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Home Server Options (VM, Plex, Windows 8, WHS 2011)


urik
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You should probably just follow whatever Terry's recommending then. Personally, I think Terry's approach is idiotic and overly complicated way to setup a simple server. I can't be anymore blunt about it. That said, I wouldn't bet my money on anything you've suggested. If I was building a media server I would use an i3-3220/8GB RAM on a dedicated WHS2011 install. It can do all 4 items on your list of must haves.

 

Sorry I'm not trying to bash you, just being brutally honest.

I'll let someone else chime in and contribute their thoughts on this, maybe they'll see it differently.

 

I agree with no-control. I'd vote to Keep It Simple ("KIS") with a dedicated WHS2011 install with horsepower of the i3-3220 & 8GB of RAM. I haven't been impressed with TW's approach.

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If that was the case (currently it is for me) I would use WHS2011 as it does pretty much everything Terry's setup does.

 

Quite. I don't see the point of using Windows 8 as a replacement for WHS 2011 at all.

  1. It's (now) far more expensive than a WHS 2011 license
  2. It doesn't have the client backup functionality of WHS 2011 - and running WHS 2011 in a VM to provide this strikes me as bizarre in the extreme; a real Rube Goldberg/Heath Robinson approach.
  3. Drive pooling using version 1 of Storage Spaces is too bleeding edge for me - this is for my production home server? I think not.
  4. It doesn't even have a decent "server" backup function: "File History" is completely inappropriate and the deprecated "Windows 7 File Recovery" function is too basic.

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Ok. Ok. You guys have me convinced. I saw it as a win-win after reading Terry's book. For $40 (the cost for Windows 8 back then), I could install the OS on my 60GB SSD w/o a hack, get the amazing functionality of Storage Spaces for redundancy (well, amazing, as per Terry), and still use WHS2011's client backup through VM. As for backing up the server itself, I would just follow Paul Thurrot's method (see here) of using the legacy Windows Backup utility to perform a complete system image backup and keep the backup up to date over time. See, I ran WHS 2011 as my production home server w/o any real issues for just over a year. But then a brown-out corrupted the install (yes, I do know that I should get a UPS :-): you live, you learn), and WHS 2011's native repair feature didn't help b/c it refused to even consider the 60 GB SSD as a possible place where the OS may be. Oh, and as for WHS 2011's native server backup function - what the heck is it? It asks you for a drive - I gave it a 2 TB HDD - and then does something to it that is completely and utterly opaque. Upon reinstalling WHS 2011 on the 60 GB SSD with the known hack, that backup volume was completely useless. After that experience, I was looking for a new solution, and I thought that I found it with Terry Walsh's book. But you guys do have a point. Maybe I should just swallow the expense and purchase an 160GB (or larger) SSD, install WHS 2011, and be done with it. I'll get my client backups, Plex, server backups, cloud sync, file server, Homegroup, etc. Everything except software redundancy. But then again SS may not be worth my time, based on everything that I'm reading.

 

Kinda feel bad for the poor folks who spent $500 on Server 2012 Essentials. All that money when its key differentiating feature for home use - SS - isn't worth much these days...

Edited by urik
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It's true that SS is a big feature of WSE2012, but so is VHDX. It can help a log of people who have more than 2TB of stuff to back up.

True. But then again, Windows 8 supports VHDX, as well.

MS made everyone life's more difficult with this year's SKUs - either get Windows 8 Pro, with everything you want except client backups - or shell out $450 just for the added client backup functionality.

Edited by urik
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You should be using the recovery disk to restore the server and you need to make sure ALL drives are disconnected except for the OS and the backup. You also need to install any HDD controller drivers.

 

You don't need to do some weird hack to install WHS2011 onto a smaller drive. Just create a custom cfg.ini file and install WHS2011 from a fresh bootable image (either disk or USB)

 

Kinda feel bad for the poor folks who spent $500 on Server 2012 Essentials. All that money when its key differentiating feature for home use - SS - isn't worth much these days...

 

True. But then again, Windows 8 supports VHDX, as well.
MS made everyone life's more difficult with this year's SKUs - either get Windows 8 Pro, with everything you want except client backups - or shell out $450 just for the added client backup functionality.
 

Wrong, The key differentiating feature regardless of use is a Domain. Yes, people use them at home, it isn't that scary. The additional benefits with 2012e, besides an Active Directory:

  • VHDX support allowing volumes/partitions larger than 2TB to be backed up
  • Storage Spaces (its is useful when applied correctly)
  • Client folder redirection
  • Improved VSS via file history
  • Online backup integration (if you pay)
  • Backup support of 50 machines (2011 on does 25)
  • Improved Remote Web Access
  • New start GUI (subjective benefit)
  • Better VPN integration
  • Remote domain join
  • Remote connection monitoring
  • Email Server integration (on-prem, hosted & 365)

Not to mention all of the additional Roles that are/can be installed allowing it to act like a real server:

  • DNS
  • DHCP
  • IIS
  • RRAS
  • WDS

While 99% of this may not appeal to YOU, it does appeal to a lot of us. The SKUs are actually better for the new servers, They just killed off the bottom rung (WHS) as its sales in the grand scheme were piss poor and didn't offer enough benefits in a workgroup environment to compete with Windows' functionality. The Microsoft Ethos has always been the same <12 users Windows in a workgroup, more than that Server and a domain.

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no-control, on 10 Feb 2013 - 11:05, said:

You should be using the recovery disk to restore the server and you need to make sure ALL drives are disconnected except for the OS and the backup. You also need to install any HDD controller drivers.

 

You don't need to do some weird hack to install WHS2011 onto a smaller drive. Just create a custom cfg.ini file and install WHS2011 from a fresh bootable image (either disk or USB)

 

 

Wrong, The key differentiating feature regardless of use is a Domain. Yes, people use them at home, it isn't that scary. The additional benefits with 2012e, besides an Active Directory:

  • VHDX support allowing volumes/partitions larger than 2TB to be backed up
  • Storage Spaces (its is useful when applied correctly)
  • Client folder redirection
  • Improved VSS via file history
  • Online backup integration (if you pay)
  • Backup support of 50 machines (2011 on does 25)
  • Improved Remote Web Access
  • New start GUI (subjective benefit)
  • Better VPN integration
  • Remote domain join
  • Remote connection monitoring
  • Email Server integration (on-prem, hosted & 365)
Not to mention all of the additional Roles that are/can be installed allowing it to act like a real server:
  • DNS
  • DHCP
  • IIS
  • RRAS
  • WDS
While 99% of this may not appeal to YOU, it does appeal to a lot of us. The SKUs are actually better for the new servers, They just killed off the bottom rung (WHS) as its sales in the grand scheme were piss poor and didn't offer enough benefits in a workgroup environment to compete with Windows' functionality. The Microsoft Ethos has always been the same <12 users Windows in a workgroup, more than that Server and a domain.
Yes, the cfg.ini hack is what I was talking about. And, yes, I used the install/recovery disk with no results gained. I unhooked all oft he other HDDs also. Like I said earlier, the recovery tool failed to even consider the 60GB SSD. About WS2012E, my comments were meant for home users. For small business it doesn't apply. And just because it makes sense for Microsoft, doesn't mean it makes sense for your average Joe running a home server. Edited by urik
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