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Another New 2012E build... several getting started questions


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Well - 


After much robust discussion here regarding my possibly failing EX495 (stock) WHS V1 and whether to buy (N54L) vs build, I landed on buying first and building later this summer...  I'm very excited to be taking my home server environment to the next level (or two) regardless.


N54L + 8GB Memory + adata SSD + 4 3TB HDDs all arrived today (used HSS links for my buys) and I'm excited to get into the project...


I'm about to sign up for Technet so that I can possibly install and evaluate both WHS2011 as well as 2012E as possible OSs for this build (separately over the coming few weeks)... First things first, I'm going to run a full backup of my V1 data onto one or two of my new WD3TB drives and continue to operate the V1 in production until I have the new box purring....


My gut inclination is to go with 2012E rather than 2011 now and another move in 1-4 years from now.  (I'm less concerned about cost at the moment), but I could be swayed back to 2011 if that was a strong recommendation from the community.


All this said, my server needs in order of priority are:



#1  -- PC backup and File Share

  • Backup 5 or 6 PCs (all Windows 7)
  • Drive pooling is preferred over a planned space allocation structure:  DrivePool if 2011, Storage spaces if 2012E
  • Simple onboard duplication for drive failure - no-control has recommended OS based mirror
  • Would prefer remote access to server desktop by RDP through DynDNS URL and port forwarding


#2 - Software I'd need to run on the server (to maintain parity with my current EX495 WHSv1 server capabilities

  • UPS Grid Juncion Add in (or equivalent??)
  • Stablebit Scanner
  • Crashplan - offsite backup for key files
  • EyeFi Card Software to receive camera pics
  • KMTTG - Tivo file automatic downloader, removes .tivo wrapper to .mpg, and scans for commercials
  • Goodsync (auto sync key files to/from my WHS to primary W7Pro Desktop
  • Streaming Software (currently just use Windows Media Connect with my Onkyo receiver and PS3, but would like to use Plex and/or Subsonic (recorded TV as mp4 or home movies) and/or Asset UPnP (MP3 files)


#3 - Nice to have -- Move these processes to server to help me eliminate background running apps on main machine or offload media processing.  Thereby allowing me to shut down two machines more than I do now...

(a) Currently hosted on W7Pro Primary Desktop 

  • VidCoder and/or VideoRedo TV Suite for transcoding DVDs and Tivo files
  • Dropbox / GoogleDrive / Skydrive (relocate to server?)

(B) Currently hosted on W7Pro media streamer / converter laptop

  • Plex and / or Subsonic / Asset UPnP
  • Streambaby -- stream mp4 files to Tivo (Tivo can't see DLNA based files from Windows Media Connect)
  • DynDNS Updater Software



Feel free to comment / provide guidance on any of the above, but on to my core questions about Server 2012 Essentials:


  1. Will 2012E even allow me to install and run windows apps under #2/#3 above?  Is anyone else running any of the above on 2012E (or 2011?)   Not sure if the 'almost real' server OS is more 'locked' down from running non-server apps?  I assume it might be dependent app by app -- some of these require Java --  is that a problem?   I've read pcdoc's blog posts about moving some of these same programs (eyefi and plex specifically) to a VM environment.  So I assume if he's doing it that way, he's doing it that way (and not running them from the server) for a reason. i.e.  Reliability, security, so that failure/BSOD caused by these apps don't bring down /corrupt the physical machine and server?  On the topic of Virtualization...
  2. I know 2012E cannot be a Hyper V host (or it's not built in?).  Why not?  Is it possible to install virtualization software on 2012E to host VMs separately   My only prior virtualization experience was running VirtualBox on a W7 machine to have a linux distro (WebOS / Android development) and to make a clone of a Vista machine I was shutting down (in case I missed migrating anything my wife used, she could access it quickly).  I suppose my only real use for VMs (for now) would be as pcdoc has to run programs and services for me.  I've never used VMWare or Hyper V or anything else.  Not sure if I'm completely out of luck here or if there are alternatives for me? 
  3. Any pros/cons for Stablebit DrivePool for pooling, duplication, and balancing (& evacuation in combination with scanner
  4. Finally, it seems a lot of people are having issues with anywhere access.  I had numerous issues for years with the WHSV1 equivalent so 18 months ago I went fully with RDP to access the EX495.  Inside my network, I just RDP'd to the internal ip address.  Outsite the network, I just  RDP to a URL which points to my public IP address and use port forwarding on my router to connect.  Simple and easy and I have 'desktop' access and not just a served up web page..   Would this be possible in 2012E?
  5. Not sure I'm fully understanding the implications of Active Directory... What is the best resource for explaining it in (mostly) layman's terms for the home user....?


