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Best OS for DrivePool?


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I'm currently running a WHSv1 machine with a few plugins and I'm looking to move to a new Server & OS. WHSv2 is obviously in the running (and I've already purchased a copy). I really like the backup and Drive Pooling features of WHSv1. While WHSv2 seems like the best next step, considering MS has already given up on the WHS line of software, I'm wondering if different software will make for a better transition /next/ time. If I go away from WHS, I'll have to come up with a new piece backup software -- maybe something like Acronis TrueImage or maybe even the built-in Windows software.

 

Ideally, I'd like to move to something as modern as possible so that I can hold off upgrading again as long as possible.

 

I saw a screenshot on the Stable Bit website showing DrivePool working with Windows Storage Server 2008 R2, but I know very, very little about Windows Storage Server. Is it an add-on for Windows Server? Is it crazy expensive? Does it even make sense?

 

I believe Windows Server Essentials is also a suggested OS... But that seems to be about $400. If that's the best recommendation I'll do it.

 

Any thoughts or recommendations these days? Thanks in advance!

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You are right that Windows Server 2012 Essentials is a good chunk of change!  It does have a dashboard, Client Backups, Shared Folder management, and Remote Access, the same as WHS does.  In addition to this, it also provides a DNS server, and VPN server for remote connectivity to your network.  The downside to 2012 Essentials is the following:

  • It makes your clients join the domain when you install the connector
  • In order to enable remote access, you must install a valid certificate
  • It statically sets all connected client DNS addresses to its IP address
  • File transfer rates to the server are initially quite slow

If you are willing to put in some extra time, all of these issues can be worked around as follows:

Another thing to keep in mind is that Windows 8.1 will likely be released in October and Windows Server 2012 R2 at around the same time.  The upgrade from Windows 8 to 8.1 will be free, but I am not sure about the server versions.

 

If price is your biggest obstacle, then Windows 7/8 and a PC backup solution will be cheaper than a server OS.  WHS 2011 is not going away any time soon.  It is still available for OEM pre-installs until 2025.

 

I think that your choice of OS depends on the features you would like to have versus the ones you must have.  I choose Windows Server 2012 Essentials because I want and use pretty much all of its features, except media streaming and VPN.  Desktop solutions are always much cheaper, but you may have to spend more money or a lot of time trying to get other features you may want, such as remote access/media streaming, PC backups, centralized user management, VPN, DNS server, etc.

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Very excellent, very informative post! Thank you so much!

 

Of course, now it makes the decision a little harder. Microsoft lists the WHS 2011 End of Mainstream Support date as 4/12/2016, so I'd hate to be left hanging re: security vulnerabilities... At the very least, I think I'll wait to hear about the "Server 8.1" equivalent to WSE2012R2 is before I make any decisions. I certainly wouldn't mind having a proper WSE machine at home to do things. It'd be good to practice and learn for my day job, too. :)

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Very excellent, very informative post! Thank you so much!

 

Of course, now it makes the decision a little harder. Microsoft lists the WHS 2011 End of Mainstream Support date as 4/12/2016, so I'd hate to be left hanging re: security vulnerabilities... At the very least, I think I'll wait to hear about the "Server 8.1" equivalent to WSE2012R2 is before I make any decisions. I certainly wouldn't mind having a proper WSE machine at home to do things. It'd be good to practice and learn for my day job, too. :)

remember whs 2011 is based on server 2008 R2,  while I can't say this with certainty, but I would think as long as Server 2008 R2 is supported, we should be ok when its comes to security patches through 2020, if I'm wrong you have a good two years and a few months, lol.

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WIndows Storage Server 2008R2 Essentials is basically just WHS2011, but with 25 users and computers. It's also OEM only, and much more "regulated". It's very hard to find without using Technet/MSDN, IIRC.

 

 

And .... WHS isn't dead. In fact, the entire WHS2011 code is *what* makes Server 2012 Essentials what it is. Literally.

 

 

Also, end of mainstream support means that it only gets critical security updates, IIRC. And that will last as long as Server 2008R2 is supported.

