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Rebuilding WS2012E Network, your comments are welcome


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What I have so far is

  Internet -> DSL modem (ATT) -> PFsense firewall ->network

  within network I have Windows 2012 Essentials server that acts as domain controller, DNS server, DHCP server , receiver of file history from clients , NAS, and DLNA provider (using Universal Media Server program). Key folders for pictures are also backed up to Crashplan. Windows 2012 Essentials runs RAID through BIOS (I know) and also runs 1 VM using virtualbox (Win 7, set for 4 GB RAM)


 3 physical clients (2xWin 7, 2xWin 8.1) + bunch of mini devices for specific need (Obihai for VOIP calling, HD homerun for network TV Tuner, tablets)

 1 "backup" NAS (Synology DS115j)

  1 Ubuntu play thing that my 3 year old daughter watches youtube cartoon on.


What does not work

  Clients can not back up to WS2012E , I spend a lot of time on MS tech forums and was not able to get it to work (clients can see and browse shares , nslookup the server,etc)

  Server can not see 2 out of 3 clients in Dashboard (probably due to earlier attempts to repair the situation)


What I would like to see

 - get imaging/whole system backups working again

 - fix the RAID item (currently every time I do bios upgrade, I have to restore files since it destroys raid config)

 - keep the domain if possible.

 - have "primary NAS" that can talk to "backup NAS" synchronizing as needed (allowing me not to care about raid)

 - reuse existing hardware which is fairly decent (i3770k CPU, 32 GB RAM, 6 TB storage)

 - better integration of non windows devices into network (Ubuntu ,etc)


I do not care about remote access/connectivity. I also looked at buying better NAS but to do what I want and include virtualization would be fairly expensive and likely worse hardware wise than what I have already with Windows 2012 Essentials.


what I was planning to do is

- "free up" Windows server

  move NAS files to "backup NAS" (bought for that purpose)

  remove DLNA and all other unneeded programs

  set up virtualbox on one of the desktops and move VM there, remove virtualbox from the client

  set pfsense to handle DCHP


- clean up clients of unneeded data in the domain account profiles, set up local accounts, leave domain for all clients. potentially upgrade 3 clients to Win 10 when it would come out in July/August

-patch up server (BIOS ,etc)

- reinstall Windows 2012 Essential as either physical or virtual

-- physical would be repeating current build

-- virtual would be using one of Linux distos (open media vault or something similar)  that runs openbox and can support windows 2012E as guest

- rejoin clients to the domains to get whole image backup, WSUS



random questions

1. Is there a good (paid ok) whole image backup program for multiple clients equivalent to what Windows 2012 E was not doing? i.e. arconis true image ,etc.

2. is there a simpler way to get domain like properties (single account, single password, transparent access to NAS resources ,etc)  without actually having a domain?

Windows 2012 specific questions

3. any thoughts on items above? physical or virtual for Windows 2012 install (or is anyone running it in virtual)?

4. any other holes, comments , suggestions would be welcomed


Sorry for a lot of text


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