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Which Home Server Operating System? (req. combined HD's)


slim_j
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Hi all, and a merry christmas :)

 

Just come across this site and it looks like a great community.

 

Last year I built a home server along with a friend; It is designed to stream media around my home. I am a bit of a noob but have a basic knowledge.

 

HOME SERVER 1

 

HOME SERVER 3

 

HOME SERVER 4

 

Essentially I needed a server that had a single pool of storage so that media players (eg. popcorn hour) could pick up the files easily. I have previously used Windows Home Server 2003 which has Driver Extender and did everything i wanted.

 

I now to reinstall the operating system and am considering an upgrade of something new altogether. I am annoyed that Windows has discontinued WHS but i am hearing Windows 8 is going to the be the way to go. It has Storage Spaces which is meant to act like 'Drive Extender' and i can access stuff on my Xbox too. I have however also read to look into Linux systems as they do the same and are more stable?

 

What i need to know if what would you advise? Essentially it needs to be easy-ish to set up but also stable.

 

Any help would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks, slim_j

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Depends on what you need/want to do. If you want automated backups, I still think WHS2011 is the way to go for a non-system administrator type. My problem with using Windows 8 is the lack of automated full backups of your other pc's. Windows 8 will automatically backup your libraries to another pc on the network, but I don't think it will do a full backup so you have to reinstall and configure windows on a pc where the drive dies. May be wrong on this but haven't really looked since what I have works.

 

I set up one of the original home servers for a friend and it works ok, but I find the WHS 2011 a big improvement. Installs and sets up easily and pretty easy to configure. Two big considerations: you need 64 bit hardware and you need to compensate for lack of drive extender.

 

In my case, I created a new server which was 64 bit, solving issue one.

 

As to lack of drive extender, some of the members have used specialized RAID cards. My motherboard came with Intel software raid which isn't nearly as fast as the raid cards but is free and it seems to work fine if a bit slow on writes. Since it's just a server, write speed is not an issue. To use RAID, you need multiple drives like for Drive Extender, but it takes a little more thought than just throwing together a couple of disks. Not really hard. There are various RAID setups. I use RAID 5 which I believe is the best compromise between space efficiency and safety. It gives you an amount of storage space about 2/3 of the amount of the raw drive space. I have four 1.5TB drives in an array giving me 4TB total usable space which is divided into two 2TB volumes to accommodate the 2TB limitation of Windows versions before Windows 8.

There is a calculator here: http://www.ibeast.co...lc/RaidCalc.asp

 

The simpler alternative is to use a small external enclosure with a couple of big drives in it and have WHS do scheduled backups to it for disaster recovery.

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BTW, I assume you are already a Microsoft TechNet subscriber. It's a great deal for those who want to learn about and try various Windows solutions. You get access to all non-Enterprise Microsoft software for a pretty small fixed price so you can feel free to try various things.

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For $40, you cannot beat WHS 2011 if you are not a TechNet subscriber. It is still one awesome OS for everything it can do.

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@Sorta Oldguy. True, Windows 8 doesn't do client computer backups, but then that's not really fair - Windows 7 doesn't do client backups either, and that's the real comparison. Windows Server 2012 Essentials does do client backups and it is the direct comparison to WHS2011, albeit at quite a bit higher price :(

 

I agree with jmwills: WHS2011 is still contemporary and very viable for a few years yet. Once GPT boot disks become the norm WHS2011 will no longer be viable IMHO.

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@Sorta Oldguy. True, Windows 8 doesn't do client computer backups, but then that's not really fair - Windows 7 doesn't do client backups either, and that's the real comparison. Windows Server 2012 Essentials does do client backups and it is the direct comparison to WHS2011, albeit at quite a bit higher price :(

 

I was just responding to the mention of Windows 8 as a potential Home Server substitute which has been suggested on various blogs, like Paul Thurrot's. I don't think it's a real alternative.

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I don't think many people think it is an alternative.

 

I am not so sure anymore. With the UEFI and GPT issues I am starting to think Acronis is a much better bare metal backup so you could easily use Windows 8.

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Once GPT boot disks become the norm WHS2011 will no longer be viable IMHO.

Well, with windows 8 requiring GPT for the logo certifciation and for secure boot, IIRC.... That's sooner rather than later.

 

But trust me when I say, i've bitched a *lot* about this in the monthly MVP meetings. And on the mailing list, and I'm not alone in it. GPT support *must* be added to the 2011 line up for it to be a viable product for, well even 2013. And seeing as that includes SBS 2011 Essentials, and *that* is a business product... it would be *very* bad for Microsoft to *not* add GPT support for client backups. And even they know that.

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Will the advantages of UEFI+GPT be that apparent in home server setups, regardless of what OS it is running, where the system drive doesn't have to be over 2TB in size?

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