I'm sure I'll have other questions along the way... I'm just trying to figure out if 2012E is the best way to go and if I'll need to change the way things work in order to do it.  Obviously, I can't afford 2012 Standard (and don't have the skillset / experience to manage it -- I'm not in IT) so I think I'm limited to 2011 and 2012E as my options...


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Hi Greenawayj and welcome back to the Forums!

Most of your questions are answered in the threads MicroServer Hardware Links and More Interesting MicroServer Links

The N54L will do whatever your EX495 did – just better and faster.  The bump in the road is some of the extra stuff not already running on the EX495 -- NoControl, SchoonDoggy, JMWills, & LoneWolf have given you Ideas about that in your other Thread.

I would encourage you to explore everything you can in TechNET and DO take the Free Education instruction that comes with your subscription – I’ve taken a number of their courses in Virtualization, Hyper-V, and ADDC – You’ll learn what you put into it and with your EE background that should make it substantially easier IMHO to pick things up.  You may even be able to get CPE credit for some of the courses!

Coming from WHS-V1 I think WHS-2011 would be less of a “shock” than S2012E but with TechNET you can try both bare metal on the N54L as well in Hyper-V VMs.  IMHO, WHS-2011 is going to be “good” for 3-4 years by which time S2015E will probably be coming out.

WHS-2011 Resources Datasheets White Papers      S2012E Resources Datasheets White Papers

1.    With TechNET you can try all Apps you want on S2012E and WHS2011 – back up your system then add a new App – if it blows up then reinstall from your backup – If you’re doing it in Hyper-V take a snapshot before you try a new App and if the App blows up then just go back to the SnapShot

2.    Check out what SBS-Diva does with her Home System – it’s at the end of her interview on the State of S2012E SBS Diva's State of the Union of S2012E HSS #217 includes description of her home N40L with Hyper-V Lab and WHS-2011

3.    Check these Links:

Drive Extender Replacements

Drive Extender Replacement Discussion on HSS 216 Also see: StableBit Talk on HSS219 Move DrivePool from WHS2011 to S2012E StableBit DrivePool or DriveBender with WHS2011

4 & 5.    Check the Forums – there are several detailed discussions/threads from last Summer/Fall – GO-BACK all 9 pages and work your way to the present – you’ll find things like (only examples – there’s much more there):



And MicroSoft’s Virtual Academy on S2012E http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/4978-microsoft-virtual-academy-windows-server-2012-essentials/?p=54040

and like I mentioned above there are Free TechNET courses available and you can do some searches on TechNET.  SBSDiva’s Blog is an excellent Site to check on S2012E Stuff also and look for Susan’s posts on TechNET Forums –

Chapter 16 pages 555-558 in Jim Clark’s book talks about Active Directory – Jim recommends that you test AD out on a S2012E running in a test setup in a VM to learn about it without the danger of messing something up.  See: Using S2012E by Jim Clark on HSS #221     If you want to go deeper Part II or Chapters 4, 5,6, 7, & 8 cover S2012 Active Directory in MicroSoft Windows Server 2012 Unleashed.  If you want to get more into WHS2011 u can get the Unleashed book for 2011

Edited by Joe_Miner
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If you have anytime left after delving into Joe Miner's brief response above, Eli the Computer guy does a great job of demystifying all things Server 2012.

