m actually looking at this option pretty hard right now.

 

On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

If you could get your hands on a Windows Storage Server  for Workgroups 2016 you may be good to go. But you probably can get it only through some Microsoft Partner programme and at a cost.

 

I looked at this already. Unfortunately, it has a show stopper for me by limiting the number of attached Drives to a measly SIX (6)! Can you believe that? I can live with everything else, but not that.

 

On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

Sticking to WHS 2011 is not recommended. From a security standpoint - no updates going forward - it’s risky, but if that is not your main concern, you will begin to run into issues with software that simply is no longer compatible with the 13 year old software (2011 is actually a Server 2008R2 in case you didn’t know).

 

Yeah, I know 2011’s base OS. Your other points are spot on. That’s why I am here looking for solutions.

 

On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

Google Chrome for instance, just extended their support for Windows 7 (again, almost the same as Win Srv  2008R2) with an extra year, and they are likely to kill that in a foreseeable future. That could mean no browser for WHS2011.

 

Well, there are other Chromium based Browsers as good as Chrome (IMO). I’ve been using Brave for many months now with no issues at all. All the Chrome extensions (99% at least) work on Brave just as well. I really like Brave. The Ad‑Shield can be turned on & off with a single Mouse Click.

 

On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

if you really want a Windows server, you could shell out a substantially amount of money for a server 2019 Standard (no domain req’d for the Standard Ed.), but it hurts my wallet :)

 

I take this to mean it can be installed as a Workgroup Server, right? If yes, what are the usage restrictions?

 

On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

I would go the NAS route, but as you point out, you have already the hardware put together so that may not be viable.

 

No it’s not viable right now.

 

On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

Oh yeah, 8Gb RAM is a hard limit.

 

Well actually, after my post yesterday, I went Googling on this issue. I was able to find some Reg Hacks on My Digital Life Forum that purport to eliminate this restriction. I’m probably not going to go that way however.

 

On 4/7/2021 at 1:49 PM, TheGuru said:

Windows 10 is the cheapest way to go. Not ideal, but cheapest.

 

It’s sure looking that way right now.

 

 

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19 hours ago, schoondoggy said:

With the amount of storage capacity you require, I would look at Unraid | Unleash Your Hardware

 

You know, I've heard this recommendation so many times from so many people. I know so little about anything Linux, I guess I'm just a bit scared to go down that Rabbit Hole. :)  I have almost ZERO experience with it. I've only used it as installed on a bootable USB stick for visiting Web Sites I don't completely trust or the Dark Web etc etc.

 

I visited the Link you provided, and it does seem tailor made for my needs. I've got a couple of concerns:

  1. I assume UnRAID means Drive Pooling, but what about Duplication like in DrivePool? I didn't see any mention of that?
  2. Does the OS provide any Drive Health monitoring internally? That's critical when storage is still on multiple spinning disks, right? I am using HD Sentinel Pro right now because Stablebit Scanner can't deal with the non-OEM drivers I have to use with those ancient PCI-X controllers to get drive capacities above 2TB.
  3. What about connecting my other devices, like Cellphones, Tablets older Win7 PC's etc? How difficult is that going to be?
  4. And are there any good Tutorials available for Drop-Dead Newbies like me that don't know SQUAT about anything to do with anything Linux? Something that Tutors me in setting up the Pool(s) step-by-step without assuming I know anything?
  5. Can it connect to my WHS2011 Server for transferring all that Data without much complication?
  6. Everyone says it's so EASY, but is it really? Or is it just easy for someone familiar with Linux basic command principles?
  7. I'm not opposed to command line interfaces (I started with CP/M and MS DOS2.0), as long as I can be shown exactly how to structure the syntax. But I much prefer a GUI interface. Which is UnRAID?

My needs are pretty basic. I just need a lot of storage for my Video collection and my Family's photo needs and Backups. I am a Documentary 'holic. I collect them voraciously, interested a lot in older Docum's that are out of print and on any format. I can Digitize from most any old Analog format. Although I have the originals most of the time, Digitizing Analog is tedious work and I don't want to have to do it again. I need a place to store everything that I can rely on. The Hobby has gotten way bigger than I ever imagined in the beginning. Among other things, it has to be expandable.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Al_Borges said:

A low impact change would be a windows 10 pro server.   You not only could reuse your drivepool/scanner  license,  the array should re assemble on your new install  Be sure to un register your licenses before you switch

 

I went away from a windows 10 based server a couple of years ago because of the update issues you mentioned.  I beleive the update situation is much better now, especially with windows 10 pro

 

I do miss using drive pool much easier to manage versus a raid

 

 

Thanks Al_Borges. Appreciate your input.

