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Thinking of Upgrading OS from WHS2011 to ???



Hello everyone!
With the reliability and density of today's spinning drives getting better all the time, and since I am now using DrivePool 2.x (works with any version of Windows), I've been thinking about leaving WHS2011, especially now that MS has ended support for it.  I recently purchased a much more modern Supermicro motherboard than my current X7SBE that can use the more modern i3, i5 and i7 CPU's and up to 32GB DDR3 RAM. When I install this board, I am planning to finally ditch the 2 PCI-X, 8-Port SATA cards in favor of the newer PCIe cards in conjunction with 1 or more port expanders.

I am sure this has probably been discussed here ad‑nauseam, but everyone’s situation is relatively unique, so I will forge ahead, fishing for ideas, comments, tips, tricks or whatever you think I need to know. The only super relevant post I could see in a quick search was a very short post by RacerX back in March. I’m going to need a little more hand-holding than he does to get this done. 

When I purchased the newer motherboard, I had originally intended to just upgrade the hardware, downsize a bit and continue with WHS2011. Now, I am thinking that might not be the best decision.  I was planning to construct a secondary server alongside the WHS2011 box anyway, and move the drives over after I get the new server running stable. This would include reinstalling the Server OS. So why not just install a better OS instead? Shouldn’t be that much more effort, right? At least that is what I am thinking. This is where I need some coaching. So along those lines, I have a few questions/issues I hope some of you might be kind enough to help me with:

1.       Firstly, is anyone here still using WHS2011, and if so how much longer are you planning to stick with it? How are you handling the security issues by using an OS that has not been updated in over a year now? Are you concerned? If not, why?

2.       I have read that Windows Server Essentials is what I should consider. Which version would be best for me? I am still planning to run several pieces of hardware that might not be Windows 10 compatible, an OS I am not a fan of at all! Also, there is PRICE. I don’t think the budget will handle a $600 or $700 OS acquisition cost. I think 2012 is quite a bit cheaper than 2016, but I am not 100% certain about that. I’m thinking Server 2012 would probably be the best choice, but what do you guys think?

3.       What major features would I be giving up that I had in WHS2011, and what would I be gaining by going to WS Essentials? Does Essentials have a Dashboard like in WHS2011?

4.       Most Important: How does DrivePool and Scanner interface with Essentials? Is it similar to WHS2011 or will they BOTH run as standalone products ONLY?

Thanks everyone! Really appreciate your input. I’m sure I will probably have more questions as I get further into this, but this is what is on my mind right now.


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11 hours ago, Umfriend said:

 To my horror, I just found out that M$ is abandoning the Essentials role (and thus I assume Essentials entirely) in Server 2019, which I would go for! Apparantly the intended replacement is Microsoft 365 for business (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/business). The site reminds me of the marketing spoof where M$ re-designs the ipod packaging: No clue what it says. And boy, is it expensive!

I would like to see an announcement about that first. 

Because .... to be blunt, your statement is misinformed.  
365/Azure has been an integration option for the "WSS" code since Small Business Server 2011 Essentials... which is the Domain enabled version of Windows Home Server 2011, and is literally what Essentials came from. 

For instance: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server-essentials/manage/manage-office-365-in-windows-server-essentials


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As I read it, Essentials is going down post 2016 edtition. TBH, it makes no sense to have an Essentials Edition and not have an Essentials Role in the Standard Edition. Unless they feel Honolulu does a better job. But then maybe, just maybe, we would get a SOHO/SMB edition using Honolulu. It just doesn't seem as straightforward as the normal dashboard at all.

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10 hours ago, Christopher (Drashna) said:

Shoot, I just saw this: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started/windows-server-1803-removed-features

Not sure if they're completely removing it, as in removing the Essentials SKU as well....  But sounds like they're discontinuing the SKU too

Here they say " LTSC will be available in all editions and deployment models (Core, GIU, Nano) Standard, Datacenter, Essentials etc. " - So there is some hope I guess. But I fear they're going to can it and this was just an error.



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Ah, it's more complicated than that....



There will be Windows Server (SAC) releases twice a year. identified by their date of release i.e the first SAC was 1709 (for September 2017). The Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) will be released every two to three years, this follows the previous Server release cycle of 2003 then R2, 2008 then R2, 2012 then R2. There will be no more R2 releases, and there will be two different focuses for the two different channels.

Listen very carefully I shall say this only once!


The LTSC will be available in all editions and deployment models (Core, GIU, Nano) Standard, Datacenter, Essentials etc.

The SAC will be only a core release and only in Standard and Datacenter. The focus of SAC is Container hosts and container technology as described by Erin in her article

It sounds like Standard and Datacenter will be released twice a year, while Essentials and others only every 2-3 years. 

So, it sounds like the Essentials SKU is here to stay, but it won't be released/updated as often. 

But .... then again... this article does not make it clear. 

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