Mainstream support for 2008R2 is Jan 2015... while extended support (aka critical updates) last until 2020. So that's a good long while.

 

And Server 2012 R2 *is* Server 8.1. As Server 2012 is Server 8.

Also, the "Essentials" Role (aka the code that made WHS) will be available on Standard and Datacenter versions of Server 2012R2, IIRC.

 

 

 

And I'd wait for Server 2012 R2 Essentials, if you want to go this route (which isn't a bad idea). Namely, because it handles bare metal restores better (can create a recovery disk from scratch, and may integrate drivers, as well as supports PXE, aka network booting of the recovery image).

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WIndows Storage Server 2008R2 Essentials is basically just WHS2011, but with 25 users and computers. It's also OEM only, and much more "regulated". It's very hard to find without using Technet/MSDN, IIRC.

 

 

And .... WHS isn't dead. In fact, the entire WHS2011 code is *what* makes Server 2012 Essentials what it is. Literally.

 

 

Also, end of mainstream support means that it only gets critical security updates, IIRC. And that will last as long as Server 2008R2 is supported.

Mainstream support for 2008R2 is Jan 2015... while extended support (aka critical updates) last until 2020. So that's a good long while.

 

And Server 2012 R2 *is* Server 8.1. As Server 2012 is Server 8.

Also, the "Essentials" Role (aka the code that made WHS) will be available on Standard and Datacenter versions of Server 2012R2, IIRC.

 

 

 

And I'd wait for Server 2012 R2 Essentials, if you want to go this route (which isn't a bad idea). Namely, because it handles bare metal restores better (can create a recovery disk from scratch, and may integrate drivers, as well as supports PXE, aka network booting of the recovery image).

 

Critical updates until 2020 is my kind of talk, haha. That really clears up a lot of confusion -- thanks to you both!

 

Will definitely wait to see about S2012R2E -- seems like it might be exactly what I'm hoping for, and, ideally, not too expensive. (I guess $400ish is about what I'd expect?)

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This site claims $501 for R2 Essentials, but we will see when it is actually released: http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-ups-price-on-windows-server-2012-r2-datacenter-by-28-percent-7000019168/

 

Critical updates until 2020 is my kind of talk, haha. That really clears up a lot of confusion -- thanks to you both!

 

Will definitely wait to see about S2012R2E -- seems like it might be exactly what I'm hoping for, and, ideally, not too expensive. (I guess $400ish is about what I'd expect?)

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Critical updates until 2020 is my kind of talk, haha. That really clears up a lot of confusion -- thanks to you both!

 

Will definitely wait to see about S2012R2E -- seems like it might be exactly what I'm hoping for, and, ideally, not too expensive. (I guess $400ish is about what I'd expect?)

Yeah, definitely. :)  And welcome, not that Microsoft makes it easy to understand the support time frames....

 

This site claims $501 for R2 Essentials, but we will see when it is actually released: http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-ups-price-on-windows-server-2012-r2-datacenter-by-28-percent-7000019168/

Around $400-500 would be my guess.That's been the going rate for "Small Business Server" (which is what 2012 (R2) Essentials basically was).

But yes, only time will tell.

That, and I'm sure there will be deals on it. Check newegg when it comes out, and amazon, and Tiger Direct, and .... You get the idea. For $400+, the trouble of price comparison because TOTALLY worth it.

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Sadly, TechNet is ending soon.  And the IT world is PISSED. Namely, you have until the 31st (2 days left) to purchase or renew your TechNet account. 

Otherwise, you "get" to use the eval software only, or Microsoft's "online labs". (or so that's what I've been told).... that or pay for MSDN. For somebody like Alex, that's fine as he needs the development tools.  For me, I just need them for testing.  The price difference? $200 for TechNet Standard, $350 for Pro, and $700 for the cheapest MSDN subscription (and that is *just* for the OS's...)

Sorry for the rant, but .... like I said, "pissed"...

 

 

As for the server, it depends. I like having the newer tech, and having active directory (I use a domain at home, as well as some of it's peripheral abilities like WIndows Deployment Service). :) So it really depends on what you want out of your network. :)

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