 

I assume you mean Windows 10 Pro "AS" a Server, right? Utilizing my Licenses and Pool Reassembly are very attractive options for sure, which is why I am looking hard at this option as well. However, I'm not too certain it will work in my case, since I will be using a completely new and more modern Motherboard, CPU, updated PCI-e SAS HBA's and SAS Port Expanders. I am worried that I may not be able to just RE-attach the pool since everything will be so new and different. If I wind up having to copy everything over to the new server, then that would take away a big chunk of Win 10's advantage and hand it over to UnRAID or whatever.

 

In the next post down from yours, Jacko_UK said that Updates in Windows 10 Pro can be delayed for a YEAR! However, I just finished a trial install of Win10 a few days ago and I could not find ANY option similar to that at all. That install of Win10 Pro (Updated to March 2021 at install) literally FORCED me to wait over an HOUR while it gobbled down a series of "updates" it said I had to have before I could proceed. Sheesh! Really Microsoft?

 

I agree about DrivePool. I have come to really trust it to manage my data pool. I would hate to have to give it up. I won't go back to a RAID. Too many horror stories.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, JackoUK said:

Very biased here ... W10Pro on all machines: tablets, laptop, servers.

 

If you keep an eye on the PC WORLD website they occasionally have offers for retail versions of W10Pro at around $30 (twice last year).

 

$MSFT took a huge amount of flak for the forced updates from enthusiasts and professionals: as a result updates can now be postponed for up to 365 days on Pro and Enterprise editions How to delay Windows 10 updates like October 2020 Update | Digital Citizen. Now 365 days seems to be enough for me. Indeed if you do not accept security updates for over a year, you run an increasing risk of falling foul of viruses or ransomware.

 

Reparenting 46TB and the age of your disks suggests buying up to 3 new 16TB drives, or similar; especially if you don't have a 3rd copy of your data.

Another suggestion which has gained traction is to relegate a big chunk of data rarely accessed to single-copy, cold storage.

 

 

Thanks JackoUK. 

► I would really like to hear some of your major reasons why you are so big on Win10 Pro all around! 

 

► Thanks for the PC World reference. I already own 2 Win10 Pro Licenses, but if I go this route, I am going to need several more.

 

►  I looked at your link. Seems even with W10Pro, it is not possible to delay "Quality" updates longer than 35 days. Only "Feature" updates can be delayed for 365 days. Is this the way you understood it? If this is true, it puts the Win10 option in a slightly different light. I can just see one of MS's "Quality" updates crippling my Server. MS has had soooo many issues with this over the years in the administration of Windows 10. I just don't know if I want to trust them any more.

 

► Finally, I am a little confused by your last 2 paragraphs. Could you please elaborate on this "Reparenting 46TB and the age of your disks ..." thing? I don't understand. BTW: I just acquired 3x 14TB WD Drives. Using only one externally at present for 2nd Backup copies of critical Macrium Reflect PC Image backup files and other critical files.

 

And what exactly is "single-copy, cold storage."? I think I know what single copy means, but your use of the word "cold" is throwing me off.

 

Thanks JackoUK!

 

 

 

 

Edited by GDog
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Why not also consider TrueNAS?

 

I have XPEnology and TrueNAS. I like the former for the friendly interface (Synology DSM) and I use it to backup my main Windows Server 2019 + Drive Bender. However, I'm also playing around with TrueNAS (formerly FreeNAS) as the future home of my data just because it's absolutely free and uses ZFS.

ZFS works under the assumption that all hard drives are horrible, lying pieces of s**t that cannot be trusted to hold your data. ZFS will continually challenge these drives to make sure that the data is consistent down to the last bit. My ideal scenario would be, TrueNAS as primary and then XPEnology as secondary/backup for the primary NAS.

 

I replaced the built-in client backup in WHS2011 with Veeam Agent (free). It's a little more involved when setting up but that's about the only negative about it.

Edited by oj88
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