So re Q5, See here for his tut on Active Directory 

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Wow, will try and give my two cents.  Generally I would not be concerned about either OS as 2011 will do everything that you want to do and if you stay to the golden rule of a separate OS with "all" storage on other drives, changing the OS in 5 years should not be a big deal.  As for your questions.


1. Either OS will run applications without any issues.  I have run several things on both.

2. You can install virtual box on either one without any concerns.

3. No comment as I am a RAID fan.

4. Have not had issues with access anywhere with either version.

5. Going to leave this one for others more knowledgeable with active directory.

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Not sure I'm fully understanding the implications of Active Directory...What is the best resource for explaining it in (mostly) layman's terms for the home user....?


Either start reading one of the "Dummies" books or a training medium such as Train Signal.


Train Signal has recently changed their model where you can go on a month to month subscription for $49/month.  For three days you can try for free and probably get enough information from there using the offline player.

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Thanks all.  Obviously I'm drinking through a fire-hose here when it comes to this stuff.  


As for my current set up, I've currently uninstalled the scanner add-in s/w from my EX495 V1 and it hasn't locked up in 4+ days.  Previously, it was locking up every 24-48 hours or so.  Can't find anything in the logs to say it was definitively that add-in, but I'm thinking it's related.  (to my knowledge) I can't really run a mem test on the headless ex495...  Regardless, I feel I have a little more time to learn and experiment without losing the 495.  I know Alex at CoveCube isn't focused on the v1 add in any longer (nor should he be), but I'm going to check out his support forums or send him a note to see if he's seen this before.


Joe_miner -- thanks for the exhaustive references.  I should have probably mentioned that I had already begun exploring both of your prior Microserver links pages and that I've been a religious HSS listener for years and more recently (last weekend) started listening to the last 5 or so episodes of BYOB.  I actually just re-listened to the SBS diva and Cove Cube podcasts this morning anyway.  I've been doing A LOT of reading since late last week, but definitely had not gone all the way back 9 pages in the 2012 essentials or N45L forums!  I'll work my way through the threads over the coming few weeks while I experiment with the N54L...


I'll continue to explore and this guidance will be helpful.  My greatest concern was about running apps directly on the server vs running apps in one or more VMs...  Based on pc doc's answer, it seems I can take either route, even if the vm approach is done via Oracle VBox running on the 2012E server.  I'm satisfied with that.   Just this morning, I had just been doing a lot of virtualization reading about running ESXI or free MS Server HyperV as the bare metal host with VMs for 2012 essentials and Win7 Win8 to run apps.... seems really complicated.  I like this approach better.  I was getting myself into circular reference hell thinking about a VM client 2012e (with Domain Controller and DHCP) running on a HyperV server host.  I'm sure that makes sense to many of you all, but to me, I wasn't even sure how that would work.  (and I saw a post from Susan Bradley in the Microsoft forums advising someone else against that).  


pcdoc-- I'm sure 2011 would also do the trick for me and a definitely separate data from OS, so that wouldn't be a problem.  I was just thinking I'd try to learn something and skip a generation (as long as 2012 essentials is considered production-ready, and by all accounts it seems to be).


Thanks again.  I'll be around here a lot more than I had been when I've been in EX495 set-it-&-forget-it mode.



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My suggestion would be to do a default installation and then go through the training and look under the hood.

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My 2 cents on VMs is that Oracle Box is fine for testing and experimentation, but I would not use it for production.

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My suggestion would be to do a default installation and then go through the training and look under the hood.


100% my plan.  Project starts today!!


My 2 cents on VMs is that Oracle Box is fine for testing and experimentation, but I would not use it for production.


Hmm...  I guess I wasn't worried since anything on the VM would be media-related.  The 2012e would be the host and I wasn't imagining that would be an issue from a "production" sense.  Even through I've only used Oracle, my ideal implementation would be VMs on Hyper-V running on 2012 essentials host, but if MS has precluded that on the essentials OS, I'm kind of stuck.  My only options are to just run all of my 'applications' right on the server (as I have with V1) or sandbox them on a VM or two...


Again, many thanks to all!!

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